Michael Morris, pastor of Rutledge Falls Baptist in Coffee County, says he hopes the Middle Tennessee Gospel Music Festival, which will take place Friday and Saturday at Calsonic Arena in Shelbyville, will be just the beginning of something big.
A variety of southern gospel and bluegrass gospel acts will perform at the festival.
Morris said church members Gary and Tina Barton of Normandy came up with the idea for the festival.
"We have a lot of church singings" in the area, said Morris, "but we don't have a really big church singing event."
He said Calsonic Arena is "a perfect venue" for the festival, accessible and centrally-located. He said his dream is to be able to fill the entire arena within three years.
Ticket sales have been moderate so far, said Morris, but with no reserved seating he said there's not much incentive for advance sales, and he's hoping for sales to increase this week and at the door this weekend.
The church is bearing the cost of operating the festival, so ticket proceeds will be divided among the participating artists.
"This is not a money-maker," said Morris. "Far from it."
Morris said the church would be interested in partnering with other churches in the area, even across denominational lines, for future festivals.
At the conclusion of Friday's program, evangelist Brady Weldon will speak, and Morris said Weldon traditionally delivers "a message of hope, especially for people who've been hurt in church."
Tickets are $15 per day or $25 for both days and are available at http://theonlythingofvalue001.org/Music/ or by calling the church at (931) 455-8879. In the web address, the word "Music" must be capitalized as shown.
The CrossPoint String Band, one of the participating groups in this weekend's event, holds a bluegrass gospel festival each May at H.V. GriffinPark Complex.
7 p.m. -- Ernie Dawson & Heirline
7:45 p.m. -- Three Bridges
8:30 p.m. -- Crystal River
9:15 p.m. -- Cross Point String Band
10 p.m. -- Benny Berry
3:30 p.m. -- Work in Progress
4:15 p.m. -- The Cavaliers Quartet
5 p.m. -- Kevin Shrum
5:15 p.m. -- By Faith
6 p.m. -- Heavens Highway
6:45 p.m. -- The Beelers
7:30 p.m. -- The Freemans
8:15 p.m. -- Vocal Union
9 p.m. -- evangelist Brady Weldon