Towards Beloved Community

As a majority white organizing team creating a multi-cultural event on the campus of an HBCU, we have accepted the sacred charge to recognize and dismantle racism in ourselves, our festival team and the spaces we create. We’re hosting a conversation at the festival called Towards Beloved Community: Connection & Accountability in Healing Racism - and this conversation is so important, we'd like to invite you to get started early.

bell hooks says "If we want a beloved community, we must stand for justice, have recognition for difference without attaching difference to privilege." Part of this means that people who occupy places of privilege in our society have a responsibility to reflect on and dismantle the ways in which we perpetuate racism. Join us in this sacred task. On March 14th, at 7PM CST, we’re hosting a conference called facilitated by Micky ScottBey Jones and K. Stellar Dutcher, the festival MCs. During this call we’ll explore some basic white cultural norms and our relationship to them, learn more about how we unconsciously perpetuate racism and the harm it causes both ourselves and others, and lay some basic groundwork for engaging as an ally or accomplice in racial justice work. We will do this through lenses of compassion, connection, love, and the spirit of healing. If you are new to multiracial spaces, or if you are curious about why this call is necessary, we especially invite you to join us.

Information on the Zoom call is below. If you’d like to begin or continue your journey with this work right now, you can peruse our handouts on white culture and microaggressions, or read Micky’s beautiful poem Invitation to Brave Space. For more information on the call or these topics, you can email

Towards Beloved Community Conversation

Time: Mar 14, 2019 7:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
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How the New Story Will Transform Your Faith Community

What if the problems we face could be overcome by changing the story we tell?

The current global crisis is a crisis of storytelling - it’s not the world that’s falling apart, but the story we’re telling about it. If we become inquisitive about our stories, asking how they serve a vision of the common good, whether they are true or helpful, we can change our underlying narratives and the world around us.  It really is that simple.

What if the painful past could be turned into energy that helps create a better future?

One reason we started the New Story Festival was to resource communities seeking a better world - especially faith communities! Our festival at the end of March is designed to do just that: (1) come as a group; (2) choose from over 80 different artists, activists and teachers the sessions that feel most relevant to your community’s current needs; and then, (3) be in conversation together about how to bring those ideas home with you.

What if we could gather as individuals and communities, and make a path beyond despair to empowered hope?

In one weekend we’ll help you connect with people who want a better world, ideas to inspire positive action, and a path forward for your community to become what you always dreamed.

What if we are invited not to say “now, more than ever”, but instead, “for such a time as this?” 

If you’re anxious about the world, you’re not alone - but a new story is being born. Join us for one weekend, find new friends, ideas that liberate, and a path to transform your life, your community, and your neighborhood.

Zoom out to the bigger picture

You can read the (almost complete) festival schedule online, but every week we’re introducing some highlights in this newsletter. This week consider our DEEPEN program, where contemplation meets the needs of the world, including:

There’ll also be a special area for HEALING ARTS, from spiritual directors to Reiki, massage, nutritional counseling, and even a birdsong meditation. Find out more here.

The New Story Festival for All Ages!

We love families! So parents, if you were on the fence about coming to the festival, you're in luck - we have great options for all ages that will ensure your entire family has a fantastic weekend at the New Story Festival!


For Ages 0-4 we are providing free, all-day babysitting by safe and certified child-care professionals.

For Kids, Ages 5-11our brilliant partners at the Whole Life Learning Center will be offering all-day creative and fun drop-in programming based on their popular Camp Indigo summer camp. This is a rare opportunity for your kids to get a free taste of one of the most unique and transformative programs in Austin!


For Youth, Ages 12-18 local leaders Heather Green and Ben Wright are dreaming up a creative and interactive drop-in space - trusting teens to craft their own experience and contribute their own unique perspectives to the festival as a whole rather than just force-feeding a passive, predetermined "youth" program.

Want even better news?!

The New Story Festival is ABSOLUTELY FREE for children up to twelve, years old and only $20 for teenagers! (And even less if they just want to try it out for a day or two.)

And there's loads of great options for adults too of course. Just check out this handful of thought-leaders who will be presenting from our mainstage:

High Resolution Headshot Alexia 3 - Alexia Salvatierra.JPG

Alexia Salvatierra, co-author of Faith-Rooted Organizing and co-founder of the New Sanctuary Movement.

Brian Roberston, entrepreneur, organizational pioneer, and author of the book Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World.

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Micky ScottBey Jones - the Justice Doula - Director of Healing Justice with Faith Matters Network and co-founder of The People’s Supper.

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Michael Dowd, author of Thank God for Evolution, in conversation with Gareth Higgins, festival co-founder and co-author (with Brian McLaren) of The Seventh Story.

The New Story Festival will be a full weekend of music, ideas, contemplation, action, fun, community, creativity and the common good.

Join us on the last weekend of March - it wouldn't be the same without you!

PS: Need a ride, a place to stay, or just want to connect with other New Story attendees before you arrive? Join the New Story Festival Community Group on Facebook!

Watch the New Story at Austin City Council!

The New Story Festival isn’t just a fun weekend event - we aim to have a real and ongoing impact on our wider community. One of the ways we are doing this is by partnering with Compassionate Austin, a part of the Charter for Compassion global movement started by author and scholar Karen Armstrong nearly a decade ago. Compassionate Austin has adopted the New Story as its signature festival where they will be launching their Compassionate Austin Co-op, a new network of organizations and individuals across the area who commit to enacting the Austin city council’s 2016 resolution endorsing compassionate action on behalf of others, self, and the Earth. Festival co-founder, Mike Clawson, had the opportunity to speak before Austin’s City Council this past week to let them know about this exciting new initiative. You can watch the 3-minute video of his remarks below:

Mike Clawson presenting at the February 7 Austin City Council meeting to announce the Compassionate Austin Co-op and the New Story Festival.

The key activity of Compassionate Austin Co-op members is to participate in an Offers & Needs Market - a 90-minute guided process that combines community asset mapping with sharing economy principles to enable all participants do the work of compassion more collaboratively and effectively. The first Austin-area Offers & Needs Market (and the first Market ever done on a city-wide scale!) will be held on Sunday, March 31, at the New Story Festival! Any and all festival attendees are welcome to participate. Join the Co-op by filling out this form (or this one for organizations) and then get your festival tickets here!

The New Story isn't Just for Spectators

Find your next step, 
at the New Story Festival

We say it so often that it’s become a New Story Festival mantra:  
The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.  

Our friend Richard Rohr taught us, and it seems to be a universal law: because oppositional energy always recreates itself, we have to find ways to challenge what isn’t working by replacing it with what can.

And so our teachers, artists, musicians, workshop leaders, connectors and volunteers are all committed to embodying the heart of this idea. 

Don’t just blame; Change.

We want to apply that thinking to the festival too. What needs to change about festivals? 
Think about it for a moment - we go to festivals, we may hear brilliant ideas, participate in stimulating workshops, make meaningful connections, and then we just go home. No bridge is built to our everyday lives, and the festival magic can easily recede into memory. 
But the New Story Festival is attempting something different: we want the ideas and experience of creativity, community, and the common good not just to be enjoyable on the weekend, but to make a difference in our lives and in the world. It’s not a spectator sport - while you’ll get to hear brilliant ideas, music, and contemplation, the main thing is to take the ideas and the connections you’ll have made home with you.  
There’ll be lots of time and space to connect with people like you - who care about humanity, care for the earth, and want to live lives of courageous love, for the common good. If you’re part of a church or other spiritual community, if you work with a team seeking to make a better world, or even if you haven’t found your people yet, the New Story Festival could be the place you find your next step. And if you have ideas to make it better, we’re ready to listen too!

Mike Clawson on the New Story - Part 2 of 2

Mike Clawson

Mike Clawson

Mike Clawson, co-host of the New Story Festival and founder and executive director of the Spiritual Transformation Project, shares more about the six shadow stories that explain our world, the philosophy behind the festival community we're creating, and an invitation for you to be part of it -- all in part two of his sermon from New Covenant Fellowship Church in Austin, Texas.

Join Mike and many more fascinating, creative, open-hearted and courageous storytellers, activists, and teachers, at the New Story Festival, taking place March 29-31, 2019, in Austin, Texas.

Get your tickets now

5 Reasons to Come to the New Story Festival

We’re bringing a full weekend at the intersection of community, creativity, and the common good to Austin at the end of March, and we’re happy to announce that the New Story Festival Schedule is available now!

There’s more to come, but right now you can see over 70 sessions - talks, concerts, workshops, and creative happenings, running from Friday evening to Sunday night, March 29th-31st.

There will be lots of amazing things to listen to and think about - but you’re invited to be more than just an audience: the New Story Festival is a place for you to bring yourself, your friends, your team, and your community to imagine how you will take the vision back to your community. Don’t have a community yet? We’re ready to help you find one - come to the New Story Festival and it won’t be long before you connect with people you think, live, love, and care like you do.

There are lots of reasons to join us, but we’ve picked five particular ones, and we think you’ll agree with us.

Here’s five reasons we think you should Join Us:

  1. Hear wise and life-giving teachers like Brian McLaren, Rev angel Kyodo Williams, Charles Eisenstein, and Nadia Bolz-Weber, who will talk about her new provocative and healing book Shameless. After hearing Nadia you can gather with your community to discuss how to make brave spaces for healing the unnecessary shame most of us have experienced. Find a new self-image, transcend your wounds, and live better.

  2. Experience Authentic Relating Games - a brilliantly accessible way to take life seriously without taking ourselves too seriously, learn about how to transform your organization - whether its a church, a school, a business, an activist movement, or even a circle of friends through the revolutionary Holocracy leadership style, or the beauty of Circling, where anyone can find a mirror for their greatest hopes, and support for the most difficult challenges.

  3. Attend the Offers and Needs Market, where people who care about where they live will show what they can give, and the resources they need to make our towns, cities and countryside places of peace, renewal, and wholeness for everyone. It's a perfect way to start reimagining your hometown, wherever you live.

  4. Be enveloped by the magnificent soundscapes of the music of Over the Rhine, Carrie Rodriguez, and Riders Against the Storm; and then maybe write your own music - with new and old friends - poetry, prose, visual art are all welcome too.

  5. Finally, whether you’re dancing at the mainstage, taking notes in the Ideas session about how to make the economic system more humane or even sacred, lessons for the US from conflict resolution process elsewhere, or connecting across lines of political difference at a People’s Supper, the New Story Festival will be a unique opportunity to ask yourself how to change your life so that you use your gifts and power for the common good, and find a space where you can get the help you need. Find out more at the festival website, where the schedule has just been posted here.

These days, it’s easy to find stories of despair or what’s not possible. The New Story Festival exists because some of us - imperfect activists, artists, community members who want to make a difference, rather than just allow the world to happen “to” us - know that we need a better story. We need you there too. Join us - make the new story yours, take it back to your community, and your lives may never be the same again.

Register Now

9 Things You Will Experience at the New Story Festival

More fun than a conference, more purposeful than a music festival, and more holistic than a political rally, the New Story Festival is a movement for a better world, combining creativity and community to serve the common good. And we want to make it accessible to everyone who wants to join us. So today we're announcing Pay From the Heart Pricing. 

Since we want the New Story to be accessible to all, there are THREE ticket price options for the festival - $249, $179, or $99. We invite you to choose a price level based on the resources you have available, the benefit you feel you'll receive from this unique gathering, and your desire to support the work of community, creativity, and the common good.

For transparency: it is costing well over $100,000 to host the festival, and lots of people have been working for more than a year to make it possible.

What will you experience?

  1. A full weekend of conversation with leaders like Nadia Bolz-Weber, Rev angel Kyodo Williams, Charles Eisenstein, Kaitlin Curtice and Brian McLaren, pioneering ideas that help us live better.

  2. A full weekend featuring music from acclaimed and brilliant artists including Over the Rhine, Carrie Rodriguez, and Riders Against the Storm.

  3. A full weekend of hearing about exciting and practical steps toward a better world, from collaborative politics and peacemaking in northern Ireland, a new story of how to help heal the climate, a simple method for building community & purpose in your own front room, and parenting in uncertain times.

  4. A full weekend of creativity and connection: from Art as Protest to Authentic Relating Games, dancing to the simple quiet conversation between old friends who just haven't met yet.

  5. A full weekend of dozens of opportunities to move beyond polarization, powerlessness, and panic into an experiment in making the kind of world we want to live in: where everyone has what they need, and finds the kind of shelter that goes beyond four walls and a roof - in other words: a place where everyone can find meaningful community, mentors for the path, and a sense of a purpose.

  6. A full weekend of quiet, renewing, reflective experiences, from meditation to gently working with trauma through to hearing birdsong as an invitation to experience the beauty of what is always happening, though we often miss it.

  7. A full weekend of taking life seriously in all its complexity, facing the enormous challenges of the moment, but not in despair - we'll learn together about sources of genuine transformation, hope, and inspiration. And while we'll be trying to take life seriously, we won't take ourselves too seriously!

  8. A full weekend of great food, colorful people, new friendships, and inspiration for the journey ahead.

  9. And lots of surprises!

You can participate as much or as little as you like, you can dip into and out of sessions, you can spend all weekend drinking coffee and enjoying the vibe. But if you don't register, you'll miss it all. We want you to be there.

Register Now

One more thing: We will never turn anyone away based on financial need, so if $99 is still beyond your budget, you can earn a free ticket by volunteering to help behind-the-scenes before or during the festival.

We're hosting the New Story Festival for three reasons: we want to help make a better world; we want to reach out to people like you and meet you where you're at; and we know that we need this for ourselves as well. It's just over two months away, in Austin, TX, on the campus of Huston-Tillotson University. It won't be perfect. But it will be magic.

Announcing Riders Against The Storm and Kaitlin Curtice at the New Story Festival 2019!

Want to hear award-winning musicians and an acclaimed voice in Native American spirituality? You've come to the right place - we're delighted to announce two more contributors for the New Story Festival, March 29-31, in Austin, Texas:   

(RAS) Riders Against the Storm is a musical movement in Austin, Texas, that can only be described as "historic." As recent recipients of "Band of the Year" honors at the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Austin Music Awards, Chaka and Qi Dada (husband and wife) represent a significant first in the "Live Music Capital." Over the past 32 years, hip hop has never received the top honor at the annual awards show. Winning the title three times in a row is an accomplishment shared by only a handful of bands, including Spoon, and Los Lonely Boys.

Kaitlin Curtice is a Native American Christian mystic and writer who explores the sacredness of the human condition in everyday language. She is an enrolled citizen of the Potawatomi Citizen Band Nation, and her book Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places is a collection of 50 essays and prayers from her life that focus on the idea of glory.

Kaitlin and RAS join our other powerful headliners, all of whom you can experience at the New Story Festival, March 29-31.

Riders Against The Storm

Riders Against The Storm

Kaitlin Curtice

Kaitlin Curtice

Mike Clawson on the New Story - Part 1 of 2

Mike Clawson

Mike Clawson

Mike Clawson, co-host of the New Story Festival and founder and executive director of the Spiritual Transformation Project, shares the story of how we get to the New Story in part one of his sermon at New Covenant Fellowship Church in Austin, Texas.

“It’s been said that the world is not made of atoms, it is made of stories. And I believe that! The world runs on stories. Our lives consist of stories.”

Join Mike and many more fascinating, creative, open-hearted and courageous storytellers, activists, and teachers, at the New Story Festival, taking place March 29-31, 2019, in Austin, Texas.

Learn more and get your tickets online now

Nadia Bolz-Weber on the New Story Festival Podcast


Pastor and New York Times bestselling author Nadia Bolz-Weber joins Gareth Higgins, co-host of the New Story Festival, for a fascinating conversation about adult topics with an entertaining tone, presented with love!

Hear Nadia in person, and many more fascinating, creative, open-hearted and courageous storytellers, activists, and teachers, at the New Story Festival, taking place March 29-31, 2019, in Austin, Texas. Early bird tickets are just $179 now thru December 31st!

Learn more and get your early bird tickets online now.

The First Lineup Announcement for New Story Festival 2019!

People live by stories, many that we're often not even aware of. Some of our stories hurt more than help. Stories of separation, selfishness, scapegoating, and the avoidance of suffering are ready to be replaced by stories of creativity, community, courage, and the common good. The New Story Festival will gather people to experience -- and help build -- a better world by shaping and sharing a better story. It will be deep but not boring, playful and fun without avoiding hard questions. Come help make a world of compassion, peace, and welcome -- we'd love to see you there!

The inaugural New Story Festival takes place March 29-31, 2019, in Austin, TX. We are delighted to announce the festival lineup below -- spiritual teachers leading us into the future and beloved Americana musicians, radically inclusive storytellers and Irish peace activists, trauma healers and provocative teachers -- bearers of a better story are coming to Austin. Come add your story too!

(click here to get your Early Bird Tickets now for only $179 through December 31st)

Here’s our current headliners!

Nadia Bolz-Weber is a two-time New York Times best-seller, Lutheran pastor, and author of the new book Shameless: A Sexual Reformation.

Called “the most intriguing African-American Buddhist” by Library JournalRev. angel Kyodo Williams is an author, maverick spiritual teacher, master trainer, and founder of the Center for Transformative Change.

According to Publisher’s WeeklyCharles Eisenstein “will be noted in antiquity as one of the seminal and pioneering storytellers of this new world.” His latest book is Climate: A New Story, and we’re glad to call him a friend of the New Story Festival.

Austin-based “Ameri-Chicana” singer-songwriter Carrie Rodriguez is known for her passionate performances, effortlessly melding fiery fiddle playing, electrifying vocals, and a fresh interpretation of new and classic songs.

Beloved Americana musicians, Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist are acclaimed together as Over the Rhine. They “create spaces where good things can happen,” and the New Story Festival will certainly be that.

Activist and author Brian McLaren is co-creator -- along with New Story Festival co-host Gareth Higgins -- of The Seventh Story book and its companion children’s book, Cory and the Seventh Story.

A native Texan and acclaimed performer, Amparo Garcia-Crow is a multi disciplinary artist who acts, sings, directs and writes plays, screenplays, and songs. Amparo was with us for the one-day New Story Experience, and we're thrilled she is coming back for the full three-day festival in March!

Over 60 other speakers, facilitators, performers, artists, and dreamers will join these headliners to help lead us toward a better story -- one of compassion, reconciliation, and collective liberation -- making better lives for a better world. 

How do we do this? Spend a weekend with us in Austin this March, and you'll hear provocative wisdom, discover new tools for authentic community, be surprised by art and activism, engage in playful fun and frivolity, and find your own place in the New Story. 

The New Story Festival is for all ages -- we will have exciting, transformative programming for kids and teens as well as adults -- so bring the whole family!

Early bird tickets are just $179 now through December 31st! 

We have multiple ticket price options for folks at all levels of financial means, including FREE! (Volunteer with the festival and a get a full weekend pass in return.) We also offer discounts for groups of three or more, and even bigger discounts for groups of ten or more - so gather your crew and register now!

If you can't make it for the whole weekend, we also offer day passes, just purchase the pass that works best for you.

Any questions? Contact us at

Join us March 29-31, 2019, in Austin, Texas, for the first-ever New Story Festival - we hope to see you there!

Micky ScottBey Jones on the New Story Festival Podcast

On the latest episode of the New Story Festival Podcast, justice doula and New Story Experience presenter Micky ScottBey Jones speaks with festival co-host Gareth Higgins about how the New Story reminds her of the African idea of sankofa, the importance of allowing ourselves to dream, and how a festival is an opportunity to practice a different way of being together.

Hear more from both Micky and Gareth at the New Story Experience, Saturday, November 3 at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. Tickets are now $10 and up.

Thank you for listening! Please subscribe on iTunes or listen on Spotify and share this episode now with your friends on social media.

Special thanks to our podcast producer Samuel Polay!

Welcome the Center for Action and Contemplation to the New Story

Here at the New Story Festival, one of our favorite sayings is from Father Richard Rohr: “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” We are creating a whole new festival experience to practice the better!

That’s why we are so delighted to announce today that Fr. Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) is joining as partners in the New Story.

The CAC is a wonderful partner to have, particularly for the DEEPEN part of the festival program, which will invite participants into practices that slow down our breathing, sharpen our thinking, and help us find resilience amidst the challenges of life and the world. Ancient wisdom experienced in a new context, for young and old, of all experiences.

Please help us in welcoming Fr. Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation as partners in the New Story!

Mona Haydar on the New Story Festival Podcast

On the latest episode of the New Story Festival Podcast, feminist Muslim rapper and New Story Experience presenter Mona Haydar speaks with festival co-host Gareth Higgins about why the New Story is the hardest work there is, one of her earliest memories of making a conscious choice to be part of the New Story, and what Islam teaches about "answering the call of the angelic." 

Hear more from both Mona and Gareth at the New Story Experience, Saturday, November 3 at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas. Tickets are now $10 and up.

Thank you for listening! Please subscribe on iTunes or listen on Spotify and share this episode now with your friends on social media.

Special thanks to our podcast producer Samuel Polay!

Got $10? Then You Can Come to the New Story Experience

We're so eager for you to be at the New Story Experience on Saturday, November 3 in Austin, Texas, that we want to make it as accessible and as easy as possible!

That's why today we're announcing a new $10 ticket option for the full, one-day event featuring keynote presentations and conversations with activist/author Brian McLaren, feminist Muslim rapper and ethicist Mona Haydar, the justice doula Micky ScottBey Jones, acclaimed performer and playwright Amparo Garcia-Crow, and festival founder/Irish peace activist Gareth Higgins.

You'll also experience breakout sessions that offer a taste of each of our festival program areas: Deepen, Act, Create, Perform, Think, Connect, and Play.

This is something we want you to share. So please forward this message to your friends and family in the Austin area and invite them to come to the New Story Experience for just $10! You can also invite them via the Facebook event. We hope to see you (and them) there.

Please note: We are committed to making the New Story Experience accessible to everyone, regardless of financial means -- that's why we're offering the $10 ticket price to anyone who needs it. There are other ticket prices, and everyone gets the same benefit in return -- when deciding the price you'll pay, we ask that you consider the resources you have available, the benefit you feel you'll receive from the event, and the significant costs it takes for us to host the event. (For instance, to cover the costs of the event, we need around 50 people to opt-in at Benefactor level 1, 50 at Benefactor Level 2, and 25 at Benefactor Level 3 -- thank you for all your support.)

Welcoming Amparo Garcia-Crow to the New Story Experience Line-up

We’re excited to announce the addition of acclaimed local Austin performer, director, and playwright Amparo Garcia-Crow to our New Story Experience line-up!

Amparo Garcia-Crow

Amparo Garcia-Crow

As a playwright, Garcia-Crow has been developed at South Coast Repertory Theatre and has had world premiers Off-Broadway, Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Latino Chicago, and various theaters and universities in the Southwest. …

Her most recent film "Death Rattle" which she wrote and produced recently premiered at the Los Angeles Latino International and Cine las Americas. Her half hour film, "Loaves and Fishes" (which she also stars in) aired on the PBS series "Territories", after premiering at the SXSW Film Festival and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

A former James Michener Fellow, Amparo won the Larry King Playwright Award for her play, "Cocks Have Claws and Wings to Fly" and most recently the national Mae West Festival's "Best Female Protagonist" award for her play "Esmeralda Blue: La Mujer Moderna". 

Get your tickets for the New Story Experience now!

Sojourners Joins as a Partner in the New Story Festival

We’re honored to have our friends at Sojourners joining us as a sponsor of the inaugural New Story Festival in 2019.

Sojourners started in the early 1970s when a handful of students began meeting to discuss the relationship between their faith and political issues, particularly the Vietnam War. In 1971, the group decided to create a publication that would express their convictions and test whether other people of faith had similar beliefs. What emerged was a publication committed to social justice and peace.

Sojourners is a perfect partner for the “Act” program at the festival. “Act” is the program area where we focus on positive, proactive social action aimed at making the world a better place.

Please join us in welcoming Sojourners to the New Story!

Brian McLaren on the First New Story Festival Podcast

Brian McLaren and Gareth Higgins discuss the stories we live by, why stories are bigger than philosophies, and the dominant stories they were both born into. Find out what they have to say on the first ever New Story podcast!

Hear more from both Brian and Gareth at the New Story Experience, Saturday, November 3 at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Texas.

Thank you for listening! Please subscribe on iTunes or listen on Spotify and share this episode now with your friends on social media.

Special thanks to our podcast producer Samuel Polay!