Baptist and Reflector
MANCHESTER — In the summer of 2001, when the Bonnaroo Music Festival experienced its first significant attendance boom, the city of Manchester was ill-prepared for the influx of visitors.
The result was gridlock in the streets of Manchester, and traffic tie-ups spilled over onto the highways.
Brenton Cox, the lead pastor at First Baptist, Manchester, felt moved to reach out to the stranded drivers, many of whom were trapped on the roads for hours.
So, Cox came up with a plan: For several hours each day, church members went into the streets, moving from car to car, passing out bottled water. First Baptist continued this ministry each summer during the early years of Bonnaroo’s success.
Eventually, the traffic problems in Manchester were eased when city officials developed new routes for the festival-goers. Cox, however, felt called to maintain an outreach to Bonnaroo attendees.
The concept of an evangelism tent soon came about — and the idea turned into a reality in 2006, when the “More Than Music” tent made its debut.
Nine years later, by popular demand, the name was changed.
“We were aware that many of the ‘Bonnaroovians’ referred to us as ‘Jesus Tent,’ ” said Jake Dorak, associate pastor at FBC Manchester. “So, in 2015, we decided to do some rebranding, and we officially changed our name to the Jesus Tent.”