A spiritual awakening is coming to the Vineyard this weekend. And Squire Rushnell, author, comedian and part-time resident of Edgartown, is poised to prove it through a five-day event dedicated to inspirational message, comedy and song at this year’s Inspiration Weekend.

“Our whole quest was to do something that would lift the spirits of this entire Island at the beginning of the season,” Mr. Rushnell said in an interview this week. “There will be stories and music that will grip your heart. You can count on that.”

Dr. Charles Stanley, pastor and founder of In Touch Ministries, is the keynote speaker for the weekend, which is expected to draw more than 1,000 people to the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs over the course of five days. Dr. Stanley’s sermons are broadcast in every nation in the world via radio and television, including 204 television stations in the United States.

Dr. Stanley and others are hoping to reach a broader audience this year. “I’m going to connect with this community the way I speak with every community, I speak the truth,” Dr. Stanley said in an interview yesterday at the Charlotte Inn in Edgartown, where he is staying. “It’s the power of the truth that changes people.”

Inspiration Weekend was originally created by Mr. Rushnell and his wife and performance partner, Louise DuArt, in 2009. Now in its second year, the expanded five-day event kicks off Friday night with an inspirational message by Dr. Stanley and runs through Tuesday evening, featuring music, comedy and prayer.

After the success of Inspiration Weekend last year, Mr. Rushnell and Mrs. DuArt traveled to Atlanta to personally invite Dr. Stanley to be the featured speaker at this year’s event.

“We were prepared to whittle back our expectations,” said Mr. Rushnell. “So when he said, ‘I think I should stay for five days and not leave until I am moved to leave,’ we were absolutely thrilled.”

Of course the roots of revivalism are strong on the Vineyard; 150 years ago, the Tabernacle was home to religious revivals that were held in tents pitched in circles in the oak groves there.

“We felt that it was once a place that was so spiritually alive, but we also know that it is spiritually dormant today,” Mr. Rushnell said. “I think part of our quest is to awaken the dormancy that there is in a lot of Islanders.”

Billing it as a nondenominational event, the organizers of Inspiration Weekend say that it is not religion-centered, but God-centered. The Rev. Jeff Winter, pastor at the Faith Community Church of Martha’s Vineyard, which is a sponsor, said he is expecting a diverse crowd from around the country.

And he hopes the good deeds that abound in the Vineyard community will inspire others.

“I think it’s important to be able to give,” Mr. Winter said. “It’s important for them to hear about what the community organizations are doing to help . . . to lift these people, and to have the people from off-Island give back to something here.”

To that end, money collected at the offering during the Sunday morning service will be donated to Camp Jabberwocky and the Red Stocking Fund.

“Life is tough, life is hard,” Mr. Winter added. “I want people to feel inspired that there’s hope in their daily lives.”

Dr. Stanley’s In Touch Ministries is cosponsoring the $150,000 event, which will include performances by American Idol finalist Mandisa, Grammy-nominated group Avalon, bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs and the Kentucky Thunder, and Star Search finalist Mara Getz.

And entertainment and inspiration are not the only benefits expected this weekend. Mr. Winter said local businesses were consulted about which dates were best for them, and they agreed that the weekend after Memorial Day could provide a welcome boost. “From the chamber of commerce perspective, it’s a win-win thing,” Mr. Winter said.

But Mr. Rushnell and Mr. Winter said the real beneficiary of Inspiration Weekend is the Island community. “There are a lot of hurting people on this Island,” Mr. Rushnell said. But there’s still hope. “The energy is there [at the Tabernacle]; there’s a spiritual energy that is in that land that is going to come awake.”


For more information about Inspiration Weekend, including a schedule of events and admission prices, go to intouch.org/marthasvineyard.