The History of Karitos, Part 2: An Interview with Mike Schoder and Robert Hay

Updated: Apr 3, 2020

In this second podcast, Schoder and Hay discuss the unique events that have occurred during the past 25 years. "Well, we've never been afraid to try something different," Hay started the conversation by talking about the year a couple on the Karitos steering committee had a wedding during the Saturday evening Karitos event. The wedding party was dressed in medieval costumes with a themed ceremony based on the Song of Solomon. The event included 20 dancers, dressed in white, performing, "The Dance of the Virgins," which they had learned in a workshop that morning. Hay recollects that a woman from Wisconsin called a week later saying she hadn't realized it was a real wedding until she saw the couple kiss.

Hay went on to exclaim that the founders of Karitos "have never been afraid to try something once." Hay recalled the year the circus came to Karitos. In the second year of Karitos, Lori Mestas, from Family Harvest Church in Tinley Park, IL, brought clowns, trapeze artists and a high wire act to Karitos. There was also a year that a Taekwondo team came. Then an acrobatic team from Orlando, Florida, called Acrodramance, came in 2007.

"One time we had an evangelistic Taekwondo team. So they asked for a volunteer. They had the participant bend over and they put a watermelon on his neck. Then one martial artist did a sword thing and cut the watermelon off the back of his neck." Hay said.

Acrodramance performing at Karitos 2007
"If you want to do something creative, where do you go to learn it? You don't learn it in Bible school. They don't teach juggling or mime or those kind of creative ministries, so you look for a place like Karitos to go to.” Hay stated.

One of the most memorable events for Schoder was when the Native American group Maracle & Broken Walls came between 2001 and 2003. Hay remembers that his late daughter Courtney Hay was in Israel participating in the Feast of Tabernacles when she saw the group praying and dancing over Jerusalem. She invited the group to Karitos. "They were Native Americans who were reclaiming their culture and using it for evangelism." Hay explained.

"When we brought them to Karitos for the first time, we knew that when they came down the aisle the place would just go crazy, and it did."

Maracle & Broken Walls Native American Group dancing at Karitos 2001

"Not everybody has the traditional calling," Francis said, "and I think that Karitos is that place, that really special place, that God has created for those people who are ‘out of the box’."

Francis explains that the evangelistic spirit of Karitos has provided a place for all kinds of artists to grow over the past 25 years. Francis mentioned faculty member Ginny Ching-Yin Lo who was sent out from Karitos to minister in China. She stated that over tens of thousands of people have been influenced by her and others who have used Karitos as a start to their evangelistic ministry. "That's why this event exists. I believe the reason the Lord has kept it around for so long is because it is bearing fruit in the Kingdom." Hay mentioned that Ching-Yin Lo’s dance ministry was not well supported by her home church and she needed a sending out agent like Karitos to support and pray for her.

"Karitos has been known for really being a place where you feel safe. You feel like you can spread your wings and try something new. You have an encounter with the Lord, you grow, and you don't leave Karitos the same." Francis said. Francis expounded on changes that are taking place with Karitos this year. Karitos will be on new technological platforms with live interviews and workshops planned. Karitos continues year round due to these virtual and additional physical events being planned in the Chicago area for the next year. Hay expressed his hope that Karitos could live in the community to support creative ministries in the future. Francis mentioned that they have the vision of a facility down the road, but for now they are working to create an online community for Karitos.

To find out more about these online and physical events, visit our website page "See what’s happening" link.


Did you know that you can choose Karitos as your charity of choice at Amazon Smiles? Every amazon purchase gives back to Karitos. Just got to and type in "Karitos Christian Arts Association, Inc." as your charity of choice. It's that easy!


We invite you to be a part of Karitos with us all year long. Whether it is our annual event, online workshops or social media talks, now you can be a part of the Karitos family 24/7!! Visit to see what is happening this month!

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