At the close of a 20-year run for the Women of Faith tour, the brand-new version of the women’s gathering with a much younger target demographic—the Belong Tour—was poised to take the reins as the next big event for evangelical women. But due to “critically low ticket sales and the high cost of producing these events,” the 2017 tour was canceled before the first scheduled event took place, according to the event organizers.
The event billed itself as a two-day event for “every woman—for conservatives and liberals, young and old, married and single, those who go to church and those who don’t, women of every background and race.” The tour was scheduled to feature prominent Christian bloggers and authors such as Jen Hatmaker, Shauna Niequist and Deidra Riggs, who would share stories, real-life insights and inspiration to women at gatherings across the country, running from August through December 2017.
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry about what this means for all of you who’ve set aside the weekend, bought tickets, made plans for childcare or hotels and time off work,” Niequist said in a Facebook post to her fans. “The other speakers and I have prayed for Belong 2017, planned for it, dreamed about it and hoped for it.”
Tour information was replaced on the event website with instructions on how to receive a refund or trade for purchased tickets, as well as a promise that the tour would resume in 2018 for those who would like to keep their tickets for future use.
According to Christianity Today, thousands of women attended last year’s 12-city tour, but received criticism when surprise guest speaker Glennon Doyle Melton made an appearance on the tour. Melton, a popular blogger, recently divorced her husband and has since married soccer star Abby Wombach. Additionally, an interview with Hatmaker last year revealed her endorsement of same-sex relationships.
While it appeared as though the Belong Tour was set to be a successful spinoff to the Women of Faith tour, the emphasis in 2016 on speakers who represent what many in the evangelical world deem aberrant theological views could be a contributing factor in the decline of ticket sales. However, it remains to be seen what changes, if any, will be made to the program schedule in order to boost ticket sales for the 2018 tour.