By Felix Heintz, Founder and Chair of the Rotarian Metalhead Fellowship, and Manouchehr Shamsrizi, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communication of the Rotarian Metalhead Fellowship
A very special convention takes place annually in Northern Germany, bringing together almost 100,000 people from all over the world. The visitors share fundamental values, which the theologian and publicist Dr. Sebastian Berndt once summed up as “Authenticity, honesty, solidarity, cohesion, truth without frills, directness, and loyalty”. His Swiss colleague, Dr. Jörg Scheller, stated that the community coming together at this convention is “a hybrid, multi-ethnic and globalized fairground for all shades of color, mentality and gender”, and “a playing field of complex identities.”
Now you may be wondering, “Is this a Rotary event I haven’t heard of?”. Rest assured, you haven’t missed a thing because we’re talking about the Wacken Open Air, the world’s largest heavy metal festival. Nevertheless, our comparison of the Wacken Open Air to Rotary is not completely inappropriate, because the two worlds are closer than one might think. For example, last year during Wacken, we met up with fellow Rotary members and started a successful pilot for a Rotary Fellowship with 23 participating members.
The similarities of our shared values and impact in the world will be celebrated and developed together through the Rotarian Metalhead Fellowship, recently approved by Rotary International. Through this fellowship, we will bring together all the metalheads in the family of Rotary to serve Rotary’s goals through music and for music.
“Rotary’s ultimate purpose is serve the community, it has never been more important than it is today,” as Paul Harris quotes back in 1917, and told us, “Where and how to serve is for everyone to decide for themselves.”
Would Harris have become a member of our Fellowship today? His vision – “Friendship is the rock on which Rotary was built, and tolerance holds it together.” – is an excellent match for metal, which, according to Dr. Scheller, “has crossed ideologies, political borders, and national borders in recent decades.” This shapes our conviction that not only was friendship the rock on which Rotary was built, but also Rock (and Heavy Metal) can build the friendship we are looking for.
In addition to enjoying the common musical style, the Rotarian Metalhead Fellowship will provide financial support to The Rotary Foundation and the Wacken Foundation with surplus membership fees. The aim of the Wacken Foundation is to promote young metal talents around the world.
The Rotarian Metalhead Fellowship is one of more than 80 recognized Rotary Fellowships. Throughout the month of June, we’ll be celebrating Rotary Fellowships Month by sharing inspirational services stories from various Rotary Fellowships. We hope these stories inspire you to join or start a Rotary Fellowship.