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Seventh-day Adventists Gather to Celebrate Supremacy of Jesus
Over 700 young adults and church leaders with a passion for Christ come together
Over 700 young adults and church leaders gathered in Seattle, February 13-14, to celebrate the supremacy of Jesus. The One Project, attended by an enthusiastic group, exploded from just five friends who met in 2010 with a passion to make Jesus #1 in their lives. Young leaders, with fresh perspectives, chose examples from the early history of the church to equate where the church is today in terms of making Jesus the core of who we are. Following each presentation, ample time was given for participants to “Recalibrate”—to have conversations about Jesus as related to the topic.
Lisa Clark Diller, history professor, Southern Adventist University, confessed, “I was born into a Seventh-day Adventist home, an environment where we knew Adventists were ‘right’. Since then, I’ve learned the wisdom of having Jesus and being right. We don’t have to choose.” She continued, “William Miller wanted nothing more than to meet his Savior. Good ideas mattered to him but they were born out of a desire to know Jesus. The truth isn’t a ‘what’. It’s a ‘Who’.”
Sam Leonor, senior chaplain, La Sierra University, referenced the 1888 Conference in Minneapolis where Jones and Waggoner debated Righteousness by Faith. “Out of that meeting,” stated Leonor, “was born a most precious message to uplift Jesus.” He reminded those present that Jesus was the theme throughout Ellen White’s books.
Alex Bryan, senior pastor, Walla Walla University Church, recalled the late 50s when Adventists struggled to identify themselves as a Christian church rather than a cult, as some suggested. Bryan said, “The question has now shifted from identity of self to identity of Jesus. Two days a year, we can come to a safe place (The One Project) to dream, nourish and talk about how Jesus can impact the future of our church. From there we go home with renewed energy to spend the other 363 days a year with Jesus at the center of church life and community.”
Other speakers were Mark Witas, senior pastor, North Cascade Seventh-day Adventist Church, Washington state, who said that when Jesus is central in everything, doctrines will reveal a beautiful picture of Him. Eddie Hypolite, associate youth director, South England Conference, said we must do Jesus-centered missions so people will feel the love and hear what we are saying. Dilys Brooks, associate campus chaplain, Loma Linda University, challenged leaders to create community that reflects Jesus.
The Westin Hotel lobby, ballroom and even the elevator was a buzz of friendly chatter. Men and women were discussing with hopeful anticipation what The One Project might do to transform the church. Jose Cortez, Atlantic Union Conference, remarked how refreshing the experience had been for him. “When you hear Adventists talk about Christ as front and center of the church, it gives me a lot of hope." His friend Milton Marquez from Paradise, Ca., added, “It reiterated for me just how powerful God is when we focus on Jesus.”
David Kim, family practice physician, Atlanta, said the gathering is long overdue. “I grew up in a legalistic Adventist culture where the three R's dominated—rules, regulations, and rituals. Missing was the biggest R of Christianity—a relationship with Jesus.”
In his opening remarks Monday morning, Japhet De Oliveira, director, Center for Youth Evangelism, cautioned, “This is not an event, conference or symposium. We’re not teaching anything. Instead it is a gathering that provides space for leaders from all walks of life to pause and enter deep conversations on Jesus. The next gathering is planned for Chicago in 2013. See www.the1project.org.
By Bernadine Delafield
NAD Office of Communication