December 30, 2015: Four international gatherings for Adventist young adults are scheduled from early January through April in 2016. The first actually begins today the Generation Youth for Christ (GYC) annual conference in Louisville (Kentucky) with the theme, “Called, Chosen, Faithful.” Notable speakers will include Pastor Mark Finley, a retired General Conference (GC) vice president and former director of the It Is Written television ministry; Michael Carducci, from Coming Out Ministries; Scott Ritsema, from Belt of Truth Ministries; and Pastor Homer Trecartin, leader of the Adventist denomination in the Middle East and North Africa. Interested individuals can learn more and register for the event on the GYC web site: https://gycweb.org/registration/
GYC is generally considered to represent a more conservative approach to Adventist faith and has strong support from Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI), an association of Adventists who lead small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Adventist Today has published a book about the formation of the organization and some of the issues related to it entitled Something’s Happening by Suzanne Ocsai, a young Adventist author. It is available from Amazon, the online book seller in both paperback and eBook formats. The paperback can also be obtained through the Adventist Today office.
The One Project will hold a two-day gathering at the Westin hotel in Seattle (Washington) February 14-15. Although not limited to young adults, a number of the organizers are university chaplains and pastors of churches on Adventist campuses. The focus of this group is on a Christ-centered approach to Adventist faith with less emphasis on tradition.
Event planners have kept younger participants in mind. “A team of youth and young adult pastors will have special tables reserved for 13-17 year olds who will have a unique set of [discussion] questions.” Additionally, a parallel gathering for children “will consist of fun, creative, programming that will explore a relationship with Jesus for children between the ages of 4-12 year olds.”
The theme of the Seattle gathering will be the final week in the life of Christ leading up to His death on the cross. Speakers will include Pastor Raewyn Hankins from Southern California, Pastor Karl Haffner from Kettering (Ohio), Pastor Matthew Gamble from Northern California, Pastor Tara VinCross from Philadelphia, Pastor Alex Bryan from Walla Walla University, Dr. Zane Yi from the School of Religion at Loma Linda University, Pastor Tim Gillespie from Loma Linda (California), Pastor Dilys Brooks from Los Angeles, and Dr. William Johnsson, a New Testament scholar and the retired editor of the Adventist Review. To register, visit the organization’s web site: www/the1project.org
The denomination’s North American Division will host the official Adventist young adult prayer conference Just Claim It on February 17 to 20. The event will be in Ontario, California, and the theme is “World Changers.” Speakers will include Pastor Gilbert Cangy, youth director of the denomiantion’s General Conference; Pastor Shantel Smith, assistant chaplain at Pacific Union College; Pastor Manny Ortega from Resurrection Adventist Church; Pastor Garrett Speyer, from Loma Linda, California; and Pastor Kumar Dixit, from Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada).
The event’s web site explains Just Claim It is a “youth prayer ministry resource for the local church.” The planners are “asking for every church in North America to send at least one attendee for the purpose of training and implementation back home.” More information is visit the web site: www.jci5.org/
The United Youth Congress will be held in Virginia Beach, Virginia, April 13-17 with the theme “4Given.” Speakers will include Abdele George, Chanda Nunez, Pastor Richard Martin and others. The event “offers youth and young adults an opportunity to worship, learn new skills, serve the community, meet new friends, preparing them for service in their school, college, church and home community,” the web site states.
This event is sponsored by the Black Adventist Youth Directors Association (BAYDA), which “exists to equip and empower an emerging generation of youth leaders to impact their church and community.” In addition to worship, activities will include a community service project, drill and drum competitions, bowling, skating, swimming, a basketball tournament and a concert. Information and registration is available through AdventSource, the NAD resource center at www.adventsource.org.
In addition to these four events, GODencounters is also praying and planning toward one or more 2016 gatherings, Pastor Allan Martin told Adventist Today. “We don’t want to perpetuate a ‘program’ even our ‘brand.’ We’re wanting to continue to be a movement following where God leads. So we’re being careful to listen. … And follow,” he said. Young adults are invited to follow the God Encounters Facebook page for updates throughout 2016.
Although most Adventist congregations in North America do not have a young adult ministry or regular group, but there are a number of opportunities over the next few months for young adults with a background or interest in the Adventist faith to connect with others. Readers who have additional questions and do not choose to contact the groups listed above can write to the editors of Adventist Today via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org and receive a personal response.