The One Project Gathers in Australia, Takes Organizational Steps
by Monte Sahlin
By Adventist Today News Team, July 10, 2014
Gatherings on both the east and west coasts of Australia are scheduled for the next two weekends around the focus on Jesus Christ as “all” for Adventists. July 18-20 the event will be based at the Fox Valley Adventist Church in the Sydney metropolitan area. July 26-27 at least 200 people will participate in the first such even in western Australia in Perth. In both cases, the capacity of the facilities resulted in registration closing in June.
The One Project has also announced its first gathering in New Zealand later this year, November 8 and 9 at the East Auckland Church. The theme will be “Present Truth” and registration has already closed because as many people as can be accommodated have already signed up.
A fifth gathering in Europe is scheduled October 24-26 in Utrecht, the Netherlands. There too, the theme will be “Present Truth.”
The Sydney event will include some innovations for One Project gatherings. A number of presenters will address the Fundamental Teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, each explaining how Jesus shines through one doctrine in just three minutes. Also, volunteer teams will reach out to the homeless and prisoners on Saturday night (July 19). The homeless ministry will go into the inner city and provide a meal for the homeless. The prison outreach volunteers will assemble care packages for the inter-denominational Prison Ministry Fellowship to give to prisoners at the time of their release. These will include basic necessities—toiletries, writing materials, bottled water and towels.
Adventist pastors, theology students and leaders of ministries are invited to an all-day meeting the Monday after the Sydney gathering with The One Project team. Labeled “Reframe,” the meeting will involve “dreaming, exploring and casting a vision” for the future of the “Jesus All” movement in Australia.
At next year’s North American gathering of The One Project in San Diego there will be a new feature. A collateral “Generation One” event on February 7 is being organized for teens age 14 through 17.
The One Project Organizes More Formally
At a meeting of The One Project board in April, after “two days of praying, planning and dreaming,” the movement’s leaders took some steps toward a more formal organization. Bylaws, an organization chart and a list of goals and projects were voted.
The mission statement of the movement was clarified with the change of one word. The purpose of The One Project is now to “celebrate the supremacy of Jesus Christ through the Adventist Church” instead of “in” the church. This evidently signifies a broader, missional focus for the initiative instead of limiting its vision to the internal life of the denomination.
A new type of activity voted at the meeting is one-day gatherings convened in collaboration with local churches. These would include both local speakers and at least one speaker from the leadership team.
Citing the value of transparency, the first-ever bylaws for the organization have been posted it The One Project web site. So far as Adventist Today can determine, no other independent ministry and many denominational units have not been this open about their governing policies.
In fact, the document makes it clear that The One Project is not an independent ministry, but “a denominationally supported activity … hosted at the Boulder [Colorado] Seventh-day Adventist Church” and connected to the denomination’s Rocky Mountain Conference. Officers and board members are required by the document to be members of the denomination “in good and regular standing.”
The board is defined as including the five original founders of The One Project as long as they wish to participate, Adventist clergy and “lay members” elected for defined terms at biannual meetings, and a representative from each of the denomination’s world divisions in which the project operates. The divisions currently involved are North America, South Pacific and the two European divisions.
The five founders are listed as Pastor Alex Bryan (senior pastor of the Walla Walla University Church in Washington), Pastor Japhet de Oliveira (pastor of the Boulder Church and former chaplain at Andrews University), Pastor Sam Leonor (chaplain at La Sierra University), Pastor Timothy Gillespie and Pastor Terry Swenson (both now chaplains and faculty member at Loma Linda University, although Swenson was an academy principal when the project started). Many of the other current board members are either campus chaplains at Adventist colleges and universities or pastors of local churches near Adventist institutions.
The bylaws specify an unusual executive leadership structure. There are two “co-chief executive officers” (CEOs) and a chief operating officer (COO). The One Project bylaws borrow language from the model constitution and bylaws for local conferences in the General Conference Working Policy and require that the CEOs be “ordained ministers of experience.”
The most recent One Project Newsletter received by Adventist Today promises that additional information about the new organizational steps will be posted on its web site, including an organizational chart adopted at the April meeting. “As these items are fine-tuned … we will let you know,” the newsletter stated.