ONE 2019 by the numbers:
15 partner organizations including EFC’s Love Is Moving
3057 registered participants who were made up of…
1099 middle school students
1164 high school students and
Interview with Rev. Renée Embree, Co-Director of ONE and Director of Youth and Family for the Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada
LIM: How did the idea for One Conference come into being?
R: It started with a dream of what we used to call “The Onesie initiative” as we dreamt what was possible if we held our existing denominational events loosely for the sake of the Kingdom. In our Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada world we had been having our own youth event called Springforth for about 40 years and we realized the event had platitude and was starting to decline. It was clear Springforth was in need of changes to accomplish its continued goal of reaching middle schooler and high schoolers with the Good News of Jesus and releasing them to join God in their neighbourhoods. As we looked around at other existing, mostly denominational, youth events in our region and began having conversations with the leaders of those events we realized we were all struggling with similar questions about our futures. So, it started with two guys, Andy Broad from the Wesleyan world and Andrew Glidden from the Baptist world, going out for coffee and starting to dream what would be possible if the Wesleyans and Baptists combined their passion, efforts and resources to reach this generation with the Gospel. Both were willing to lower their denominational flag and create a regional event that would inspire and equip students to unite under one God, as one Church, for one Mission. ONE quickly gained the support, team members and participation from various denominations across Atlantic Canada. ONE 2019 was the second year of the conference and we had 3057 paying participants and nine different denominations represented.
LIM: What is the current appetite for congregations and denominations to collaborate and come together as one?
R: I’ve never seen such an appetite for collaboration and unity. It is beautiful! It takes humility for everyone to lower their denominational differences and work to be united in Jesus for the sake of joint Kingdom goals, but it is so beautiful and rewarding when it happens. In particular, this younger generation needs to see and is blown away by the example of Christians, of all stripes, working together for the greater good. They (and all of us) need to see this taste of heaven now, here on earth.
LIM: Can you think of another example (local mission, evangelism, service?) where congregations or denominations are coming together for collective impact?
R: One of the places I’ve seen this on display is in supporting refugees and newcomers to Canada. Our teams welcoming newcomers are made up of partners from various church denominations, community groups and government agencies – all working together for the common goal of welcoming refugees. There is no way our response to refugee and newcomers would have been as big and as effective if there wasn’t a willingness for denominations and other groups to work together for a greater collective impact.
LIM: What would Atlantic Canada miss if the denominations involved in One Conference went back to having separate annual youth gatherings?
R: This would be incredibly sad. We’d miss out on the richness of being together in unity, worshipping and learning all together. Students, in particular, would miss the richness of being together. We’ve heard stories of students who came to ONE and met people from their own schools that they had not realized were a part of a youth group because they’re each connected to a different church denomination. It’s helping students build community. Practically, any denomination simply wouldn’t have the resources – financial or people resources – to do an event of this calibre on their own. Finally, we are slowly seeing a fresh, deeper unity across Atlantic Canada that would be lost if we stopped this inter-denominational event. Partnering together at ONE seems to have given greater permission and connections that has allowed: youth leaders to partner together in their home communities, students to connect with others of various denominations in pursuing Jesus, and new dreaming of further partnerships for the sake of our joint Kingdom mission.
Also in attendance were…
24 ONE Team Members and their Interns
3 CBOQ Youth exchange leaders
2 First Aiders
9 denominations represented: Baptists (of various stripes), Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Independent, Christ Church, Anglican, Church of the Nazarene, Disciples of Christ and Presbyterian, plus a Camp and a Christian school!
Renée’s invitation: “Hey friends from the United Church, Catholic Church, Salvation Army and other denominations – we’d love for you to join us in 2020!”
$6626.20 was raised by ONE to launch the ONE Mission and help partner with a church & community in El Salvador to (a) build latrines through Sent (b) sponsor kids through Compassion Canada and (c) send a ONE team through Sent in 2020.
ALL united under
ONE God as
ONE Church on
Love Is Moving looks forward to partnering again with One Conference as a sponsor. The mission of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, publisher of Love Is Moving, is to unite Evangelicals to bless Canada in the name of Jesus.