Avondale’s one-day One project

Dr Terry Swenson, chaplain and an associate professor in the School of Religion at Loma Linda University, speaking during the One project gathering at Avondale College of Higher Education in 2015. (Photo: Nathan Long Photographics)

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Avondale is not only hosting but co-organising a more intimate gathering of the One project as it returns to campus for a third consecutive year.

Avondale 1:1 is a single-day gathering limited to the first 150 people who register. The gathering will explore what it meant and means to be a follower of Jesus. Reflection sessions will revisit the story of Jesus and discover how His disciple-making shapes our life and mission as His disciples now. Recalibration sessions and a response session will help participants apply the messages to their lives by encouraging conversation through discussion and questions.

“Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 to ‘Go . . .’ was not a new command,” says Signs Publishing book editor Nathan Brown, one of the gathering’s producers. “It was a call to continue His ministry—and to take it further. That’s what we’ll be doing at this gathering.”

Speakers at Avondale 1:1 include Avondale Seminary head Dr Kayle de Waal, alumnus, evangelist and church planter Dr Peter Roennfeldt and the One project director Dr Lisa Clark Diller, a lecturer on faculty exchange at Avondale and a former board member of the One project internationally.

The gathering will begin with a presentation from alumna and Brisbane-based young adult ministry leader Alina van Rensburg at the college of higher education’s Friday evening worship service 7.28.

Brown will host a follow-up called Just Disciples the day after the gathering. He and those joining him as guests will challenge participants to consider how the call of Jesus can make a difference in their family, their community and their world.

With the return of the One project to Ella Hughes Chapel on the Lake Macquarie campus comes the return of round tables. These will be most effective during recalibration sessions and during a Discovery Bible Reading session led by Dr Roennfeldt. “This Bible reading will surprise you,” says Brenton Stacey, Avondale’s Public Relations officer. “You’ll learn something about Jesus you didn’t know and that understanding may just challenge you as you think about what putting discipleship into practice.”

A celebration of the oldest and purest form of storytelling will feature on the Saturday evening after the gathering ends. Tell Me A Story will revisit the art of spoken word as raconteurs use ethos, humour and pathos to entertain and challenge. “Spoken word is probably the least employed form of storytelling in our current culture—in a formal sense,” says co-producer Joanna Darby. But it is an important one, she adds. “Stories don’t need explaining or have moral points drawn out. We experience them individually and find our own meaning from them.”

In its sixth year in Australia, the One project remains focused on celebrating the supremacy of Jesus through the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “We’re committed to the idea that a Jesus-driven, Jesus-bathed, Jesus-backed, Jesus-led, Jesus-filled, Jesus-powered, all-about-Jesus Adventist Church is the uncompromising directive from our past, the joy of our present and hope for our future,” says co-founder and chair Pastor Japhet De Oliveira. “We claim the primal Adventist impulse: a longing to be with Jesus.”

Or to be like Jesus. The inspiration for the Avondale 1:1 gathering, the only gathering in Australia so far this year, comes from two Signs Publishing books, both launched this year to support the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific’s strategic focus on discipleship. [pullquote]

Mission Shift: Multiplying Disciples in Your Community by Dr de Waal describes the local church as the future of Seventh-day Adventism but issues this challenge: biblically reinvent or become irrelevant. And Following Jesus: Disciple-making and Movement-building by Dr Roennfeldt studies in-depth the life and ministry of Jesus. The book features 50 guides that draw from a close reading of the gospels, direct readers to relevant chapters in the books Messiah and The Desire of Ages and offer key questions for exploration, reflection and application. “I’ve enjoyed reading Peter’s book,” says De Oliveira. “Not least because Peter was a powerful mentor in my life but because of his ability to effortlessly distill and challenge us on our walk with Jesus.”

Avondale is hosting and co-organising the gathering as a gold sponsor of the One project. It previously hosted gatherings on its Sydney campus in 2016 and on its Lake Macquarie campus in 2015.

“The One project is one of the best and most important ongoing conversations in the Adventist Church because it calls us back to Jesus and His mission in our world,” says Brown, who has attended 10 gatherings here in Australia and in the United States. He describes the gatherings as modelling a commitment to excellence in speaking, worship, conversation and production. “The usual response from those who’ve been part of gatherings has been a renewed appreciation of and commitment to Jesus and the church, as well as a desire for more active engagement in ministry.”

Registration for the One project Avondale 1:1 gathering opened on Friday, May 12.

The One project Avondale 1:1

“Following Jesus.” What did it mean to be a follower of Jesus? What does it mean today? A focused one-day gathering where you will worship, reflect, recalibrate and respond. Speakers include Drs Peter Roennfeldt, Kayle de Waal and Lisa Clark Diller. Gathering limited to the first 150 people who register. Registration fee: $70 (includes lunch). Early-bird special: register by May 26 and receive free entry to two post-gathering events: Tell Me A Story and Just Disciples. Ella Hughes Chapel, Avondale College of Higher Education (Lake Macquarie campus), August 12. Visit www.the1project.org for more.

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