Young leaders developed and empowered at Converge

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Worship was a highlight of the program. (Photos: Charmaine Patel)

Young Adventists from around Australia gathered for fellowship, fun and spiritual growth at this year’s Converge camp.

About 380 young adults aged between 18 and 30 attended Converge, held February 8-11 at Stuarts Point Convention Centre (NSW). The camp is an annual initiative of the Australian Union Conference (AUC).

AUC youth director Pastor Jeff Parker said Converge is a place where young adults are called to a higher purpose, active engagement and a deeper relationship with Christ.

“We do have an amazing group of young adults in our Church,” he said. “What we don’t want to see is the exodus of young adults continuing. Events like Converge are able to set a new direction in the lives of many of our young adults—they see the successes of what has happened with other young people and want to do similar in their churches.”

Pastor Parker said the dynamic of Converge is hard to explain to someone who is not there.

“Young adults who have a passion for Jesus come together to meet each other and grow in Jesus. The connections made for many will be strong. I believe that we will see change in our Church at large because of the impact of Converge on our young adults.

“Our young adults need to get together to be inspired as young adults,” Pastor Parker continued. “There are not many events within our Church just for them. They come from each conference in Australia. The event is led by young adults (youth directors are just there as coaches and mentors). We also need our young adults to meet others in their age bracket who have a faith like theirs.”

Guest speakers Tacyana Nixon, from Andrews University, USA, and Simon Gigliotti, new Greater Sydney Conference youth director, provided two different themes that were emphasised throughout the weekend. Pastor Nixon spoke about discipleship, providing the young people with many opportunities to commit their lives to growing in Christ. On the Sunday night, hundreds of young adults stepped up, requesting prayer for specific issues in their lives.

Pastor Gigliotti spoke about leadership and challenged the young adults to commit to leading, providing practical steps and a threefold call to action: leadership in the local church, church planting in the future and full-time ministry. Around 50 young people committed to significant action.

“There is no doubt in my mind that a majority of those in attendance will be inspired for action in their local setting,” said Pastor Parker. “We saw passion and desire in their hearts to do so. We believe leaders will step up and power on for Jesus.”

Alongside the keynote presentations were workshops and time for sharing as well as water activities at the nearby lake and beach. Each evening, young adults already working in the leadership space were showcased.

One key aspect of Converge is the ability for young people from around Australia to meet and make connections.

“Converge is a place where young adults can feel safe to bring their friends,” Pastor Parker said. “During the event there are many opportunities for young adults to grow in their connection with Jesus (or to meet Jesus for the first time). We also need our young adults to meet others in their age bracket who have a faith like theirs.”

Pastor Parker encouraged local churches around Australia to support their young people attending Converge, suggesting they may even be able to sponsor them in some way.

“Converge is a place to grow our young adults into present and future leaders in our Church.”

Next year’s event is scheduled for February 7-10, 2020.