Over 800 church leaders recently gathered in Richmond Hill, ON, for Ontario Conference’s 2019 “Discipleshift” Ministries Convention. From Friday, March 22, to Sabbath, March 23, conference, union and division ministry partners, pastors and lay leaders, joined forces to inspire attendees to make disciples who will then make more disciples, as per the Conference’s 2019 Discipleshift theme.
Featuring uplifting, yet challenging devotionals and cutting-edge workshops, the biennial training event signalled a paradigm shift in our churches from a model of programming to one of discipleship. Reynold Hazelwood, organizing committee head, stated, “Saturday night, many people said, ‘Now I understand what Discipleshift is.’ They were going back to their churches with a new sense of direction and vigour.”
With a record 33 workshop presenters, attendees had a plethora of seminar choices. Among the many unique, relevant sessions was one on deaf ministries, presented by Alan Meis, vice principal of Battle Creek Academy, and sign language interpreter, and deaf lay pastor, Paul Kelly. They urged people to consider, “What if, in the story of the lost sheep, the lost sheep was deaf?” Other standouts were seminars on autism, Muslim ministries, ministry to young women using 21st-century tools, men’s ministry and digital ministry.
Skilfully weaving the Discipleshift theme into their messages, worship speakers included Dr. Sung Kwon, NAD Adventist Community Services director, Pastor Tricia Wynn-Payne of Lake Region Conference, Dr. Jesse Wilson, Oakwood University religion professor, and Conference president, Dr. Mansfield Edwards, who presented the final charge on Sabbath evening. Wynn-Payne summarized their messages on pursuing discipleship regardless of cost, saying, “When Jesus calls, we’ve gotta answer.”
Overall, participants were excited, blessed and ready to hit the ground running. Lula, Berea, who attended a digital ministry seminar, reflected, “I’ve gotten more ideas on ways that we can reach the community. Digital ministry is one thing that I will take back to the church and implement. I’m now motivated to go out and do more.”