Over 800 church leaders recently gathered in Richmond Hill, Ont., for Ontario Conference’s 2019 “Discipleshift” Ministries Convention. Conference, union, and division ministry partners, pastors, and lay leaders joined forces on March 22 and 23 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 leading-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, as well as 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 Sung Kwon, North American Division (NAD) Adventist Community Services director; Pastor Tricia Wynn-Payne of Lake Region Conference; Jesse Wilson, Oakwood University religion professor; and conference president, 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 Bestman-Mombo, of Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church, attended a digital ministry seminar and 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.”