April 8, 2009

ConneXions99 a Decade Later

ConneXions99 a Decade Later
A glimpse into lives changed by this young adult movement                                     [Main Story]

capF 5or several days in April 1999 nearly 400 young adults stormed 
the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 
Silver Spring, Maryland, with dreams, prayers, worship, and hope. ConneXions99 was the follow-up to eXcite98, a massive grassroots young adult gathering held in August 1998 at La Sierra University in Riverside, California. According to Andy Nash, “participants spent hours creating new ministries—and networking with existing ones. Of the 50-plus departments at the headquarters, half hosted 90-minute focus groups with young adults. Some even interviewed young adults for prospective jobs or internships. The interaction didn’t stop there. Dozens of General Conference employees opened their homes to financially strained young adults by night—and worshipped with them by day” (Adventist Review, NAD edition, May 1999).

To quote an event planner: “It was a movement of the Spirit amidst a generation wanting to be the change.”
Ten years later, the Adventist Review has asked several participants what c99 meant to them, and how their lives have changed. As you read these short comments, think about young adults you know (maybe yourself) and ask: How can they (you) claim the church as their (your) own? How can you, regardless of age, be a mentor to a young person? And how can all of us hasten Christ’s return through our connections?

onneXions 99 made me feel connected with other young proactive minds; it was great to know I was not the only one striving to do something beyond human abilities.”

“My dream as an artist back then was to transcend postmodernism by locating and standing on timeless and universal multidimensional principles instead of traditions. This concept led me to intense interdisciplinary studies: theology, the arts, theater, physics, filmmaking, etc. I was a professional student for a while, but finally, four years ago, I felt ready to start making more ambitious “integrational” projects and that is going well (I had been attempting to make ‘art as integration’ since 1994, but only now is this reaching maturity). I am working on several interconnected artistic projects that include some Christian film feature projects based on the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.”
—Artnold Jimenez, Spain
That event was instrumental to my ‘born again’ experience. The year before, I was divorced and felt hopeless. Both eXcite98 and ConneXions99 ministered to my soul and revived my spirituality. I saw Christ at work in the lives of 400 visionary kingdom-builders. Through those two events, the Holy Spirit fueled me with inspiration and leadership to build a team to carry out two notable West Coast events—Unite99 and Unite2000 at La Sierra University in California.”
“I am now a certified life and leadership coach with a private practice that provides personal, career, and organizational coaching to help clients shift, take action, and effect changes from a place of Divine strength. I also deliver leadership development and human resources training and seminars for small organizations, churches, and nonprofits. I am also the online editor for the Adventist Today publication, an independent, progressive journal reporting on contemporary issues of importance to Adventist church members. I am married to the lovely Noelle Schwantes—no kids . . . yet.”
—Marcel Schwantes, Chattanooga, Tennessee
My dream at c99 was to keep people connected when they move . . . from c99 that evolved into ‘Here2There,’ and Jon Dybdahl was our ‘church leader advisor.’ Now the dream has evolved into ‘Beyond,’ which is currently at Walla Walla University and is starting on other Adventist campuses (see www.wallawalla
beyond-wwu/). Jon was the president at WWU when I joined 
the faculty in 2003 and created a committee for us to evolve the Here2There concept and make it work for students who are leaving the university at graduation time. It has been exciting to see that happen. Jon’s persistence in getting me to WWU has now 
also allowed me to meet my new husband (married February 14, 2009).”

“Who would have guessed 10 years ago how instrumental that ‘advisor’ role that Jon played was going to be in my life? I praise God for the experiences and believe there are many more as I start a new chapter in my life. I’m now in my sixth year at the School of Engineering, and I am inspiring young people to use their talents in awesome ways.”
—Marlene Baerg Oddie, Walla Walla, Washington
I was just looking at some of my pictures from that time together. I brought a group from La Sierra University and we had a great time. I was part of a discussion on our ‘Christian Behavior’ doctrine. It’s interesting to look back and remember what the ‘big deals’ were to me then and how I have changed. I am now part of a church plant (Mosaic in Palmerston North, New Zealand) that 
is completely outward-focused. I also teach Bible at Longburn Adventist College. Being aware of young people and creating pathways for every individual to connect with the Savior are key in both ministries.”
—Julene Duerksen-Kapao, New Zealand
My wife, Marla, and I presented at both conferences. As associate pastors of a church that has more than doubled in the last two years, we are constantly mentoring 20-somethings into leadership. But the problem [of letting younger generations lead] became apparent at our team leadership meeting this week when we looked around and it was a big deal that we had someone just under 35 years old as our youngest person. The fact is that we are now 40 and 41 (yikes)—if we do not allow for a true multigenerational approach that must include people in their 20s right now, we will die.”
—Jami Keller, Boise, Idaho