August 8, 2014

Australia: Strong Support for the One Project

The One Project attracted a record 400 participants to its July
gathering in Sydney, and also launched a new location in Perth.

The weekend gatherings offered a varied menu of speakers from
the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, led by The One Project’s
co-founders, including Japhet de Oliveira and Sam Leonor. The weekend format
maximized opportunities for interaction, with participants seated around tables
and given time to reflect together after each of the 20-minute talks.

“If church was more like The One Project from Sabbath to
Sabbath, with more interaction and response,” said Terry Johnson, president of
the Western Australia Conference, “it would be a healthier environment.”

Although The One Project weekend in Perth was not an official
conference-sponsored event, the invitation to hold the gathering came from
Pastor Johnson.

The mainstreaming of The One Project was also a feature of the
Sydney gathering, with Greater Sydney Conference president Michael Worker
welcoming participants to the event and noting that at least half of the
Conference’s executive committee was present.

“We have learned some things here that we
hope to replicate in The One Project in other parts of the world,” said Alex
Bryan, co-chair of The One Project and senior pastor of Walla Walla University
Church in Washington, United States.

Comments from participants at the Sydney event indicated that
previous gatherings—in Australia and elsewhere—had featured what One Project
organizer, Terry Swenson, called “rawness”—people openly revealing their
personal hurts and disappointments with their church experience. The atmosphere
in Sydney was much more positive, with a focus on people sharing their dreams
for the church during open-mic sessions between speakers.

A new feature of The One Project in Sydney was the inclusion of
a community service project, where participants travelled to the inner city to
offer practical help to those who are homeless.

The One Project is holding a conference in Auckland on November
8-9, and plans are being developed for a return to Australia in 2015.

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