A Campaign of Hope
A Campaign of Hope
Three conferences erase territory lines and prove that teamwork really does produce the best results: hundreds of new members dedicated to Christ
Story by Beth Michaels
It started as a modest dream. Allegheny East and Chesapeake, two conferences in the Columbia Union, agreed to break tradition and collaborate on an evangelistic campaign—to erase territory lines in the Baltimore area and, together, win individuals for the kingdom. When these conference leaders approached the union for support, the union executive committee realized it was the perfect opportunity to support the General Conference’s Mission to the Cities project, “a five-year emphasis on sharing Jesus’ love and the hope of His soon return with people in some of world’s largest cities.”
As plans developed, this simple partnership became a collaboration of grand proportions. The “Prophecies of Hope” initiative ended up involving the teamwork of union staff; Allegheny East, Chesapeake and Potomac conference leaders; as well as pastors and members from more than 100 congregations across the greater Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia region. With financial support from the General Conference, this was the first known collective evangelistic crusade to take place in the Columbia Union’s mid-Atlantic territory.
Frank Bondurant, the union’s vice president for ministries development and director of the “Prophecies of Hope” steering committee, explains that, by uniting their efforts, all participating churches could benefit from cohesive branding and a single launch date, April 11, which they advertised through radio spots, newspaper and movie theater ads, mall banners and social media. The ads promoted a single website where visitors could register for the meeting location closest to them.
Bondurant says they also developed two distinct handbills, which pastors could choose to send to their neighbors. Lastly, the steering committee promoted and provided an incentive gift that churches could give away on their opening night: a DVD on the prophecies of Daniel.
“Not only could every local church design their own program, but by being a part of this bigger package, they could get exposure they could not afford on their own,” says Bondurant. “Who knows better than the local church about what would work best for their community.”
Some churches chose unique themes, and their meetings varied in length—from a weekend, to one week, to a full month. But, one thing is sure, says Bondurant, by planning and praying together for the success of the meetings, including two prayer rallies, all of the leaders agree that more teamwork needs to happen.
“We really, really need to pull our resources and work together more in these places, especially when it comes to urban evangelism,” shares Bondurant. “We need each other.”
The success of “Prophecies of Hope” proves his point. Although numbers
continue to come in, hundreds were baptized, re-baptized or joined the church through profession of faith, and many more are taking Bible studies. Here are some highlights from the ambitious venture*:
Washington Brazilian Live Streams Near and Far
During a Sabbath morning at Potomac Conference’s Washington Brazilian church in College Park, Md., congregants celebrated their meetings’ harvest: the baptisms of one adult and four children, whose parents accompanied them into the baptismal waters. Rayssa Togo, 9, shares that she gave her life to God because, “He died on the cross and gave His life for me, so now I wanted to give mine to Him.”
By week’s end, an additional 20 people made decisions for baptism. A few were invitees; many had been longtime church attendees. One in particular had visited for more than 20 years and decided it was time to give his heart to the Lord.
Pastor David Barrozo reports their blessings were tripled because they live streamed their services to the Richmond Brazilian church in Richmond, Va., as well as a large congregation in Brazil, where more people committed their lives to Christ.—Vanessa Leiva
Linthicum Tries Roundtables
Frank Bondurant and David Glass, pastor of Chesapeake Conference’s Linthicum (Md.) church, teamed up to try a new method: hosting meetings in a hotel banquet hall and using a roundtable approach. Each table consisted of a trained Bible facilitator to lead the study, then visitors contributed with questions and comments.
“It was a beautiful thing to see people of all beliefs sitting at a table casually with their Bible open, talking to each other, discussing the lesson,” states Bondurant. “Throughout the meetings, we developed very strong relationships.”
Another unexpected blessing was more registered guests than they’d planned for, about 40. Bondurant and Pastor Glass scurried to find additional facilitators and thought of Scott Loschiavo, one of Linthicum church’s newest converts. “He still wasn’t baptized but was on fire and said he would love to do it,” recalls Bondurant. And, although they were initially concerned when the pastor of another denomination and six of his church members sat at Loschiavo’s table, “Scott and this group bonded, and Scott is so excited,” says Bondurant. “This has done exciting things for Christ and has encouraged church members.”
Loschiavo says, “God gave me the opportunity and ability to help, explain, teach and lead discussions about topics they didn’t really understand. The Holy Spirit is using all of us to get the Word out and save people.”—Leander Tomazeli, co-writer
Washington-Spencerville Korean Feeds Body and Soul
The Washington-Spencerville Korean church in Spencerville, Md., launched their series with a health food festival, teaching healthy cooking and eating principles to more than 120 attendees. They followed up with a week of evening sermons. As a result, more than 20 individuals requested Bible studies and have been connected to one of this Chesapeake church’s 24 small groups. They hosted a simultaneous four-day series for young adults, where they used the small group approach, gathering at people’s homes.
“Our meetings were successful in three ways: 1) they encouraged our own members to participate in the blessing of sharing the Adventist message; 2) they confirmed to the community that we are a church that serves our neighbors; and 3) we have more people becoming part of our church and movement!” shares David Kim, youth pastor.
Atholton Serves Deaf Members
One truly unique aspect of the series at Chesapeake’s Atholton church in Columbia, Md., were the American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters (one pictured). Churches rarely afford “qualified” interpreters for programs, reports Laura Quinn, a member who regularly interprets but isn’t officially trained. Having the interpreters gave deaf members from all around Maryland the rare opportunity to truly benefit from an evangelistic series, which Quinn says produced big smiles and a few tears of joy.
“The deaf community is often passed over because we do not have qualified individuals in the church to interpret the speaker’s message accurately and fully into ASL,” says Quinn, an ASL advocate for the church. “We want the message of hope to be accessible to all people, including those who use ASL, which is a complex visual language.”
Glenridge Finds Visitors at Community Fair
Allegheny East Conference’s Glenridge church in District Heights, Md., attracted some visitors to their four-week seminar through participation in a community fair, where they taught attendees the health message, prayed with them and invited them to the meetings.
Chris Segnigan attended from the beginning and took his stand for the Lord through baptism on the final Sabbath. Segnigan, whose brother had also recently joined the Adventist Church, says after hearing Pastor Vernon Waters’ nightly presentations, “This solidified my stand for biblical truth and my desire to be baptized.”
On closing night, others took their stand for the Lord and Glenridge Bible workers continue to follow up and conduct Bible studies.—Ivett Scott
New Laurel Church Plant Connects Residents
The Connection Community church plant was only six months old when they participated in “Prophecies of Hope.” Their monthlong series attracted 60 or more from the Laurel, Md., community, seven of whom made decisions for baptism.
One new believer found her way into the church “by mistake,” reports Steve Leddy, pastor of the Chesapeake church. Tamesha Romans (pictured with Leddy) was trying a new shortcut to her home from the local park when she passed by the church. A greeter offered her a bulletin and invited her in. And, she continued faithfully attending, says Leddy. “Providentially, she called her mother and found out she also had recently started studying at an Adventist church in Jamaica,” he says. Romans’ newly baptized mother flew into town to witness her life-changing dip in the water.
Reisterstown Creates “Apps for Life”
Pastor Andre Hastick creatively titled his series at the Reisterstown (Md.) church “Apps for Life.” The meetings included inspirational messages to address everyday challenges, such as iTrust—how to find long-term security; iRemodel—how to revitalize health and life; and iChoose—how to find belonging and purpose through community. His team, part of Chesapeake, even developed an app for those who wanted to watch via live stream.
Many attendees say the series helped them better understand the Bible, and several requested baptism. “The biggest take away is that there is still a very strong interest in society [to know] what the Bible has to say concerning real-life issues,” says Pastor Hastick. “People are recognizing that God’s original plan for humanity is still relevant for life today.”