Jesus Returns, or, the One Project is Back

The One Project is back, unstoppable as wind, or so it seems.

A year ago organizers were saying that two final One Project “gatherings,” one in San Diego and another in Sydney, Australia, would bring an end to the two-day sessions of worship, preaching, and conversation that, starting in Atlanta in 2011, had swept through Adventism’s older strongholds. But on Sunday morning, February 17, 2019, at the CrossWalk Church in Redlands, California, near Loma Linda, a new gathering commenced. More than 550 people filled the seats.

One Project leaders had come to believe, explained Paddy McCoy, a young adult pastor from Kettering, Ohio, that the present “crisis” in Adventism justified yet another effort to uphold Christ as “the way forward.” The setting would be different — a local church, not a hotel ballroom; chairs in rows, not the conversation tables familiar from before — but the focus would be the same: before all things, Christ.

The CrossWalk congregation meets in a re-purposed corporate facility, with superb lighting and audio-visual equipment to enhance the contemporary feel of the auditorium. To begin worship Sunday morning, a praise team — an electric bass and two electric guitars, along with keyboard, drums and three singers — led participants in song. The day’s first speaker was the CrossWalk congregation’s own pastor, Tim Gillespie. The One Project’s signature text, Colossians 1:15f., provided the framework for his declaration of the supremacy of Christ. Jesus is God’s “visible image,” he said. Jesus is God “fully realized,” the one in whom all the divine fullness “was pleased to dwell.” And as the head of the church today, Jesus is today both “with us” and “for us.” Gillespie addressed the sermon theme with his trademark passion, humor, and provocation, and at one point remarked that the Bible is not an “explanation of an end-time people” but the story of a “full-time God.”

Fifteen minutes of discussion followed, with participants exchanging views with those sitting near them. Afterwards a few gave brief reports to the entire assembly. There was consensus, it seemed, that no doctrine can matter that does not illuminate and express Jesus.

The morning’s second speaker, Jennifer Ogden, a pastor at the Walla Walla University Church, argued that the “Christ of Shalom,” or wholeness, endorses “play.” Activities that bring delight into life — from painting to games and the sharing of food — bring both health and a sense of connection into the Christian experience. Adventism is a “highly intellectual movement,” she said, but if intellectualism is our single point of contact with God and one another, relationships suffer and “we lose people.” We need to move from mere “knowing” to “fully engaged enjoyment of life with Jesus.”

After small-group discussion of how all this could affect congregational life, McCoy said: “If you want something, start something.” This gathering was taking place in an active local church, and the point was to strength the other local churches participants were representing.

After a two-hour lunch break (people went to restaurants for food) the gathering’s special guest, Leonard Sweet, a Methodist, brought his commanding, white-haired presence to the platform. God decreed both “light” and “love,” he said to begin, and these are Jesus’ own defining traits: he is both the light and lover of the world. Like him, we ourselves must address the world’s hunger for light and love. This requires that we learn and speak the language of our culture. It means, too, realizing that in a world suspicious of mere words, “witness” cannot succeed without “with-ness.” Loving presence matters, and Sweet at one point remarked wryly that the best summary of the Gospel is this: “Jesus ate good food with bad people.”

Sam Leonor, from La Sierra University, followed with the final presentation of the day. He, too, pleases listeners with humor and passion, and his puckish smile and storytelling prowess enhanced another call to embodiment of Christian love. Although the One Project is in part a protest against distortions in Adventist thinking, Leonor gave expression to its underlying loyalty to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He made it clear that he wanted to be Adventist and to be part of a flourishing movement. In this light he said repeatedly that the “best criticism” is the practice of something “better.” Against those who may wonder when the One Project will stop talking about love, he said: “We’ll stop when we’ve learned to love well.” Invoking Bono, he called upon each person to “rip a little corner off the darkness.”

After discussion time, the day was done. Throughout, speakers had argued that “way forward” is Christ and the love of Christ.

Charles Scriven is the former board chair of Adventist Forum, the organization that publishes Spectrum.

Logo courtesy of The One Project.

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Sam Leonor preaches.


Adventism needs more than enthusiasm and jovial Presentors. How soon will dancing like David become the in thing… Yes the Gospel is Good News and Christ should be praised. not brought down but lifted up. The concept of being redeemed should dominate rather than the fight over justification and Santification. Pojection into the LGT rather have living now with assurance makes all the difference in the king of public and private worship. Des Ford, Edward Heppenstall, Graham Maxwell and Paul Heuback stand tall in my theology. what a contrast between Ted Wilson.


The audience appears to be a cross section of a wide range of Cultural Ages.
This shows a THIRST in individual church members [some who appear to
be so for many decades of life] desiring an advanced relationship with God,
with Christ.


This is good news but I wonder if the One Project is willing to follow the lead of La Sierra University Church and welcome and affirm the LGBTQ community. I was so thrilled to hear that La Sierra actually has boldly hosted a Kinship Sabbath School. Until then, are we to understand the followers of Christ should be exclusive?

But it is more of a glimmer of hope to see that La Sierra University Church isn’t merely content to have a female pastor of a major church across the street from the Southeastern California Conference which has courageously reelected the world’s first female conference president, but is also taking strides to bring this inclusivity to the LGBTQ community. I never thought I’d see the day!

I wish that Spectrum would do a feature on the courageous statement voted by the church. Sadly I learned about it from Fulcrum7 which is (predictably) negative on it.

Here is the statement:

We are also seeking reconciliation with those we have left out. Though we have said, “You are welcome here,” we realize that many in the LGBT+ community, in particular, do not feel included. We confess that we have fallen short. Aspiring to follow Christ’s command to love one another, we resolve to work for change in our church community to be fully welcoming and affirming for all LGBT+ people. As we work to make concrete changes and open new conversations, please hear us when we say, “ALL are welcome here.”ood to see progress but bring tbe WHOLE community with you!

Voted 1/26/19

Will the One Project join La Sierra in this beautiful statement?


Best wishes to this group, I would proud to attend their services, although I never have. I was just a little disappointed when I replayed one of their recent sermons. It was mostly about the sufferings of Paul, when I wished to see Jesus and his values expounded. I wished to hear more on the Sermon of the Mount as well as some of his obscure teachings challenge me.

Who gets to decide what is a distortion in relation to which ‘tortion’ ?

If Adventist thinking is twisted – even completely ‘dis’-twisted – then why be ‘Adventist’ at all ?

I see that ‘Methodist’ thought was represented at the meeting,
probably E. Stanley Jones’ thought was represented there,
Bono’s thought was represented . . .
Why not join their religions, or start a new ‘flourishing movement’, without building on representations of ‘distortions in Adventist thinking’ ?

It is easier for some cuckoo birds to plant their families in other birds’ nests, but in doing so, they show their own lack of care.
Doesn’t Christ care enough to raise His own children, in His own nest ?

1 Like

Does this refer to SDA’s as “His own children” and the SDA church as “His own nest”? Are other Christians not His children and part of His church?


I’ve already answered your question.

A tree has many branches and many nests. None of the nests are perfect. They all are built by well meaning birds yet none build the perfect nest. Nest like religions are not perfect because they are built by imperfect people. Flying around pretending to have a perfect nest will not get the attention of other birds.

For the SDA church to claim it’s has the perfect nest built on fraud and deception is hardly the perfect nest. People fly into the nest from second and third world countries because it offers them a better life than they currently live. ( Some hope ) Their ability to study the particulars, history, the resources of study is not available to them.

In a fashion, it’s good to not allow the birds to see other nests because it’s more important to build a nest empire complete with fear and guilt so nest hunting is limited. The SDA church is built and maintained on several weak branches and the wind of self evaluation is getting stronger. At some point the nest will fall apart.


“Other sheep have I which are not of this fold.” John 10:16


It is not uncommon to hear this text quoted in such a way that one could infer that the speaker believes that “this fold” is referring to Seventh-day Adventists.

1 Like

It’s a great question. It may be the reason why so many people left, and are still leaving. They do not compromise their Christian faith.

But then, others stay. And who are we to question why they stay? Only people who feel too entitled will suggest that those who question something should leave. Old, traditional, annoying argument trying to silence anyone who may … think differently! More of the same.


I believe that an “older population”, over the edge of 30 are more apt to feel ties
to a Local Congregation – any congregation. Even if for some reason they need
to move out of the area, will hunt for another Local Congregation.
Younger persons I don’t see as having those ties securely fixed emotionally, so
are apt to be more fluid about staying OR leaving. But probably most of them have
had no experience with other Christian congregations so might just not go anywhere
for a pew-sitting religious service.
It is usually only the THOUGHTFUL older person who might move on and feel
comfortable cutting the Emotional Ties and find new pews to worship God in. They
have also had increased opportunity to meet Christians of other folds and enjoy them.


Steve I was one of those older people who removed myself from Adventism but held on to somethings Adventist. If that makes sense. You are correct about the younger folks not having congragationalism in their DNA. However, I have found that with the older generations that the greatest hold the church has on them is fear and guilt. Powerful elements that have grown on them since birth.


No! Jesus did not tell us who “this fold” refers to. But I think this text is important as an answer to Adventist conceit and exclusiveness.


I, for one, appreciate the emphasis of the “One Project”. Am sorry so many of the previous comments concern private personal issues like: why they left Adventism ,fault of Adventism,or followers of Jesus outside Adventism. Of course there are People who left, faults within Adventism, People who love Jesus in many religions plus those choosing to be private lovers of Jesus.
But I am so thankful that the One projest has enriched the lives of thousands of Adventist. I came into such a conclusion about entering the One kind of relationship with my blessed Lord a long time ago. So I merely wanted to see others share that Joy, whether in or out of the SDA church. Those who attach a personal agenda to the discussion of the One may do so but that is not for me.


Steve, I remember that when I was in school, studying exclusively in an Adventist school (the same one) for 16 years, there was (still) an excitement about the SDA Denomination. Trump would say, “a very tremendous excitement, believe me,… believe me.” :roll_eyes: The local congregation was the representation of that “great, final Remnant Church.”

After the “great disappointment” around 1980, following Glacier View, for me the Denomination disappeared from my list of important issues. And the local congregation became just that, a local congregation. I still go to a SDA Church, as a member in good standing, but that’s it - I have no emotional connection to the rest of the bureaucratic web.

I see in my area many young people in church, but I am not sure how much intertwined with the Denomination they are, or how much of EGW they know. I wonder if they are spending lots of time reading her on their electronic devices… :roll_eyes: :wink:


Fred –
The HORROR that the SDA Administration feel about the One Project is THIS–
The One Project does NOT preach about the NEED to believe ALL 28 Doctrines
and list them One by One in their preaching.
THIS is WHY the SDA Administration has NO USE for the One Project and would
like to see its DEMISE again.
For the SDA Administration, JESUS IS NOT ENOUGH!


Very insightful observation frequently seen in mental health clinics particularly in children entering their adolescent years and adulthood. It is during these years that the children begin to form their personality traits and trajectory in life independent of their parents. Frequently this causes turmoil in the family but the family stays intact when the quality of their family relationships remain strong, even when the members disagree.

When the family bonds are weak and play a secondary role in the family, only then questions such as yours become relevant.

@GeorgeTichy @niteguy2