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“What is The One Project about anyway?” This is a question I hear articulated in one form or another almost every time the gathering comes up in conversation with someone who hasn’t attended before.
For those unfamiliar with The One Project, the stated desire is celebrate the supremacy of Jesus in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The gatherings are typically two days long and consist of teachings focused on Jesus, immediately followed by times of small group reflection. Worship, a mixture of hymns and contemporary Hillsong-style worship music, usually opens and closes each session.
It all started in 2010 with Japhet De Oliveira, Alex Bryan, Sam Leonor, Tim Gillespie, and Terry Swenson deciding to meet in a Denver hotel room. To learn more of what happened in that hotel room and focus of The One Project I spoke with Japhet De Oliveira, Chaplain of Andrews University and co-chair of The One Project, as well as Sam Leonor, Chaplain at La Sierra University and part of The One Project board.
We have heard how The One Project started in a Denver hotel room. What happened there that was so significant you had to share it?
Sam: There wasn’t a big agenda. We just decided to fast the day before we met, then talk and pray a lot; that was the big plan. The first half of the day we just verbally vomited on each other. Then a miracle happened. There was an awakening to the centrality of Jesus. I got on the plane to Denver frustrated, and came home a brand new person because I understood the centrality of Jesus. We spend so much of our ministry and our lives on the periphery that we need to take time to remember that Jesus is the main thing.
What was it like hosting the first public gathering in Atlanta?
Atlanta was initially supposed to be twenty-five people. And then we found out that it had grown to 170 people, so we decided there had better be more than holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.” Atlanta was also stressful because we bankrolled it ourself and initially we didn't know if anybody would come.
The night before Atlanta began, the five of us were up all night because we were all stressed out. What have we done here? Monday night after the first day we were speechless from what had happened.
One of the best things about Denver was the power of being in a room with people who you don't have to worry about judging your journey. Not only that, but knowing I’m not alone, I have these five people who are in a similar place as I am. From the moment we all walked into the room in Atlanta there was a sense of comfort and the knowledge that at least there are 170 people that feel the same way.
What has been the best and worst surprise you have encountered while working with the 1 Project?
Japhet: Best surprise: that we are not alone. It is as Tim Gillespie has said "a sacred echo." Worst surprise, that a few have felt our vision "Celebrating the supremacy of Jesus within the Seventh-day Adventist Church" is a critique on the Church. It would be comparable to birthday parties being viewed a critique on the rest of the year.
I’m sure you hear this question a lot, but what are your goals for the One Project gatherings?
Sam: First, people who love Jesus getting together to encourage and affirm each other in our pursuit of him. Second, being able to say, “No, being more Christian doesn't mean that we are less Adventist”. Third, saying Jesus is Lord. Because I affirm this point, I have a new way to preach the issues I have on my heart. I am now preaching because Jesus is Lord; all these issues are now aligned by the cross. To summarize: all we want is a more focused Christology. In Adventism we have a tendency to treat Jesus as the starter kit, and then more on into "more important things." My overall goal is that someday we won’t need The One Project, because Jesus will be so central to everything we do.
You recently had a board retreat. What are some of the upcoming events we can look forward to?
Japhet: We posted the minutes of our board retreat online. We have a lot of dreams for a healthy trajectory. Placing a high value on Christology can only be positive for the Kingdom of God and Heaven. I like going to Church every week. My local community, One Place, brings huge joy in my life. Should I stop because I know it is true? Should I stop because I experienced it once before? It is the same for the One project gatherings. They are the much needed space for refreshingly open engagement in the significance of Jesus. Of course as Alex Bryan would say, to talk on and of Jesus, has implications. What are these implications? Herein lies one of the strengths of the gatherings, which make them different to conferences, summits or conventions, we offer time for recalibration, during that time the application takes place and it is different for everyone.
Recently I had the privilege of being a One Project table facilitator for the recalibration small group time in the last two North American gatherings. These recalibrations provided times for participants to discuss differences and questions in a safe environment. In the facilitator training meeting prior to the gathering, facilitators were encouraged to change the conversation points away from conservative/liberal labelings, to a discussion of whether the person thought an issue was central or peripheral to their Christianity. There would still be different opinions, but it would be harder to label someone a “peripherist” or “too central” if they didn’t agree with you on a specific topic, and thought that topic less crucial.
This philosophy enabled the discussions to be much more open, as people at my table spent much more time in discussion about a person’s background and opinion than in argument. At the end of the last One Project in Chicago a young woman remarked how much our table had seemed to grow into a “church family” who enjoyed talking even during the breaks when most people were walking around.
I would also echo Sam’s sentiment regarding the power of realizing you aren’t alone. Following the Seattle gathering last year, a pastor revealed to me that she thought this conference would be the final straw that made her feel like she couldn’t identify as Adventist any longer. Instead, she shared how she had left hopeful for Adventism and excited that she had met a large group of people who were hopeful in the same way.
If you desire to know more of the theology and focus of these gatherings, past talks are available online at the1project.org/media.html. Three talks I would recommend as a starting point would be Jesus In Our Theology, Jesus (1888), and A Second Touch.
—Caleb Henry pastors at the Carmichael Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sacramento, California.
Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson in California sets the table for this week's Sabbath at the Spectrum Café. The column features fresh perspectives on food, community and unique stories surrounding vegetarian cuisine.
My childhood memories of Sabbath breakfast are of typical Adventist fare: my mother’s dense whole-wheat bread baked earlier in the week in tall round cans and spread with peanut butter and honey, slices of canned pineapple with a mound of cottage cheese in the center, and interminable bowls of bland oatmeal with raisins and cashews.
I remember Sabbath potluck lunch, though, at the Japanese church in Loma Linda, Calif., and English church in Yokohama, Japan, as a distinct and mouthwatering mingling of Japanese and American Adventist dishes: yes, vegetarian stroganoff, green bean casserole, garlic bread and egg salad, but also sweet tofu pockets filled with vinegary rice, hand-kneaded gluten marinated overnight in soy sauce and ginger and then floured and fried, soba noodles topped with grated vegetables and drizzled with a citrus-sesame dressing, azuki beans cooked into sticky rice, and fat rolls of homemade sushi stuffed with a colorful center of sweet egg, steamed carrot, pickled gourd, burdock root and sautéed spinach.
The way I eat now, with my husband and first child, is decidedly simpler and purer. After my immune system suddenly went haywire a decade or so ago, I had to give up much of the food in those childhood memories, including the whole wheat, the pineapple, the peanuts, the dairy, the nuts, the soy, the gluten, the sesame and on and on. It’s no longer a simple matter to attend a potluck or accept a dinner invitation or participate in communion or eat at a restaurant, but my body’s sometimes frightening distress signals when I “cheat” or accidently slip up make it an easy choice for me to stick to an allergen-free diet.
Our family’s present diet is plant-based, free of genetically modified foods, 90 percent organic and rather basic. It’s partly the way we cope with my food allergies and partly a choice to be kind to our bodies and equip them for long lives. I’ve seen this Dr. Ann Wigmore quote floating around social media lately: “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” An added bonus of maintaining this almost-Edenic allergen-free diet has been improved health for all of us.
These days, Sabbath lunches aren’t the sumptuous potlucks of my childhood, but we’ve started a new tradition in our family: wrap-your-own sushi. On Friday, we prep a communal platter of sushi fillings, such as thin strips of raw cucumber, steamed carrots, roasted red bell pepper, egg and avocado. On Sabbath morning, we set the rice cooker to cook, and when we get home from church, we mix a lemon-salt mix into the steaming rice and let it cool. As we sit around the table talking and passing the platter of fillings around, we roll lemon-tangy rice and our choice of fresh fillings in half sheets of nori seaweed.
These aren’t the tightly packed, bite-size sushi that you find in restaurants; they’re more like smallish, messy Japanese burritos, and lighter and fresher than restaurant sushi. You don’t have to be a sushi chef to roll or enjoy these. You can be 4 years old, like our son, with rice kernels stuck to your cheeks and specks of nori on your fingers, or you can roll like my husband, whose thick sushi rolls spill out from the ends. I like mine with more fillings than rice these days, and sometimes I include a bite-size portion of the large leafy green salad that often accompanies this Sabbath meal. It’s the perfect communal Sabbath meal for our family, and it expands well when family and friends join us. “Just bring some sushi fillings of your choice,” we might say as we put on an extra-large pot of rice. It’s what we’ll be enjoying again this Sabbath lunch. If you’d like to join us, wherever you are, please try the recipe below.
Sharon Fujimoto-Johnson is a writer and occasional graphic designer who lives in Rocklin, Calif., with her family. She is a former assistant editor of Spectrum.
Wrap-Your-Own Sushi (pictured)
Total prep time: 50 min.
Active prep time: 40 min.
Rice, Seasoning and Wraps
2 cups short grain Japanese/sushi rice or brown sweet mochi rice, washed and cooked
Important: Rice kernels should remain distinct from one another, but should stick together without being mushy—not to be attempted with long-grain or any other nonsticky rice. The rice must be cooked the day of; it will not keep overnight, as it will harden and refuse to hold together.
Juice of 1½ - 2 lemons and a pinch of salt (our preference) OR the traditional sushi rice seasoning of sweetened rice vinegar to taste
Nori seaweed, cut into half sheets (quarter-sized sheets work well for little mouths)*
Our Favorite Fillings (cut into thin strips)
Roasted red bell peppers (jarred)
Raw daikon radish
Raw baby spinach
Experiment to discover your own favorite fillings
1. Prep the fillings and store in the refrigerator (can be made a day ahead).
2. Cook the rice according to instructions. Mix lemon-salt blend or rice vinegar into the steaming rice and let it cool to room temperature.
3. Cut nori into half sheets. Place large bowl of rice, platter of fillings and nori on the table, family style. Serve with pickled or freshly grated ginger, wasabi—and if your diet allows, soy sauce.
Lay down a small amount of rice toward one end of a half-sheet of nori. Add your favorite fillings. Roll from the end with rice toward the other end. Enjoy. Repeat.
*Note: Nori can be found at Asian markets or in the Asian food aisle at your local grocery store.
**Wasabi is a nasal-clearing spicy paste found at Asian markets or in the Asian food aisle at your local grocery store.
Sharon's son with his favorite wrap.
Read more stories from the Spectrum Café here.
Do you have a unique story or regularly-requested recipe that you'd like to share? Email Midori at midori[at]spectrummagazine.org.
Today the North American Division sent out a NewsPoints update that included some interesting leadership changes at several of its departments.
1. The Washington Post includes Pathfinders in an article about the growing interest in alternatives to the Boy Scouts of America.
2. Recently, the Pacific Union Conference officially recognized Pacific Union College religion professor Jean Sheldon, Ph.D., as an ordained minister.
3. Dr. Jay Sloop of Yakima, Wash., has disappeared in Kiev, Ukraine, where he was on a medical mission. The 77-year-old retired obstetrician was last seen about 6:45 a.m. local time Tuesday after he left a church compound for a morning walk, said Jay Wintermeyer, communications director for the Upper Columbia Conference.
In 2011, Beck's decided to commission a large number of "independent thinkers" from a variety of artistic disciplines. Each artist is asked to create interactive pieces, which are then displayed within or on large green cubes scattered throughout cities around the world. Passerby's can fully experience the art with the aid of a mobile app. Wired magazine calls it "the world’s first global networked augmented reality gallery." This week's films are profiles of three of the artists selected.
1. Reed + Rader
2. Shaniqwa Jarvis
3. Bompass & Parr
The Society of Adventist Philosophers is inviting submissions for papers and panels to be presented at its annual symposium. The title of the November 21, 2013, conference will be: Essentialism: Adventism and Questions of Race and Gender.
The keynote speaker this year is George Yancy, Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University and the editor of the book Christology and Whiteness: What Would Jesus Do?
The society invites presenters to submit abstracts or papers that address the metaphysics of race and/or gender and its epistemological and ethical implications. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to, addressing Adventism and its relation to:
Find out more here.
In a recent NewsPoints press release, Elder Daniel Jackson, President of the North American Division, and G. Alexander Bryant, NAD Secretary, "videotaped a short message concerning the reasons behind the decision to close the Adventist Media Center in Simi Valley, Calif."
Read more on the decision here.