Ministry in Motion 2014

Ministry in Motion 2014 will focus on equipping courageous leaders to conduct “gracious evangelism,” according to steering committee chair Rev. Dr. Orville James. UC Moderator Right Rev. Dr. Gary Paterson, Observer columnist Rev. Dr. Connie Denbok, and United Methodist theological professor Dr. George Hunter are among the key figures who will lead plenary sessions, workshops and worship services. The event is scheduled for Nov. 3rd to the 5th at Wellington Square United Church (UC) in Burlington.
“If the UC would get its act together we could reach more people than any other Protestant denomination,” James said. “We have more franchises than Tim Horton’s. We’re deeply embedded in the Canadian population. We’re in the best position to share God’s love. There’s a spiritual hunger and yearning in our society. I want to attract people to this conference who will work with the ‘spiritual but not religious’ &mddash; the ones who have no prayer life and don’t have a clue how to connect with God.”
“There’s a lot of goofy evangelism out there,” James said, “the kind that says accept Christ or you’ll burn in hell. Gracious evangelism is evangelism that joyfully witnesses to the living God as shown in Jesus and invites others to welcome that God into their lives.”
“Jesus wasn’t pushy,” James said. “He told stories about the God who loves us and showed us how we can daily interact with that God. I’m hoping that those who come to the conference, learn to practice the skills set and the mind set, that will help us to understand the Canadian population, and then engage people in spiritual conversation.”
It’s important to study the churches that are thriving and learn from them, James said, “Eastminster UC in Belleville is the healthiest church in eastern Ontario. It’s numerically diverse. Every age group is attending. The members just built a new church building and paid it off. (Rev.) Ed Bentley (who will be leading a workshop at the conference) knows what he’s talking about.”
James believes there are factors common to all successful church ventures and his committee has invited researchers and church growth practitioners to the conference who understand how to implement them. Dr. David Haskell, a journalism professor from Wilfrid Laurier University, who has given talks throughout Hamilton Conference on his multi-year research into thriving main line Protestant churches, will come to the conference to expand on his earlier discussions. James’ church, Wellington Square UC, was included in Haskell’s study of Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican and United churches.
Rev. Graham Singh, an Anglican priest from England, will give a plenary session, on his experience with the Fresh Expressions model of church planting in Britain. Rev. Dr. Connie Denbok, from Applewood United Church in Etobicoke, will speak about her experience with Fresh Expressions in southern Ontario and church planting.
James, and his committee, which includes 18 members from all presbyteries in Hamilton Conference, except Bruce, have booked a number of prominent speakers and motivators. Dr. George Hunter, an American theological professor whom James calls “the dean of evangelism,” will start each day of the conference with a keynote speech. “He’s been researching the North American culture for 35 years—tracking what people are searching for spiritually,” James said.
Opening night, UC Moderator Right Rev. Gary Paterson will lead worship. And Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey, a frequent commentator on CBC Radio, and the minister of Parkdale United in Ottawa, will lead the final worship service.
Due to generous grants from Halton Presbytery, Hamilton Conference and various trust funds, the price will be $50 lower than the conference held two years ago. Those who register before October 1st will receive a further $50 reduction to $200. On Oct. 1st the price will rise to $250. The cost includes all meals and sessions. A registration form can be downloaded from the Ministry in Motion web site at And general information about the conference is posted at Everyone is welcome to attend.