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Group still working to unite 1,000 churches in ETSU football stadium

Holly Viers • Aug 20, 2017 at 6:00 PM

JOHNSON CITY — Several months ago, a small group of young adults and college students came together with a big goal: to unite 1,000 churches at a worship event in ETSU’s football stadium.

Today, the group is about a month and a half away from achieving that goal with a free event called Adoration 2017.

“We’re breaking through all the right connections right now, and I think we’re going to get a good push,” said Thomas Cook, event coordinator and ETSU graduate. “Everybody’s saying that most people will sign up two weeks before the event, so if we just keep on doing the groundwork now and tell them our reason, our purpose and our goals, then we think it’s going to hopefully catch fire.”

Cook came up with the idea for Adoration 2017 last summer, when he felt God calling him to take a leap of faith. Since then, Cook has assembled a team of ETSU students, graduates and other young adults who are working to make the event happen.

The group has until the day of the event on Sunday, Oct. 1, to recruit at least one representative from 1,000 churches in the region to attend. As of Friday, 125 church representatives had signed up.

Though 875 churches are still needed, Heath Pritchard, an event ambassador coordinator, said he is firmly confident that God will provide.

“No matter how many churches I call, this isn’t going to happen unless God has complete control over it, which is amazing because that means I can lean on Him completely for strength and endurance,” Pritchard said. “Our job is to show God that we are not going to stop and that we understand the need.”

Cook said Adoration 2017 will serve three purposes: to honor Jesus Christ, to unite the church and to restore Appalachia from prescription drug abuse. The first three-fourths of the event will consist of praise and worship, prayer and encouraging messages, which Cook said will focus on who Jesus is, what He did and what He is going to do.

The last fourth of the event, which will focus on combating the prescription drug abuse epidemic, will be broken down into three segments: awareness, empathy and what’s next.

At the end of the event, Cook said each church representative will leave with toolkits and resources that they can take back to their church and use to fight the epidemic in their communities.

“We want to mobilize 1,000 churches to work together; we see it as we’re putting on our bootstraps and putting on our work gloves,” Cook said. “Yes, we’re coming together to pray and worship, but if we’re not serving our community, then we’re doing an injustice with the resources that we have.”

Drew Kindle, an event ambassador, said he has called around 100 churches since joining the Adoration 2017 team a couple of months ago. He said he is confident that organizers will reach their goal because of all the support they have already received from church leaders.

“It’s been encouraging,” Kindle said. “I don’t think we’ve really faced anything that has knocked us off our feet, and that’s because we’ve really just been leaning on God the whole time and really making sure that He’s the one who’s fueling us, not our own ambitions.”

Gates will open at 3 p.m. on the day of the event for a two-hour prayer service. Registration for church representatives will be held from 5-5:45 p.m., and the event itself will be held from 6-8:30 p.m. Though only one representative from each church is required to register, the entire church is invited and encouraged to attend.

Cook said his team still needs help and prayers to make the event go as planned. They still need to raise $25,000, get a field cover for the football field and come up with a fire marshal-approved plan for the stadium. Cook added that the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center, or Mini Dome, has been nailed down as a backup location.

For more information or to register as a church representative, visit adorationlife.com. If you have questions about the event or want to know how you can help, email [email protected]

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