JOHNSON CITY — “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.”
That’s the philosophy embodied by Thomas Cook and his team of about 25 young adults and college students, who are at the helm of a large-scale worship event called Adoration.
Since starting the event last year, Cook’s goal has been to gather representatives of 1,000 churches in the Mini Dome at East Tennessee State University for a day of prayer, worship and fellowship.
Though organizers gathered just over 260 churches for Adoration 2017, Cook is standing firm by his original goal, even if it doesn’t happen this year.
“I’m hoping to get 600 (this year) and then get to 1,000 the third year,” Cook said. “We’re just kind of creating the diving board this year to jump off, kind of like we did last year. We set the foundation, and now we’re just climbing a little bit higher this year.”
The dream is born
Cook came up with the idea for Adoration in the summer of 2016, when he felt God calling him to take a leap of faith. Since then, Cook has assembled a growing team of college students and other young adults to make the event happen.
After last year’s event, Cook said he and his team prayed and sought counsel from religious and community leaders. He has since begun forming a board of directors and is starting a nonprofit organization called Adoration Life.
“That’s sort of the foundation and the structure and the ministry that we’re creating to pull off the large event,” Cook said. “We’ve embraced the prescription drug abuse epidemic in Tennessee as our social cause, so we’re trying to educate, equip and mobilize all these churches to serve our local communities and serve the people who are addicted to drugs.”
This year’s event
Like last year, Cook said Adoration 2018 will serve three main purposes: to honor Jesus Christ, to unite the church and to restore Appalachia from prescription drug abuse.
The free event will be held October 21 in the ETSU/MSHA Athletics Center, or Mini Dome. A prayer service will be held from 1:30-3:45 p.m., followed by an organizational expo from 4-5:45. A pre-celebration featuring food trucks will also take place from 4-5:45, and the main event will begin at 6.
Cook and his team are working on recruiting representatives from 1,000 churches to come to the event. Only one representative from each church needs to register, with the approval of their pastor, but the entire church is invited and encouraged to attend.
As of last week, Cook said, about 100 churches have registered from the Tri-Cities and surrounding areas. Among other things, the main event will include live worship music, prayer and talks from local pastors and other religious leaders.
“It’ll be a very inspirational time, and hopefully they will get something that they can take back home with them, knowledge about the drug epidemic and what everybody can do practically, and then just inspiration for living in general and overcoming obstacles,” Cook said. “There’ll be a lot of hope stories and stories of people who’ve beaten addiction and what they’re doing now to help other people beat addiction. They’ll learn all about restoration and hope for every person through Jesus Christ.”
Though they aren’t sure yet if Adoration will be an annual event, Cook and his team plan on remaining active in the community through their newly forming nonprofit.
“Loving God and loving people, you can’t really separate, so basically I see our team as feet washers of our community,” Cook said. “We’re called to lead by example and to give up our lives for the benefit and the blessing of others. … That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
To learn more or to register as your church’s representative, visit adorationlife.com.