Author: Nathan D. Maki
Date: July 14, 2013
An Unstoppable singles conference is coming to Ontario, September 20-21. Apostolic singles of all ages will gather from not only Ontario but across North America for dynamic seminars and services led by Rev. and Sis. Gary Ellis of Clarksville, Tennessee and David Fernan of Ontario.
“Jesus was single. The apostle Paul was single,” points out Sis. Tracey Hamilton, the Single Adult Ministry coordinator for Ontario. Like Jesus and Paul, many Christians are single as well. In fact, surveys suggest that the majority of people in churches today are unmarried. Single Adult Ministry, or SAM for short, is focused on all singles from 18 and upward whether they have never married or are single parents, divorced or widowed.
Singles represent one of the largest segments of our society. It is becoming very prevalent for young people to wait until they are older to get married. Here in Canada, 25% of all families are single-parent families with tremendous needs. Widowed men and women desperately need a support network after the death of a spouse. Couple that with the fact that between 40 and 50% of marriages end in divorce and it becomes clear that the singles demographic is not only large, but also presents unique challenges that require a powerful, anointed response from the church.
SAM’s annual Singles’ Conference is a response to that definite need as well as a desire to propel singles into greater involvement in ministry.
“What you can expect is a life-changing experience,” says Sis. Hamilton. “That’s our hope. That you come away from this not saying it was a great conference, but that you’re empowered, that you’re motivated, you’re challenged to do something, to be what you can be, whether it’s in your church, your community, or your country.” Sis. Hamilton’s voice conveys her earnest passion for this ministry as she continues, “Hopefully you’re motivated to change even your generation.”
The Friday and Saturday evening services are open to anyone who wants to attend, free of charge, whether single or married. These services will feature a variety of single musicians, singers, and choirs. “We’ll highlight singles in the service who might not have an opportunity to do that at another conference,” says Sis. Hamilton. The night services provide an opportunity for all pastors and saints, single or married, to come together not only to be blessed themselves, but to show support and be a blessing to the singles in attendance.
The day sessions on Saturday will see seminars on a variety of topics impacting singles. Past topics have included a broad range of subjects. Some cover issues like money management and the dangers of too much debt. Others focus on relational topics such as Marriage 101: where you should be spiritually and financially in preparation for marriage, or what you should look for in a prospective spouse. A very popular topic has been ministry, specifically helping singles overcome unique obstacles to get involved in home missions, their community, or their local church.
This year’s Unstoppable Conference has a great line-up of speakers and will be held at Grace Apostolic Church in Scarborough on September 20-21st. Rev. Gary Ellis, Sr. is the Pastor and founder of Abundant Life Outreach Center in Clarksville, Tennessee. He and his wife have spent the past 25 years building a church from the ground up. They have kept the faith through church splits, devastating financial trials, and even Rev. Ellis’ military deployment during Desert Storm.
Today, the Ellis’ and their church are reaping the benefits and blessing of years of sacrifice and dedication. Rev. Ellis has ministered around the world, and their church is a thriving source of hope and refuge in Clarksville and around the nation.
Sis. Yvette Ellis is a graduate of International Business College. She hosts The Esther Assignment, and The EMP 1000 Challenge, which summon women to pursue biblical womanhood through cultivating intimacy in their devotional life. She is also Church Administrator, Christian Education Coordinator and Women’s Ministry Team Leader at ALOC.
The other guest speaker, Bro. David Fernan, has recently returned from a missions trip overseas. He brings back exciting stories of God’s work abroad to share with the conferences’ attendees.
“After the service on Friday we have a social event which highlights the talents and gifts of our singles,” says Sis. Hamilton. “So we have an opportunity for singles to introduce themselves. They all have a name tag, and they are able to involve themselves whether in playing an instrument, a solo, spoken word, or whatever their talent is. We give them an opportunity to express themselves.”
“We try to balance the spiritual with the social aspect of it,” she says.
Sis. Hamilton laughs when asked how she got involved in SAM. “Well that was easy, I got roped into it. They just asked me, and I am single, currently, so they asked me to start the singles ministry and singles conference. Before I was appointed there was no singles ministry in the Ontario district. I have run singles conferences before on a church level and conferences in general so I had that experience. And I just picked up the ball and started rolling; picking dynamic speakers and putting together a conference that hit a broad range of issues.”
Sis. Hamilton attends Grace Apostolic Church in Scarborough, Ontario, pastured by Rev. Carlton Rigg. She has been a licensed minister with the UPCI for 6 years. She sees what she calls her “season of singleness” not as a difficulty but as a powerful opportunity. She says, “I’ve spoken to a lot of married people and they have a lot of obligations when they’re married.”
Being single, she is using this season to be active in ministry in her church to a degree that some married people may find impossible. She is involved in everything from teaching Sunday School and playing music to preaching both in her own church and at youth conventions, women’s conventions, and singles’ conferences. In addition to this tremendous work-load she is also bi-vocational. She is a lawyer with a thriving law practice as a partner in a Toronto firm.
“My hope is that my lifestyle and who I am speaks volumes to people that you can be professional, you can be successful and you can make a difference in the kingdom of God,” says Sis. Hamilton. “And right now for this season I’m trying to do that through the single’s ministry as well as the other ministries I’m involved in.”
“My desire is to empower singles to be all that they can be in their season of singleness. All of us were born single, right? But at some point in time our season changes, so the hope is that people are empowered to be all that they can be for God while they are single. Which is why the topic of the conference is Unstoppable, and it comes from the verse ‘Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.’ So we want our singles not to fade into the wall, but to come out and be all they can be while they have the opportunity.”
Where does Sis. Hamilton see SAM going in the future?
“Our hope is that we put on a first-rate conference of excellence, nothing less, and that the Ontario District catches the vision of the importance of the singles demographic in our churches,” says Sis. Hamilton. “We get interest from as far away as Florida and New Orleans that are hoping to join us this year. So it’s growing, it takes time for it to pick up, but we know that as we are pushing the standard of excellence that we will have that kind of support not just in the Ontario District, but we want to be able to take this to North America.”