Pastors, artists and other Christian leaders will join this weekend at the University of Miami for the One Conference, three days of rallies, music and motivation to affect South Florida for the faith.
With megachurch pastors such as Brian Houston and Greg Laurie, the conference is set for Feb. 10-12 at UM's Bank United Center in Coral Gables.
They’ll tackle dire issues like human trafficking, fresh water for Haiti, Bibles for "unreached" people groups and how to respond to crises. But first importance will go to simple unity.
"We're all different, but we're of the same substance," says Pastor Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, who will be one of the 15 scheduled conference speakers. "Anytime pastors get together, that’s good. Translating it into partnerships is difficult. But it's healthy to get to know each other."
Franklin Graham, another of the planned speakers, agrees.
"The churches are fragmented; everybody gets into their own niches," says Graham, who runs the Samaritan's Purse charity and the evangelistic organization of his father, Billy Graham. "We need to get them inspired, excited about the Word of God. The gospel changes lives instantly."
Besides Coy and Graham, the planned speakers include:
The Rev. Pedro Garcia, the host pastor and spiritual leader of Calvary Chapel Kendall. Garcia, who became a Christian believer in 1996 at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, is the founder of LIFE Radio (90.9-FM), which broadcasts to Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys.
Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., and founder of Harvest Crusades. Laurie led a crusade in Fort Lauderdale in 1995 and spoke at a Promise Keepers rally in Miami two years later.
Scott Harrison, founder of the nonprofit organization charity:water. His group has funded more than 3,800 water projects, providing more than 1.7 million people with clean drinking water.
Brian Houston, founder and pastor of Hillsong Church, which includes congregations in Sydney, London, Capetown, Paris, Stockholm and elsewhere.
Rich Wilkerson Jr., who runs a gathering in Miami called Vous. His ministry aims to infuse the gospel in music, teaching and the arts.
Musicians will include Hillsong United, a praise and worship band from Australia; Dominic Balli, a “CaliRockReggae” singer from Oxnard, Calif., and the Rebel Band, an edgy group from Miami.
The conference is being promoted with a splashy website loaded with flamboyant clipart and a video, plus bios on the invited speakers and musicians.
Garcia's wife, Lourdes, is serving as "cause coordinator" for the One Conference. She cites an estimate that 27 million people are enslaved worldwide and 100,000 American children are trafficked for commercial sex annually.
"Because Florida is a crossroads of the region, human slavery is a massive problem that many people are unaware of," she says in a statement. "We want to change that."
No one is predicting turnout, but the BankUnited Center has 8,000 seats. The Garcias say they want to make the One Conference an annual event.
Coy, of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, likes the idea. He mentions work in Broward County -- like the fostering agency 4Kids -- that has been achieved by church partnerships.
"God promised that where brothers dwell in unity, he will command a blessing," he says.
James D. DavisIf you go
Event: One Conference
Featuring: Rallies, music, speakers on unifying churches and ministries
When: Feb. 10-12
Where: BankUnited Center, at the University of Miami, 1245 Dauer Drive, Coral Gables
Cost: $154, due by Feb. 9