Ontario Conference Health Ministries Celebrates Ten Years at the CNE

Posted: August 24th, 2023

As the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) signals the end of summer for many Canadians, for Health Ministries at the Ontario Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it is the beginning of one of the Conference’s biggest evangelistic opportunities of the year. The CNE, Canada's largest fair and the fifth largest in North America, draws an average annual attendance of 1.5 million people. Held over 18 days in Toronto, Ontario, from mid-August to Labour Day, it offers a unique platform for outreach. Every year since 2011, except for during the pandemic, the Health Ministries team at the Ontario Conference has been hosting a booth at the CNE. This booth has been instrumental in reaching out to a diverse audience, offering valuable information on health, lists of Adventist church locations, and Bibles - all provided upon request. The outdoor booth, located on a busy thoroughfare, is equipped with stands containing spiritual and health flyers and “Mr. Broccoli”, a favourite photo spot.” Dr. Maria McClean, former director of Health Ministries at the Conference and the manager of the booth for 2023, shared her experiences: "Since the start of this initiative, we have interacted with more than one million patrons, vendors, and staff, and gave thousands of branded gifts and printed materials to visitors." She emphasized, "This event provides a tremendous opportunity to interact with people from all over the country and the world and share information on health and all things biblical. It’s heartwarming to introduce people to Jesus and offer resources to help them on their spiritual and health journey.” Dr. McClean recounted numerous memorable interactions. She shared stories of young adult Muslim women engaged with volunteers in a lengthy discussion on the deity of Christ. She also mentioned Baptist and Pentecostal Christians from Jordan and Lebanon who spent a long time at the booth asking questions about the doctrines embraced by Adventists. One transgender individual returns annually to talk with volunteers “because she feels comfortable interacting with Adventists." The success of these interactions speaks to the effectiveness of the volunteers, who are trained to be open and non-judgmental as people inquire about God and various biblical teachings. Dr. McClean praised the team, saying, "We normally interact with people for 10-12 hours a day, and the volunteers are committed to this ministry." The presence of Adventist Christians at the CNE exemplifies the church’s commitment to being relevant in the 21st century. For many who visit the booth, it might be their only opportunity to hear the gospel as taught and lived by Jesus. The booth answers Jesus’s call to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (Mark 16:15).” It provides a unique chance for the church to meet people, mingle with them, offer encouragement and/or a prayer, and share printed materials, with the hope that those who do not know Jesus will be led into a committed relationship with Him.” If you are at the CNE and want to drop by and support the team, you can find the booth south of the BMO field between gates 3 and 3B - just east of the Midway