The room was buzzing with chatter and laughter as attendees shared dinner and fellowship. More than 100 attendees had gathered on January 12 at the Glendale Korean church for the UNITE Project, a movement that began in 2017. It was the fourth praise night across the country hosted by this ministry; the largest was in New York, welcoming 120 attendees.
“UNITE Project is a platform to help people set aside differences to create differences in their community,” said Timothy Yun, assistant pastor at the Glendale Korean church, who founded the UNITE Project in collaboration with Adventist and non-Adventist youth from his church at the time. He was inspired by his work with teenagers of different denominations to create a platform to worship and do ministry together. “Our goal,” he said, “is to create a safe place, not to compromise what people believe in but to create a safe place to come together for worship, praise, and outreach.”
For Yun, the mission is only as effective as it is real in the daily experience. The movement is about creating change and making differences—it’s not theory, but application, he’s after.
Praise and community outreach are two key pillars of the events. Collaboration is a practical application of the movement’s purpose: to create impactful connections and make meaningful differences. Every UNITE Project intentionally involves praise teams from at least three different congregations; this reinforces the movement’s emphasis on collaboration and partnership.
At the most recent event, a table was set up to assemble care packages for those in need. During the service, which was themed “Yearn,” attendees were invited to take one of the 50 care packages with them to give to someone in need. The service consisted of praise, giveaways, a message, and communal prayer. Jeremiah Malingkas, a third-year religious studies major at La Sierra University, shared the message. His thesis was: “When we yearn to return to God, all is transformed.”
“UNITE Project is passionate, full of life, and a great place for celebration,” said Andrew Goorhuis, the speaker for UNITE Project: Revival in Placentia, Calif., last year, who was a student at La Sierra University at the time.
Yun is adamant about giving attendees “more than they came for.” In New York, for example, one attendee was a non-believing immigrant who won the raffle. The entire night made an impact on him, and “he felt a welcoming presence from the community,” Yun recalled. “That’s exactly what I want to do with the praise nights. With every little thing, someone will come and get some kind of blessing, whether they expect it or not.”
“The reason UNITE Project is so special to me is because, for the first time, it inspired me to open up about my own religion to my friend, who was of a different religious background,” said Haena So, a Rosemead Korean church member who participated in two previous UNITE events and attended the most recent one in Glendale. “Not only was I able to share about my own religious beliefs to others, but, more importantly, I was able to learn about their religious beliefs. I was able to see and experience what understanding and acceptance is all about, and through it all I was able to grow closer in my walk with God.”