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Pitch and Praise

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Pitch and Praise (stylized Pitch'n Praise)[1] was a non-denominational Christian event aimed at reaching out to high school students across Ontario. As one of the largest gatherings of youth in Ontario, Canada, it drew crowds of over 2,000 youth. It was founded in 1974 by the Evangelical Missionary Church and was held annually on the May long weekend. Pitch was held at Stayner Camp until 2006. Due to the ever-growing attendance, limitations of the existing facilities, and noise complaints, Pitch&Praise was moved to Paris, Ontario at Braeside Pentecostal Camp, which is maintained by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.[2]

The attendees camped out in tents, trailers, or cabins and spent the weekend engaged in various activities. The central program of the weekend was the general sessions. Highlighted by a featured band and a speaker, these sessions were intended to provide an atmosphere in which the Gospel was communicated in relevant and contemporary ways. Over the years, the message of Pitch did not change, though the medium did.

There were also sports tournaments, workshops, video game tournaments, and an annual battle of the bands (in which the winner is awarded recording time in a studio). Added in 2002, the Club became a successful feature of Pitch. With international recording artist DJ Kubiks,[3] at its helm alongside recent edition DJ Chris Harrington,[4] the Club continued the cutting edge outreach of Pitch and Praise.

In 1994 JR Pitch was established to reach out to JR High students (grades 6-8) and grew to be attended by over 1,000 pre-teens from across Ontario. JR Pitch took place annually during September and was held in Stayner, Ontario at the Stayner Bible Conference Grounds.

Pitch and Praise was discontinued in 2018. This decision came from the leadership of the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada (EMCC), the founding denomination of the event(s). According to the EMCC website, Pitch may undergo a reboot future years, but with a very different look and feel. It will be targeted specifically at youth from the EMCC denomination, and operate under a different name: “Pitch - The Weekend.” [5]

The reason for the change is unclear, but the message from the EMCC is that this new event would "bring youth to an understanding of how [Jesus] thinks about the challenges they are facing. We understand their challenges to be around confused messages that come at them about such themes as - identity including sexual identity and who Jesus says they are; truth and its source; desires that feel so right but which lead to unhealthy consequences..." [6]

This language suggest discomfort with the multi-denominational nature of Pitch, and concerns from current leadership that the values of the event have strayed from those specific to the EMCC. It may also have to do with the varied perspectives of speakers in the recent past. In its later years, Pitch and Praise was criticized by some youth groups in attendance for hosting "controversial" speakers (i.e. LGBTQ+ affirming [7]; Peter Rollins, who considers himself Christian but not religious).

In 2019, a new non-denominational conference called "Phoenix Fest" was created to allow youth groups a similar spring retreat in lieu of Pitch and Praise. Phoenix Fest appears to have been a success in its first year, and due to high demand, will continue to operate annually for the foreseeable future. [8]


External links[edit]

  • Official Pitch and Praise Website [5]
  • Official JR Pitch Website [6]

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