Men’s organization celebrates 15 years of promise keeping

MISSISSAUGA, ON—After a strong beginning, a near death experience and a resurrection, Promise Keepers Canada celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

"We were the first international expansion of Promise Keepers based out of the States," recalls Promise Keepers Canada president Kirk Giles.

At that time, Promise Keepers in the U.S. was filling stadiums with 80,000 men and gracing the cover of Time magazine. Giles, a Promise Keepers Canada staff member for 14 years, says a group of Canadian men caught Promise Keepers' vision. They launched a Canadian branch complete with its own staff, leadership and ministry model.

"We were on our own to make this fly in Canada."

And fly it did as arenas filled with men wanting to learn what it was like to be a man of God. And then it crashed.

"Towards the late 1990s some things started to happen with the ministry in the States that caused some financial distress," says Giles. "And the same thing happened here.

"We were, at one point, on our last legs. We should have been considered bankrupt as an organization but God stepped in and provided us with funding to clear our debt and to move us forward."

By 2000 Promise Keepers Canada was back on its financial feet. And under the leadership of David Sweet, who took over a president in the late 1990s, the organization changed direction. Leadership began to ask, "How do we walk with men throughout the year so men are making the best impact possible in the world?"

"We recognize events are a great experience for men," says Giles, recalling the transition. "But we also recognize Monday morning happens."

Giles' immediate predecessor, Ron Hannah, helped Promise Keepers Canada "go to that next level of establishing, even further across the country, this idea of walking with men."

Now, through Discipleship Training Unleashed, the Wise Choices program, regional and national conferences and partnership with nearly 900 Canadian churches, Promise Keepers Canada provides the resources to "ignite, equip and help men make an impact," says Giles.

And the ministry still holds stadium events. This year's November 12 and 13 event builds on the theme "Legacy."

Held at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, the conference will feature: retired NFL player and author of Do Something Miles McPherson; sex doctor Doug Weiss, Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti author Bill Farrel; pastor and naval chaplain Lennett Anderson (one of MacLean's magazine's "Heroes of the Cross") and Urban Promise Founder and author (Beautiful Disappointment and Red Letter Revolution) Colin McCartney. Coming back to help lead worship is perennial favourite Robin Mark.

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