What You Need To Know at GYC

This year’s GYC convention is being held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Rainy skies greeted participants as they checked in on Wednesday. [Photo: Samuel Girven/The GYC Record]

Over 3,000 people have converged upon Portland for the 2023 GYC convention. Themed “But If Not,” this iteration of the annual gathering will challenge attendees to prioritize their spirituality and stand firm in their beliefs despite when “even those closest to us are constantly questioning us.” As GYC roars to a start, The GYC Record has compiled what you need to know as you settle in for the rest of the week.

Speakers and Plenary Sessions

While all the main sessions will be held in Exhibit Hall C, the speakers, their backgrounds, and the direction they plan to take with their sermons all differ. 

The evening keynote sessions, held at 6 p.m., will be headlined by speaker Sam Walters. A specialist pediatric pharmacist and head elder in his local church, Walters hails from Wolverhampton, UK. Known for his sermons that soothe complex subjects with practical applications, he plans to focus on viewing the “But If Not” theme through the narratives found in Daniel and the final chapters of the gospels. 

Mark Howard will speak during the morning sessions at 8:30 a.m. Howard is the associate director of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries for the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He was led to Adventism through Bible study as a young adult, and as a result, a fiery passion for soul-winning and evangelism was kindled within him. That passion is the vehicle through which he ministers. Howard plans to address “the inevitable result when pride tries to tell the truth” and “when culture lays the building blocks for compromise.”

The Sabbath divine service will feature Jermaine Gayle. As the pastor of the University Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Lansing, Michigan, he works with young adults daily. His sermon, titled “The Devil Empties His Wallet,” will emphasize that trials and tribulations in life don’t diminish the power of the God present within them.


15 speakers are leading five seminar sessions over two days. The hour-long meetings will focus on various topics, such as spiritual leadership, “biblical womanhood,” “biblical manhood,” trauma recovery, and relationships. A complete list is available in the conference web app.

Outreach Opportunities

There are five outreach options you can choose from on Friday. While Portland is known as one of the most secular cities in the United States, according to GYC Vice President of Evangelism Junior Vertus, the area is ripe for evangelism.

For the first option, GYC will partner with Sleep in Heavenly Peace to assemble beds for children in Portland who currently do not have a proper place to sleep. The initiative will spare over 100 families the hardship of sleeping on the floor. 

Another available option: attendees will assemble over 2000 care kits packed with essential toiletries, snacks, Christian literature, and other valuable resources for the unhoused population in Portland. The kits will provide immediate comfort and guidance on avenues for housing, job assistance, and more.

You can also join groups giving concerts in nursing homes, distributing Christian literature within Portland, or praying for a divine presence throughout the duration.

Afterglow and United Prayer

Two opportunities to interact with others are being offered this year. The popular early-morning “United Prayer,” led by Gem Castor, is being held in the Oregon Ballroom. 

For the evenings, Stephen and Felicia Lee are leading a new Afterglow program in Oregon Ballroom 201. According to event organizers, Afterglow will serve as an opportunity to meet others, discuss the topics addressed throughout the day, and slow down from the hurried nature of the convention.


Meals will be served in the Portland Ballroom. Breakfast is at 7:15 a.m., while lunch is at 1:30 p.m. 

Here’s a preview of the menu:

Thursday Breakfast:

  • Cinnamon French Toast
  • Tofu scramble with pepper and onions
  • Smashed marble potatoes

Thursday Lunch:

  • Thai noodle salad
  • Grilled seasoned cubed tofu
  • Thai green curry with jasmine rice

Friday Breakfast:

  • Breakfast Tacos
  • Oatmeal

Friday Lunch:

  • Packed lunch for outreach

Saturday Breakfast:

  • Biscuits and Gravy
  • Hash Browns

Saturday Lunch:

  • Fajitas
  • Nachos
  • Rice and Beans

Sunday Breakfast:

  • French Toast
  • Scrambled tofu
  • Herb roasted potatoes
Meals will be served in the Portland Ballroom. The large venue holds in excess of 500 people. [Photo: Samuel Girven/The GYC Record]


GYC and the City of Portland have partnered to create a safe atmosphere during the convention. You can increase your safety by ensuring you walk in groups, especially at night, being aware of your surroundings at all times, not looking at your phone while walking, and not wearing your badge outside the convention center.

Transportation and Parking

Hop Fastpass cards are your ticket to access the Portland Streetcar, and they are available at the registration desk for those staying far from the Oregon Convention Center. 

Onsite parking is provided in the convention center’s underground garage. You may enter the garage through the NE Lloyd Boulevard (P1) or NE First Avenue (P2) entrances. They have a total of 800 spaces at $12 per day. 566 offside metered parking spots are also available within the three blocks surrounding the convention center.

Dress Code

Since GYC is a professional convention, business attire is recommended. Additionally, participants are asked to respect the principles of Christian modesty and simplicity.

Content produced by GYC Communication was used in this report.

Samuel Girven is the editor of the GYC Record.

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