The common, unchangeable aspect of our lives is change itself.
This touches the way we live and affect life, the way we worship and witness
to our faith, and the way we communicate. Seventh-day Adventists are no exception
in this regard.
The mission statement of the Communication Department is: Building
bridges of hope.1 To make it happen, we endeavored
to reach the diverse church audiences with an open and responsible communication
program, including effective use of contemporary communication
Activities of the department are an _expression of the overall
world church communication strategy2: Seventh-day Adventists
will communicate hope by focusing on the quality of life that is complete in
Adventists are not newcomers to the world of communication.
In 1912 the church pioneered press relations. The religious communication pages
include Adventists as pioneers in broadcasting (H.M.S. Richards, William Fagal,
and George Vandeman). Eleven years ago Adventists successfully utilized modern
communication technologies in mission, beginning with the CompuServe forum.
Then came the Internet and thousands of Web pages for local churches, institutions,
and missionary endeavors. Add satellite broadcasts with NET programs, distance
learning, church business session uplinks, and mission stories that today can
be watched on TV at home and on thousands of downlink sites on all continents.
The challenge, however, rests not on being effective in creating
workable systems (though resources are always an issue to tackle) and using
state-of-the-art hardware; the challenge has been--and continues to be--to present
the content of the message in attractive, user-friendly, compelling, and persuasive
Today the department has nine staff members and looks after
the following basic functions: news and information, public relations, media
relations and media productions, crisis communication, and online services.
It also coordinates the activities of the Adventist News Network (ANN) news
agency, and facilitates the church's Web page on www.adventist.org that in 2004
received a new look and changed the church's window for the world.
Adventist News Network3 reports that
a total of more than 1,500 news items are written, edited, and distributed globally
each week. These stories have been picked up throughout the Adventist Church
family. Hundreds of church Web sites link to ANN dispatches via "syndication,"
and display the stories to their constituencies. For 16 months ANN also produced,
in cooperation with Adventist Television Network, a weekly newscast, Adventist
NewsLine. The program is envisioned to continue as a weekly feature on the church's
Among the most challenging developments in the past few years was an international
effort to harness the potential for evangelism through the Internet.5
A Global Internet Evangelism Network (GIEN) was born as an initiative of the
Council on Evangelism and Witness, with the support of the ASI Technology Committee,
relying on the lay initiatives of TAGNET and the Sta-online Forum in Germany,
which celebrated its tenth anniversary in February 2005. Millions of people
are logging in, and the reality of the so-called "10/40 window" offers
the church a challenge that must not be missed. GIEN is not a status quo group,
one leader says, "new ideas must be put into practice for the benefit of
Assisting the office of the General Conference president, the
department coordinated a global telephone conference with church leaders internationally,
as well as three Let's Talk live television programs produced with Jan
Paulsen in conversation with the church's youth, and promoted world church mission
strategies and initiatives, such as the three strategic values (growth, unity,
and quality of life), Go One Million, and Sow 1 Billion, among others.
Among the public relations achievements of the quinquennium,
the following can be listed: Establishing a contemporary visitors' center6
at the church's world headquarters, and developing an ongoing program to showcase
initiatives and ministries of the church, known as the Gallery Wall in the General
Conference Auditorium. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, presented the
church with the need for an unprecedented response. The result was full-page
ads placed in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and
positioning the church as an active and caring community member as the world
came together over this tragedy.
A selective view of Adventist communication around the world
reveals how the challenges of the day are met, and how effective and responsive
we are to the ever-developing technologies and media for the iGeneration.
South Pacific region: Chasing Utopia television and
DVD series of programs compete with secular mind-sets, introducing a positive
Christian outlook on everyday commonplace situations; health and lifestyle radio
spots are available on 340 stations in Australia; the church's Web site is targeting
the community, not church members only; and the church's corporate identity
(logo) was enriched to expand the "Adventist brand" to all church
institutions, including education and health.
North American region: An annual Christmas television
show is produced in partnership with Florida Hospital and broadcast on 150 outlets.
Lifelines, a public service of the church, provides practical answers to common
health questions through 30- or 60-second spots circulated to more than 1,000
radio stations throughout North America; communication efforts in North America
include an active program (society) for Adventist communication professionals;
and the Adventist Communication Network (ACN) initiated a SonScreen film festival.
Southern Asia-Pacific region: Proactive communication
training in journalism and media is paying off in media coverage; the church
has been active in using telephone messaging in mission.
South American region: The church owns 78 radio stations,
another 200 stations broadcast programs via satellite from the New Time Radio
studios, and more than 2,000 radio stations air Voice of Prophecy and
Light on the Path programs. In television, the reality is even more surprising,
with more than 250 cable stations broadcasting 24/7 programming, in addition
to some 100 open TV outlets; more than 400 Web pages are maintained by church
members with volunteers producing Internet sites as well; Easter Week evangelism
unites local congregations with a national media campaign, and each year the
numbers of people receiving the Seventh-day Adventist message in this manner
Trans-European region: LifeDevelopment and the Mind
the Gap multimedia initiatives, begun in Great Britain, are reaching out to
the person on the street in postmodern Europe; Hope Channel programming is viewed
on Hotbird TV satellite; in Poland an eBible CD-ROM project was distributed
as part of the national computer magazine subscription.
Euro-Asia region: Publishing materials about the Adventist
Church in public magazines and newspapers, participation in radio and TV programs,
and providing information for independent and government Internet sites is a
priority for communication specialists in Russia, Ukraine, and other countries
of the region; public media is paying much attention to the Adventist Church;
since 2000, the Voice of Hope Media Center in Tula, Russia, received a quarter
of a million letters from listeners and viewers to Adventist programs.
Euro-Africa region: The use of the Internet in evangelism
and making the local community a target audience has been dominating the agenda
of Sta-online Forum in Germany; in Portugal the church went public with a Bible
There is more that could be mentioned, beginning with communication
initiatives throughout the three African regions, as well as Inter-America,
and by the premier church institutions of Loma Linda University, Andrews University,
and Oakwood College. All these efforts involved dedicated communication professionals
to whom a tribute should be paid.
In the words of Ellen G. White, "The character and importance
of our work are judged by the efforts made to bring it before the public."7
1 This statement was recommended and adopted by the world divisions
at a world
advisory in 2001.
2 World communication strategy was adopted by the General Conference session
in Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1995.
3 ANN staff: Bettina Krause (until 2003), Mark Kellner, Ansel Oliver (until
2004), Wendi Rogers, Taashi Rowe, and Lynn Friday.
4 In addition to the ANN staff, the Adventist NewsLine personnel included
John Banks, Liliana Henao, Julio Munoz, John Torres, Dan Weber, Gary Eldridge,
Marcel Eisele, Debbie Marquez, Edson Tanaka, John Beckett, and a group of international
5 Online activities are facilitated by John Banks and John Beckett, the www.adventist.org
6 Coordinated by Reger Smith, the center was designed by Edward Samuel. It is
a part of the visitors' tour program operated by John Torres. Annually thousands
of guests visit the General Conference facility. The center is also equipped
to serve as an Adventist NewsLine television studio.
7 Ellen G. White, Evangelism, p. 128.