Adventist Media Leaders Meet,
“This is going to be an unusual time,” General Conference (GC) president Ted N. C. Wilson said in remarks opening the summit on September 26, 2012. “This is not a time for reporting, this is not a time for listening to a lot of nice stories, [and] this is not a time to pat ourselves on the back for what we’re doing. This is an intentional, highly proactive meeting.”
Noting that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is one of the “very few churches that proclaim a biblical message,” Wilson urged participants to rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to “proactively [present] the gospel and the Advent message in a dynamic way.”
The Global Media Communication Summit was birthed in conversations Wilson and GC Ministerial Association secretary Jerry Page had some two and a half years ago with Neale Schofield, chief executive officer of the Adventist Media Network in the South Pacific Division, and lay member Joanne Davies, an Australian now living in New Zealand who has a strong background in broadcasting, media, and advertising. Davies said she had been praying for a conference such as this for more than 20 years.
She added, “This is not merely a call to media professionals, but to all members of the Seventh-day Adventist community around the world. Now is the time all 17 million members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church should work strategically to reach the world with the gospel. We will do it, and Jesus will come after that.”
Schofield said unity in presenting the message was essential: “We need to be one church with one voice speaking to the world.” However, he added, mere “amalgamation does not necessarily mean integration,” and he said integration and coordination require effort.
Ben Schoun, a world church general vice president who oversees church media, led out in the organization of the event. Addressing delegates, Schoun stressed that the meetings’ purpose was to “learn how to work together so that we can accomplish things that we cannot do individually.”
“If ever there was a time to break out of the mold and to step up our game, it is now,” Dunn said. “Whether intentional or not, every organization has a brand. . . . Whatever the nature of the entity—be it selling soda, air compressors, or mattresses, or representing a certain set of religious beliefs—it has a brand.”
Dunn added, “We [Adventists] have a great story. What are we known for today? And what do we want to be known for tomorrow?”
Participants listened to presentations on a wide range of issues relating to communicating Adventist beliefs and values as a background to group work on ideas for greater cooperation and effectiveness. Crister Delacruz, who recently joined the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) as communication and marketing director, emphasized the importance of having a church presence in the burgeoning forms of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others.
“There are more Seventh-day Adventist church buildings in the world branded with our logo than McDonald’s and Subway have combined,” he said. In addition to this overt branding, Adventist Church members are communicating values and doctrines in ways that are not clearly marked as Seventh-day Adventist. Richli pointed out that both types of communication are necessary and said the “covert” branding is the only way to get our message across in many areas of the world.
A measure of the scale of Adventist communication is the fact that Adventist World Radio reports 20 million downloads of their various podcasts each month. Even with these kinds of statistics, Adventist communicators want to do better.
Another pair of presentations that interested communicators came from Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center (LLUAHSC), whose president, Richard Hart, emphasized the global nature of LLUAHSC’s outreach. Rachelle B. Bussell, senior vice president for advancement, spoke about the organization’s many digital endeavors, including an “augmented reality” application that turns basic paper-based ads into clues for online communication when scanned with a mobile device.
Miroslav Pujic, Trans-European Division Communication and Media Ministries director, said there is a “need to harness technology in a way that is even more effective for the communication of the gospel to the world.”
—with additional reporting by Tor Tjeransen, tedNEWS