s the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church continued to face the challenges of our contemporary world, the ministry of Adventist communication saw its role in the context of the “communication era” in which we all live.
Adventist communication during this past quinquennium saw substantial changes in the way we shared news, how we inspired and motivated each other for mission, and how we responded to challenges of the world, both secular and religious.
Responding to the challenges identified by church leaders for the church’s Communication Department, we affirmed our mission as “building bridges of hope.” After all, the vision of the world communication strategy expressed the challenge that all Seventh-day Adventists “will communicate hope by focusing on the quality of life that is complete in Jesus Christ.”
Four issues were identified as primary for Adventist Communication in the 2005-2010 quinquennium: (1) improving the professionalism of Adventist communicators; (2) effective and sustainable use of new communication technologies in church communication; (3) intentional content development and presentation of the church’s messages; (4) visibility of the church in society and communication response to global issues. As one reviews the countless success stories in Adventist communication, a story emerges of a vibrant communication ministry, internationally and locally. Adventist communicators have been challenged to use new and contemporary methods in communicating with a postmodern society in the midst of emerging communication options.
Here are a few examples:
Seventh-day Adventists in Romania brought the church to the crossroads with an invitation to read the Bible. Thousands are responding, according to Beatrice Lospa, coordinator of the “Sola Scriptura” Bible study program.
Edson Rosa, Communication director of the South American Division, reports that throughout South America Seventh-day Adventists participated in “One Day of Hope,” bringing the good news on Sabbath, May 16, 2009, to nearly all the homes of the continent.
In Jamaica the country’s national media threw a challenge at the church: Now that you have become the dominant church in our country, we are expecting you to lead our island to solve its problems. Nigel Coke, Communication director of the West Indies Union Conference, says that the church is taking seriously the fact that once a minority, it has moved to a new level of influence. On top of this, “we have a governor-general who is a Seventh-day Adventist,” he says.
In China the church is seen as a major player on the Christian horizon of influence, because of its “zeal and the Holy Spirit,” says Zu Xsiu Hua, a prominent leader of the church in her region. In Shenyang the Beiguam church is a featured stop for tourists, making the Adventist presence in the city prominently visible.
Leendert Brouwer, from the Netherlands, is eager to explain that the vision of a church with people, rather than the church for people, has put a small Adventist Antillean community in Delft into the driver’s seat of a community initiative to help teenage mothers. Today, the church’s Alivio Foundation is a leader in its community, thus communicating Adventism’s way of life as a preferred source of a whole-person’s development.
The annual Global Internet Evangelism Network (GiEN) Forum brought hundreds of technologists, evangelists, and church administrators to present, evaluate, and propose new avenues for the church to reach out in the area of Internet development. The forum created a network of technologists and provided initiatives for the effective use of technology in church life and mission. Several regional events followed in the GiEN footsteps.
The most prominent and responsive to the church’s needs in technological advancement internationally was the development of the netAdventist content management platform, providing a user-friendly application for local churches and institutions.
Regionally similar initiatives, such as Adventist Church Connect in North America, also added a proprietary technology for church use.
The presence of the Adventist News Network (ANN) was perhaps the most visible activity of the department. New features, including a biweekly commentary, expanded a new ANN Web page. A proliferation of ways to share news with church audiences, internally and externally, enjoyed not only a regular news output on the Web at news.adventist.org, but also exposure through the Ground 7 News podcast and video news clips. Regionally, regular editions of video news productions included InFocus by David Gibbons from Sydney, Australia, and 34 Degrees South, by Andre Brink in Cape Town, South Africa.
Stories about relevant communication methods abound in Russia and South Africa, England and Ghana. They speak of the church’s presence in the news, joining others in combating malaria or HIV and AIDS, as well as creative, experimental productions in cinematography, music, and social communication on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
New media productions, supporting the initiatives of the Office of the President, involved the General Conference Communication team in such programs as Let’s Talk—an unscripted, unedited, live conversation between the world church president and youth and young adults—and the production of a weekly 30-minute program, Intersection: Your Faith, Your World—featuring a panel of experts that discussed 100 topics, broadcast on Hope Channel.
The widely popular video-sharing Web site YouTube became a platform for Adventists About Life, a new and contemporary series of two-minute statements about Adventist values, presenting comments by Jan Paulsen and other church leaders. The YouTube medium “is well-suited to calling attention to a number of key issues” that are important to Seventh-day Adventists, Paulsen said.
Experiments in media convergence and effective coordination of media ministries in the South Pacific and South American regions also provided the church with new options in making communication central to effective public presence and the mission objectives of Adventism. To enhance professionalism in Adventist communication, a certification program in communication—an international accreditation for Adventist communication professionals—was established throughout the world divisions of the church.
Communication of hope guided our activities in this past quinquennium. The world headquarters communication team wishes to pay tribute* to countless professionals for making communication central to the church’s mission.
*Special recognition is given to Lynn Friday, administrative assistant, and Reger Smith, Jr., associate director, both of whom passed away during the quinquennium.