More than 200 seasoned communication professionals, college and university students, and volunteers from across North America gathered October 17-19, 2019, for the Society of Adventist Communicators (SAC) convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States.
Participants attended communication workshops, a special AdventHealth rebrand session, area media tours, worship services, networking meals, and a screening of episodes from a Sonscreen Films adapted Web series.
After tours of the local KOAT/ABC affiliate station and Albuquerque Journal newspaper on October 17, Mark Newmyer, vice president of enterprise communications for AdventHealth, shared an update of the rebranding campaign for the health organization.
Newmyer, whose presentation was titled, “Community Response to AdventHealth Rebranding,” said, “We have three areas of focus in our plan this year, and that is sharing our story, strengthening our culture, and elevating our brand.” Newmyer focused on how the health system is using a variety of ways to elevate the AdventHealth brand, including employee training and a multi-media approach for external audiences.
“When we look to tell stories and relay stories, what are our criteria? We actually look at things like, we consider our mission, vision, and values,” Newmyer explained. “We need to be telling stories in five categories: faith-based care; clinical excellence and quality; caring for our communities; connected care—how we’re connected to each other; and whole-person care. That’s what we focus on.”
Garrett Caldwell, who officially joined AdventHealth leadership in October 2019, presented on “Aligning Healthcare Systems with Church and Community Outreach.” He said, “I think we could help people understand what it means to be Adventist — how we love, how we care, and how we can change not only ourselves but our environment.”
Participants attended several presentations on day two of the SAC convention, starting with TechTalk with Bryant Taylor, worship and media pastor for the Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church, centered around the current trending approach of do-it-yourself (DIY) communication. Taylor, along with co-host Courtney Herod, associate communication director of the Carolina Conference, showcased tech advances, including Pivo turntable smartphone mount, Osmo Gimbal Stabilizer, and Mikme smartphone microphone.
After TechTalk, Daryl Gungadoo, Adventist Review Ministries Media Lab director, launched into Friday’s keynote: “A Biblical Perspective of Innovations in Communications.” During his address, Gungadoo highlighted key innovations to help spread the Bible’s gospel message through cutting-edge technology via economic means. He encouraged attendees to think creatively — and beyond the obvious.
“If you’re in an industry of making curtains, do you want to define yourself as a curtain-maker, or do you want to define yourself as a light control company where, as the technology moves on, [you're] putting liquid crystals inside glass and having a remote that turns clear glass into dark, opaque glass?” he asked. “If you define yourself as just a curtain-maker, you are stuck with just making curtains, and when curtains are not in fashion anymore, you’re [finished]. It’s extremely important to rebrand yourself into something much longer term. Be future-proof.”
Workshops offered during the remainder of Friday morning and afternoon gave communication professionals and students the opportunity to choose sessions that best suited their interests and career paths. Workshops included podcasting, digital media and publishing, digital storytelling, social media, graphic design, photography, branding, crisis communication, and communication education — many with the entrepreneurial Christian communicator in mind.
The day wrapped up with a Q&A session with Ken Denslow, assistant to the president of the NAD. In answer to a question about younger generations communicating the church’s message, Denslow shared that the challenge presents itself when a younger generation sees things differently than the generation that is in charge. “But that’s been true ever since this church was founded,” he said.
Denslow added, “The Holy Spirit has as much access to every other generation as it has to my generation, and to the extent that we let God be God, and lead this church, we don’t need to be so concerned about generations coming along. It’s not necessarily about a generation building upon what the previous generation did. It’s about every generation doing what God is calling them to do in their time.”
In This Together
After a Sabbath school Q&A and screening of two episodes of the NAD-sponsored Sonscreen Films production “Arnion,” and a sermon by Denslow, attendees visited the Sandia Peak Tramway, climbing 10,000 feet above sea level in cable cars that hold up to 45 people in each trip up and down.
“It was a real blessing to fellowship with fellow communicators in such a beautiful setting,” said Dan Weber, director of communication for the North American Division. “The Sabbath afternoon tour of Sandia Peak and the opportunity to make new friends and acquaintances was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.”
The three-day event culminated with an awards banquet. A total of 131 communication projects had been submitted for critique, and 31 award certificates were distributed to both professionals and students for communication projects in several disciplines: written word/print media; spoken word (radio/podcast); video (broadcast and web); design; and campaign (advertising and promotions).
Steve Vistaunet, North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) assistant to the president for communication and editor of the NPUC Gleaner, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Vistaunet, who has served the church in various communication roles since the 1980s — and was once president of SAC — later described what receiving the award means to him. “I’m honored and humbled to receive this recognition, but truly this is God’s award. His blessings are at the core of every good thing that has come during my nearly 40 years of communicating the mission of our church,” he said.
Araya Moss, a communication specialist for the communication department in the Southern California Conference, and first-time attendee, said, “Sometimes we get so focused on our conference, and our territory and everything, that we forget there are other people out there doing similar things in their territory. It’s nice to have this experience where we can come together and meet different people, and see what they're doing, and get different ideas.”
Kristen Reid, an Oakwood University sophomore from the Cayman Islands, concurred. “I like the conference,” said the film and television major. “My expectations weren’t that high, but experiencing how the North American Division does things — this is really good — and coming out to see all these people who think like me, are in the same career like me, older, and my age, and being able to connect and talk with them is a beautiful experience.”
The 2020 convention will be held near Chicago, Illinois.