Seventh-day Adventist communicators gathered for the Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) Americas from June 7 to 11 at the North American Division headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, United States. More than 100 participants traveled to the event from across North America, Inter-America, South America, and the Northern Asia-Pacific regions of the Adventist Church to learn about digital communication strategies for evangelism and mission.
During his welcoming devotional thoughts, General Conference (GC) communication director Williams Costa Jr. emphasized the value of media in mission. “We live in a time that we need to share vision, enthusiasm, knowledge, and technology,” he said. “We need to communicate hope by sharing content in all possible ways. That is our mission! That’s our goal!”
Media Synergy for Mission
GAiN Americas featured 50 different speakers who presented on diverse topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), the new branding architecture and governance structure at the GC, content production, public relations, technology, and innovation.
The four-day event also featured breakout sessions and panel discussions, including one with GC president Ted N. C. Wilson, secretary Erton Köhler, and associate treasurer Richard Stephenson. During their panel session, they, along with GC communication associate director Sam Neves, emphasized the Gospel as the center of all communication efforts. “Our goal as a church is ... to proclaim, preach, and communicate,” Neves said.
GAiN Americas also fostered an atmosphere of collaboration and creativity in which participants shared their experiences, challenges, and success stories freely, organizers said. “This unique networking opportunity allowed like-minded professionals to forge valuable connections, exchange best practices, and form lasting partnerships that contribute to the global advancement of Adventist communication efforts,” they said.
According to the GC Communication department, GAiN Americas seeks to highlight and encourage media synergy taking place amongst GC departments and ministries, as well as support the increased collaboration among Adventist communicators worldwide.
“What an honor to be a part of tearing down of silos and joining hands [with GC departments and entities] to proclaim the love of Christ,” GC communication assistant director Alyssa Truman said.
Technological Mission Developments
GAiN Americas invited division leaders across the Americas to share how their regions push innovative boundaries and implement technology for mission.
In February, the South American Division (SAD) hosted a free and fully virtual 10 Days of Prayer event via the Metaverse, a virtual reality (VR) world where users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users in real time. SAD communication director Jorge Rampogna discussed their work within the Metaverse and celebrated that more than 150 users joined the digital series and many requested Bible studies due to the effort.
“The church needs to take every opportunity to take its message to where people are. Many are submerging the internet into new virtual worlds. It’s a challenge to conventional methods, but we need to connect,” Rampogna said.
The SAD is also focused on reaching young people through its Christian media platform, Feliz7Play. The digital site features hundreds of movies and series created by the SAD for young people to enjoy and share in both Spanish and Portuguese. The content explores biblical and practical themes young people can relate to.
The North American Division (NAD) has also embraced film production, encouraging young filmmakers to produce inspirational content through the annual Sonscreen Film Festival. Created and sponsored by the NAD, Sonscreen is a place where “young creatives who have a passion for using film for the purpose of creating timely and relevant productions for social awareness, outreach, and uplifting creative entertainment can do so,” NAD associate communication director Julio Muñoz said.
In the vein of content creation and production, the Inter-American Division (IAD) has developed Creative Disciples, encouraging young people to use whatever talent or skill they have to share the Gospel. IAD communication director Abel Márquez informed attendees that while many consume content on a daily basis, creative disciples take advantage of social media and other digital platforms to share Jesus.
Recommitted and Inspired for Mission
The highlight of GAiN was a June 10 Sabbath service during which attendees participated in fellowship and communion. During his Sabbath sermon, Billy Biaggi, a GC general vice president, reminded attendees of their calling to mission. “We have been called to use the technology God has given us to witness to the world,” he emphasized.
After a few presentations in the area of digital evangelism and online pastoral care, GC and division communication leaders invited attendees to participate in a communion service as they recommitted themselves to broadcasting the Gospel to the world.
For Tim Kosaka, digital marketing manager at Adventist HealthCare, GAiN was an invaluable experience.
“As a Seventh-day Adventist young professional, GAiN has been a transformative experience ... GAiN has provided me with a wealth of knowledge that directly applies to my work at Adventist HealthCare. The exceptional networking opportunities with esteemed communication leaders across the denomination have opened doors for collaboration and growth, fueling my passion for making a meaningful impact through my role,” Kosaka said.
He added, “GAiN has truly become an indispensable resource, equipping me with the tools and connections necessary to excel in my professional journey as an Adventist young professional.”
For Henry Salgado, general producer for Esperanza Colombia Radio from the Northern Colombia Union, GAiN inspired him to recommit to mission. “This event was inspirational. We often talk about global communication, but it needs to start in every local context. GAiN has inspired and motivated me to join all the initiatives mentioned and contribute to them by promoting and using them to help tell the world that Jesus is coming soon.”
The 2023 GAiN Americas event marked the first in-person GAiN conference since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. GAiN created continental events this year as a response to the GC’s decision in 2022 to limit global events.
For nearly two decades, GAiN conferences have equipped communicators with tools, strategies, and ideas for effective ministry within digital communities. Since its inception in 2004, GAiN has evolved into a global platform for education, training, and collaboration.
This year’s GAiN continental events are scheduled to take place in three other regions across the globe. GAiN Asia will take place in South Korea in September. GAiN Europe will occur in Montenegro in October, and GAiN Africa is set to take place in South Africa in December.