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27 September 2011 Lasko, Slovenia [T. Tjeransen, M. Kellner, M. Pujic; tedNEWS] “You can all be creative” says Belinda Stojanovic, a UK based psychologist, to more than 100 Adventist communicators gathered in Slovenia from 22-26 September 2011 for a conference with the theme “Explore Creativity” that had as its goal to enhance their skills in communication.

The church’s top communicators in Europe displayed an impressive creativeness in the work they shared with conference participants. The conference offered 28 lectures ranging from topics such as knowing your audience, public relations, crisis communication, marketing and branding, through creative writing, photography, marketing and branding. Shalom David, Communication Director for the Israel Field enjoyed the lecture on power of images by Melita Pazitka, professional photographer and marketing strategists. “I needed this. It gave me lots of good tips on how to make more creative images with a story in it” said David, and expressed appreciation for the excellent organisation of the event.

One full day was dedicated for the media ministries, including presentations from the number of media centers across Europe, Internet ministry, radio podcasting and information about the latest media technology and software. “There is a lot of creativity and we want to get the gospel out and make it attractive,” said Wim Altink, Communication Director of the Netherlands Union after the various unions had showcased some of their productions; and he added: “If anyone says the church is dead, I will tell them about this conference.”
Participants saw samples of a brand new series by tedMEDIA Productions presenting biblical values in a humorous and effective way. The Vintage Values series is available on www.tedmedia.org and are effective tools in sharing gospel stories with postmoderns. “tedMEDIA has a unique approach to communicating with secular and postmodern people, which I like very much,” commented Jean-Paul Barquon, Communication Director of the Franco-Belgian Union. “What tedMEDIA has produced will reach the French population very well,” he added.
The LIFEconnect social media and witnessing site (www.lifeconnect.info) was presented in depth by Mirjana Kicusic. This outreach website was developed by the TED Communication Department with intention to use social networking concept to connect with people, share biblical values for their holistic life and invite them for the offline meetings to hear more about the teachings of Jesus Christ. The country web pastors at the conference had a chance to exchange experience and views on its further development. Peter Smetsers, web-pastor of the Netherlands Union said: “If we are able to share all this creativity between unions and the divisions, we will succeed.”

One of the aims of the conference was to provide an opportunity for networking between communication professionals in the church across Europe. “Many divisions have a friendly competition, but you have really showed us how to cooperate, and I am really impressed with that,” said Williams Costa Jr, Communications Director for the Adventist World Church. Jean-Paul Barquon was also very happy for the fact that the conference gathered colleagues from the two European divisions. “Cooperation between the divisions is indispensable,” he said. Anne-May Müller, from the Danish Union and Rainer Refsbäch of the Swedish Union echoed the support for the event’s networking and educational potential: “The value [of the event] has been in a very focused teaching from gifted professionals. The networking and exchange of ideas – that is what’s inspiring.”
“The networking and sharing that has happened over the last five days means that teams are going home invigorated, with new ideas, and opportunities of sharing across borders,” Victor Hulbert, Communication Director for the British Union wrote in a blog post on the conference web site at the close of the event. Then he added: “After all, we are one church.”

On Sabbath, the attention of the delegates changed to worship. As delegates from a concurrent session of Trans-European Ministerial and Adventist Mission directors joined the communicators, Bill Knott, Editor and Executive publisher of Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines spoke on the subject, “Setting Captives Free.”

Stressing the need for Adventist churches to become places where healing can take place, Knott said, “Look deep into the well of our own brokenness and converse with the God Whom the Scriptures say is touched with our own weaknesses. He has been there, too. … Make sure you come to the place where the healing can happen.”

Knott was one of several worship speakers for the conference. He was joined by devotional speakers Benjamin D. Schoun, a General Vice President of the Adventist World Church including Williams Costa, Jr., Communication Director; and Julian Hibbert, Editor of The Messenger for the British Union Conference.
After days of learning about the importance of skilled communication both to Adventist members and the world beyond the church door, Schoun’s words of encouragement stayed with delegates: “Think differently, see new possibilities to envision ways to bring Christ’s message to postmodern, secular societies in Europe.”

The event was organised by the communication departments of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Euro-Africa and the Trans-European Divisions. The directors of the communication departments, Corrado Cozzi and Miroslav Pujic, had secured top presenters from both the world headquarters and professionals in various fields in the industry. To read more about the ACC – Adventist Communication Conference, please go to www.adventcom.eu [tedNEWS]
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Photos by Dragana Selakovic-Duval & A. Daryl Gungadoo


tedNEWS Staff: Miroslav Pujic, director; Deana Stojkovic, editor
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