25 October 2022 |Bucharest, Romania [Andreas Mazza with Marcos Paseggi and tedNEWS]
More than 180 Adventist communicators met in Bucharest, Romania, for the 2022 Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN Europe) gathering. The event inspired communication leaders and experts from across sectors – including broadcasting, press and new media, representing over 35 countries, to move forward together.
While most attendees came from the Inter-European Division (EUD) and Trans-European Division (TED) territories, some came from as far as French Polynesia, Mongolia, South Korea and Mexico. Notably, a group of Ukrainian communicators drove for hours in a van to attend the gathering.
The organising team consisted of the communication departments of the EUD and TED, with the invaluable support of HopeMedia Europe, the Romanian Union Conference and their highly skilled technical team.
The work was efficient and synergistic, coordinated by the communication directors of the EUD, Paulo Macedo, and of the TED, David Neal, along with the president of HopeMedia Europe, Klaus Popa, and the communication director of the Romanian Union Conference, Dragos Musat. Also noteworthy was the remarkable contribution of the former EUD communications director, Corrado Cozzi.
During GAiN 2022 Cozzi was presented with an award in recognition of his contribution to the communication ministry. Victor Hulbert, former TED communication director, who unable to attend GAiN in person due to health issues, was also presented with an award. Attending the event via videoconference, Hulbert said an emotional goodbye to GAiN 2022 participants, recalling with nostalgia the work he had done with his colleague Cozzi in previous years.
GAiN 2022 provided an opportunity for participants to connect deeply and share wholeheartedly. One such occasion was when attendees from Ukraine were welcomed. As is well known, Ukraine has been the scene of a bloody war since February; one bringing death, pain, and destruction to many, with global ramifications. After greeting the Ukrainian participants with warm applause, the organisers invited Seong Jun Byun, communication director of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, to pray for peace in Ukraine. It was a very touching moment that moved those present.
“Our house was damaged when some bombs fell on our city,” shared a member of the Ukrainian delegation. “We were so afraid, but the Lord helped us escape and find refuge with the whole family in Germany. Now we just have to pray for those who remained in our land,” he continued, “and the extraordinary thing is that Ukrainians and Russians are praying together in our new church on German soil,” he concluded.
Motivational Message From the General Conference
Participants enjoyed a recorded greeting from Williams Costa Jr, director of the Communication department at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s world headquarters. Costa’s message emphasised the importance of strategic collaboration among the various regions of the Church.
Particularly inspiring were the devotionals by Bill Knott, Executive editor of the Adventist Review. Knott explored Adventist identity, highlighting it “cannot be separated from an intense love of neighbour.” With his evocative and poetic eloquence, Knott identified Adventist identity as a ‘journey beginning with Creation and ending with the return of Christ.’
The Intensive programme
GAiN 2022 featured numerous workshops, case studies and discussions, led by experienced communicators from across many sectors. The common thread – how best to communicate the Gospel in today’s complex world, how to unite communication and mission.
The chaplain for the event, Simret Mahary, is an expert in the field of cross-cultural relations, and is pastor of the Frankfurt Central Church, in Germany. He is also founder of PRESENCE kulturlounge, a cultural centre in Frankfurt, which offers a variety of cultural, spiritual and community-building activities. Mahary emphasised how the journey of faith often means venturing into uncharted territory and unfamiliar paths. Mahary also highlighted, very insightfully, how our individual and cultural backgrounds impact this journey, and the importance of recognising this in order not to impose our own views on others.
Cross Media Network Project – Happiness Network Project
One of the highlights of the conference was the unveiling of the Happiness Network Project. This cross-media project explores the topic happiness from different perspectives in order to create resources (videos, books, documentaries, etc) which are shared free of charge across the network. The project, coordinated by EUD , TED, and Hope Media Europe, benefits from the support of several adventist media centres across the world, which make it possible.
The network project aims at inspiring viewers and readers to better understand the concept of happiness, and to learn tools to enhance their own experience. “Happiness is not a destination, but a daily journey,” organisers said, “It is not something that we bring from birth; it is something that is learned.”
Visiting the Parliament and SperanțaTV
It has become a tradition of GAiN conferences for participants to experience a cultural activity. For this Bucharest conference it was a visit to the Palace of the Parliament, the largest in Europe. At the invitation of former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Justice, Titus Corlatean, attendees were able to tour through the lavish halls of this colossal building.
GAiN attendees also visited the sudios of SperanțaTV (Hope Channel Romania) and the headquarters of the Adventist Church in Bucharest, Romania. Pastor Aurel Neatu, Romanian Conference Union president, welcomed GAiN participants and shared an overview of the work of the Adventist Church does in Romania.
Whom Am I Speaking To?
The last day of the conference was mainly dedicated to explore ‘Marketing in a post-modern world’, that is, how to efficiently and effectively reach external audiences with the Gospel of Christ. Through the input of some experts in the field, such as Daryl Gungadoo, Lorand Soares Szasz, and Jonathan Contero, participants were able to better understand the ways through which to identify and reach audiences with the Word of God.
The original version of this story first appeared in the Inter-European Division News website. [Photos: Tor Tjeransen, AME, CC BY 4.0 and Vanesa Pizzuto]