The Society of Adventist Communicators (SAC) has consistently provided professionals and students in the North American Division with the opportunity to network and to grow in communication skills, since their first convention held in 2000. From October 17-19, the convention was conducted virtually, due to COVID-19, as was last year’s. However, the 2021 convention more closely resembled an in-person event.
The Society of Adventist Communicators (SAC) has consistently provided professionals and students in the NAD and beyond with the opportunity to network and grow in communication skills since the first NAD0wide convention held in 2000. Last year the trunciated yet popular event was held virtually over two days. From Oct. 17-19, the convention was again conducted virtually due to COVID-19, however, this year's presentation line-up more closely resembled the in-person event.
“We’ve tried to pattern it more closely to what our in-person event would be like with three days instead of two, and workshops running concurrently in different blocks with many of them repeated,” said Kimberly Luste Maran, interim executive director for the SAC, mentioning that the SAC board, including Dan Weber, who stepped down as executive director at the end of July 2021 to join Andrews University’s communication department, spent a year in planning and preparation.
“We missed the fellowship of gathering in person, but encouraged our attendees to use the Zoom chat function as well as post meaningful tidbits on social media during the event. The topics this year are practical and engaging for various levels of expertise. We hope this convention held something of value for each communicator.”
Unlike last year’s “Pay-as-You’re Able” registration, the 2021 convention was free for students, but professionals paid $49.
According to Lorraine Ball, SAC representative for communication education, the board kept the convention free for students so that more could attend, aiding Ball’s goal in championing the next generation of students for communication.
“The sessions were packed with information that will be helpful for students,” Ball said. “Students will resonate with the content, and it will help them make sense of what they learn in their classes.”
Connecting Across Differences
The convention included a different keynote speaker each day (Diana Gladney, video marketing expert; Jeff Tatarchuk, entrepreneur and business creator; and Joanne Cortes, D.C. campus pastor for Beltsville church) and 11 workshops, three of which were presented at two times for more registrants to attend. Each presentation incorporated the overarching theme of SAC: “Purpose. Passion. Partnership.” Several presentations, meanwhile, addressed how to work through controversies within the church, such as politics, sexuality, and gender issues.
In the closing keynote, “Connecting Across Our Differences,” Joanne Cortes, a pastor at the Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Maryland, D.C. campus, challenged the group: “God created each one of us with the desire to connect in order to build relationships so we can discover who God is through each other. Jesus changed the narrative in His time by loving all people and spending time with them.”
She said that Adventists should “value people over traditions” in order to show the love of Christ and to work through differences. This topic is especially important in today’s highly charged atmosphere, where many of the same controversies in the secular world rattle the church as well.
In a similar theme, the presentation, “How to Be Kind Without Killing Yourself: Communicating Boundaries Effectively,” by Dee Knight, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist, gave tips on setting better boundaries in difficult situations.
“Setting and keeping boundaries is one of the kindest things I do,” Knight explained. “I wouldn’t have room for kindness if loose boundaries caused me to be or stay depleted.”
Along the same line, in the presentation, “Seeking an Understanding: How to Have Difficult Conversations Without Destroying Your Relationships,” Seth Pierce, Ph.D., pastor, and assistant professor of communication at Union College, discussed the importance of listening and responding kindly to those who may initiate repeated, passionate disagreements.
The convention also offered topics for a broad range of media platforms and skills, such as tips on digital and social media ministry, SEO strategies, LinkedIn profiles, marketing techniques, successful video productions, and credible writing.
Future of SAC
One future goal of SAC is to get Adventist communication professionals working outside the denomination to join the convention. According to Lorraine Ball, Adventists working for non-denominational organizations often face difficulty when attending the SAC convention because their employers do not see the value of attending a church convention, often held a great distance from their work. However, with the virtual landscape offered since 2020, more Adventists professionals have been able to join, contributing to the total of 300 participants at this year’s convention.
In the future, SAC plans to explore the possibility of a hybrid convention that will allow people to attend across the country, while also providing an in-person experience for others.
“SAC has impacted students and professionals in various ways,” said Bryant Taylor, president of SAC. “Professionals network throughout the week and leave with project collaborations with colleagues and resources to accomplish tasks and new skill sets to use. SAC has been a major growth component of my life as a professional communicator. The colleagues’ connections and contributions have been invaluable to what I do every day.”
The recorded presentations are available for registrants to view until November 4, 2021, at https://www.adventistcommunicator.com/2021-sessions. To hear more updates about the 2022 convention, subscribe to the SAC newsletter at https://www.adventistcommunicator.com/.
— Madison Reinschmidt is a student writer from Southern Adventist University.