July 11, 2019 | Montego Bay, Jamaica | Lawrie Henry/IAD News Staff
Communicators, technologists, church leaders and delegates in Jamaica met for training and networking at the Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) Conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from July 4-6, 2019. The more than 200 attendees were gathered from across the island, for the first such event organized by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, to promote the use of technology for spreading the gospel.
During the opening ceremony on July 4, Pastor Everett Brown, president for the church in Jamaica, said that through media the church can become more efficient and effective in fulfilling its mandate of making disciples.
“We have immense possibilities today of using technology to share the everlasting gospel. I’m happy that many of our millennials in the church are here, the future of the church is bright,” Pastor Brown said.
Nigel Coke, communication director for the church in Jamaica and organizer of the event, said the conference is timely given the world we live in.
“Two thousand nineteen is the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web, and we are entering the fifth generation of mobile technology and digital is arguably the biggest factor shaping the future,” said Coke. “Users of technology are set to have the tremendous opportunities to demonstrate their emotional intelligence and even ethical guidance capabilities. This is why we believe that a conference of this nature is very important at this time in Jamaica.”
Communication Director for the Adventist World Church Williams Costa expressed delight at seeing the GAiN event taking place in Jamaica in line with the goals of the world church.
“We are trying to discuss the new discoveries, technologies and contributions at this conference so communicators, content creators, technologists and people related to IT can all sit together and talk, dream and imagine how we can use these tools to share the message of hope worldwide,” said Costa. “Believe me, the Lord has blessed us mightily.”
Attendees included communicators from conferences and local churches, media and technology, institutions, union administrators and representatives from the Atlantic Caribbean Union Mission territories of Cayman Islands, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands and a representative from Trinidad and Tobago. Also present were communication leaders from the Inter-America Division and General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
While delivering the keynote address, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Fayval Williams, acknowledged the achievements and contributions made by the church locally and internationally in the area of science and technology.
“I commend the Seventh-day Adventist community for embracing the technological landscape,” said Minister Williams. You are an example of how one can utilize the ever evolving potential of technology to do what comes naturally and preach the gospel but to also facilitate training and digital literacy.”
An exhibition tracing the development of media and technology was opened by Minister Williams. Attendees were able to interact with two humanoid robots, Bob and Jimmy, who are autonomous and programmable robots, owned by the Department of Computer and Information Science at Northern Caribbean University. They are able to interact with people through their seven senses used for natural interaction.
“The inclusion of the humanoid Bob and Jimmy as part of the exhibition and the inclusion of a presentation on robotics and artificial intelligence is an indication as to where technology is going. This was intentional because at the end of the conference we expect participants to not only understand that technology is the present and future, but to embrace it in all facets of life including the church’s outreach mission,” Coke said.
Local and international experts made presentations on topics such as Jamaica’s pending digital switchover, cyber security, the Data Protection Bill, which is currently being debated in the Jamaican parliament, blockchain technology, robotics and artificial intelligence, animation and technology for special needs.
John Wesley, treasurer of the Cayman Islands Conference, said he enjoyed the conference. “One of my most remarkable take aways is the quality of the compact presentations, especially the ones like the copyright and defamation and Data Protection Bill,” said Wesley. “I was impressed with the level of partnership with the church and the outside community through sponsorship and some of the presenters, which provided a medium for sharing our mission.”
Coke said due to the continuing efforts to train and support these local teams, the work of communication across the union is easier now than when he joined the work in 2005.
“I used to have to travel to the various conferences to ensure coverage of activities particularly the big ones, but now with the gifted and talented communicators that each conference has I am confident that they can effectively carry out the necessary tasks,” he said.
Public Relations Consultant and University Lecturer, Janneth Mornan Green who attended the conference, said she found it enlightening and stimulating.
“I was impressed by the enthusiasm demonstrated by the various conferences and how they have embraced the idea of using the modern information-communication technologies to accomplish the church’s mission,” said Mornan. “It was also very interesting to hear what is happening from the perspective of the world church. I learned a few new approaches and left the conference feeling spiritually and professionally refreshed.”
Jamaica’s GAiN Conference concluded with a recognition ceremony where 15 awards were given to communicators from national and church entities for outstanding work in media and communication in support of the mission of the Adventist Church.
The Inter-American Division’s communication department awarded the Jamaica Union for its visionary leadership in news coverage concerning the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica and for consistently sharing news reports with Inter-America and the world church.
As a way to impact the community of Lilliput nearby, GAiN delegates, in collaboration with the West Jamaica Conference and the Lilliput Adventist Church, hosted a health fair at a community center. More than 170 persons were able to access free health care and healthy lifestyle education at the fair.
To learn more about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, its programs, events and initiatives, visit jmunion.org