Festival honours creative artists


The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific has honoured its creative artists during an awards ceremony named in honour of a pioneering filmmaker.

The Gabe Reynaud Awards closed the inaugural Manifest Creative Arts Festival. The ceremony honours the Avondale College of Higher Education alumnus and former Adventist Media Centre senior producer, who became the church’s first professionally trained director. Gabe’s vision: for the church to recognise the power of art and “for artists to use their talents . . . to testify to a God who is the embodiment of creativity,” said brother Daniel during the reading of the life sketch.

You may feel the church is not ready for you. Well, the world is.

Manifest, coordinated by the church through Adventist Media Network (AMN) and Avondale, will now become an annual event. The focus this year: filmmaking; song composing; and writing.

Artist and Avondale alumna Joanna Darby received the Gabe Reynaud Award. Gabe’s wife, Andi, presented the award. “[Joanna] has created a unique blend of art and ministry,” said Andi as she read the citation. “Her visual work has artistic integrity and outstanding quality. Her verbal art is innovative, refreshing, powerful and moving. Both overflow with a passion for communicating the love of Christ, delivered with humility and compassion.”

Manifest offered $1000 for the winning entry in each category of its competition.

Glendon Harris from Alstonville Seventh-day Adventist Church received the Hope Award for “Her Story: Sarah.” The documentary explores the issue of self-esteem through Sarah Chambers, a young adult from the church who suffers adult onset acne.

Benjamin Milis and Jodie Barnes, members of Avondale vocal ensemble The Promise, received the Psalter Award for “God Is Here.” The song, in an inspirational style using three-part harmony, reminds the listener of God’s presence.

Former Signs Publishing Company editorial assistant Scott Wegener received the Signs Award for “Know misunderstandings.” The article uses humorous misunderstandings to challenge the reader about the beliefs with which they identify.

Nick Lindsay, Steele McMahon and Stephanie Fox each received the Avondale Young Achiever Prize. Steele even travelled from Queensland to perform during the ceremony. The Year 11 Brisbane Adventist College student and the two other winners each receive $200 and a $500 discount on fees at Avondale.

Steele McMahon (sitting playing the guitar) received a Young Achiever Prize in song composing.  

AMN chief executive officer Neale Schofield affirmed creatives in his keynote by reminding them their gift can “revolutionise” the spreading of the gospel. “You may feel the church is not ready for you,” he said. “Well, the world is. Take this as a signal God wants you to do something much bigger in your life.”

Dr Grenville Kent presented the charge. He spoke of the Jewish influence in Hollywood, noting how the Jews had moved from the synagogue to the cinema. Adventists need to move into a similar creative space, he said.

Another of the festival’s speakers, Adventist writer Kay Rizzo, the author of 58 books, concurs. “Creativity will happen, whether we support it or not, so why should we lose it to the world?”

Manifest, which Avondale hosted, March 23-26, also included an academic lecture, at which Dr Bruce Manners presented findings from a study of Hope Channel viewers, and a showcase of AMN’s new DVD-based evangelistic series Beyond the Search.

Inspiration came from SONscreen, an annual film festival organised by the church in North America. Co-founder Stacia D Wright attended, presenting two short film showcases. One featured the premiere in the South Pacific of Adopting Haiti. The documentary tells of the evacuation of children from the Maison de Enfants de Deu orphanage in Port-au-Prince. Director Timothy Wolfer travelled from California to introduce it.

Photo credits: Ben Turner.