Name: Tony Knight
Job: Director of Resource Development, Australian Union Conference (AUC) Resource Centre
Where: Melbourne, Victoria
A lot of people might not know that an AUC Resource Centre exists. What does it do and why is there a need for it?
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia’s (AUC) Resource Centre is not actually a bookshop like an Adventist Book Centre (ABC), which is the most common misconception. We really exist as more of a wholesaler—to provide resources in bulk to conference offices, churches and pastors who are doing outreach programs, and to ABC stores.
We also develop and produce resources for all departments of the AUC, as well as the sourcing, manufacturing and distribution of Pathfinder supplies for the entire South Pacific. It’s that kind of big picture stuff—we average about $A2600 of sales for every day of the year that the centre is open, and we ship out huge pallet loads quite regularly.
As director, what does a typical day look like for you?
Sometimes my day will just involve sourcing products for our warehouse and dealing with supply issues. For instance, we’ve had trouble recently with a supply of Master Guide scarves. This means I’ll find a new seamstress, source the special coloured ribbon to put on the edge of the scarves and then find a screen printer who will put the Pathfinder logo on the scarves. It can be quite a process and that’s just one of several thousand products we stockpile. We try and buy Australian where we can, but when we can’t, we deal with manufacturers in Thailand, Cambodia, China and Malaysia for different products.
Then there’s a whole different side of work that we do in the Resource Centre, and that has to do with the development and production of our internal products. To help us do this, we’ve set up a publishing imprint called Seeds of Faith. It’s important to note we’re not a publishing company like Signs Publishing, so if someone wants us to publish their book, we won’t. Our imprint means that when we produce a resource—a book, a Bible training guide, a DVD—for one of the departments of the AUC, it will come under the Seeds of Faith imprint to distinguish it as an AUC product. Since we’ve added this to our range of services in the Resource Centre, we’ve produced 14 books, have another five or six on the cards in the next year, and there are requests coming in all the time.
What are some of the products under the Seeds of Faith imprint people might recognise already?
The Hunter Chronicles would be one. This series came about because the AUC youth department wanted a new set of Bible studies for Juniors (ages 10-12). So Amanda [Bews, co-author] and I sat down and thought about how one of the best ways to deliver Bible truths to Juniors is through storytelling. We also knew that if children explore something for themselves, the information is much more likely to stick than if someone just tells them. So we created The Hunter Chronicles books, each with an accompanying Bible study guide that uses an exploratory format to unpack the story. By the end of each book and study guide, kids have covered seven of the Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. By the time they’ve finished four of the books, they’ve covered all 28 Fundamental Beliefs, they’ve earned four Pathfinder honours along the way and they’re ready for baptism. These books have been used widely by Sabbath School classes and Pathfinder clubs and we’ve sold thousands of them. The first books have had to be reprinted twice already.
Another example is The Angel Said Australia series. So far, Amanda has written five books in this series, which are beautifully illustrated picture books that tell the story of Adventist pioneers in Australia for young children. This was an initiative of our AUC ministerial association, who wanted to produce a resource to keep Adventist identity at the forefront of our mission.
What’s the best part about your job?
Creating new resources, by far! I’d consider myself an organised person, so I don’t mind looking after our stock and warehouse products—that fits with my logical side. But I love to dream up new products. To be able to create brand new tools and products that key into exactly where kids are at in their spiritual walk—I’m having more fun than I’ve had in years!
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and lessons you’ve learned in this role?
You’ve got to be flexible, as you never quite know what the day will hold. I might be completely absorbed in preparing for a stocktake of $600,000 worth of product that we have on the shelves, or I might be sitting down for a brainstorming session on how to create a new resource for The Hunter Chronicles. You also have to know not only how to be creative but how to cultivate an environment where other people can be creative. This can be difficult sometimes, so I’ve learned that you need to be as open-minded and even-tempered as possible.
If you could give one piece of advice to our young people today, what would it be?
Don’t let anybody hold you back from doing what God wants you to do. The world is full of people who are wanting to tell you that you can’t dream that dream or develop that idea. But the reality is, if God wants you to do something it’s going to happen, so don’t let anybody discourage you—if God’s behind it, He’ll bless it.
All resources can be found at disciple.org.au/resources. If you have an idea for a resource you believe fills a need or would benefit Seventh-day Adventist church members in Australia, the Resource Centre would love to hear about it. Email email@example.com.