The recipient of the Gabe Reynaud Award this year is a reluctant digital disciple who is now a home-based worldwide worship leader.
At the peak of the pandemic, Sandra Entermann visited her brother’s house longing to open the Sabbath with others and chose to press the Facebook Live button to see if any others felt the same way. Sabbath Singalong is now mainstay for tens of thousands of people from hundreds of countries, including those where practising Christian faith is difficult. They represent all ages and worldviews, and even music styles. Many do not identify as Seventh-day Adventists (although worldwide church president Pastor Ted Wilson has been a guest). But they are sensitive to need, raising more than $A120,000 to help the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) respond to crises.
Ms Entermann received the award at the church in the South Pacific’s Digital Discipleship Conference on May 6. Presenting it, for the first time: Gabe’s son, Shanan.
“Sabbath Singalong is pastoral but not polished—it still feels homely,” he said. “It’s simple—one phone, one laptop, one ring light, four chairs. And it’s sustainable—costs are low.” The Gabe Reynaud Award recognises all this as a demonstration of excellence in faithful creativity, he added. “It honours our recipient for sharing her passion for music as a personal response to disruptive change. And it demonstrates the adage: when you give, you receive.”
Despite Sabbath Singalong’s popularity, the ministry is still personal. “Every Friday, as I minister through music, I’m the one who receives a blessing,” says Ms Entermann. She is aware of her audience, though, explaining during the livestream what a song means or why she changed a lyric. “I get to preach a sermon every four minutes for two hours. It’s a big responsibility.” While the list of people who want to sing with her grows, Ms Entermann generally handpicks those she knows—locals from Ipswich in Queensland and a few farther away. “At the end of a working week, I just want to exhale with my family and friends.”
With a pre-exisiting appointment precluding her attending in person, Ms Entermann watched the presentation on Zoom and addressed the delegates. “I’m humbled by this acknowledgement,” she now says. “It’s a reminder others are always watching what we do. So, may our witness be one that encourages others to know and love Jesus more. If you’re a digital disciple, soldier on faithfully. You may not see your reward here on earth, but heaven will testify of your diligence.”
Gabe Reynaud Award
The Gabe Reynaud Award has history. First presented at the Manifest Creative Arts Festival in 2011 and at the Digital Discipleship Conference since 2017, it is named in honour of the pioneering Adventist filmmaker.
Previous recipients include art educator Joanna Darby, academic, composer and writer Dr Robert Wolfgramm, the interactive, outdoor drama Road to Bethlehem, clown, storyteller and trainer Graeme Frauenfelder, entrepreneur and publisher Jeremy Dixon, children’s minister Pastor Daron Pratt, singer/songwriter Melissa Otto, children’s ministry and production creatives Rod and Zan Long, and filmmaker Pastor Wes Tolhurst.
Gabe Reynaud became the church’s first professionally trained film director. His credits as senior producer at the then Adventist Media Centre include programs such as Keepers of the Flame and Chasing Utopia. An alumnus of Avondale, he pioneered a filmmaking unit at the university.
His vision? That the church would recognise and that artists would use the power of art to testify about the Creator God and His wonder, awe and mystery. And his proudest achievement: nurturing and mentoring creativity, often from the kind of artists who ordinarily would have had no place in the church.
Gabe died almost 23 years ago in a motorbike accident the day after returning from a long stint filming overseas.