Adventists in Arts: The 2017 Winners of the Gabe Reynaud Award
By Debbonnaire Kovacs, Aug 3, 2017 Note from the editor: I was delighted to learn about this organization which was formed to explore, encourage, and celebrate arts and creativity inspired by faith. If your church or conference has or knows of another similar organization, please send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manifest defines itself as “a creative arts movement celebrating faithful creativity in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” Their purpose is to “explore, encourage and celebrate faithful creativity in the arts, including filmmaking, writing, music, fine art, photography and performance.”
Back in 2011, Avondale College of Higher Education, in New South Wales, Australia, and Signs Publishing created an arts festival, which ran yearly until 2016. They say their inspiration came in part from SonScreen, a North American Division film festival which Adventist Today has written about multiple times. Over the next several years, Manifest, coordinated out of Avondale College by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific, grew to include a book, a blog, an e-newsletter, a Facebook page, podcasts and an Instagram account where they invite creatives of all stripes to share the ways they use their gifts for the kingdom of God. You can click on any of these links, or simply search #faithfulcreativity on nearly any social media platform and get involved.
You can find here a quote I found particularly resonant.
Manifest holds a vision of a community of church-minded artists and arts-minded churches, a goal with which this AT community can fully agree. We are created in the image of a Creator, and endowed with a vast multiplicity of creative gifts which are often underused in the great work of filling the world with the light of God.
One of the great contributions Manifest has made to the world of faithful creativity is the creation of the prestigious Gabe Reynaud award, named after an Avondale alumnus and the Adventist church’s first professionally trained director. Manifest has this to say: His vision, according to brother Daniel: for the church to recognise the power of art, “not to preach so much [but] . . . to testify to [God’s] wonder and awe and mystery, and for artists to use their talents in all genres to testify to a God who is the embodiment of creativity.”
This year’s recipients are Melissa Otto and Pastor Daron Pratt. We have written about Otto before: you can read the feature here. She is the first solo singer/songwriter to be a recipient of this award, which honors her long-term commitment to full-time music ministry. She has three albums: Opened (2007), Blue Sky (2011), and The Journey Home (2014) and recently completed a six-month tour of the US (the subject of our feature.)
Learn more at her website (melissaotto.com), her Facebook page, and read an interview on Avondale’s website here.
Pratt, Director of Family and Children’s Ministries in northern New South Wales, is also the first denominational employee to receive this award. His was for a different brand of creativity—his use of social media in ministry. Manifest said: He creates content—often posts expressing an opinion that may challenge the denomination or championing children’s ministries creatives and leaders—and curates content—often from outside Adventism. He uses his influence to increase the reach of other’s posts. And he is an early adopter of the social media and social networking service’s new features.
He also uses a gift with balloon animal creation as a ministry tool.
See a list of all recipients back to 2011 on this page.
Learn more at Pratt’s Facebook page or read Avondale’s interview here.
Another interesting article shares Otto’s and Pratt’s humble reception of their awards, in which they simply say relationship and people are what matter.
If you would like a more personal experience of either of these creative award winners, go to our P&A page, where you can hear Melissa Otto sing, or watch a presentation in which Pastor Pratt makes an unusual demonstration of how to win chicken shows. I’ll just say balloons are involved.
Long live #faithfulcreativity, and don’t forget, if you know of other movements like this, please let me know at email@example.com!
Debbonnaire Kovacs is a speaker and the author of 28 books and over 700 stories and articles for adults and children. To learn more about her work or ask her to speak at your organization, visit www.debbonnaire.com.