Grass-roots ministry leaders honoured as faithful creatives
A couple who share their creativity in children’s ministry and production locally and internationally are recipients of Manifest’s most prestigious award this year.
Rod and Zan Long receive the Gabe Reynaud Award for demonstrating excellence in faithful creativity. As longtime members of Kellyville Seventh-day Adventist Church in suburban Sydney, the Longs have led and supported key ministries, including those focused on worship, multimedia, young adults and children. Rod has also contributed to strategic leadership of the church in Greater Sydney as a member of the Executive Committee for eight years, the Education Board for 12 years and as Property Manager for 10 years.
In 2012, the Longs attended the One project gathering in Seattle (Washington, USA), a milestone in their journey of faith. “We came home bursting with energy, new life and love for Jesus,” says Rod. “People noticed it and asked us about it.”
They wanted to share the experience with their local church and with the church in Australia. Led by the Long family, the first Australian gathering of the One project convened later that year, which led to eight more across Australia and two in New Zealand. “The beautiful thing about working with the One project has been the positive responses from those who attended—lives changed, Jesus relationships renewed, people returning to church, people more in love with their church . . . healing in many ways,” says Rod. “That has been the best blessing, and the one thing that drove us to keep putting effort in.”
Jesus has called [Rod and Zan] to not only create but to make disciples in new ways. They are constantly translating discipleship into the language that speaks to the new generations.Pr Japhet de Oliveira, Senior Pastor, Boulder Church, and Co-chair, the One projectAs well as its focus on the centrality of Jesus in the Adventist Church, the One project demonstrated excellence in production and presentation. “We have always aimed to bring the absolute best in every element of these gatherings to draw focus on Jesus and His message,” says Rod. “The feel of the paper you hold, the graphic elements used, the flow of the program, how a table is decorated, creative and sometimes surprising worship elements, respecting people’s time by starting and finishing on time—all these things contribute toward the main goal. We bring our best in everything because the subject matter deserves it.”
Rod became a member of the One project’s leadership team while Zan noticed the absence of a program for children and developed TOP Kids, which she led at gatherings around the world. “It’s so important to be intergenerational with our faith, so the challenge of creating an experience that is saturated in Jesus across the generations became my goal,” she says.
According to Pr Japhet de Oliveira, Senior Pastor of the Boulder Church in Colorado and a co-chair of the One project, which hosted its final gatherings earlier this year, the Longs were key contributors to the innovation of the ministry. “We would laugh often as a leadership team that any new idea would have started somewhere in the minds of Rod and Zan,” he says. “I think it is because Jesus has called them to not only create but to make disciples in new ways. They are constantly translating discipleship into the language that speaks to the new generations.”
Zan continues to contribute to the children’s resource in the Daily Walk email devotional used by dozens of Adventist churches around the world. And, of course, this circles back to Kellyville, where she leads children’s programs, and the couple continue to do their most important ministry and faithful creativity.
“When you serve consistently in church, you learn that together is so much better than five family members [Rod, Zan and children Monique, Nathan and Sam] doing their separate thing,” says Rod, about the team effort that has been an important element of the family’s long-term ministry. “It has helped us grow together and look out for each other to see how we can help. Providing a common goal across generations helps keep us together, in Jesus and in church.”
The Gabe Reynaud Award
The award the Longs receive honours Gabe Reynaud, an Avondale College of Higher Education alumnus who became the Adventist Church’s first professionally trained film director, eventually becoming Senior Producer at the then Adventist Media Centre and pioneering a filmmaking unit at Avondale. Reynaud died in a motorbike accident in September 2000. 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.”
Previous recipients include artist 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 Pr Daron Pratt and singer/songwriter Melissa Otto.
Presented at Manifest’s creative arts festival between 2011 and 2015, the Gabe Reynaud Award is now part of the Adventist Church in Australia’s Digital Discipleship Conference. Reynaud’s wife, Andi, will present the Longs with the award this Saturday (July 21).
Manifest is an Adventist Church in the South Pacific-led movement exploring, encouraging and celebrating faithful creativity.
Gabe Reynaud became the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s first professionally trained film director. His work as a faithful creative, including Keepers of the Flame, The Search, Digging Up the Past and Chasing Utopia, won a number of international awards. He would become Senior Producer at the then Adventist Media Centre and pioneered a filmmaking unit at Avondale College of Higher Education.LEARN MORE