Communication is presently one of the main tools used by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to share the biblical message. However, to reach that level, it was necessary to go through a real journey. It highlights the contributions of several people. Therefore, the South American Adventist News Agency (ASN) begins this series of interviews, which recognizes the work of these individuals in expanding Adventist communication.
"It doesn't matter what department you are; just communicate!"
This phrase followed the entire professional career of Siloé João de Almeida. He studied theology, hospital administration, and journalism. In the Adventist organization, he started as a school director, ran four hospitals, participated in the foundation of the Adventist Health Program (Proasa), served as ministerial secretary in the central region of the State of São Paulo, trained professionals, and contributed with content in the first decade of expansion of the Novo Tempo de Comunicação network in eight South American countries.
During the 56th World Assembly of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Utrecht, Netherlands, he was appointed as communication director for South America, a position he held from 1995 to 2005. Today, retired, he is vice president of Gospel Outreach (IDE-GO Brazil). He is married to Marisa, a teacher, and they have three children and six grandchildren.
Read the interview below about his vision and legacy as a communicator:
What were the big challenges of Adventist communication when you took over the department?
At the time, this area was not so strong in the church. Communication offices did not exist, either. I decided to invest, together with my colleagues, in creating them. What happened? The results materialized and the other departments started to ask for communication assistance to develop their projects.
How did the proposal to create a news agency come about?
In 1995, we created the ASN with the objective of distributing information and content for the internal environment of the Adventist Church in the South American territory. It also aimed to serve the external environment, feeding the media, just like the large international agencies.
Was bringing the church closer to the major media outlets one of your strategies as a manager?
Since 1980, I have been trying to intensify the church's visibility in the press. The big TV stations in Brazil opened up. The largest newscast in the country aired South American campus, Christmas efforts, conferences, and youth actions, ADRA [Adventist Development and Relief Agency] projects, Adventist Education events… The same happened with magazines, radios, and newspapers.
Did this opening also favor Adventist hospitals?
Yes. An important electronic magazine highlighted, several times, the Adventist Hospital of São Paulo, the Adventist Clinic of São Roque [presently known as Clínica Vida Natural], in the same state, and reported unprecedented surgeries at the Silvestre Adventist Hospital, in Rio de Janeiro.
At that time, you met journalist and presenter Cid Moreira, correct?
Yes. Cid Moreira and I became friends. At one point, he thought I should make it possible to record the Bible, cover to cover, so in 2000, I introduced him to Sérgio Azevedo, a communicator who started the project. Three years later, Dr. Agostinho Casarin Jr. and Dr. Milton Afonso, a philanthropist, became great partners in this project. It's been six years of miracles!
How do you feel about the leaders who preceded you in church communication?
The appointment to succeed the legendary Pastor Assad Bechara to lead Adventist communication in South America was a surprise. He did perfect advertising campaigns and mobilized all the youth. Furthermore, Roberto Azevedo, Arthur Valle, and Domingos Peixoto were my references in communication and public affairs.
Are the church's communication and mission connected?
Evangelism and communication are almost confused. Communication advises evangelism, from the conception of a campaign until after its end. The product most desired by human beings is salvation, and evangelism has that content.
The Adventist Church has been using the slogan “A Voice of Hope”. What does this tell you?
In my lectures, I usually say the means of communication is the human; the rest is auxiliary. What we call the media must be used wisely to carry the message, at any time, in any context. It is through each of us that God manifests the righteous fragrance of Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 2:14).
Can it be said that communication is a science?
No doubt! For each target audience, communication must use the right language, approach, and vehicles, among other factors, to be successful. When we held the first South American congress on communication in July 2003, we used the slogan “Communication—science and the media at the service of the gospel”.
What does the phrase “It doesn't matter what your department are; just communicate!” mean to you?
This statement has everything to do with my life experience in managing organizations and large companies. Employing communication in everything you do reduces costs and multiplies results.
In times of pandemic, how are we to be a living communication link?
The pandemic is an unprecedented crisis. Therefore, choose your own language for the moment. Create new communication channels in addition to existing ones. The campaigns that are already known must continue. However, use your creativity to adapt actions and mobilizations.
This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site