Adventists 'shock' Nigel Coke with honour

Staff reporter

Sunday, July 14, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James – After 14 years of service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, Communication Director, Nigel Coke, was shocked, when his leaders surprised him, at his own spearheaded event – Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) Conference, with an award, for excellence in the area of communication.

“My brothers and sisters, I am still in shock,” expressed Coke. “Let me say thanks to the Jamaica Union Conference, all our directors in the fields, the Inter-American Division for their recognition of excellence in communication. I was indeed shocked.”

The 20-minute segment in his honour came during the final moments of the three-day GAiN Conference, held against the backdrop of educating and training communication and technology professionals for community outreach using technology. The event was held at the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Hotel in Montego Bay, on the evening of July 6.

It all began while Coke was standing in line to bring the curtains down with his vote of thanks, after concluding the award and recognition ceremony for seven church communicators and four Jamaican media personnel. He was asked to be seated. Then, human resource manager of the Jamaica Union Conference (JAMU), Lisa-Marie Samuels, stealthily transitioned the spotlight.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Jamaica Union Conference is always pleased to affirm our workers of worth, whose work and worth have helped to advance the mission in Jamaica Union and this afternoon, we honour, we recognise one such worker.”

With that, a picture of Coke appeared on screen. His face froze. The startling reality of what was happening jolted him in a nine-minute video tribute, which he intermittently exclaimed “What!” While wiping his brow. This opened the floodgates for an entire segment in his honour.

“I am pleased and honoured to use this opportunity to personally, on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, to express our thanks and gratitude to you, for your selfless service to God and his church in the area of communication,” said Pastor Everett Brown, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Jamaica, who was first in the video tribute.

The video gave details about Coke's journey with God, in raising the bar in what was described as the church's fledgling communication department. Showing his work in areas such as: media relations, print and electronic production, training, workshops, and event planning.

At the end, a bashful Coke received a standing ovation as he approached the platform and was greeted by the three JAMU administrators along with the four regional communication directors. His wife joined him on stage while he accepted his award.

“I am going to be presenting this award to an outstanding and dedicated worker to the JAMU,” Pastor Brown announced. “Sometimes, I drive past the office. The lights are on and the car is there. Nigel is at work. Sometimes I slip into his office to see exactly what he is doing and he is preparing a story to get to the Gleaner or the Observer to fulfill a deadline. I want to thank his family, especially his wife Bobbette, for giving him this time, so that he can fulfill this mission.”

Adding to the praises were Pastor Williams Costa Jr, the world church communication director; Abel Marquez and Libna Stevens, Communication director and assistant communication director respectively, from the Inter-American Division (IAD). They took to the stage and presented to Pastor Brown and Elder Coke an award for the Jamaica Union Conference.

“On a special note, I give a special thanks for the contribution of this Union to the World Church,” said Costa. “It has been meaningful, the amount of information that has been produced, to inform and to inspire the world family is great.”

Libna then read the tribute from the IAD: “It has been remarkable to see how Jamaica Union Conference has placed communication as a high priority for so many years. JAMU has placed a communication director exclusively to lead the department for more than a decade and that was a clear message that communication takes a high spot in assisting the church in accomplishing the mission of sharing the message of hope in Jamaica.”

Under Coke's tutelage and serving for nine years in the communication department of the North-East Jamaica Conference, Danielo Daniels, now executive secretary and director, related first-class qualities about Coke:

“Mr Coke is a visionary leader, one who seeks to place the good name of the Seventh-day Adventist church in the public space. He is deserving of this recognition and award for the invaluable work which he has done, particularly in the area of public relations and in handling crises. He is quick to protect the church's reputation in ensuring the situation is told quickly, truthfully and to tell it all. I commend him heartily for he is a selfless person, with an eye for detail. This concluded GAiN speaks for itself of the kind of leader Mr Coke is.”

Invited to join Coke on stage in support of his recognition, was Desmond Allen, founding editor/executive editor — special assignment of the Jamaica Observer, who was also awarded at the event for journalism.

“I am extremely proud to see where Nigel is coming from,” said Allen. “When I met Nigel, I found in him a very special kind of person. He wasn't a media person. But, he had this high interest; he was a natural in terms of identifying the news and information. More than all, he was extremely dogged and very persistent in trying to get information about his church's activities in the newspaper.”

In 2005 Coke walked away from a financially rewarding position as an investment manager at FirstCaribbean International Securities Limited and was elected to serve as the communication director of JAMU, a position he has held for three terms.

With that, Allen said, “I also felt drawn to him and decided that I would help wherever I could by passing on some of what I learnt in journalism to him. Over the years, we have got a lot closer and we have done a serious amount of work on Adventist activities, even though I am not myself an Adventist, being a Baptist, but it didn't matter. Nigel is working for God and God's church.”

This is the fourth award that Coke has received from the church in general, for his outstanding work and contribution in the areas of communication and religious liberty.

He believes that the successfully concluded GAiN conference, though it took months of planning, “was worth the sacrificial journey and I believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church has greatly gained and will never be the same going forward.”

For Omar Oliphant, who is in charge of the Salem Pastoral District of Churches in St Ann, Coke was most deserving of the recognition:

“This is what happens when the entire Jamaica Union of Conference shocks the ever-ready, well planned and communicator extraordinaire, Nigel Coke at Gain 2019. May God continue to give him the wisdom, courage and humility to 'press that business on,' Oliphant posted on Facebook.

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