Professing faith to many ears

Podcasts are becoming more and more popular all around the world. People use them to talk about everything on God’s green earth. And since God is the Creator of it all, it wasn’t long before some of our own members decided to take advantage of the opportunity to use podcasts to profess their faith.

Podcasts have become all the rage—especially since the onset of the COVID pandemic. This series of media reports—which can take the form of interviews, reports, or music—can be downloaded on most digital devices. This allows people to listen to a podcast while performing various other tasks at the same time. These podcasts feature many diverse subjects: some are of a political nature, some focus on social issues, some are funny, and others exciting. In the meantime, a wide array of Christian content, some of it even featuring New Apostolic subject matter, has found its way onto the internet.

Staying connected

As in many other places, the lockdown caused by the pandemic also made it difficult for our brothers and sisters in the Western Pacific district to stay connected with one another. It was for this very reason that six committed Church members formed a working group called “Staying Connected”. “We wanted to maintain the connection between the members of the Western Pacific district,” explains Carley Love, a group member and correspondent. Soon after, they had the idea of recording podcasts and making them available to Church members.

The group, which is led by Apostle Trevor Williams, meets once or twice each month to do some brainstorming together. “To date, the podcasts have focused on the Passion to Pentecost period, including Lent, Easter and Ascension. The latest podcast was a panel discussion between the Staying Connected group members, District Apostle Peter Schulte, and our two Apostles based in Australia, Apostle Desmond Lodewick and Apostle Trevor Williams,” relates Carley Love. The bottom line is that the podcast will focus on Christian events. At present, the team is already planning the next podcast, which will deal with the subject of Thanksgiving.

By young people for young people

Stephan Halama (31) is part of an eight-person youth leadership team in the district of Karlsruhe in Germany. This team saw the danger that the youth group might grow apart as a result of the pandemic, and so began looking for a solution to maintain the connection between the young people. Since Stephan himself is an avid podcast listener, the idea of developing his own podcast was not far out of reach.

“I have never had problems talking about my faith,” says Stephan. So he invited acquaintances and other interested parties to his podcast beyondtheriver to discuss the very personal matter of faith and talk about other topics of interest to young people. At first these were only for the benefit of the youth in his own district, but it wasn’t long before the radius of his listeners expanded. The topics ranged from Church holy days to sacraments, to ecumenism. He is also glad to talk to representatives from interest groups within the New Apostolic Church. After the summer break, for example, he is planning to talk with someone from Faktor G, a music project that brings disabled and non-disabled people together. While these are not official Church podcasts, Stephan says, “The New Apostolic Church is my church. It is the home of my faith.” By talking about his faith, he is hoping to inspire his listeners to talk about their faith as well.

Turning texts into soundbites

In 1997, members of the South American Regional Church began producing audio books for the blind. Four times a year they recorded people reading from Church magazines, thereby giving visually impaired members access to the publications. The contributions were further supplemented by recordings of choirs and orchestras or a greeting from the District Apostle. At first our visually impaired brothers and sisters received these podcasts in the form of cassettes, a format which was soon replaced by CDs bearing a label in Braille. Today they are available on the Regional Church’s website for download in digital format. The offer has been made available to the sighted for quite some time now as well.

Since podcasts are becoming more and more popular, the Communications and Editorial working group—consisting of employees from the Regional Church’s head office and volunteers from the broadcasting industry—has been contemplating other formats. And this is how other podcast products have come into being, among them divine service broadcasts, Palabra Pastoral —short videos by an Apostle, Bishop, or district rector featuring core thoughts from the weekly divine services—and a podcast containing the Divine Service Guide for the listening benefit of the ministers. New formats are still in the works, but have not yet been disclosed.