Ingenious ideas: the Church on the air

Heads are spinning over a pile of antique Bibles and modern textbooks: how can an open and active Christian community make itself heard? Answers to this question are broadcast regularly.

Stuttgart (Germany) in July 2018. At the administrative offices of the New Apostolic Church Southern Germany, one of two radio broadcast teams of the District Church has come together for its annual meeting. Seven professionals who work in the media sector are talking about topics for a monthly radio magazine. The group has been producing a 15-minute radio programme since 2015, which is aired on Sunday mornings by the radio station Bayern 2 (Bavarian Radio Two).

“We see the mission of our Church in proclaiming the gospel, focused on the return of Jesus Christ,” District Apostle Michael Ehrich says, who took part in the meeting. “In doing so, we stand our ground and assert ourselves in life and are part of society. I am pleased that these radio broadcasts allow us to present our Church as the active Christian community that it is.”

The Church makes itself heard

It all began with an explanation regarding the Church’s legal position: under German law, the New Apostolic Church is a public corporation, and as such has the right to have its say on the radio. This was the first time that an opportunity presented itself to directly reach a large audience outside the immediate Church with our own topics, says Church spokeswoman Susanne Raible.

The radio programme was launched on 17 January 2010 with a message from Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber. Since then, a wide range of subjects have been going on the air once a month: Church doctrine, organisational matters, church life, music, charitable commitments, ecumenism, historic matters, as well as portraits and interviews. Every broadcast starts with a signature tune, strains from a well-known Bach chorale “Jesus, joy of man’s desiring”.

A team effort: from the idea to the broadcast

A good two days’ work is behind every 15-minute broadcast. The ideas are developed in a telephone conference or by email and are then discussed. Up next is tracking information, recording sound clips, writing the script and recording the information, then cutting the footage and mixing in the sound.

The work on the programme also takes the team around Friederike Gottschalk, who is the presenter, to the studios of Radio Bavaria in Munich, Nuremberg, or Regensburg. Editors, narrators, technicians—there are experts for every task. The majority have been doing this on a voluntary basis for years.

More than a hundred broadcasts

The programme airs every Sunday morning—well before the usual divine service times of the New Apostolic Church. Church members having breakfast or ministers on their way to the congregations often listen to the programme.

Anyone can listen to it, and not only on the radio but also over the Internet at any time: the one hundred or so broadcasts with more than 250 feature stories can be downloaded as mp3 files from the Church’s media library. The District Apostle is not the only who makes use of this possibility. .

Impulses for a Christian’s everyday life

There you will also find the broadcasts that are aired every fourth Sunday at 7.27 in the morning on radio station SWR1: spiritual impulses of not more than 120 to 150 seconds in length. The Church started with this broadcasting format in January 2015. Using the radio magazine airing on Bavarian Radio as a reference, the Church leadership began pursuing this second project with Radio South-West (SWR).

This programme comes from a different group and follows its own rules: the idea here is not to represent the New Apostolic Church, but to provide Christian ideas and food for thought on a non-denominational basis. “We want to offer more than a pious discourse,” says Susanne Raible in formulating the Church’s requirements in making faith true to life and practicable.

And indeed—the programme is a bull’s-eye. If you want to come away from bickering and strife and have peace you will have to jump over your own shadow. If you claim to respect and protect life you must also turn to those on the fringes. And part of the secret of renunciation is to abstain from digital media for a change and risk a personal encounter. Well then …

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