Identity & Communication Event held on 3-20-2004
"Tell 'em Who You Are!"
Glen Ridge Church Uses Access Television
Fifteen years ago my predecessor got a contributor to purchase video equipment so that we could make our services available to shut-ins and on television. Acquiring the hardware was the easy part. The local access cable channel in those days wanted an edited tape of 50 minutes. We found that to be an insurmountable huddle. We continued to tape our services but the amount of time needed to edit them was impossible for our volunteers.
A few years ago I reorganized the team of videographers. We have eight of them, so they tape every other month. About the same time I discovered that the local hospital (Mountainside) had a closed circuit TV system for the patients’ rooms. I inquired if the Chaplain would be interested in broadcasting our tape and he was quite pleased to do so. He had a Roman Catholic mass in the hospital that he televised on the channel but nothing for Protestants. So I started bringing him the tape each week when I made my hospital calls.
The head of our video team gets the bulletin the end of the week. He has a program on his computer that allows him, hooked up to a VCR to create a tape with ‘titles.’ Since folks in the hospital don’t have a bulletin, this tells them the names of the scriptures, preacher, hymns and such. He gets that ready before Sunday and then the videographer takes the titled tape and records the service. The following week, I take it to the hospital. The fact that the tape is 1 hour or even 1 hour 15 minutes doesn’t bother the hospital chaplain. At other times they run ‘meditation pictures and music’ and so are happy to have some ‘live’ TV to run. The chaplain also advertises it in his brochure which new patients receive.
Shortly after this was achieved, our Channel 36 local access channel which now runs only in our town and 2 or 3 adjoining towns inquired about our services. Mostly they run town council meetings and a constant set of announcements, kids baseball games, and town events. Several of our members were on the board, so that was the reason they knew we had tapes of our services and were eager to have live people not just scrolling announcements on the channel. We were able to arrange a schedule by which Channel 36 gets the tape first, runs the service several times on Monday and Tuesday and then we deliver to the hospital toward the end of the week. Again, having the ‘titles’ already on the tape helps. That way folks know which church it is. We don’t do any editing of the tapes. Whatever our congregation sees, the TV audience sees.
Lately we’ve moved to DVD format. We still record on a VCR and then dub it onto a DVD disk. This is quite simple for the computer techies. I’m sure we all have techies in our church. Anyway that format is easier for the hospital and the local access channel to use. Eventually we’ll probably record digitally, too. But the cost of new equipment is to be considered.
I am often told by folks in town they have seen me on TV. (Despite having 150 available channels, this tells me there is still not much to watch!) They seem pleased and occasionally some are inspired and will contact me to say so and thank us for a sermon or one of our choir’s anthems. We advertise in our newsletter so our shut-ins and members will know if they miss a service or can’t come, they can watch. If their children are singing in church that morning, they can also record off their own sets to have a tape to show grandma. Win-win for everyone.
Plus the video team members are pleased to have the tapes used. For them it makes their time worthwhile. If any church has further questions, I’m happy to try to answer them.
I cannot say if this creates interest in the church by outsiders. But it is clear that non-members watch the viewings. “A farmer went out to sow…”
The Rev. Joseph David Stinson