An opportunity to return a ‘message of hope’ to the airwaves in New Zealand is one step closer following meetings in Auckland in mid-February.
The Lutheran Church of New Zealand’s media ministry came to a close in 2002 after a long period on radio, but hopes have always been strong that a way could be found to restore a Lutheran presence.
After two years of low-key discussions, LCNZ Bishop Mark Whitfield and the New Zealand Council of Synod invited Director of Lutheran Media Rev Richard Fox to investigate possibilities and potential support.
Pastor Richard met with managers of Newstalk ZB, the commercial radio station with the largest listener base in New Zealand, and also with Christian media outlets in New Zealand. He described the responses as ‘very supportive’.
Newstalk ZB was particularly keen on the Face to Face one-minute messages, which are already popular on Australian radio, Pastor Richard said. Together with affiliated station Coast FM there was potential for Face to Face to reach 250,000 New Zealand listeners.
Meetings with the Council of Synod were also productive, although a large amount of work remains to be done in order to turn the idea into a reality. The support of the full New Zealand synod will be necessary, together with funding, time and expertise to build a dedicated Lutheran Media New Zealand website in partnership with a New Zealand parish (possibly Mountainside Lutheran Church in Auckland, who had strong links with media ministry in the past).
Pastor Richard said that while Australian programs could be provided initially, there was strong potential to develop content specific to New Zealand needs and using New Zealand voices. While Australians and New Zealanders share a great deal in common culturally, there are plenty of differences, he said. Social issues such as intergenerational violence and anger are just two areas where there is real potential for the church to bring hope into the lives of listeners.
‘We ask you most of all to pray for God’s guidance in this opportunity’, Pastor Richard said. ‘This is only going to happen if God blesses it.’
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