At the end of 2019, the Community Church in Meridian, Miss., held its annual evangelism planning meeting. It was here that everyone was invited to bring their ideas on what the church could do to reach their area in 2020. Among the suggestions made was one to take the pastor’s sermons and air them on the local television station, WTOK, an ABC affiliate. The idea was well-received, and they decided someone should look into the idea.
Samuel Riemersma, pastor, received a call from a station programmer about an opening they had on Sunday mornings to air 30-minute presentations. Negotiations continued into 2020, but it appeared that the deal couldn’t be made, and the project wouldn’t move forward.
Just over a year before, in August of 2018, the church had received a financial donation earmarked for A/V improvements and renovations, including a multi-camera live-streaming upgrade. The church partnered with the Gulf States Conference, and the work was performed, improving the audio mixing capabilities, and adding video-production equipment, among other things. The church A/V team picked up on the improvements quickly, and were immediately able to gain practice on the system and video production. The worship team meets every Friday to rehearse the Sabbath service, which allows everyone, including the media operators, to be better prepared for the following day.
Fast-forward to March of 2020, and the church’s plans and travel were changed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Amidst the changes, Riemersma’s wife, Amber, encouraged her husband to try to work with the television station again.
Sure enough, the Sunday morning spot was still open, 11:30-12 p.m. CST, every week, along with numerous 15-second commercials throughout the week. Riemersma worked with his church, A/V team, and the television station to iron out the necessary technical details, and secured evangelism funds to pay for the spots for several months in advance.
“Clearly, God was working out these details to improve our equipment, train our people, and keep the television spot open for us,” said Riemersma. While he was speaking with the television representative on the phone, she became emotional and stated, “This program is exactly what Meridian needs during this time of crisis.”
Riemersma is excited about the potential that the 30-minute program has, as many people are staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic. “On Sundays, right when people are home and looking for their church service, they’ll be hearing the message from the Community Seventh-day Adventist Church,” said Riemersma. Along with the message, the church is also offering free materials viewers can request to have sent to them.
Gulf States | May 2020