A New Opportunity for The Meetinghouse

The Meetinghouse began not so long ago in a galaxy populated by National Public Radio and Garrison Keillor: the expertise, curiosity, and objectivity of NPR and the humor, personality, and spirituality of Prairie Home Companion.

 

I want my news, commentaries, and conversations to signal my respect for the facts, my determination to give everyone a fair hearing, and my curiosity about people and their ideas, experiences, and passions.

 

But I also want to display my conviction that civil conversation on this most explosive of all topics—religion—is central to the Common Good in these United States. We need to listen more and learn from one another. But I never want to camouflage my identity as a Christian or as a minister.  Even as I honor and respect other religions and even no religion, I am fearless in confessing my own faith and engaging with others from that perspective.

 

To that end, I launched The Meetinghouse 23 years ago at Georgetown College. It was President Willian Crouch who said to me, “I want you to do a radio show.” With collaborator Rev. Lee Huckleberry, I designed and launched The Meetinghouse. From then until now, I have been grateful to GC grad and long-time friend John Williams for his patronage of this enterprise.

 

The radio show went into hibernation a few years later, overtaken by other responsibilities at the College: specifically, managing a succession of three grants from the Lilly Endowment. That project commandeered my radio title and theme and became “The Meetinghouse at Georgetown College: A Place for the Theological Exploration of Vocation.”

 

That connection with the Lilly Endowment flowed, surprisingly, into a partnership that birthed the Academy of Preachers. That was 2008, and I launched it with a mission to “identify, network, support, and inspire young people in the call to gospel preaching.”

 

After nine years, five grants, scores of festivals, and a lifetime of inspiration, I bequeathed it, first, to my successor Rev. Ernest Brooks, and then, to the College of Theology and Christian Ministry at Belmont University in Nashville.

 

What to do?

 

I moved to Georgia and started writing. I launched a newsletter called—you guessed it—The Meetinghouse! That was sometime early in 2018, and the weekly email piece featured, as it still does, book reviews, news, and commentaries. I have more than 1000 subscribers and two faithful proofreaders: Joanna Ximenes and David Hodges.

 

During 2019, I boarded the podcast train and started recording interviews…with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, professor Kenyatta Gilbert, and theologian Molly Marshall (among others). These were audio interviews at first until I met Steve Bell, recently retired videographer from the University of Georgia. Our collaboration brought me into the video era, and I added such people as Brian McLaren and Wil Gafney.

 

Then in March of 2020, I launched a radio version of the show, thanks to an invitation from station owner Ed Coleman and the assistance of engineer Everett Armstrong. My son Allan Moody joined the team and managed the sound board. The broadcast went out over two local FM radio stations, 97.5 and 94.7, covering most of Glynn County, Georgia, including St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island.

 

The show was (and is) distributed also through their web site, rejoice975.com and soon it became available through my web site, themeetinghouse.net. By far, most of the response I have received has come from people who listened through these web sites.

 

The show has developed a faithful cadre of listeners, including people in California, Texas, Florida, Georgia. North Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, and New Hampshire.  Have I omitted your state?  Let me know you are listening!!

 

All of these radio shows are archived on the podcast page. They include Robert. P. Jones, Everett McCorvey, and Rachael Bregman. Plus, I did an entire show on John Prine…after he died.

 

But several changes have happened in the last three months. My son Allan moved back to Lexington and is no longer able to help with the broadcast, so I learned how to use Jingle, the standard platform in the industry for playing recorded elements during a radio show. Second, I added distribution through Facebook LIVE and had to learned how to do that (and more than once have failed to make it work properly). Third, I rented a studio/study in North Carolina, halfway between St. Simons Island and Lexington.

 

Now I am moving between the Blue Grass studio (Kentucky), the Blue Ridge studio (North Carolina), and the Golden Isles studio (Georgia)!!

 

I hope someday to take The Meetinghouse on the road and travel the country hosting and attending events, talking with people, and speaking to groups (colleges and universities, churches and schools, clubs and organizations).

 

All of these things—website, newsletter, podcasts, radio, and Facebook—have taken some form of equipment (computer, microphones, lights), subscriptions (Zoom, Dropbox, Amazon Prime), materials (books, banners), and travel plus studio rent and broadcast time. And all of this has cost money!

 

A few months ago, I appealed through newsletter and radio for your help in sustaining The Meetinghouse. I have never made any money doing this, but I confess: I would like to!!

 

Thanks to all those who have pledged and given. In the time-honored lingo of the radio evangelists, “Keep those cards and letters coming!”

 

Now comes another opportunity. Dr. Kevin Cosby (Pastor of St. Stephens Baptist Church of Louisville and President of Simmons College of Kentucky) has invited me to bring The Meetinghouse to his new Louisville-based television venture, St. Stephens Live, and their 45,000 weekly watching devices. Beginning Thursday March 4, at the regular time of 1 pm EST, I will move from audio to video. You will still be able to access the broadcast through Facebook Live and The Meetinghouse website.

 

This upgrade and expansion, for which I am grateful, will cost … about $5,000! And I hope there are enough friends and fans out there to make this transition smooth and without financial angst!

 

My final word is not about money, but about vocation, and passion, and the ministry to which I have been called. I hope to spend the eighth decade of my living the dream, as they say: using technology old and new to seek the truth, share the news, and send some of the grace and mercy of God into your life and the lives of those you love. Thank you for your help!!

 

 

(February 2020)