One of the cool things about my job as the communicator for our synod is that I get to work with the public media. As a former newspaperman myself, I appreciate the role that the media can have in raising the visibility of the church. And a good placement can give our folks a reason to talk to friends and neighbors about what the church is doing.
Media relations has its frustrations, too. Attention often comes for the wrong thing. Our former bishop did some TV work when the ELCA's discussions of sexuality were in the news. I remember the day that the church released its recommendations not to change policy. I had a newspaper interview lined up and a TV crew on its way for an early afternoon interview. But when the TV assignment editor found that the church was not going to ordain persons in same-gender relationships or bless such unions, they turned the van around.
This week I was excited when KYW NewsRadio 1060, a powerful voice in the Philly radio market, called about doing an update on local efforts to assist in Gulf Coast hurricane relief. Nancy Griffin, who is the religion reporter, had been out at Christ Lutheran in Kulpsville last fall when they launched the first of a series of trucks laden with relief supplies on its way to Jackson, MS. She interviewed me and a local Lutheran who has been down to work at Grace, New Orleans four times (so far).
The good news is that ELCA members have sent $25 million to the Gulf so far, and 15,000 volunteers have offered 600,000 volunteer hours. Locally there have been more than 30 work parties from our synod, many volunteers have been there more than once, and most everyone comes back pumped to serve in their local communities.
So while it was wierd to have a microphone in my face standing on Independence Mall, it was very cool to tell KYW's vast audience that disaster response is in the Lutheran DNA...that for many of us living out the Gospel with the vulnerable and in-need is important. Well, will see if I told them....my soundbytes could all end up in the outtake bit bin. The piece is slated to air either Saturday or Tuesday, the anniversary of Katrina's landfall.
Update: The piece aired 8/29 and can be heard here.