Alex Awad spoke from Jerusalem. Sam Harrell from Nairobi. Martin Accad from Beirut. Molly Marshall spoke about Myanmar, based on a recent trip there. Wendell Griffen spoke about prison reform, albeit from his legal chambers in Little Rock, Ark.
All did interviews via their computers through Skype with Cliff Vaughn, EthicsDaily.com’s media producer, from his office in Nashville.
It’s the latest initiative from EthicsDaily.com to challenge people of faith to advance the common good – using the best of affordable technology, one of our hallmarks.
Pastor of East Jerusalem Baptist Church, Alex Awad shared that some 600 people from 20 countries attended a conference on Christian Palestinians and Christian Zionism.
“We wanted evangelical Christians to come and see the reality on the ground,” said Awad, noting the difference between reading the Bible in Alabama, while thinking about eschatology, and experiencing Israeli occupation.
Since the conference was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bethlehem, he said, attendees got to experience the “wall.”
Sam Harrell, a field personnel representative with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, spoke with Vaughn using a wireless Internet connection through his laptop that was pinging off a local cell tower.
“The necessity of relief is evidence of failed development,” said Harrell. He lamented that as soon as hunger emergencies are over the American public’s attention span lapses.
A couple of attempts to establish a video connection with Martin Accad, director of the Institute of Middle East Studies at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, failed. Still, the interview took place with only audio using Skype.
Accad gave his assessment of the effects of the Arab Spring.
Speaking about Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Marshall, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, called the recent election events “stunning.”
She noted that CBTS became involved in Myanmar Institute of Theology shortly after World War II and that she still sees Central’s name on the diplomas of old Burmese pastors.
The latest Skype interview was with Laura Barclay, social ministries coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina.
Barclay said the climate in North Carolina on immigration “is not great for immigrants.”
Some Baptist pastors must drive their undocumented members to church on Sunday to keep them from being arrested when law enforcement camps at their churches, she said.
So far, EthicsDaily.com has conducted 12 Skype interviews. Another will be posted later this week with David Goatley, executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention. He will share about Baptist rebuilding efforts in Haiti.
In addition to Griffenonprisonreform, ChuckWarnock talked about trends affecting small churches. Brian Kaylor addressed presidential politics, and Paul Montacute commented on the hunger relief work of Baptist World Aid.
Skype interviews help to connect global Baptists with one another, giving folk a more textured sense about who Baptist interviewees are in a way that text can’t deliver.
Skype interviews represent an important pivot forward for EthicsDaily.com.
We aren’t abandoning text in the form of 500- to 1,000-word articles. We will still have lots of text – fresh daily content in columns, news stories, editorials and movie reviews. We’ll still post sermon manuscripts.
But like Twitter, Skype provides us with another tool to speak to issues and events in a dynamic way. Skype lets us connect with interesting people of faith who have compelling stories to tell as well as needed information and viewpoints to share.
The technology lets partner organizations embed the Skype interviews on their sites. The Religious Herald posted the interview with Virginia pastor Chuck Warnock. The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship posted the Harrell interview on its blog.
We invite our readers to post these Skype interviews on their church websites, Facebook pages and blogs.
Use the interviews in your Sunday school classes and on Wednesday nights.
Think forward. Moral education, congregational communication, denominational activation will be text – and increasingly video.
RobertParham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friendhim on Facebook.