Hilton Head Island church's televised ministry aims to reach those at home

loberle@islandpacket.comSeptember 21, 2013 

Christian Steinmetz, right, operates the camera as Martin Lifer, the senior pastor at Providence Presbyterian Church, films an introduction to his weekly Sunday sermon on Monday. The sermons are then aired on WHHI-TV the following Saturday and Sunday. The TV ministry, called "Cause God Joy," was started by Lifer about two years ago.

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Almost two years ago, Providence Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island began taping the Sunday sermons and airing them on WHHI the following Saturday evening and Sunday morning.

The TV ministry aimed to provide a church service to those who don't have a church they attend or are unable to physically be at church.

"The response has been unbelievable," senior pastor Martin Lifer said. "I've heard from so many people in the community -- both members of the church and nonmembers -- how much they enjoy the televised sermons."

The church offers both traditional and contempoary services, and the sermon from the traditional service is used in the telecast.

"It just seems to be the service that translates better on TV," Lifer said. "In the traditional service, I'll be in a robe and sometimes preaching from the pulpit instead of standing out in front of it."

Lifer has been preaching for more than 20 years, and speaks before several hundred congregants each week during the church's three services. With that experience, speaking before large and diverse crowds, stage fright with the camera wasn't an issue.

"If this had been back when I was in school, and they told me I was preaching and it would be televised, that would be a different story," Lifer said.

The 30-minute program includes only the sermon and often the Scriptrure reading from the service, not the singing, announcements or prayer requests.

"People make prayer requests, and it's a personal thing they're sharing with their community," Lifer said. "We're not going to put that on television."

He said the filming of the sermon comes secondary to him preaching to his congregation.

"I'm not going to give a sermon with the later televised event in mind," Lifer said. "I am seeking some level of interaction with the congregation, and focusing on presenting the message to them is my focus on Sunday mornings."

The church provides CDs and DVDs of the sermons, and they are also available online at the church's website.

Follow reporter Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura.

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Providence Presbyterian Church website

http://www.causegodjoy.com/

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