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Podcast gives ‘fuller picture’ of SBC

NASHVILLE (BP) — For more than a year, the “SBC This Week” podcast hosted by Amy Whitfield and Jonathan Howe has delivered a weekly roundup of news and views from around the Southern Baptist Convention, featuring stories from Baptist Press and other outlets as well as interviews with SBC newsmakers.

A new podcast is available each Friday at www.sbcthisweek.com and via subscription.

Whitfield is director of communications at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and made history as the first woman parliamentarian at the SBC annual meeting in St. Louis in June. Howe is director of strategic initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville and runs LifeWay president Thom Rainer’s podcast, “Rainer on Leadership.”

SBC This Week grew out of an ongoing mutual interest in the Southern Baptist Convention, Howe told Baptist Press.

“We were already having regular discussions centered on news and events in the Southern Baptist world, so we began exploring the idea of recording those discussions,” Howe said. “We kicked off with the first episode in May 2015 leading up to the convention in Columbus and have just kept on going.”

Whitfield and Howe interact on the podcast via video call.

SBC This Week is a resource to get more Southern Baptists involved in the united effort of the convention, Whitfield said.

“For years, conversations about the SBC have been more active in the weeks leading up to our annual meeting,” Whitfield told BP. “This makes sense as we get ready to gather and do the work of the messengers.

“But the reality is, the work of Southern Baptists is happening all year long through our entities and our churches. We think it’s important to be conversing about this all the time, because we are cooperating all the time,” Whitfield said. “A weekly wrap-up allows people to stay engaged in the process and not only understand what’s going on in the SBC but why it’s happening as well.”

Each episode is accompanied by show notes that push out to podcast players such as iTunes and Downcast, and the notes are available on the website as well. They contain links to each story the hosts discuss.

“We track multiple news outlets and social media platforms — Baptist Press, state papers, official releases from entities and much more,” Howe said. “We also have personal contacts and listeners from around the convention who let us know about news we might otherwise miss.”

As for the types of material the hosts select for the show, Howe said they try to cover issues that appeal to a wide range of Southern Baptists.

“Also, as the SBC continues to diversify, we realize the importance for us to use this platform to highlight women and minorities in the convention who otherwise may not have an outlet to share their stories,” Howe said. “We’ve intentionally sought out women and ethnic leaders as interview guests to underscore the importance of leadership diversity in the convention.”

Interview guests have included the three nominees for SBC president this year as well as missions leader David Platt and others.

Whitfield said she particularly enjoys researching for the segment “This Week in SBC History.”

“There are some amazing digital resources in the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives and the IMB archives, from SBC annuals to Baptist Press issues to missionary publications,” Whitfield said. “I’ve tried to hit different eras in the history of our denomination, just to paint a fuller picture of where we have been at different times. It has been eye opening to see how Southern Baptists were processing events at the moment they were happening in history, and it opens great doors for understanding and conversation.”

The podcast also includes a “Resource of the Week” segment in which the hosts each highlight a book, website or other tool.

SBC This Week listeners can subscribe to Data.Point, a weekly email which debuted July 5 and provides a brief statistical analysis behind an SBC issue, such as, “Of the 903 SBC churches that closed in 2013, 89% were located in communities with population bases greater than 10,000.”

What they’ve found since starting the podcast, Whitfield said, is that “there are Southern Baptists everywhere who like to have these conversations as much as we do.”

“That’s been my biggest surprise,” she said. “There are men and women from all over the SBC who are interested in every level of denominational life, and that’s been quite encouraging.”

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  • Erin Roach