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TV spots in Orlando area to voice ‘a message of hope’ from Baptists

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Central Florida Baptists may be surprised to hear their name called while watching television in the coming days.

From June 5-13, television spots will offer the life-changing hope found in Jesus Christ — each concluding with the announcer saying: “A message of hope from central Florida Southern Baptists.”

The media campaign is designed specifically to coincide with three emphases set to take place in central Florida in June — the Southern Baptist Convention’s June 13-14 annual meeting in Orlando; Crossover Orlando, which will be held prior to the meeting; and “Through Every Door,” a concentrated effort by Orlando Baptists to take the gospel of Christ to every home.

But while much of these activities will take place in Orlando, the media spots will reach across the state to areas as far away as Tampa and Sarasota, Daytona Beach and Melbourne.

A tag line at the end of each spot will refer viewers to a toll-free number, 1-888-JESUS-2000, for further information and response. After calling this number, viewers will have the opportunity to speak directly to a central Florida Baptist prepared to share the gospel message and lead the person to making a spiritual decision.

Callers willing to give their names and telephone numbers will be contacted for follow-up by a local Florida Baptist church within 72 hours. Also, trained counselors will personally visit each Orlando caller during the Southern Baptist Convention meeting.

“We want all central Florida Baptist churches to be alerted that they may be receiving names and numbers of these prospects for follow-up,” said Tom McEachin of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board which is joining with the Florida Baptist Convention to fund the cost of airtime to telecast the video spots. “Anybody living in central Florida will see these prime time spots.”

One 30-second spot features Olympic gold medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton saying, “I received a 10 in the Olympics, but only Jesus is a perfect 10 … and you can know him today.”

The other spot shows a diversity of people drinking water in a variety of settings. The announcer draws the analogy between the water and Christ’s teachings, saying, “They that drink of this water will thirst again … they that drink the water I give will never thirst.”

The video spots will be televised throughout the day on Orlando stations WFTV-ABC; WOFL-Fox; WKMG-CBS; WESH-NBC; and WRDQ, an independent station. Other central Florida stations to carry spots include Tampa stations WKMG, WTSP and WFLA, along with WWSB in Sarasota.

McEachin estimates that the combined stations have the potential of reaching more than 96 percent of all viewers in the Orlando market.

“I am extremely excited that this media effort will undergird and enhance what we are doing going door-to-door in Through Every Door and in other venues,” said James Fortinberry, director of missions of the Greater Orlando Baptist Association. “When these spots are seen on television, it will make a tremendous difference when we come to their homes.”

Spanish-language television and radio spots have been prepared by the Florida Baptist Convention to promote the International Multicultural Festival sponsored by a dozen of Orlando’s ethnic Baptist churches at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, Saturday, June 10. The television spots will be aired on the Hispanic Telemundo affiliate in Orlando.

Ty Wood, director of the Florida convention’s media service department, said the central Florida campaign is the beginning phase of a three-year statewide media outreach strategy which will be implemented in south Florida in 2001 and north Florida in 2002.

“The purpose of the media campaign is to present a clear, concise gospel witness and connect prospects to a local church that can draw them in and nurture them into a newfound faith in Jesus Christ,” Wood said.

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