During the 18th century, passers-by could hear the voices singing in Trinity Lutheran Church, Reading, Pa. Now people around the world can hear them.
This year, Trinity celebrates 35 years in broadcasting — from what began as a radio show for the local hospital to a video streaming website the last two years. Trinity has partnered locally and globally with individuals, churches, and peace and educational organizations with results such as these:
• In Löbau, Saxony, a small town in east Germany, a man watches Trinity's worship on his computer. Having visited the congregation a few times since 2004, Tilo Tiegs sees his friends a continent away and listens to the same Gospel he heard hours earlier in his church, St. Nikolai Kirche Löbau, but this time in English.
"I like particularly the sermons of Pastor [Fred] Opalinski," Tiegs wrote via email. "He preaches in clear, strong and modern words — and very important, slowly enough to understand for a German."
|Betty Leuffen has operated TrinityTV's "Camera 1" for more than 30 years.
• In Pakistan, a husband and wife have a clinic and a connection to a TV station called "Peace Channel in Lahore," which features global scholars and religion and humanity orators. Opalinski, pastor of Trinity for eight years, said the couple asked for videos of Trinity's service. "They thought Muslims especially would be interested in watching in the safety of their homes to help them understand differences between Muslims and Christians," he said.
Hoping for bridge-building, Opalinski provided the couple with several weeks of worship services and manuscripts of services that they could dub into Urdu. He selected Bible passages about peace and reconciliation. "It was not for proselytizing but for understanding," he said.
• In cities and towns around the world, Trinity's homebound members, college students studying here and abroad, and vacationing or former members can watch the service. "Regular groups of people come back every week," Opalinski said. "Even those who attended morning service watch again from home, and since the early service doesn't have a full choir, they watch in the evening to hear it."
Eugene and Marie Sweigert, members since 1947, have watched the Sunday evening broadcast from their retirement community for 12 years. "My wife is in a wheelchair, so it keeps us in contact with the church," Eugene Sweigert said. "It is a convenient way to have church each Sunday."
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© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers