On February 10, 2018, Seventh-day Adventist churches in Sweden celebrated the official premiere of Hope Channel Sweden. Rather than having a grand opening ceremony at some fancy media center, the celebration was held across all the local congregations.
Church members celebrated with balloons and drank juice served in cups with the Hope Channel logo. They also received Hope Channel promotional material that they can share with their friends. The rationale is that Hope Channel Sweden will become an integral part of local church activities.
Hope Channel Sweden is a web-based channel as this is the viewing format used by most Swedes. With limited personnel in the media department, the station will primarily offer subtitled programs from the Hope Channel network. However, as plans develop the team also hopes to start producing home-grown video material as well.
Content focuses on four platforms: Watch, Listen, Read and Learn. The station not only offers visual programming but also produces a variety of podcasts and audiobooks.
Since the theme for 2018 in Sweden is “With Jesus in My Heart,” they have created three different series of daily podcasts (3-5 minutes each) to help members of all ages grow in their relationship with Jesus. Also, articles and books can be downloaded if someone wants to learn more and study a subject further. Future development includes using Hope Channel as a means of studying various Bible topics together.
Swedish members are happy and proud to be a part of the Hope Channel network and look forward to seeing God´s guidance in their work.
In Iceland, fifteen volunteers completed a full weekend of media training, May 11-13, 2018. The idea was simple, to inspire the very talented Icelandic media volunteers with creative ideas, and to provide them with knowledge, both technical and practical, on how to create content to be used on video websites and in social media.
Training was provided by Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division region Communication and Media director, and by Yngvar Børresen, of Hope Channel Norway.
“I am looking forward to seeing Hope Channel Iceland realized and established,” Børresen stated. He speaks from experience, as he is the pastor who first established Hope Channel Norway with very simple facilities. Now partially retired, he still supports the ministry that has grown there over the years.
Børresen expressed his delight that “a small group of members from the church on the island, encouraged by the leadership, has taken the initiative to start using video cameras to reach out to their countrymen.” He added, “One may well ask, what more effective way can be used to reach out to a very modern media-using population scattered all over a mountainous island, miles and miles apart?”
Volunteers were encouraged to produce material, aimed at their small population of just over 350,000 by using their mother-tongue. While a high proportion of Icelanders are fluent in English, they are proud of their language and sharing Adventist hope in Icelandic, and in the context of Icelandic culture, can make a significant impression.
Hulbert and Børresen shared a series of practical and theoretical interactive workshops that included script writing, equipment, sound, lighting and interview skills. The training included the opportunity to test the volunteers’ gained interviewing and videography skills in Reykjavik city center where they engaged the local community in street interviews.
“While done as a training exercise, this still gave participants the opportunity to overcome initial fears in facing the camera and public,” said Hulbert. “To be honest, I was surprised and greatly encouraged to see not just the commitment and enthusiasm, but to see the way their skills grew in just a short period.”
Steinunn Theodórsdóttir, a teacher at the Adventist school, could not join the Sabbath afternoon training as she had a witnessing commitment to visit the newborn lambs at an Adventist-owned farm with children from the school and church. Nevertheless, she took her iPhone with her, and learning from the Friday evening training, recorded an effective devotional thought linking the children’s excitement with the lambs to Jesus, the lamb of God.
“It was one of the emphases,” Hulbert reflected. “While we are looking at a simple studio setup based in one of the local churches, we are also focused on volunteers being able to generate content using their smartphones, many of which are now very sophisticated.”
On Sunday, volunteers also learned to interview in a more controlled environment, and the principles of sharing a message using a teleprompter, along with basic presenting skills.
Gavin Anthony, Iceland Conference President, directly asked the volunteers which section of the training they liked most; unanimously they replied, “everything.” It was very clear that they all felt very motivated at the prospect of working together for a potentially modest Hope Channel in Iceland. Also, quite a number felt drawn into a personal refreshed involvement with the church.
“I was very happy to meet every one of the enthusiastic participants in the course,” Børresen stated. “There is no doubt they are talented, inventive, practical, down to earth, and at the very least, warm-hearted and friendly. It is not difficult to have faith in people like that. I want to thank them for some wonderful days together, and I wish them all the best and God’s blessings!"
The idea of bringing Hope Channel to Iceland has been in development during the past year. With the first Media Training in Iceland, that dream is now one step closer to fulfillment.
An original version of this article was first published by the Trans-European Division news service.