A change for Baptist Voice
Two stalwarts of a Baptist audio ministry to those who are blind or unable to attend a Sunday service have recorded and distributed their final programme.
The December edition of the audio magazine Baptist Voice is the last produced by Geoff Pratt and Gilbert Payne, a duo who have clocked up countless hours in serving the ministry established by the Baptist Men’s Movement as Tapes for the Blind in 1986.
Each edition of Baptist Voice is around 90 minutes long and features a mix of news drawn from The Baptist Times, BMS World Mission’s Engage magazine and other Baptist sources, plus hymns, prayers and a reflection. The recordings are made using a loyal team of readers, and the resulting tapes and CDs are posted to around 85 subscribers. It aims to keep people in touch with the denomination who could otherwise be cut off.
Gilbert came on board as a recording operator in 1989, when production moved to Abingdon Baptist Church, Oxfordshire.
Geoff joined the team in 1997, alternating with then co-ordinator Bill White in selecting material and producing scripts. When Bill died in 2006, Gilbert and Geoff were appointed by the BMM as joint co-ordinators.
Under Geoff and Gilbert’s stewardship the ministry was renamed Baptist Voice in 2007 and CD introduced in 2009. However, they now feel the time is right to move on.
Geoff said, ‘It is a lot of work, but it’s very much appreciated and there is a real joy in getting a message back from someone to say thank you. We have many letters from people saying how they felt cut off, and this has reconnected them.
‘We will miss it.’
Gilbert added, ‘It’s a ministry I feel very passionate about. I have a deep compassion for old people and people with disabilities. We are sharing stories, giving someone some spiritual guidance and sharing the Good News.
‘A lot of people who subscribe depend on carers, so it’s going beyond that person.
‘It’s been hard work but I have enjoyed it, and there have been many good moments. I have a feeling that a lot more people would appreciate it. I pray it keeps on growing.’
The next edition of Baptist Voice will be produced by Ralph Birtwistle, a member of Greenfield Baptist and Congregational Church in Urmston and someone with many years experience with BBC local radio in Manchester. It will be available in February.
Commenting on Gilbert and Geoff’s contribution to Baptist Voice over the years, Tony Aylward, chair of the BMM said, ‘There is much work involved in putting together the programme each month and it is a tribute to them that they have kept going for so long and an indication of their passion for this medium to reach out to those with sight disabilities.
‘We wish them every blessing in their ‘retirement’ and for their future ministry.’
Listen to the December edition of Baptist Voice: Part 1 and Part 2.