Friday, July 24, 2009

Ex-DJ spreads word via podcast

From the Baltimore Sun-

Add the attendance from the two services at St. Matthew's in Oakland and the one at St. John's in Deer Park, and the Rev. Chip Lee is fortunate if he preaches to 100 souls on a Sunday.

But the former disc jockey-turned-Episcopal priest has hit on another way to reach the faithful.

Once a week or so, Lee settles into the professional recording studio in his house here at the far end of the Maryland panhandle, cues the New Age sound of an American Indian flutist and, in a velvety baritone smoothed by 30 years in radio, begins to read from the Book of Common Prayer.

The podcasts he produces - of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer and the end-of-the-day prayer called Compline - have expanded Lee's ministry from the wooded mountains of Maryland's western extreme to a global congregation. This spring, the four-year-old effort claimed 50,000 downloads a month, from Anglicans on every continent and Christians of every stripe. And the number continues to grow.

The use of the Internet to spread faith is as old as the World Wide Web itself. But Lee and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland believe his are the only daily audio readings from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer available online, and a Google search appears to back them up.

The installments of prayers and scripture passages known collectively as the Daily Office have found a particular following among the U.S. military, with chaplains and lay members accessing the 15- to 20-minute offerings from Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.

"It is truly a wonderful contribution to our troops," Navy Chaplain Mark S. Winward e-mailed Lee after finding the podcast. "May God richly bless you and your parish for your outreach."

The 61-year-old Lee describes the endeavor as a case of "you can take the boy out of radio, but you can't take the radio out of the boy." A lifelong Episcopalian, he began his broadcasting career at the age of 16, when he would leave his high school in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., walk across the street to the local radio station and read the news.

More here-,0,4937339.story

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