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Got questions? A new PC(USA) podcast has answers

‘A Matter of Faith’ debuts this week from Unbound and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

A new Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) podcast, “A Matter of Faith,” drops Thursday.

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — Simon Doong enjoys podcasts. The project manager in the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program listens to a variety of pods addressing topics of interest such as fitness, sports and video games.

“They are easy to digest, and one of the most engaging parts is often the question-and-answer or write-in from listeners and the community,” Doong says. “I wasn’t really aware of anything similar to that for the faith space. And I thought it was something that could be done, and if we have the resources and the interest, we might be able to do it, so I wrote up a little concept and sent it to Lee.”

Lee is the Rev. Lee Catoe, Associate for Young Adult Ministry for the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy and the Managing Editor of Unbound: An Interactive Journal on Christian Social Justice. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Catoe has expanded Unbound’s content into multimedia with offerings such as the web video series “Just Talk Live,” with co-host Destini Hodges of Young Adult Volunteers and the liturgy series “Takin’ it to the Text.”

Catoe has a lot going on already, but when he saw Doong’s proposal, he was on board, and the result is the new podcast “A Matter of Faith,” which debuts Thursday with several episodes in its initial drop and a new episode each subsequent Thursday. It can be found and subscribed to on most major podcast platforms such as Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

In each episode, Catoe and Doong respond to a question or two from listeners, sometimes asking a member of the national church staff to take questions that may be better suited to them. For instance, in an upcoming episode, the Rev. Beth Olker of Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries shares her thoughts on a question from a female pastor who is having trouble being taken seriously in her church.

Simon Doong

“Something we’re hoping to do is to validate people’s questions,” Doong said. “If one person has a question about faith, church life, social justice, they’re probably not the only one who has those questions, but they may not always feel comfortable asking other people directly. This provides an avenue for people to put those questions out into the world and at least hear some thoughtful discussion.”

In addition, each episode will take time to focus on Presbyterian policies, resources or ministries, helping give listeners a wider perspective on the work of the national church.

“We’re not saying everybody should know all about the church because there are a lot of people who are just trying to get by in their everyday life,” Catoe said. “But I do think like, specifically where I’m from in rural South Carolina, you didn’t know what the national church offers. And I think that this is a way for a lot of people to realize it.”

The first question in the first episode is how pastors should handle it when members object to them addressing racism and white supremacy from the pulpit. So, not exactly a softball.

“We kind of wanted to lead off with that type of a question because, for one thing, it’s always relevant, but it’s particularly being talked about more now,” Doong says. “It’s sometimes hard to talk about tough issues. And we want to show that we’re not afraid to hold those questions.”

the Rev. Lee Catoe

Catoe says he also sees it as important to put the Presbyterian viewpoint into the podcast arena and give people a different perspective on faith than the American evangelical view most often featured in American media. While the evangelical movement has worked effectively in modern media outlets such as podcasting, Catoe says the academically oriented Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a tendency to sweep media under the rug.

But Catoe says he hopes more podcasts will follow “A Matter of Faith.”

“We need to be there,” Catoe says. “I do think that it will add to that kind of growing awareness that there is another way to be Christian.”

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, and Unbound are Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.


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