Being brought up Lutheran, and having been tipped off that the show was airing earlier in the day (thanks Rols) I decided to tune in.
First some background. Lutherans in NZ, unlike Australia and the US, are only a tiny percentage of the Christian population. Like other mainline churches they're also in irreversible decline. Two of the three churches I once attended (New Plymouth and Lower Hutt) have subsequently closed their doors, as presumably have others. Pastors are usually imported from Australia as the NZ church is an outpost of the Aussie General Synod.
RNZ, apparently after some importuning, decided to focus on this largely unknown faith community, despatching their intrepid interviewer Mike Gourley out to St. Paul's, the capital's only Lutheran church, to interview pastor Jim Pietsch, and even scheduling it for nationwide broadcast on Easter Sunday.
It was supposed to be a pleasant chat, and Gourley certainly did his best with gently probing questions. An easy ride? Not really. Pietsch over-thought his responses and came across as a somewhat stolid PR spokesman, distant and pedantic. As he tip-toed his way through the questions I wondered whether ministers receive any media training in their holy city of Adelaide. Perhaps they do, but it certainly didn't show this time.
It was, in my view, a wasted opportunity for all concerned. Pietsch didn't manage to connect with either interviewer or audience, and RNZ's man with the mic failed to ask any questions worth asking. The references to the composer Bach were almost gratuitous.
Next week they're airing part 2, this time featuring District President latterly turned Bishop, Mark Whitfield. It'll be interesting to see whether he managed to do anything more than go through the motions.
(You can access the audio for this programme here.)