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Devotional tradition

Weekly meetings over prayer and Scripture help keep our staff grounded

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As this magazine went to press, we’d wrapped up our weekly staff devotional time about an hour before. This one was especially poignant, as it fell during Holy Week.

I’m grateful for this longtime tradition begun by Joel Belz that we have managed to carry over to the present day. These weekly devotional hours have always been important to our organizational unity, our sense of reliance on God, and the pursuit of our mission.

For as long as I’ve been here, we’ve met on Wednesday mornings. For many years, we had two locations in Asheville, an office and a nearby ­warehouse, so Joel would lead a devotional in both places. When he was out of town, he’d invite a ­substitute to direct the devotional time, and ­sometimes he’d have a guest speaker—usually a local pastor—deliver a short Biblical message. Prayer was, and still is, an important part of our time together.

Because Joel took the devotional times so ­seriously as our CEO, Nick Eicher did too during his tenure in that office. And because Nick was in the Asheville office every other week, he asked me to handle the weeks he was out of the office. I’m sure moving from Joel to the tag team of Nick and me was something of a letdown for our staffers, but they kept coming.

Back then, we held devos in our big World Journalism Institute classroom. When we moved to our current office, our local staff members crowded into a conference room designed for smaller groups. During all those years, our remote staffers—always fully half of our total workforce—did not get to participate unless they were visiting headquarters.

Then came COVID and, of course, Zoom meetings—which may have been a genuine blessing. The biggest benefit: We were deliberate about making our devotional time work for everybody, not just our local staff. Immediately, the intentional inclusion of our remote people made the meetings more meaningful.

One other big change in our devotions since the days of Joel: The CEO is no longer the primary “speaker.” Andrew Belz, Joel’s brother who works in our development department, has taken on the responsibility of planning. As a result, we have a great variety of speakers, from our own staff and from outside. Overall, our devotional time has become a richer and more important part of our lives at WORLD. Please pray that it will remain the centerpiece of our work week.

Kevin Martin

Kevin Martin is the CEO of WORLD News Group.


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