The Rev. Dwight Moody wants to start conversation. The St. Simons Island resident holds a doctorate in philosophy from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and spent years in the front of classrooms as a teacher.
“Twenty years ago, I was a dean at Georgetown College in Kentucky which is a liberal arts college. The school asked me to do a radio show,” he recalled.
Moody — who has a quintessential “radio voice” — modeled his program after the popular NPR shows. He pulled in elements of politics, issues of the day approaching modern day issues through the lens of spirituality.
Moody discovered the Golden Isles via a family connection and was drawn to the area, eventually finding himself in a local pulpit.
“My brother-in-law is a graduate of FLETC, and we came down for vacation in 2004,” he said.
“Then, I was the summer preacher at St. Simons Island Baptist Church so we stayed on the island. When we decided to cut loose from our paying jobs, we bought a house here.”
Though he left his teaching post, he wasn’t fully ready to leave his radio show. Instead, he kept it going, creating a new home studio in his new home.
Today, Moody’s program, the Meeting House, is accessible online (www.themeetinghouse.net). It is also broadcast live from 1 to 2 p.m. Thursdays on 94.7 FM and 97.5 FM and rebroadcast from 7 to 8 a.m. Sundays.
“I have a collection of material which includes things like commentaries, interviews and book reviews. In fact, I just did a review of a book called ‘Becoming Mrs. Lewis’ by Patti Callahan,” he said.
“I interviewed her which was exciting as I have been studying C.S. Lewis for 50 years. My show this week is about how the virus shutdown is impacting colleges and universities. My guest is a university president in North Carolina.”
While he enjoys these lighter pieces, Moody relishes taking a deep dive, collecting a variety of voices — from different denominations, religions, backgrounds and political viewpoints.
“I have interviewed people from all over the spectrum — the far right to far left — Jewish, Christian, Sikh and Muslim. I have interviewed the chief counsel for the Columbine murderers to the head chaplain of the U.S. Army, really just anyone who has an interesting story and who can speak coherently about their experience or their roles,” he said.
“What I do is very different than most of the religious radio shows that you hear, where preachers are evangelizing or trying to get you to do something.”
Moody welcomes local participation and has tapped religious as well as civil leaders. In recent weeks, he has spoken with Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey about the city’s coronavirus response. He has also gotten involved with he local faith-based response to the tragic death of Ahmaud Arbery. He sat down with the Rev. John Perry, president of the Brunswick chapter of the NAACP for a disucssion. Moody also participated in a faith-based rally titled a Faith Community Speaks held at the Brunswick courthouse Tuesday.
What he hopes will come from this is a greater deal of reflection — especially on those who identify themselves as Christians.
“Religion can be a very divisive force in our society. So often religion can be used as a justification for ungodly things — not just in our faith but in all faiths. Theologies and sacred texts can be used as an excuse for judging people or even killing people ... there’s a long history of that,” he said.
Moody has visited this topic extensively on his show and in his accompanying written commentaries. Most recently, exploring how racism has been rooted in Christianity.
And he hopes that, instead letting differences create further division — be it race, religion or politics — it can be used as a method of unification.
“Faith and spirituality can be a great centralized force for pulling people together. That’s certainly true in the life and teachings of Jesus who was known for reaching outside of his circle to people that were considered to be dangerous or unclean,” he said. “Reconciliation begins by realizing what you have in common with others, which is a powerful life lesson today. I’ve had friends from every degree ... across Christianity and beyond. I’ve learned from all of them.”
He hopes that, in the difficult weeks and months ahead, this community will be able to take that approach.
It will be a difficult path to walk — but it will be less so if it’s taken together.
“The solution is spiritual, economic and political. It will take a long time, because it took us a long time to get in this mess. Preachers need to speak courage into the minds and imaginations of their people,” Moody said.
“When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Your will be done on earth”, we need to know this is what we are praying for.”