Pastor Luis Alvarenga of First Lutheran Church in St. Paul uses television as part of his ministry. But he is more social activist than TV evangelist.
Alvarenga formed the Multimedia Collaborative www.mmcstudio209.com shortly after arriving in Minnesota two years ago with the goal of inviting people from the community, especially the homeless, to produce programs on MTN (Minneapolis) and SPNN (St. Paul) cable-access stations.
Alvarenga developed his TV and radio skills in his native El Salvador covering sports and later as a news reporter. When he came to the United States, he began producing shows in Los Angeles for and about Salvadoran immigrants.
First Lutheran pays for SPNN membership and classes for the Multimedia Collaborative crew and on-air talent, which is almost entirely composed of people who are homeless or have been homeless. Alvarenga recruits trainees through his church and from homeless shelters.
Alvarenga said he hopes to help them develop skills that can result in employment in media or other fields. About 30 people have been trained over the past two years, some getting jobs and others doing freelance work or moving on to other pursuits.
The Multimedia Collaborative produces three shows. “Voices for Change Forum,” www.voiceschange.wordpress.com hosted by Ted Dennis, focuses on issues of homelessness. Alvarenga is the moderator of “Voices,” featuring immigrants and discussions of immigration reform, and “Voces,” the Spanish version of the show. (“Voices” airs Fridays on SPNN at 9 p.m.; show times vary on MTN.)
I spent an evening with them recently as they recorded a “Voices” show featuring two local homeless musicians, Tony Criss and Dennis Peoples.