The Christian European Visual Media Association (CEVMA) was born in 1980 as a response to the particular needs of Christians not only already working in visual media, but also those who felt God was calling them to work in Christian film and television.
Many of them had nowhere to turn to for guidance while those already in the business often felt isolated and discouraged, working alone or in small organizations and receiving very little encouragement or support from their Churches. Thirty years ago the church hadn’t quite grasped the potential of the medium as a means of effective communication of the Gospel – a situation which, to some extent, prevails today.
CEVMA’s co-founders were Nigel Cooke – Founder of International Films in the UK – and Kurt Sprenger, who was head of the newly set up Television Unit of ERF in Germany.
Both men were experienced producers and also Bible teachers. They set the agenda for CEVMA which was, and still is to provide European Christians working in the media with an opportunity to get together and not only share their dreams and visions, but also meet with God. Both Nigel and Kurt believed the spiritual life of the communicator was more important than the equipment he or she used.
What made CEVMA so distinctive from other ‘business oriented’ conferences was this emphasis on personal growth in the Christian faith. Status was never important – there was never a ‘top table’.
Instead there was fellowship in the true sense of the word, where people felt free to share their joys and frustrations, to laugh together and cry together, sharing the load. CEVMA was about friendship with Christ as the unseen, but not unfelt guest. But it was also about becoming better at what we do and sharing our expertise. As well as the worship, there were seminars on every subject related to programme making and distribution. And yes, business was done and partnerships formed, but as between friends and fellow believers.
Thirty years on, those values characterise the annual CEVMA conferences held each September in one of a number of European countries at ‘easy to reach’ locations. In those early days Germany, England, the Netherlands, Switzerland and France were the mainstays. Latterly, conferences have been held in Guernsey, Italy, Scotland and Romania (which enjoyed one of CEVMA’s highest attendances). It’s from some of these countries that members of the board of CEVMA come. The first board members were from the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and the UK. Some of today’s board members come from Turkey, Italy and also Australia reflecting CEVMA’s growing international reach, while still maintaining its European bias. CEVMA is always looking for new locations, where the annual conference will also bring encouragement to local Christians working in media.
CEVMA began in a world of change, meeting needs which never change. Today it continues to do so, in a world of increasing change, a world that increasingly needs to hear of God’s Redemption story through Christ.