A successor to Juergen Werth has been announced. Juergen Werth has been chairman of the board of ERF Medien in Wetzlar for 20 years. At their annual assembly on May 12th the ERF Medien association members voted in favor of Dr. Joerg Dechert, Director of ERF Content, being made Juergen Werth’s successor. Based upon this recommendation, the supervisory board appointed Joerg Dechert (age 43). “We are convinced that Joerg Dechert has the professional and theological qualifications to lead ERF Medien into the future,” says the chairman of the supervisory board, Prof. Dr. Jürgen von Hagen (from Bad Honnef near Bonn). A year earlier, Juergen Werth had announced that he would resign from his office as of September 30th, 2014, at age 63. The succession ceremony is to take place on October 1st .
Jürgen Werth succeeded Pastor Horst Marquardt as CEO in 1994. He began working at ERF in 1973 after receiving his early journalistic experience at the newspaper “Westfaelische Rundschau” in Hagen und Dortmund. From 1977 to 1983 he was head of the youth program, “e.r.f. junge welle“ (‘e.r.f. young wave’.) In1986 he became ERF editor-in-chief.
Dr. Joerg Dechert studied physics. In 1999 he started working as project manager for the Christian InterNet Association (CINA), which has been part of ERF since 2002. In August 2007 he was made director of ERF Online. Since 2012 he has headed the new ERF division, “Content”, which encompasses the editorially focused departments of ERF Radio, ERF Television and ERF Online.
A new vision for the organization
According to Ulrich Ruesch (CEO), ERF Medien received 14.98 Million Euros in revenue last year (compared to 14.76 Million Euros in 2012). Expenditures amounted to 15.21 Million Euros (compared to 14.27 Million Euros in 2012). After dissolution of reserve funds, a reduction of assets in the amount of 161.533 Euros was shown. Ulrich Ruesch added that there has been a 7.3% increase in donations and the number of donors increased by 2.4%.
Juergen Werth announced that ERF has implemented a new organizational vision: “It is our deepest desire that people come to know God and have their lives transformed by him. We seek out the best forms of media available for this purpose.”
With the implementation of this new vision, everything in the organization is to be examined. Dr. Jörg Dechert explained that, on one hand, “ERF is considering how to make its content and communicative language relevant for a majority of the 80 million people without a Christian background currently living in Germany.“ On the other hand, ERF Medien must also ask the question: “Which channels and platforms are currently ‘the best forms of media available’ in order to implement this vision?”
Closer networking and a new editorial system
Part of this process is the new TV strategy. It comprises an expansion of ERF’s web-media center, an extended presence in social media as well as the broadcasting of TV programs on the Christian TV channel “Bibel-TV” starting July 1st. ERF Medien will be shutting down its satellite and cable TV channel on June 30th and will begin searching more intensively for opportunities to broadcast its programs on secular TV channels. In accordance with the new vision, ERF Medien is also planning two new web-based projects for 2014, to draw people to the Christian faith. During the course of this year a new central editorial system (for radio, TV and internet) will also go into operation.
Another result of the new ERF vision is a closer networking between the editorial staff and Communications/Marketing. This has led to the initiation of new marketing projects to find the “best forms of media” available. At the same time, Michael vom Ende, director of ERF Communications, pointed to some positive developments: In 2013 the number of subscribers to the magazine ANTENNE increased by 7%. The revenue from specifically targeted donor communications has increased by 17% and ERF has developed a new project for children, “SchlafSchaf.TV” (‘SheepSleep.TV’), in cooperation with the “Bibellesebund” (the German Scripture Union).
Dr. Thorsten Grahn, Director of ERF International, pointed out the close relationship of ERF International with the international media organization TWR (Cary, NC, USA). Presently, ERF Medien supports about 40 projects worldwide – in Africa, Asia, Europe, the CIS countries, Latin America and Central Asia. In addition, it offers an extensive telephone ministry in 26 languages. Moreover, one new project is providing unique opportunities: In many parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Northern India (PANI Region) people have never seen a church or met a Christian. Hence, ERF is supporting its partner, TWR, with the construction of a new 500.000 Watt medium wave transmitter for this region.