COLUMBIA – On Thursday, Dave Ramsey broadcast his message to churches across the nation. About 15 churches in Columbia offered the broadcast, although some were plagued with technological difficulties.
Ramsey’s speech, Town Hall For Hope, focused on the current state of the economy and the mentality of Americans.
"We're in an economic crisis and I think Dave is offering a message of hope," said Gary Tynes, an employee of Parkade Baptist Church.
Ramsey is a personal finance adviser, New York Times best-selling author, national radio talk-show host and creator of Financial Peace University – a 13-week class that covers topics such as budgeting and investing.
Ramsey advocated a message of personal responsibility and taking control of a personal future, instead of relying on God or the government to do so.
It's a message Joy Rissmiller, a member of Parkade Baptist Church, agreed with.
"People do need to be personally responsible and not expect others to bail out their stupid mistakes," Rissmiller said.
"People think more about the clothes they wear than their finances," said Tynes.
In total, about 60 people attended the broadcast at Parkade Baptist. Only half were members of the church, said Tynes. He said word-of-mouth plus mention of the church's address on Ramsey's Web site, which listed all participating churches, brought in the other attendees. Fairview United Methodist Church relied on announcements to the congregation, an invitation to past Financial Peace University class participants and a sign on the church's marquee to draw about 20 attendees.
One part of Ramsey's message is to not participate in the recession.
Tom Trabue, coordinator of Financial Peace University at Fairview United Methodist Church, said that this "is not getting so caught up in news media reports about the recession."
Jared Wortman, associate minister at Forum Christian Church, said that they are trying "to help people at a more local level."
Trabue said he saw the broadcast as another opportunity for expanding financial literacy and an opportunity to focus more on the economy and how the economy is affecting them.
Ramsey was broadcasting live from LifeChurch in Oklahoma City, and the broadcast was streamed over the Internet. The number of churches broadcasting created problems for the broadcast, however. The broadcast streamed through FOX Business Broadcast and the Internet to an estimated 1 million viewers and 6,000 locations, according to Ramsey’s Web site.
The event was scheduled from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Attendees at Fairview United Methodist Church stopped watching at 8:15 p.m., after restarting the broadcast about five times. They were unable to watch the broadcast continuously and missed some of the questions that Ramsey was answering.
Ramsey took e-mail, Twitter, YouTube and phone questions during his hour and a half presentation.
One of Steve Calloway's reasons for coming was his interest in seeing if Ramsey's message had changed because the economy had changed. He is currently participating in Financial Peace University right now and was aware that the material did not reflect the current economic conditions because it is about a year old.
Calloway said that although he didn't see enough of the broadcast to say definitively, he thought that Ramsey's message had remained the same.
One thing that Ramsey made clear was that he didn't agree with government bailouts.
“They decided to bail out stupidity,” Ramsey said of the Bush administration’s $700 billion bailout. “And then we got a new administration and they decided they’re going to bail out stupidity.”
That was one thing that Calloway wasn't able to listen to because the broadcast cut out, but wanted to hear more about. He was interested in hearing about how to build wealth in this economy, since Ramsey says to use compound interest and interest rates are at record lows.
“I think he had a lot of good points,” said Charles Shoaf, member of Forum Christian Church. “The government can’t bail us out of everything.”
Melinda Marsh, a member of Parkade Baptist, said Ramsey's Financial Peace University classes helped her become more aware of her finances.
"Most of it is common sense," said Marsh. "It just reinforces things we know but don't apply." Though she took the classes about four years ago, she still makes finances a priority.
Trabue saw the broadcast as separate from Financial Peace University because of its focus on the current economy.
Forum Christian Church offers small groups that focus on money and money management that often turn into a support system for those who have lost their jobs. They also have a number of members who listen to Ramsey on the radio or have taken Financial Peace University.
Forum Christian Church has not offered Financial Peace University within the last two years. Parkade Baptist Church will offer Financial Peace University in the fall. Fairview United Methodist Church is currently offering Financial Peace University.