They're turning to MP3 players to be exact, those small devices that millions of people now use to listen to recorded music. Users load music onto the players from their personal computers and listen to them through headsets or by plugging the players into car sound systems or home stereos.
Now, through a new Internet process, anyone with an audio message--including disc jockeys, radio commentators, and ministers--can make their message available to MP3 users. The technology is called "podcasting" because MP3 players include the iPod, which is made by Apple Computer, Inc.
Congregations that are making their sermons available as MP3 files include the Unitarian Church of Montclair, New Jersey; the UU Church of Worcester, Massachusetts; the UU Church in Fullerton, California; and the UU Community Church in Park Forest, Illinois.
Each Sunday at Park Forest the Rev. Randolph Becker records his sermon on a small digital recorder, then loads it onto his congregation's Web site in MP3 format. His audio fans--he doesn't really know how many he has--regularly download his sermons from the church Web site onto their players.
Through podcasting, Becker has reached a Baha'i couple in New Jersey who now carry on a regular correspondence with him. And he's in contact with other folks in England and India who also download his sermons.
"This is so simple and it's exciting," said Becker. "It's a low cost way to get involved in broadcasting."