During the General Conference session of 1941 in San Francisco, California, the following action regarding radio broadcasting was taken:
"Believing that radio broadcasting has been brought into existence and developed to its present status as one of the important agencies for finishing the work of God, and that through no other means can the masses be reached so quickly; and inasmuch as so many homes have radios ; and in view of the fact that to us has been committed the message of God for this hour, a message that is to fly in the midst of heaven and to be proclaimed with a loud voice to every soul, arid that we should be using far more extensively its unlimited possibilities ;
"We recommend, a. That in countries where radio broadcasting is accessible to us, every worker who is qualified for radio work, and who can develop the opportunity, be encouraged to give this message over local stations or local networks, and that these workers strive to use the most effective methods of follow-up.
"b. That our radio speakers explore the possibilities of co-ordination and co-operation in their work, in order that it may be organized upon a unified basis, and that union and local conferences co-operate in developing a complete and continuous coverage of their territory.
"c. That the General Conference Committee study ways and means for expanding through our union conference organizations a chain broadcast, looking to the widest possible coverage in these closing hours of probation.
"d. That our willing people shall be called upon to support an enlarged radio program by a steady flow of contributions for the specific purpose of acquainting the masses with the advent message."
Pursuant to this action, a committee of twelve was appointed for the purpose of securing necessary information, with instruction to report to the 1941 Autumn Council on their findings. Contacts were made with the officials of the three leading broadcasting systems now operating over the United States of America. It was found that neither the National nor the Columbia system could give us time for religious broadcasting, on any day or night of the week. We were courteously informed that religious broadcasting is in the hands of the Federal Council of Churches, and that only those who are members of this organization may secure time. And this was on the basis of church membership ; namely, the denomination with the largest membership would have the longest broadcasting periods. The Seventh-day Adventists with their comparatively small membership we were told, might possibly secure one thirty-minute period a year, provided the Federal Council of Churches would permit us to go on the air at all.
Since we were shut away from these two national systems, the officers of the Mutual Broadcasting System were then approached, and it was found that through this system, opportunity for religious broadcasting was still open. The matter of the time available, costs, stations, and methods of broadcasting, were discussed with these officials. The interview was so promising in its possibilities that we forthwith made request for a two-week option, or until the Autumn Council completed its work, this option giving us the right to tively small membership, we are told, might broadcast over eighty stations (now increased to eighty-nine), each Sunday evening, for fifty-two weeks from the opening of the year 1942.
After meeting these men in New York, and while our request for the option was in their hands, we were advised by them that the broadcasting of further religious programs on Sunday nights was being seriously and rather adversely considered, it being felt that no more programs of this nature should be permitted on this system on Sunday nights.
Doors Apparently Closed Now Opened
With this word it appeared to our committee that every avenue was rapidly closing; so we called all the available members of the Radio Committee together and engages in a very earnest season of prayer, pleading with the Lord that should it be His will for us to go on in this larger way, He would open apparently closing doors. Within three days of this prayer meeting, we received a telegram giving us the option for the hour we desired, such option to be ours until the Autumn Council was ended. The receipt of this message compelled us to feel the favorable outworking of God's will in our behalf. The committee having already drawn up its report, it was submitted to the Autumn Council, and was adopted as follows:
The Provisions of the Action
"Believing that the supreme evangelistic need of our time is indicated by the grave developments in the world which give convincing evidence that we are entering the time when evangelistic activities will be sharply restricted, if not entirely stopped, and that an unsurpassed evangelistic opportunity is provided us through the medium of radio broadcasting ; and,
"Having been charged by the recent General Conference session to study ways and means to obtain the widest possib:e coverage of the United States with the threefold message in these closing hours of human probation,
Your Special Committee on Radio Work earnestly recommends: 1. That immediate arrangements be made for a national hookup of approximately eighty stations for a weekly thirty-minute broadcast during the year 1942.
"2. That inasmuch as the Voice of Prophecy program on the West Coast is already using nineteen stations of the same system now available for the proposed national hookup, the Voice of Prophecy program and organization be incorporated into this national broadcast, and that the location of the group for carrying forward this enterprise, whether east, west, or central, be determined later by a General Conference Radio Commission in counsel with the General Conference Committee and the broadcasting system carrying the program.
"3. That the Nominating Committee of this Autumn Council be asked to nominate eighteen persons, including the union conference presidents in the United States, who, when elected, shall comprise the General Conference Radio Commission, whose duty it shall be to promote and administer this national radio work in counsel with the General Conference Committee, with the understanding that this commission shall select a smaller group within itself as an executive committee that can meet frequently to care for the details connected with the carrying out of the general plans formulated by the commission.
"4. That each union conference be requested to appoint a representative from among its workers to act as a union radio secretary, whose duty, in addition to his other work, shall be the promotion and publicizing of the national radio program throughout the union conference territory. Further, that each local conference be asked to choose a representative from its workers who in addition to his other interests shall, in conjunction with the union radio secretary, promote the national program throughout the various churches in the local field.
"5. In planning for this national broadcasting of the message, it is not intended that such service shall in any way supersede or absorb the radio work now being carried on by our evangelists throughout the United States, but rather that in addition to the national broadcast they be encouraged to continue their efforts and wherever possible to enlarge their field of activity at every opportunity, that in a larger sphere the coming of the Lord may be sounded through the avenue of radio.
"6. That in view of the pressing need of advancing the work of radio preaching while the way is still open to us, we urge union and local conference leaders to study ways and means of developing more and better radio preachers, and of extending the use of the local station, singly or in a group.
"7. That diligent effort be made to enlist the cooperation of the laity in constantly increasing the listening audience by personal visit and letter, in circulating radio logs and topic announcements from house to house in a systematic way, and in inviting the people to tune in.
"8. That when interest on the part of listeners develops to the point where personal visitation is indicated, the names of the interested be transmitted to the local conference president, and that this visitation be carried out by regular conference workers, experienced in personal work.
"9. That in fostering and promoting this enlarged radio program, the magazine, the Ministry, be asked to devote a section to the promotion of radio evangelism, and that the Review and Herald, the Signs of the Times, the Watchman, the Message Magazine, and the Christian Record be asked to publish the radio log of the proposed national broadcast, and that our union papers keep before the church members in their territory the objectives and activities of this service."
The cost for this program will exceed $200,000 a year for broadcasting alone ; and stationery, literature, postage, and office costs will bring the possible expenditures to a total of $250,000. Provision has been made whereby this sum will be provided through appropriations from the General Conference, the union and local conferences, certain institutions throughout the United States of America, and the listening public, including our church members.
To further this important plan, and in harmony with the report, a Radio Commission has been appointed. This commission has already met and has been organized as follows : W. G. Turner, chairman; W. H. Branson, vice-chairman ; H. T. Elliott, secretary.
It was voted that "five members of the Commission constitute a quorum . . . and that concurrence of five members be required to make any action effective." The full commission of eighteen members was called to meet in Glendale, California, at the end of November, when the details were considered and final plans made for the opening and continuing of this broadcast. It is expected that the Voice of Prophecy hookup, now so successfully serving much of the Pacific Coast, will be incorporated into and enlarged to serve the interests in the coast-to-coast program. It was gratifying to learn in a recent interview with certain officials of the Mutual Broadcasting System, that the attitude of the company was largely influenced, and is now so favorable toward us, because of the excellent reports on the work of Elder H. M. S. Richards and his associates in the Voice of Prophecy program.
To give some idea of how narrowly we missed being refused time on the air in so wide a network as the Mutual System, we were informed by the leading representative of the company that he was in rather a perplexing situation, for only a few days after we received our option, the leaders of another Protestant church had made a request for Sunday evening time, but now that we were taking this time, they would have to be denied. The perplexity was caused, this gentleman stated, because he himself is a member of this particular church, and he did not know how to explain his refusal to his own church authorities. The fact is, had we waited another week, we would have been unable to get on the air so far as a nation-wide Sunday night broadcast is concerned.
For the hand of God over affairs we are deeply thankful, and as we launch this effort with its tremendous possibilities, we do it in the consciousness that God is with us, and in the firm belief that our workers and church members will not only pray for success in winning souls, but will show in other ways that they will support this national broadcast. In next month's issue of the Ministry we hope to give further particulars, and also to supply a radio log.