Sabbath Service Broadcasts

A personal report.

By CLAUDE L. BLANDFORD, Pastor, Temple Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Two years ago one of our Philadelphia congregations, known as the Temple Church because it had been organized in the Masonic Temple, purchased a very beautiful and rather large church building downtown near the heart of the city. From the first all advertising was built around the name of the church, and the name Seventh-day Adventist was prominently featured therewith. A two-inch display adver­tisement with a small cut of the church has ap­peared week after week in a large evening newspaper having a circulation of over half a million daily.

Last September we branched out into radio broadcasting directly from the church, with our regular Sabbath preaching service going over the air from eleven-thirty until twelve each week. In Philadelphia a strong prejudice has grown up against Seventh-day Adventists for hiding their identity in public efforts. And among those who speak unfavorably of us it is repeatedly stated that we do not believe in Christ. I have not met this so often or so per­sistently anywhere else. Therefore I determined that we would announce ourselves and that we would make the preaching of Christ and His grace a prominent part of our message.

Beginning with our first broadcast, the sta­tion announcer said: "We now take you to the Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church, at 18th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia. You will hear the regular Sabbath service, conducted by Claude L. Blandford, pastor of the church."

Our church begins at eleven on Sabbath morning, and we get our preliminaries over before we go on the air. During the first half hour the announcements and promotion items for our own congregation are taken care of. On the dot at eleven-thirty we go on the air with the theme song "Gloria Patri" (No. 689 in the Hymnal). I immediately begin the read­ing of the Ten Commandments, with a back­ground of music from our pipe organ. When I have read the first four commandments, the choir, directly behind me, and right in front of the organ, sings "Lord, Have Mercy" (No. 686, Hymnal) as a response, but without the Amen. When I have finished the last six com­mandments, the choir sings the same response, including the Amen.

I then offer a short prayer. (The regular prayer has been offered before we go on the air.) A short announcement follows the prayer, and the choir then sings a special number, or there is a solo. Sometimes the congregation sings a hymn for the special music. This part of the radio program consumes exactly ten min­utes. I then launch into the sermon, which oc­cupies eighteen and one-half minutes. For the sermon I do not use a script but speak from carefully prepared notes. In fact, the notes are the same as the ones I use for a forty-minute sermon, but the short sermon is twice as good. Last week I presented Daniel 2. At one and a half minutes before twelve I pronounce a ben­ediction. (Num. 6:24-26.) The choir sings an Amen by Beethoven.

As we go off the air the station announcer takes over. He announces : "You have been lis­tening to the Sabbath service of the Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church, i8th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia. The speaker was Claude L. Blandford, pastor of the church. This service will be on the air at the same time next week. If you desire a copy of today's sermon, write to the Temple, gith and Spruce. The sermon will be sent free of charge." While this announcement is being made from the station, we shut off the amplifier in the pulpit, and one of our local elders announces the closing hymn. Our church service is over each Sabbath by five minutes after twelve, and this is very much appreciated.

Our congregation has increased, and in many near-by places where the services are held in the afternoon, almost all our people tune in for the Temple service. The Sabbath broadcast is also a great blessing to shut-ins and those who are ill.

We receive inquiries from a radius of a hun­dred miles—from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Recently one of our colporteurs reported that he was being berated by a woman in her home because Adventists try to deceive and do not tell people who they are. Just then a man came in from the barn, and said, "That is not always true. I listen to a church service from the Temple in Philadelphia. They an­nounce themselves, and have a good service too."

Last December I was able to secure fifteen minutes on Sunday for a program over a large Philadelphia station. This is a question-and­answer program. On this program the an­nouncer says, "The Bible Answer Man is on the air. Claude L. Blandford, pastor of the Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church, r8th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia, will answer your Bible questions over this station every Sunday from twelve-fifteen till twelve-thirty. He invites questions." This is not the complete announcement, but is sufficient to show how we identify the program.

After I have answered as many questions as I can, usually four or five, the announcer states: "You have been listening to Claude L. Bland-ford, pastor of the Temple Seventh-day Ad­ventist Church [address], answer Bible ques­tions." He then announces the next week's program, and the free correspondence course. The requests come to me addressed to "The Bible Answer Man," care of a post-office box. I am therefore able to segregate the corre­spondence from that which results from the church program. On Sabbath I announce my Sunday broadcast, referring the listeners to the newspaper for the radio program announc­ing the Bible Answer Man. I invite the people to listen and to send in questions. Even though tell about the program I do not mention the name of one station when speaking over, the other. On Sunday I sometimes refer to the Sab­bath sermon broadcast from the church. Some­times a sermon is mentioned in a question. In this way we call attention to both programs without being offensive.

I have written at length, because this is a new departure in radio broadcasting for Sev­enth-day Adventists. We have not met any op­position. Many tell of the wonderful messages heard. Our enrollment in the correspondence course is increasing. Everyone hears us preach -Christ and the hope of the soon-coming Sav­iour. What can be said against such a pro­gram? We look forward to a harvest of souls as men hear the message of the last days. The prominence of our church building, its size, and its beauty, coupled with the radio program, all work together for success.


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By CLAUDE L. BLANDFORD, Pastor, Temple Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

October 1947

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