Lilly Endowment Inc. of Indianapolis has granted the Alliance for Christian Media $150,000 to complete the restoration of Protestant Hour radio programs from 1945-1995. Today the program, now called Day1, airs weekly on 200 stations across America, in 8 countries outside the U.S., on the Internet at Day1.org, and in rotation on the American Forces Network.
The 2,620 programs in the collection include the best preachers from the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church. The program currently rotates among six mainline Protestant denominations that, in addition to the historic partners, includes the United Church of Christ and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
The historic recordings are now stored at the Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, Athens. The programs, originally recorded on disc and tape formats, are rapidly deteriorating. Technical services to make them available for use today will be provided by Crawford Media Services of Atlanta.
The Alliance for Christian Media launched a funds campaign for the restoration two years ago. With the Lilly Endowment grant adding to funds already raised, the Alliance can now begin the process of restoration. Honorary Chair of the campaign is the Rev. Dr. Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching at Emory University's Candler School of Theology.
Numerous church and seminary leaders have endorsed the effort, and the Alliance is organizing a task force to assist in creating ways the collection will be used educationally in colleges, universities and seminaries. It will also become a major feature on the Day1 web site.
Its use in training young preachers will be a high priority. The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Dean and President of the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, endorsed the project early on: "Preachers, pastors leaders and scholars in more remote areas of this country and beyond do not have easy access to libraries and other educational materials and rely heavily on the Web and other digital resources as a means for ongoing education and renewal."
Renowned United Methodist preacher and professor at Duke Divinity School the Rev. Dr. William Quick has said, "The slice of history this preserves for posterity will be a source for future generations, at least for those persons seeking an understanding of the church during the latter half of the American Century."
Alliance president and executive director, the Rev. Louis Schueddig, added, "This enormous resource will shed light on how religious leaders dealt with the issues of an entire generation, from Communism to Civil Rights, to women's issues, and the growing secularization in society. Anyone of a certain age interested in religion will remember the Protestant Hour and when recalling great preachers of this generation will discover them in this collection."
Dr. William H. Willimon, nationally known author and United Methodist bishop of the North Alabama Conference, added, "It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Protestant Hour archive is the best collection of the homiletical art in America, perhaps anywhere in the world. The prospect of having these sermons available in an accessible format is thrilling."
Day1 executive producer and host Peter Wallace said, "We are deeply grateful for this important grant, and we are looking forward to making these priceless resources available for use by seminary and university professors, pastors and teachers, and lay audiences. They will have access not only to outstanding sermons and historical materials, but to timeless spiritual wisdom from the leading figures of the 20th century church."
The mission of the Alliance for Christian Media is to be the leader in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ through all existing and emerging communication media. Its goal is to enhance the voice of the historic mainline churches in America to connect the world of faith with the world in which people live. The Alliance is a national non-profit organization founded in 1945.