Is radio broadcasting mission work? This is the question that has been raised repeatedly in connection with our mission program during the past years. Sometimes the question was asked: What is the purpose of radio broadcasting? Or again, Should our churches engage in radio broadcasting in areas where it is impossible to follow up this ministry by personal contact?
The “Mission Board Study Committee Report,” which we discussed already last month in the Standard Bearer and which will appear at the next synod, also treats this matter of radio broadcasting rather extensively just because the problem of radio broadcasting has been so intimately related to the various problems of mission endeavor during the past few years. Referring from time to time to this report. I shall follow the decisions of our past synods from 1955 to our present time.
The Synod of 1958.
At this synod the Mission Board reported as follows: “According to the decision of the synod of 1957, your committee took on another broadcasting station. This station is located in Beaverdam, Wisconsin, and covers the area of our Randolph congregation and the surrounding communities, . . . Thus we are now broadcasting from Oskaloosa, Iowa; Bellingham, Washington; and Beaverdam, Wisconsin. . . . We advise Synod to continue these stations for another year.”
The 1958 synod decided to appoint a study committee, “who shall:
“1. Investigate the entire matter of radio broadcasting by the denomination and by the Mission Board at present,
“2. And report to the next Synod.”
The Synod of 1959.
At this synod the committee appointed in 1958, brought its report.
As to the principle of radio broadcasting, the committee reported, “Your committee is agreed that radio can be, used as a proper means for Mission endeavor, . . . we find it proper that the Synod, through its Mission Board, enters into the labor of radio broadcasting.” And grounds are also furnished for this conclusion. See Acts, 1959, pg. 123.
As to the radio work that was carried on by the Mission Board, the Committee reported: ‘Your committee reaches the conclusion that radio broadcasting by the denomination should be adapted to our Mission effort in general and to the labors of our missionary (ies) in particular. Ground: This is in harmony with the pre-amble of our Mission Committee constitution, Paragraph 2, “We believe that the missionary activity includes the work of church extension, and church reformation, as well as the task of carrying out the Gospel to the unchurched and heathen. However, we are convinced that our present duty lies primarily in the field of the church extension and church reformation.””Your committee further expresses:
“1. That the purpose of radio broadcasting by the Mission Board is church extension and not the extension of already existing churches. Ground: Question 15 asked by the Church Visitors, This implies that church extension work is the task of the local church in its area.
“That in cases where a local church furnishes good reasons for broadcasting in its local area, with a view to church extension, and where a local church needs help in broadcasting, it is permissible for the Mission Board to give financial assistance.” (See complete report in the Acts of Synod, 1959, pp. 123-125.)
The “Mission Committee Study Report” tells us, “The synod of 1959, therefore, defined both the purpose and scope of radio broadcasting by the Mission Board as limited to the work of church extension. And we may remark in this connection that the synod of 1959 was the first to regulate radio broadcasting.”
This conclusion of the “Mission Committee Study Report” is correct if only we bear in mind that the problem before the 1959 Synod was: church extension or extending local churches. During the years 1957 to 1959 the Synod had taken on radio stations in Beaverdam, Wisconsin, and in Bellingham, Washington, to give support to the local churches. To this the Synod of 1959 objected, stating that the purpose of radio broadcasting is church extension, and should therefore “be adapted to our Mission effort in general and to the labors of the missionary in particular.” The Mission Board was advised to discontinue the radio stations in Beaverdam and in Bellingham. (See Acts, art. 137, Pg. 47.)
This also accounts for the fact that the synod of 1960 did not hesitate to adopt a much broader policy in radio broadcasting than the church extension mentioned in the Acts of 1959.
Synod of 1960.
Quoting from the “Mission Board Study Committee Report,” “The synod of 1966 also adopted a distinct definition of the purpose of radio broadcasting by the Mission Board. From its decision to assent to the work of the Board concerning foreign broadcasting, and to ‘declare this work commendable, we also conclude that the synod’ adopted the conclusion of the Board that the most effective way ‘to achieves this purpose (witness of God’s sovereign grace) at present is to enter the field of foreign broadcasting.’ (Cf. B. p. 139, Acts, 1960. ) And that this was the mind of the synod of 1960 is seen from its decisions to contract for foreign broadcasting and to instruct the Mission Board to prepare a long range plan for future mission work; this latter to include what tapes to be used in foreign broadcasts. (Cf. Art. 116, p. 38; 4), p. 141, Acts 1960.)”Thus the synod of 1960 adopted a distinct definition of the purpose of radio broadcasting by our churches. And that this definition applies not only to foreign broadcasting, but also to domestic is substantiated when, in the adopted report it is stated that the witness to the truth of God’s sovereign grace “is being done in our own country through the efforts of our missionary and through our radio broadcasting in various parts of the country.” (Cf. B, p. 139, Acts 1960.)
At this synod the Mission Board was instructed to contract for broadcasting with the Voice of Tangier, Monoco, and also Station Hoyer, West Indies. Moreover, the Mission Board was instructed to prepare a long range plan for future foreign mission work.
Synod of 1961.
The MBSC informs us concerning this synod, “In connection with our mandate we need only remark that the synod of 1961 continued in the footsteps of the synod of 1960. It decided to continue both the domestic and foreign broadcasting authorized by the previous synod and adopted budgets for both approximating those adopted in 1960. In so doing it re affirmed the position of the synod of 1960 as to the mission calling of our churches and as to the purpose of radio broadcasting by the Mission Board.”
The Synod of 1962.
At this synod the committee appointed to prepare a long range plan for foreign mission work presented its report in which it expressed that “it remains a fact that there are small but strong bastions of the truth here and there throughout these (foreign) countries. Bearing these things in mind we see the calling of our churches today to direct its attention towards these remnants according to election of grace to want them of the dangers of apostasy, call them out of the apostatizing churches, and restore them to the Church of Jesus Christ.” In this connection it was also mentioned by the study committee that the purpose of radio broadcasting is “to find out where these groups of believers may still be in order that through this means the Lord may point us to field of labor.” (Cf. Acts, 1962, p. 65.)
Thus the MBSC (Mission Board Study Committee) report states, “In this connection it is worthy of note that in the last sentence under B, 3 of the plan we read concerning the purpose of radio broadcasting that “this is already being accomplished in our own country.” This can only mean that the above defined purpose of radio broadcasting is applied not only to foreign broadcasting, but also to that on the domestic scene. All radio broadcasting comes under this definition.”
The Synod of 1963.
The MBSC report informs us, “Aside from authorizing the continuation of radio broadcasting over stations previously used, and adopting budgets to cover needed expenses, the synod of 1963 decided upon two matters re radio broadcasting.
“1. The first matter is related to the action taken in 1962 in which synod referred the long range plan for future mission work to the Domestic Mission Board, authorizing it to carry out the present feasible recommendations of the plan. The Mission Board reported that it bad not acted on the authorization. Consequently the synod of 1963 decided to ‘instruct the Mission Committee to do the work and report to the next synod.’ (Acts 1963, art. 122, p. 33.)
“2. The second matter had to do with advice rendered by synod’s committee of pre advice on mission matters.” In this connection the question arose concerning possible discrepancies between the decisions of synod during the period from 1959 to 1963. And it is with those possible discrepancies that the MBSC has prepared the report we have just discussed.
The Synod of 1964.
The matter of domestic and foreign radio broadcasting will also appear on the agenda of the 1964 synod. The synod will have to decide on continuing the stations we now have in the United States or possibly even adding to these stations.
At present the Reformed Witness Hour is being aired from six stations in our country. Three of these stations, Those in Grand Rapids and Holland, Michigan and in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, have been supported by (he radio committee of First Church, Grand Rapids. Two of these stations are being sustained financially by the Mission Board of our churches, namely, Oskaloosa, Iowa and Houston, Texas. One of them is almost completely supported by the Mission Board, but the Radio Committee of First Church has also contribut
Besides these stations, we have also two stations that reach beyond our own country. The one is the small station in Curacao, West Indies, which has always offered its services without cHarges. The other is the Trans World Radio from Monte Carlo extending over the continent of Europe into England. The manager of this station informs us that we have a distinctively Reformed witness which is being appreciated particularly by those of Reformed persuasion both in England and in Europe.
A new station is opening in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles, that will reach down into South America to the south, and into the United States, including Jamaica, as far as the south eastern States. This station also belongs to the TransWorld Radio and has offered us some very good time slots at comparatively reasonable rates.
Although our denomination is numerically small, we have had a wonderful opportunity to proclaim the truth of God’s sovereign grace far abroad throughout the world. May the Lord direct us in this calling also in the future.
Note: Our readers may be interested in knowing that another transistor recorder has been donated by a family in one of our Michigan churches to be sent to Rev. Elliott, in order that his churches also may benefit from our sermons in their Sunday worship services. Moreover, that former members of the Rock Valley church have donated Psalters for Jamaica, which are being sent to these churches by our congregation in Hull, Iowa. We are grateful with the churches in Jamaica for this means of closer contact with each other.