Broadcast ministry offers thoughtful sermons, well-produced programming
ATLANTA — It’s not hard to find preachers on the airwaves. Just turn the dial.
And, often, that’s what listeners do when they come across showy, fortune-promising, alarmist preachers who rule the religious airways. They turn the dial elsewhere or off.
But such pulpit-pounding celebrities and wannabes are not the only on-air voices to be found nationally — thanks to the weekly broadcast and online ministry of Day1.
“We’ve always kind of been in our own realm,” said Peter Wallace, who guides the ongoing work of Day1, a broadcast ministry with roots going back to The Protestant Hour radio programs begun in 1945. “We open it up to the broad range of what we call mainline denominations.”
Wallace said the weekly broadcasts include “very well-respected” preachers, often pastors, from churches connected to The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), American Baptist Churches, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and other denominational groups.
Dozens of prominent ministers and leaders from the various denominations serve on the Day1 advisory board and assist Wallace in selecting preachers for the ongoing programming that now airs on more than 200 radio stations of various formats across the U.S. and beyond.
“Stations like that it’s ecumenical and well produced,” said Wallace.
“In a time of religious skepticism and superficiality, Day1 puts out into the deep waters of the faith,” said Tom Long, Bandy Professor Emeritus of Preaching at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.
For Long, who serves on the Day1 advisory board, the broadcast ministry has a personal dimension. It goes back to his seminary days when he was a DJ at a radio station in rural South Carolina.
“Someone has quipped that in the South the farther to the right a radio station is positioned on the AM dial, the zanier is the programming on Sunday morning,” Long recalled. “We were at 1590 AM, and sure enough, Sunday was a wasteland of shrill Bible thumpers and screaming fundamentalists, except for one program — The Protestant Hour, which was the predecessor of Day 1.”
Long said he was mesmerized by the preaching he heard at that time, especially from a Lutheran pastor and seminary professor, Edmund Steimle, whom he tried for a while to emulate.
“Eventually I found my own preaching voice,” said Long, “but I date my passion and commitment to the ministry of preaching to hearing those Protestant Hour sermons in my radio headphones.”
An impressive recording studio and the gifted production skills of 27-year veteran Donal Jones ensure high quality programming. Coughs, stomach growls and stumbling words that might be picked up by a Sunday pulpit microphone never make the airwaves. There is even the welcomed opportunity for “re-dos.”
In addition to the sermon, the smooth-voiced Wallace includes a conversation with the respected preacher of the week to provide further insight into the designated text and topic.
“It’s amazing how precise this is,” said Dock Hollingsworth, who entered the studio late last year to record his Lenten message on the Prodigal Son to be aired on March 6.
Unlike guest preachers who travel from all around the nation, Hollingsworth simply walked down a long hallway at Atlanta’s Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church where he is pastor. The Day1 offices and studio moved there from a nearby Episcopal church in 2013.
Wallace, who as a child pretended to be a DJ and is ordained in The Episcopal Church, said the 70-year-old broadcast ministry that once benefited from required free public service time on radio stations and stronger denominational funding has faced many challenges.
A trimmed staff and other concessions have been made over the years. Yet he remains optimistic thanks to broad support that comes from those who share an affinity for the thoughtful, faithful messages that go out over the airwaves and Internet.
“You can thrive when you collaborate with other like-minded organizations and churches,” he said.
He also expressed appreciation for those who encourage him in his work such as Bill Self [who died in January], retired pastor of Johns Creek Baptist Church in Alpharetta, Ga., and chair of the Day1 advisory board.
“Bill became a close mentor to me,” said Wallace. “He loved this organization.”
It was Self, said Wallace, who put him in touch with Second-Ponce de Leon leadership about the possibility of moving the Day1 operations to some vacant educational space. It was a great move, he added.
“It was like this space was designed for us,” said Wallace. “And Second-Ponce has been phenomenal in working with us.”
To find local stations carrying the Day1 broadcasts as well as to access sermons and other resources online, visit Day1.org. NFJ
Story and photos, by John D. Pierce