Lutheran Vespers, the radio ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will debut June 6 on two stations in Cleveland, the nation's 25th-largest media market, said Barbara J. Andrews, associate director for marketing, ELCA Department for Communication.
WCCD 1000 AM and WHK 1220 AM -- both owned by Salem Communications Corporation, Camarillo, Calif. -- will air Lutheran Vespers at different times on Sundays. WCCD will carry the 30-minute program at 9:30 AM and WHK will broadcast the program at 5:30 PM.
"We're very excited about being back on the air in Cleveland after six years without a station there," said Susan V. Greeley, Lutheran Vespers director/producer, ELCA Department for Communication. "WCCD and WHK are great stations for us. We're grateful that ELCA members in Ohio want to reach out to their neighbors through this radio ministry." The Northeastern Ohio Synod is one of 65 synods of the ELCA.
Supporters of the Lutheran Vespers ministry at Zion Lutheran Church, Wooster, Ohio, were the catalyst for getting the program on the air in Cleveland. Two members, Patricia Bruce and Cheryl Oswald, have actively worked with the ministry.
In October 2003, Reverend Walt Wangerin, the ministry's speaker since 1994, traveled to speak in Wooster, where Lutheran Vespers airs on WKVX 960 AM, Bruce explained. Some 700 people attended, she said.
Proceeds from ticket sales for the event were used to fund the start-up in nearby Cleveland, Oswald said. In fact, there was enough money from Wangerin's appearance in Wooster to pay the costs of airing the program in Cleveland for at least 13 weeks, she said.
Bruce and Oswald have written to other area ELCA congregations seeking funds to keep the ministry on the air in Cleveland, Oswald said. "Our hope is that we can get other congregations [involved]," she said.
"Lutheran Vespers is a wonderful evangelism tool for outreach," Bruce said. "It is really important that we share this ministry with other people."
"The thing that most motivates me is that Lutheran Vespers reaches unchurched people on Sunday morning," Oswald said. "For some this may be the only word of God they hear."
Lutheran Vespers airs on about 190 stations and reaches an estimated 3 million to 4 million listeners a year in the United States, Africa, Australia, Europe, Guam and Puerto Rico. ELCA missionaries and ELCA chaplains also receive copies of the programs.
Since March 2003 Lutheran Vespers has added stations in three other large U.S. media markets. They are KSTP 1500 AM and WFMP 107.1 FM, St. Paul/Minneapolis; KHOW 630 AM, Denver; and WHO 1040 AM, Des Moines, Iowa.