Churches use radio as one more way to get out message

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CRESTWOOD, Ky. (KT) – Church doors may be closed due to the coronavirus, but that’s not stopping pastors from broadcasting worship services across every platform they can think of, including radio.


Crestwood Baptist Church broadcast its worship service live on the radio for the first time on Sunday. Listeners from Fort Knox to Frankfort could tune in to 92.3 FM or 106.9 FM HD-2 Pure Radio and hear pastor Barry Jeffries preach from 2 Thessalonians about growing closer to God in troubled times.


Jeffries said being on the radio “allows us one more way to minister, not only to our folks, but also people who may be tuning in.”


Live video of Sunday’s worship service was shown on Facebook and Livestream, an online streaming service. By evening, the service had been viewed more than 1,000 times on Facebook.


Jeffries described the new radio partnership with Tom Hoyt, managing partner and general manager of Pure Radio, as being “providentially ordered.” The two began talking only weeks before the pandemic was declared about what it would cost to get some airtime. When the crisis began to affect churches, Jeffries said, Hoyt stepped up by offering Crestwood a time slot free of charge.


“I think that in a situation like this, people tend to reach out to things that are known and comforting,” said Hoyt. “Since 1920, radio has always been a facilitator of news and information and also a companion for people. As broadcasters, we want to get the gospel of Jesus to folks through our radio stations.”


Hoyt launched his Louisville stations on Feb. 16 with a Christian teaching and talk format. He also owns like-formated radio stations in Palm Springs, Calif., and previously served as the general manager of 94.7 WFIA in Louisville.


About 40 miles southwest of Crestwood Baptist, another church was broadcasting its Sunday morning worship service over the radio, albeit with a much shorter range.


In addition to showing its service online and through social media, GracePointe Baptist Church held a “drive-in worship experience” in the church parking lot. Senior Pastor Mark Bishop said all he needed was a low wattage FM transmitter and a vacant radio channel to be heard by families sitting in their vehicles.


“I had to kind of warn people because they kept trying to get out and go hug,” said Bishop.


The Louisville pastor stood under a cloudy sky outside the Life Center with the praise band and conducted the service while an estimated 250 people watched through their windshields. They even had some visitors. If some needed prayer, Bishop instructed drivers to pull off to the side after worship so a pastor could meet with them.


“We don't know what it’s going to look like when all the smoke clears. But we do know that the church is going to be here. And we want to be doing our part,” Bishop said. “We are trying in every way to keep people connected to Christ, connected to the church and connect with each other.”

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