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The History of Lutheran Hour Ministries: 1917-Present

In 1917, a group of 12 men attending a convention of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Milwaukee met to settle a $100,000 debt incurred by the church body. They accomplished that goal, and in the process formed the Lutheran Laymen’s League (LLL). The LLL next raised more than $2.7 million to fund a pension plan for professional church workers.

Radio Programming

In 1930, the LLL made a commitment to fund one year of broadcasting a weekly national radio program to be called The Lutheran Hour®. The first program was broadcast Oct. 2, 1930. The Lutheran Hour continues on the air today, making it the world’s oldest continually broadcast Christ-centered radio program. From the show’s early years to today, speakers Dr. Walter A. Maier, Dr. Armin C. Oldsen, Dr. Lawrence Acker, Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, Dr. Wallace Schulz, Dr. Dale A. Meyer, and the Rev. Dr. Ken Klaus have shared God’s changeless Word and offered comfort and hope to millions.

The success of The Lutheran Hour led the organization to kick off another radio show in 1991. Woman to Woman, hosted by Phyllis Wallace, takes an in-depth look at issues facing women and handles these topics in a caring Christian manner. Guests have included Kurt Warner, Wynona Judd, and Barbara Mandrell.

International Ministries

In 1940, the international thrust of the LLL ministry began with The Lutheran Hour being broadcast by Dr. Andrew Melendez in Spanish. In 1940, the LLL opened its first international ministry center in the Philippines. Five years later, it opened a ministry center in Australia. With the scope of the organization becoming more worldwide in nature, the word “International” was officially added to the LLL’s name in 1972. Today, the Int’l LLL has ministry centers located throughout the world, staffed almost entirely by nationals of the countries where it operates. These devout Christians use radio and TV programming, the Internet, dramas, music, Bible Correspondence Courses, printed materials, and other media to share Christ in and around their countries, often at great personal risk.

Television Programming

In 1952, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod ventured into television with a dramatic series entitled This Is the Life. The program examined contemporary moral problems and gave Christian solutions. In the early years, This Is the Life was a drama series featuring the Fisher Family. In the later years, it was an anthology series with a different set of characters each week. Several famous actors made guest appearances on This Is the Life during this period, including Jack Nicholson, Buddy Ebsen, and Leonard Nimoy. The program aired from 1952 until 1988, first in syndication and then on NBC. This Is the Life reruns continue today on a limited basis in the U.S. and other countries, where the voices are often dubbed into native languages.

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