Not every minister may be a Mike Wallace, nor every church a network, but churches in Shawnee, Oklahoma, are proving neither is necessary to produce a quality television newsmagazine. Their creative approach takes the camera out of the Sunday morning sanctuary and onto the everyday streets.

“Christian Magazine” is financed by three Church of Christ congregations in Shawnee. On a monthly budget of $750, ministers have interviewed authors and atheists, talked to survivors of a Las Vegas hotel fire, and covered events like the Little Olympics.

The television magazine began when the former pastor of the Central Church of Christ, Dale Wade, formulated plans with layman Don McClintock. Both men were experienced in television and convinced it could be used effectively by the church. But before their dreams materialized, Wade left for another pastorate.

The minister of East Main Church of Christ, Don Preston, was inspired by the idea and stepped into Wade’s place to make it work. Today, three Church of Christ congregations finance the venture. “We don’t solicit funds for the program on the air as we don’t feel that biblically this is a correct procedure,” Preston said. The people who produce the program work voluntarily, without pay.

The most costly piece of equipment is a minicam (a camera setup that does not require film development). Preston estimates the start-up cost of a locally produced program at $65,000 to $75,000. “It’s very difficult to make a categorical statement on the cost,” Preston said. Factors involved include the charges for air time, and the varied costs of equipment.

A recent Federal Communications Commission decision may make church television even more feasible. The FCC, which regulates use of the airwaves, proposed ...

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