Old-Time Cutbacks

As financial hardships have hit television ministries in recent years, some have cut broadcast outlets in piecemeal fashion. But Jerry Falwell’s “Old-Time Gospel Hour” has opted for wholesale cutbacks, dropping most of its broadcast outlets in a move that, up front, will save the ministry over $8 million a year. It was the “Old-Time Gospel Hour,” which began airing in 1956, that helped Falwell become a household name and enabled the ministry to raise much of the money that built Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. But viewership has reached its lowest level in years, according to Arbitron. And donations from viewers are down as well.

With the cutback, the show will be aired only on three Virginia stations, compared to over 200 that now carry the program. The move is the latest step in Falwell’s effort to concentrate his energies on the university and on his church, Thomas Road Baptist.

Big Bucks For Bishops

Shortly after B. Maurice Ritchie was ordained a United Methodist minister, a bishop in his conference was honored with a cash gift of about twice the pastor’s minimum annual salary. Ritchie was bothered then by the practice of honoring retiring or transferring bishops with exorbitant gifts. Now, as associate dean at the United Methodist Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, he is raising the issue with the denomination. Ritchie coordinated a study conducted by the school’s J. M. Ormond Center that found cash gifts as high as $40,000 being meted out, as well as automobiles valued as high as $20,000.

The money for such gifts is typically raised through direct appeals to local congregations. There was a time when such rewards were intended to make up for the low pay ...

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