Faith For Today History
Faith For Today History
|The Very First Days
Faith For Today was launched on WJZ-TV (now WABC-TV) in New York, NY at 9:30 p.m., Sunday, May 21, 1950. The broadcast, founded by William and Virginia Fagal, was owned and fully sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Since its inception, Faith For Today has sought to reach out to the vast and diverse television audiences. By December, 1950, it became the first authentically national religious telecast in North America, having spread to an 11-station transcontinental hookup.
|Making a Connection
Since the very first broadcast, Faith For Today offered viewers Bible lessons, books and other spiritual and personal growth materials.
Mr. and Mrs. William Farrar from New Jersey watched that first program on May 21, 1950, and wrote to enroll in the Bible course. So thrilled were the Farrars about what they were learning from the lessons and the telecast, that they started telling their family, friends and co-workers.
|Making a Difference
Faith For Today started its own Bible School in 1952. Dedicated staff, led by Virginia Fagal, assisted thousands of viewers in their spiritual studies. Over the years, more than 450,000 people have completed one of Faith for Today’s correspondence courses, and at least 30,000 people are known to have joined the church through its ministry.
|Commendations from J. Edgar Hoover
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover met with William Fagal to congratulate him on the ministry’s important contribution in promoting “wholesome family life and emphasizing those basic values of love, discipline, faith and work, which give true meaning to life, performing a commendable public service.”
For nearly 20 years, Faith For Today’s program format was similar to the popular variety shows of that era. Featuring music by the Faith For Today Quartet, discussions, special guests, short dramatic skits, and inspirational commentaries by William Fagal, the audience’s interest was kept engaged while communicating the basics of Christianity. By 1968, the program was viewed on 286 stations.
|A New Way to Minister
In 1972, after a move from New York to California, Faith For Today discovered possibilities in television drama and Westbrook Hospital was born. This weekly dramatic series with a hospital setting showed that Christian virtues such as honesty and love work in the real world.
The program won Gold and Silver awards at the Houston International Film Festival and the Silver Plaque at the 1977 Chicago International Film Festival.
|Expanding to Films
An important milestone was reached in 1975 when Faith For Today produced its first hour-long dramatic film, John Hus. Inspired by its success, Faith For Today ventured into “TV drama specials” with The Harvest in 1979. This one-hour film about the healing of a stress-torn family won an Angel award for “the highest production and artistic excellence” in February, 1980.
|A New Administration
In 1980, William Fagal passed the leadership of Faith For Today on to Daniel G. Matthews, who faithfully served the ministry for the next 19 years. Before becoming speaker-director of Faith For Today, Dan served as a pastor in the Pacific Northwest.
|A New Format
In 1985, Faith For Today launched Christian Lifestyle Magazine, a program that set new standards in religious programming. CLM followed a news-feature format and was hosted by Dan Matthews and Suzanne Austin (later, Lena Nozizwe).
Television audiences saw powerful stories of Christians who have made a positive influence in their communities and in their world. The show broke down barriers and helped viewers overcome their prejudice towards Christianity.
Christian Lifestyle Magazine paved the way for Lifestyle Magazine, launched five years later. The 1990 Lifestyle Magazine team included Dan Matthews, Clifton Davis, Tami McGrew and Patty Cabrera.
The show, which took on a talk-show format, centered around timely health issues and also addressed people’s physical and emotional needs. Powerful topics include forgiveness, overcoming addictions and the power of prayer.
|Awards in Film
Out of the Night was Faith For Today’s biggest success in film. This docudrama about former navy diver Stephen Arrington’s involvement in the John DeLorean drug trafficking scandal, and his remarkable conversion in the aftermath, garnered three prestigious awards, including the Gold Medal at the 28th Annual Wordfest-Houston International Film Festival.
Dr. John McDougall, world-renowned author and internist, along with Mary McDonough, star of The Waltons, hosted Faith For Today’s insightful and cutting-edge health show, McDougall, M.D.
Some of the shows most popular and thought-provoking topics included the dangers of dairy products; new ways to combat diabetes; and how to control depression naturally. While McDougall, M.D. is no longer in production, its topics are still relevant and the show is broadcast worldwide through TBN and the Hope Channel.
In 2000, Faith For Today launched The Evidence, a half-hour news magazine/docudrama show hosted by Dwight K. Nelson.
The program investigated the possibility of God in all its expressions. Through interviews with world-renown scientists who de-mystified the technologies of nature, and artists who illuminated the wonder of life, The Evidence bridged the gap between science and theology.
|New Vision and Leadership for a Pioneering Television
In 2004, Mike Tucker became the new speaker/director of Faith For Today. Hailed from Texas, where he was senior pastor of Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Tucker has a rich background in pastoral ministry, counseling, chaplaincy and evangelism.
He and his wife, Gayle, have made Faith For Today relevant and accessible to local congregations through innovative programming and live seminars.
|Virginia Fagal Honored by Adventist Filmmakers
(Atlantic Union Gleaner, February 2005)
In 2007, Faith For Today took on the task of a bold new approach to Net evangelism. HeartQuest: Finding the One Who Has Loved You All Along was the first Net event designed for a home audience.
By working closely with local churches, the event was a success and was followed in 2009 by another live evangelistic series, LifeQuest.
|Facelift for a Long-standing Program
In 2007, Lifestyle Magazine received a new look when Mike and Gayle Tucker became the hosts of this dynamic and enduring program. The show focused primarily on relationships, spirituality and health – topics that have proven to be of greatest interest to long-time viewers.
|60 Years of Faith
In May of 2010, Faith For Today celebrated its 60th anniversary. To mark this milestone in Adventist broadcasting history, the ministry held various celebrations around the country via camp meetings, taped a one-hour television special, Sixty Years of Faith, with the Fagal family, and ended the year-long celebration with an extraordinary evening vespers at Loma Linda University Church.
In photo, left: Dan Matthews, Kathy Fagal Prall, William Fagal, Jr., Gayle Tucker and Mike Tucker.
|Ministry's Outreach Broadened
Throughout sixty-plus years of Christian broadcasting, Faith For Today has remained close to its grassroots mission, which is to reach secular minds and introduce every individual to the gospel of grace. This mission is evident through the continued success of Lifestyle Magazine and the live seminars of Mad About Marriage.
The Faith For Today team is constantly amazed to see how the Lord has brought this ministry through both good and challenging times. We eagerly seek to know and accomplish His will, and we pledge our lives to that continued purpose.