From the Worldwide Faith News archives

'Stand on your head if you want to...'

From Beth Hawn
Date 14 Oct 1998 14:03:12

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To:  'Worldwide Faith News'
Date: 1998-10-14 15:30
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Message ID: CC4853D45A63D211AAB0006008075ABF
Conversation ID: ÈStand on your head if you want to´É


October 14, 1998
Mennonite Board of Missions
Beth Hawn

'Stand on your head if you want to...'

HARRISONBURG, Va. (MBM) - When early visionaries Eugene Souder, Paul   
Swarr, Roy Kreider and Aaron King enrolled as students at Eastern   
Mennonite College (now university) in the fall of 1950, they requested   
and received 15 minutes of free air time on local station WSVA for weekly   
broadcasts of their Crusaders for Christ quartet music. Announcer Norman   
Derstine, an EMC
faculty member at the time, tied the songs together in a free flowing
commentary including a one minute meditation. Sometimes he called on   
members of the quartet or other college students to share their   

All went well until one morning the quartet asked long-time church leader   

A.J. Metzler, who happened to be in the community, to give a short   
on the program. "Just as the program was over," Eugene Souder, a member   
of the quartet, recounted, "one of the WSVA staff came bouncing in to let   
us know that WSVA was providing the free air time for the music, not   
preaching. We told the station representative that the thoughts given by   
A.J. Metzler were the
very same thoughts presented in the singing. He said it was okay to have
these ideas conveyed in the songs, but he did not want them spoken. So we   
asked him whether it would be all right to buy time, to which he replied,   
'If you buy time, you can do anything you want to on the program,   
including standing
on your head.'"  (From Hubert R. Pellman's History of Mennonite   
Broadcasts: The First 25 Years, 1979.)

This Crusaders for Christ program later became "The Mennonite Hour" which   
from 1952 to 1979 aired weekly throughout the U.S. and Canada as an   
official program of Mennonite Board of Missions. The music produced and   
used on the program continues to be enjoyed by cassette and CD purchasers   
(see article) around the world, including this comment from Bible   
translators Dwight and Ginny Sharp working in the Philippines: "My wife   
and I are translators working with the New Tribes Mission. As we sit   
working at the desk we love to listen to music. The one CD which is   
easily my favorite is Hallelujah Amen [released last year]. Sometimes I'm   
so taken up with the music that I can hardly work. Thank you for drawing   
our hearts to Jesus Christ through your music."

Ironically perhaps, it is the music of The Mennonite Hour, not the words,   
that lives on, since The Mennonite Hour program went off the air in 1978.   

Today MBM's Mennonite Media produces videos; CDs and cassettes; radio
and TV spots; and the Internet Third Way Caf‚ ministry <>   

as it continues to communicate the good news to the general public.

* * *

Melodie M. Davis       PHOTO AVAILABLE

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