As weekend programme company for the North and Midlands, ABC Television has always accepted its particular responsibility to provide suitable religious programmes on Sundays. Acceptance of this responsibility has led to weekly Sunday morning services, ‘The Sunday Break’, Independent Television’s national youth club and the ‘Living Your Life’ series on Sunday evenings.
These programmes have been conceived as complementary to the work of the Church. In planning and producing them, it soon became clear that the Church was not fully using the power of the medium. Few Churchmen understood the workings of television; fewer still the exciting opportunities it offered to them to influence people. This was the point from which ABC Television began the planning of the Religious Training Scheme, ABC approached the main bodies of the Church with its proposals and the response left no doubt about its acceptance:
THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
‘I am most interested in the proposal that you are making, and regard it as having immensely valuable possibilities. I would wish to do everything possible to assist you’.
THE ARCHBISHOP OF WESTMINSTER
‘I fully recognise the wisdom of priests, who are to be engaged in TV programmes, receiving special training in the techniques to be employed in this medium. I welcome your proposals’.
REV DR NORMAN H. SNAITH (President of the Methodist Conference)
‘I think that it is a splendid and useful idea, and will do good all round. The Methodist Church is happy to co-operate’.
REV HOWARD S. STANLEY (Secretary of the Congregational Union of England and Wales)
‘The Congregational Union of England and Wales is more than interested in your project and would wish to help’.
REV ERNEST A. PAYNE (General Secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland)
‘We, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, have been much interested in the scheme which is being launched by ABC Television, and we welcome all such endeavours whereby this means of communication may be better used for the extension of the Kingdom of God’.
The way was clear. An interdenominational Working Committee was set up and the first course opened at ABC Television’s Manchester Studios on May 7th, 1959. Three courses will be held each year with twelve members of the clergy on each.
Contained in the pages that follow are the Inaugural Speeches made at the Opening Ceremony and photographs of the first course for Anglicans which was followed by similar courses for the Free Churches and Roman Catholic clergy.