Renewing History Reel by Reel

Tim LarsonAlumnus, Tim Larson, seeks to make historical AFLC recordings more readily available.

I attended AFLBS from 2007-2009. My time at AFLBS grounded me in God’s Word and gave me a firm foundation on which to stand – being ready to give an answer for the hope that we have because of Christ’s death and resurrection. I grew up in the ELCA, and so another aspect of attending AFLBS was really being introduced to the AFLC and realizing how much I felt at home in this fellowship of Lutherans. While at AFLBS, I as able to put together some of the pieces of my spiritual heritage that have connections even back to the early years of the former Lutheran Free Church – being someone that enjoys history, this meant a lot to me.

During my time at AFLBS I also did some work that paved the way for what I have been working on recently. Over the course of my Jr. year at AFLBS, I digitized several years’ worth AFLBS choir music from either LPs or cassettes. My most recent project in this area has been digitizing numerous (40-50) reel to reel tapes many of which are from LEM (Lutheran Evangelistic Movement) camps that were held in the Cleveland branch of the LEM. My initial interest was sparked with the basic transfer process and knowing what it would mean for those at these camps in 1960s, some of whom are now in their 80s and 90s, to be able to hear these messages again today. The dates on these reel tapes range from 1962-1969, the early years of the Cleveland LEM when revival was begun in the hearts of many people during this time period. Some of the pastors that God used mightily at these camps were, Herbert Franz, Clair Jennings, Theodore Hax, J.O. Gisslequist, and Harry Fullilove.

Besides these LEM tapes, I have also digitized a variety of tapes that were made in the first couple decades of the AFLC including: radio broadcasts of “The Lutheran Ambassador”, AFLBS choirs/gospel teams, and even the 1971 Ordination service from the annual conference in Cloquet, MN at which Pastor John Strand brought the message. Many of these tapes described above came from Gene & Beverly Enderlein’s collection. The majority of the LEM tapes were sent to me by Harold & Jerri Libert from Indiana. Both couples were gracious enough to allow me to borrow the tapes for transfer and make the audio readily available to today’s audience. This tape digitizing project began when a single photo from the early LEM camp was posted on Facebook – God truly was working in an interesting way to bring these old recordings to light!

Knowing that God used these messages to bring people to a saving faith over 50 years ago leaves little doubt in my mind that they could be used by Him again today. When I found out that they existed, I wanted to get them transferred as quickly as possible to prevent any possibility of audio degrading or something else happening to the original tapes. Now that they are available to listen to digitally, it is easy to share them with anyone that might wish to hear them. Perhaps they could be broadcast on the home missions radio station in Alaska or maybe a podcast could be started to get them out to the masses! The possibilities are many and that is what makes this whole project exciting!

Another aspect of this project is to make people in AFLC aware that there is an interest in preserving these recordings from the past. Who knows what else may be out there stored in someone’s basement or at any of our churches within the AFLC?!

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