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David Sain preaches on Skyline's “Way of Life” TV program.
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Four decades of ministry — behind the camera

In the age of online streaming, a longtime TV ministry based in Tennessee comes to an end.

For 40 years, Sam Wylie served the Skyline Church of Christ — and congregations around the world — as an outreach minister in charge of an extensive TV ministry that broadcast and recorded worship services, Bible programs and even church advertisements.

That ministry was retired last year, when the elders of the Jackson, Tenn., church — Wylie among them — decided that it had finally “run its course,” Wylie said.

Sam Wylie

Sam Wylie

Before Wylie, now 70, came to Skyline in 1981, he had worked in radio, as a communications instructor for Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., and in the communications department at Abilene Christian University in Texas.

Then, Skyline approached him, looking for someone to spearhead the TV ministry the church had started.

“The guy said, ‘We don’t have anybody who knows what they’re doing,’” Wylie recalled. “And I told him, ‘If you get me, you’ll probably still be talking to a guy who has no idea what he’s doing.’”

But he agreed to come work for them, recording various programs with preachers from around the Southeast at Skyline’s studio — which had two sets furnished with real-life scenery, including a living room, kitchen and library.

The ministry’s longest-running program was the “Way of Life,” which broadcast from Nashville for decades.

But Wylie and his crew also traveled all around the U.S. in their mobile broadcast unit, making recordings and advertisements for local congregations — typically at no charge.

One of those crew members was Greg Walker, an electrician who came to Skyline not long before Wylie. Wylie recruited him to work the camera and do rewiring for the recording equipment, and the pair became fast friends.

They had plenty of adventures together — though always behind the scenes. Walker said he didn’t know of even a single photo ever taken of them in the ministry.

He recalled one time when they nearly got snowed in while in Oklahoma taping Mack Lyon, the late founder of the “In Search of the Lord’s Way” TV ministry.

Wylie even captured Walker’s son’s first steps.

“Ain’t nobody better than Sam,” Walker told The Christian Chronicle, his voice breaking.

They went on several mission trips, too — to Central America, the Caribbean, India and Australia.

“I just can’t compare what it’s like,” Wylie said of the trips. “It was hard for me to handle at times.”

He remembered on one trip to India going out before dawn to record all the people — adults and children — sleeping on the sidewalk.

Whether in the U.S. or abroad, Wylie touched a lot of people in those 40 years of ministry, Walker said.

“It was a good time for all,” Wylie said. “It was great. I hate it (that it’s over) — but that’s OK.”


Filed under: David Sain Features Mack Lyon online church People Sam Wylie Skyline Church of Christ Top Stories TV ministry

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