Possibly one of the longest running religious TV programs of its kind by a mainline denomination, “TV Eucharist,” after more than 44 years of continuous broadcast on Seattle’s NBC affiliate station, will go off the air later this summer.
Reaching an estimated 3,000 or more viewers each week, the 30-minute Sunday morning program produced by KING5 in cooperation with the Diocese of Olympia, (the Episcopal Church in Western Washington), and the Northwest Washington Synod Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, served to provide a service for those who are shut-in or otherwise unable to attend church. Many of the viewers are not Episcopalians or Lutherans, a number being Roman Catholic. Some do not appear to be associated with any particular church or faith community. “I can’t get out to go to Mass anymore, too crippled,” wrote one Catholic viewer recently, “your program is my church. Thanks.”
Since its first broadcast on Easter Day, April 22, 1973, today over 68 Episcopal congregations throughout western Washington are involved with the program, along with many Lutheran clergy and laity, as well as those from other denominations. The final broadcast will be Sunday, July 16, at 5:00 AM.
Initially aired on KING-TV5, the program moved to cable KONG-TV6/16 when KING5 established its new cable outlet. The program reaches much of western Washington as well as parts of British Columbia. The actual service used on TV Eucharist is the Episcopal Church’s Holy Eucharist, truncated down to fit the 28-minute 25-second time slot. Music used was pre-taped on Saint Mark’s Cathedral’s famous Flentrop organ. The services themselves are taped at the KING5 studios the week prior to the Sunday broadcast.
Originally created and produced in 1973 by the late John C. Leffler, then dean of Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the current producer since 1982 is Father Mike Jackson, assisting priest at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle.
A former officer in the Canadian Army where he served as the Army’s news editor and chief press officer, Mike was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada in 1965 and after serving churches in Alberta, northern California, and eastern Washington, he came to Seattle in 1974 as associate rector of Seattle’s Epiphany Parish. As producer of TV Eucharist for the past 34 years, he has seen the program through its many incarnations.
Pastor Julie Hutson, of Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, Seattle, has served as associate producer. Father Greg Peters, rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Edmonds, became associate producer March 2015.
TV Eucharist also was one of the early joint ventures on the west coast under “Called to Common Ministry”, the 2001 agreement of full communion between the Episcopal and Lutheran churches throughout the nation. Funding for the TV program has come from the Episcopal diocese.
A printed service sheet is provided to viewers who request it. While impossible to estimate the number of services sheets that have been mailed out since the inception of the program, over 300,000 copies have been used in one way or another during this period.
While TV Eucharist ends this summer, those viewers unable to attend church may still “have their church” with Saint Mark’s Cathedral’s newly instituted live-streaming of the 11:00 AM Eucharist every Sunday. The Cathedral’s streaming services may be found below and are available to view 24-hours a day.