Sometimes a message in the form of a radio announcement can bring about a quick pick-me-up.
That's the theory behind Faith Break, a program that offers inspirational messages that can be heard throughout central Pennsylvania.
The voice behind Faith Break belongs to the Rev. Carol Gathagan, who will soon celebrate her 12th year offering uplifting thoughts to listeners.
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich) The Rev. Carol Gathagan, the voice of Faith Break, records some spots at the Mix 94.7 FM radio station. The inspirational messages can also be heard at WBXQ 94.3 FM and WKMC 1370 AM and on the Internet at www.um
Gathagan, pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church, felt called to try a radio outreach for the Altoona District of the United Methodist Church after she read about other Methodist ministries doing a similar work. Her home-spun messages took off from there and are aired twice a day, weekdays on three radio stations that serve six counties: WBXQ 94.3 FM (True Country), MIX 94.7 FM and WKMC 1370 AM.
Station senior account representative Pat Noel has worked with Gathagan from the beginning and says the stations receive constant positive feedback about Faith Break, and particularly about Gathagan.
"It's just been unbelievable the effect [of Faith Break]," Noel says. "When people hear her, they feel like they know her. She has a wonderful voice and people really relate to her."
Gathagan shrugs off the praise of her work but is thankful she has continued it this long.
"It's really because I just like doing it and people respond well to it," she said.
Gathagan was serving at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in East Juniata when the church decided to start the radio ministry. She has continued as its voice when she served Jaggard and Schum United Methodist churches and after retiring five years ago. She came out of retirement this year to pastor at Ashbury.
"I keep writing the Faith Breaks, and it just keeps on going. I figure it must be God's plan," she said.
Her success with the radio spots has expanded to the Internet. Gathagan said her Faith Break spots also are available through the United Methodist Stewardship Foundation's Web site at www.umstewardship.org. She said people can relisten to a favorite or catch a spot they missed through the site which lists Faith Breaks from January until now.
Gathagan never seems to be without inspiration for the spots. She reads a wide variety of materials to gain stories and examples for her sermons so she finds plenty of outside influence. However, her favorite messages come from closer to home.
"Last year, I did one on the black-eyed Susans taking over my flowerbed. People really like the real stories, rather than stories you read. It helps if you relate a story to what's happening now. It relates to what is going on in people's lives," Gathagan said.
After writing more than 3,000 Faith Breaks, Gathagan said she still loves to do it.
"You'd think I'd get burnt out," Gathagan says with a laugh. "I get a lot of joy out of it. After 12 years, I'm still very enthusiastic and excited about it."
Because her face cannot be seen on the 60-second spot, Gathagan always is amazed when strangers recognize her voice and approach her about Faith Break.
"When I think of this radio ministry, my hope is as we do these Faith Breaks, they may help people in everyday life and help them remember that God loves them. We want people to be reminded that God loves them and they are not on this journey all by themselves," she said.