By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
Clark Road Baptist Church is made up of over 400 members in its congregation. Forty of the members make up its choir, who along with four musicians have toured throughout the United States and Jamaica singing and performing behind their pastor Rev. Pharis Evans, Sr. Now, after broadcasting on the radio for 19 years in their hometown of Gary, Indiana Clark Road Baptist Church performed their final broadcast on the last Sunday in November.
Velton Cotton, chairman of the deacon board at Clark Road, said the church first started radio broadcasting using other radio stations. They used WWCA, WJOB, WGVE and then WLTH. During the broadcast, the church choirs would sing first and then Pastor Evans would preach. Cotton said the church would always open the service with the Lord’s Prayer, which lasted so long it took up most of the radio time from the sermon. It was only 30 minutes long in those days.
During a time when many of the local radio stations were going out of business, numerous churches lost their on air programming. However, Cotton said Clark Road managed to secure a spot by possibly being the first church at WGVE.
Clark Road Baptist Church was a very outstanding church when it came to its singing and performing. Over the years they made countless LPs, cassettes, CDs and most recently a new CD entitled “Classic Church” that included all the church choirs combined.
Due to the dwindling congregation and Pastor Evans’ health, the decision was made that it was time to curtail some of their activities. It was a split decision, but the majority thought it was best along with the pastor to cancel the broadcast. On November 27, 2016, Clark Road Baptist Church performed its last broadcast on radio station WGVE.
Marvin Lyles, Weekend Broadcaster at radio station WGVE said the services recorded for Clark Road Church were prerecorded, but now New Mt. Moriah Church has taken over their 6 p.m. hour. Lyles said, “Now we are encouraging other churches to take up the radio air time that was once held by New Mt. Moriah.”
Cotton said the church has not decided as a whole what they will do in the evening hours since their time is free now. They are considering using that time to host a variety of events they previously did not have the time to hold. One of the events under consideration is an anniversary program for Pastor Evans and a church anniversary program. He said, “We use to do things like those during program time, now we can do them in the evening if we want to.