Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Editorial: Music Can Change the World

Editorial: Music Can Change the World

Editorial by Rob Vandeman, Graphic via iStock

My wife plays the harp, my daughter the violin and my son the bassoon. They all play the piano and sing. I, on the other hand, can’t carry a tune inside the proverbial bucket. Yet, I spent a significant portion of my pastoral ministry promoting high-quality music programs in my churches. I may not be musically inclined, but I do understand music’s amazing power to soften and sensitize and produce compassion and caring.

Music can change the world. Those who know my musical background find it ironic that I now serve as chairman of the board of Washington Adventist University’s (WAU) contemporary Christian radio station, WGTS 91.9 FM, based in Takoma Park, Md. But, please, keep things in perspective. WGTS is not for me. Neither is it for some of you.

Rather, it is for the half-a-million listeners who tune in each week, 40 percent of whom are disenchanted with traditional religion and have no formal connection to a local congregation. They tune in to hear their favorite Christian artists, and through them they find encouragement, hope and peace. Sometimes they don’t even tune in to hear the music. Instead, they listen because the station provides the closest thing they have to a Christian family. Commuters all over the Washington metropolitan area listen as they travel to and from work each day. Young people listen to it on their smart-phones. It plays in offices in the White House, and in Senate and congressional offices on Capitol Hill. Its presence is felt on military bases. It provides the backdrop to some of the area’s most influential business centers, as well as doctor’s offices and restaurants. And, people around the world listen on


In its early years, the station focused on my musical taste and that of a few thousand other classical music buffs. It was largely a Seventh-day Adventist audience, but it simply could not compete in the D.C. market. Year after year it struggled to raise its meager budget. Today, however, its contemporary Christian format places WGTS in the top 10 of all station formats in our market area. Their operating budget is now more than $2.5 million. Impressively, WGTS receives no subsidies from the church or WAU. On the contrary, it provides $175,000 in labor opportunities for WAU students and returns more than $325,000 to the university for rent and other services. And, from operating reserves, it loaned WAU $2 million to help with the constructioRobVandeman_12n of the new music building.

Please don’t think that the story of WGTS is simply about the music or the numbers. It is not. It is about ministry. It is about the listeners and what God is doing in their lives (as you’ll read in this month’s feature). Nothing is more rewarding than hearing how the station has nudged them closer to Christ and His kingdom. WGTS music is changing the world—one heart at a time.

Rob Vandeman is the executive secretary for the Columbia Union Conference





What an awesome article about how music can touch the hearts and lives of people. I just finished my Doctoral studies in that area: "Evangelization of youth through contextualized music ministry." As a pastor and professional musician I use music to reach the unchurched, especially young people. Seeing this article gave even more weight to my studies and the unlimited possibility we have at our disposal as a people who love to praise God "with the sound of the trumpet; . . . with the lute and harp! . . . with the timbrel and dance; . . . with stringed instruments and flutes! . . . with loud cymbals; . . . with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:3-6.

Thanks for your comment, Dr. Marton!! We'd love for you to weigh-in on our Facebook chat on young adult ministry tomorrow at noon with some of what you found in your study!!!

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