Chicago Tribune, June 5, 1910, page G2:
HEARING SERMON BY TELEPHONE.
RADUALLY the rural telephone has grown from a fence post affair to a thing of daily convenience. And now in Kansas it is entering a field that is unusual and yet useful, for it is becoming the disseminator of the Sunday sermon. No more the farmer's wife who lives three miles from a church need to worry as to whether the weather will be too bad for the long drive; no longer need the hitching up of the horses for that trip to church be a matter of absolute necessity, for the telephone has stepped in and brought the church to the home.
It is in Olathe, Kas., that the experiment of the telephoned sermon is being tried, and so far it has been a success that is growing. There illness and weather cannot interfere with the Sunday worship, for the sermons and every other church service, for that matter, is transmitted directly to the home and all one needs to do to hear is to place a telephone transmitter to the ear. The telephone company, through a connection with the pulpit of the churches, does the rest.
Three Olathe churches, the Presbyterian, the Reformed Presbyterian, and the United Presbyterian, are using the service now. In the first two it is used only for the old and ill. But in the other one the service is of general practice. Each of the churches is fitted with a transmitter, containing an extremely sensitive microphone arrangement and provided with special batteries and coils. The transmitter is no larger then the ordinary one used in telephone exchanges and hangs suspended from a rod in front of the pulpit, without obscuring the congregation's view of the minister, As the sermon is delivered the transmitter takes in the tones and carries them over the wires to the various listeners.
Every Word Heard.
Recently the writer sat in an easy chair in a hotel three blocks away from the church and with an ordinary telephone receiver to his ear heard every word of the service--the reading of the scripture, the prayer, the singing of the Psalms, the announcements, the sermon, and the benediction.
Sometimes the receiver had to be held away from the ear on account of the loudness with which the sermon was transmitted. The manager of the telephone company says that a constantly growing number of the company's patrons use this service on Sun days, and this raises the consideration as to what will be the effect on the churches should the "electrophone" come into general use.
Will the preacher of the future sit in his study and "preach" his sermon before an electrophone while his congregation sit at home in easy chairs, with telephone receivers to their ears? Or will we have canned religion, as we have canned music, sent out from a central station every Sunday morning and evening? Will there be different grades of service, so that those who can afford the high priced brand may have it, and hear the great pulpit orators of the world, the pealing of the great pipe organs in the metropolitan churches, and the wonderful singing of high priced and famous choirs?
The objection that all this neglects the "personal equation" will vanish when television becomes an accomplished fact and one may sit at home and see as well as hear all that goes on in the church, blocks or miles away.
The electrophone has been practically applied to the transmission of concerts, theatrical performances, and political meetings. During the last election in England it was used to transmit a speech of Mr. Balfour from Birmingham to "Highbury," the estate of Joseph Chamberlain, the former Liberal-Unionist leader, who was thus enabled to know what was going on. Twenty transmitters were installed inside the rail of the platform.