The International Lutheran Laymen's League (Int'l LLL) is a dedicated group of supporters and volunteers who are active in ministry domestically and around the world. These are people of all ages and walks of life. The ministry of the organization is currently expressed through a wide range of Christ-centered outreach efforts under the name of Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM). Originally called the Lutheran Laymen's League (LLL) upon its formation in 1917, the organization was renamed the International Lutheran Laymen's League in 1972 to reflect its growing impact globally. Today, the Int'l LLL's business and financial affairs are overseen by a Board of Directors consisting of a chair, vice chair and 12 directors.
During all the years of the League’s history, tens of thousands of people have provided prayers, volunteer work and financial support which, under the blessings of God, have accomplished great things for the Kingdom. League membership now numbers just under 100,000 individuals and also includes hundreds of local congregational groups including both men and women.
In 1917, a group of 12 men attending a convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod in Milwaukee met to settle a $100,000 debt incurred by the church body. They accomplished that goal, and in the process formed the Lutheran Laymen's League. The LLL next raised more than $2.7 million to fund a pension plan for professional church workers.
In 1930, the LLL made a commitment to fund one year of broadcasting a weekly national radio program to be called The Lutheran Hour®. The first program was broadcast Oct. 2, 1930 and continues on the air today, making it the world’s oldest continually broadcast Christ-centered radio program. From the show's early years to today, speakers Dr. Walter A. Maier, Dr. Armin C. Oldsen, Dr. Lawrence Acker, Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, Dr. Wallace Schulz, Dr. Dale A. Meyer, Rev. Dr. Ken Klaus and Rev. Gregory Seltz have shared God's changeless Word and offered comfort and hope to millions.
The success of The Lutheran Hour led the organization to pick up another radio show in 1993. Woman to Woman, hosted by Phyllis Wallace, took an in-depth look at issues facing women and handled these topics in a caring Christian manner. The program, which at one time aired on more than 400 stations nationwide, ended following Wallace’s retirement in August 2011. Some of the prominent guests included Kurt Warner, Wynona Judd, and Barbara Mandrell.
In 1940, the international thrust of the LLL ministry began with The Lutheran Hour being broadcast by Dr. Andrew Melendez in Spanish. In 1940, the LLL opened its first international ministry center in the Philippines. Five years later, it opened a ministry center in Australia. Today, the Int'l LLL has ministry centers located in 31 countries throughout the world, staffed almost entirely by nationals of the countries where it operates. These devout Christians use radio and TV programming, the Internet, dramas, music, Bible Correspondence Courses, printed materials, and other culturally relevant programs and venues to share Christ in and around their countries.
In 1952, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Lutheran Laymen’s League ventured into television with a dramatic series entitled This Is the Life. The program examined contemporary moral problems and gave Christian solutions. In the early years, This Is the Life was a drama series featuring the Fisher Family. In the later years, it was an anthology series with a different set of characters each week. Several famous actors made guest appearances on This Is the Life during this period, including Jack Nicholson, Buddy Ebsen, and Leonard Nimoy. The program aired from 1952 until 1988, first in syndication and then on NBC. This Is the Life reruns continue today on a limited basis in the U.S. and other countries, where the voices are often dubbed into native languages.
On Main Street was also a popular Int’l LLL TV program. Hosted by Dr. Dale Meyer, the former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour, the program shared practical spiritual teaching on the day's issues from a Christ-centered, Biblical perspective. Guests included Jimmy Carter, Kathy Ireland, and Mary Lou Retton. Broadcast on more than 100 over-the-air stations and nearly 125 cable stations, On Main Street at one time had a potential reach of more than 50 million viewing households per week.
In more recent years the organization's television programming has included five animated holiday specials dubbed into several languages and broadcast on stations around the world through LHM's international ministry centers. In 2011, a full-length television special entitled The Bible on Trial: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt aired on around 600 stations (including nationwide broadcasts on the Inspiration and National Religious Broadcasters Networks). Another television documentary, The Intersection of Church & State, aired nationally on Fox Business Channel as paid programming in Fall 2012 in advance of the national elections.
A New Identity
In 1992, due to the popularity of The Lutheran Hour radio program, the International Lutheran Laymen's League chose Lutheran Hour Ministries as the overall identity for its media outreach programs. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Lutheran Hour Ministries continues to explore new media and to expand its use of others to serve congregations as a partner in God’s mission.
Today, through ministry programs such as The Lutheran Hour, International Ministries, Men's NetWork, MISSION U and others, Lutheran Hour Ministries is calling our communities, our country and our world back to God. Lutheran Hour Ministries is ready to meet the challenges of a post-Christian culture by bringing a message of rescue, restoration and renewal in Jesus Christ to millions of people who desperately need to hear it.
Lutheran Hour Ministries looks forward to a bright future as remarkable media breakthroughs open new doors to sharing the Gospel with more people around the world who long for answers, love, and meaning in their lives. LHM will be ready to respond in its mission of Bringing Christ to the Nations—and the Nations to the Church.