April 14, 2010

11CN: Virginia Fagal, Adventist Television Pioneer, Dies

Virginia Fagal, Adventist Television Pioneer, Dies
She cofounded Faith for Today with her late husband, William

capVirginia Fagal, 92-year-old cofounder of Faith for Today, a pioneering Seventh-day Adventist television ministry, died February 25, 2010, at Loma Linda University Medical Center. A memorial service was held March 17 at the Loma Linda University church.


BROADCASTING PIONEER: Virginia Fagal, 92, passed to her rest on February 25, 2010, in Loma Linda, California. With her late husband, Seventh-day Adventist pastor William Fagal, she cofounded Faith for Today, one of the longest-running television broadcasts in U.S. history.

Fagal and her late husband, Adventist pastor William A. Fagal, leave behind a remarkable legacy in Christian television ministry. Faith for Today began airing on May 21, 1950, on WABC in New York City as the first television broadcast sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Though television was somewhat suspect in those days, the Fagals saw value in the new medium and forged ahead. Before long the program was aired nationally.

In 1952 Faith for Today started its own Bible school, with Virginia as director. She remained director until she and William “retired” in 1982, even though they both continued to regularly assist the ministry in whatever capacity they were needed. Over the years, more than 450,000 people have completed one of Faith for Today’s correspondence courses, and at least 30,000 people are known to have joined the church through its ministry.
Among the accolades that have been bestowed upon “the First Lady of Christian Television” are the Irene Morgan Award, presented by the Society of Adventist Communicators in 2002, and the SONscreen Innovation Award, presented to Fagal at the 2004 SONscreen Film Festival. The Irene Morgan Award honors those who have exemplified courage and integrity, while the SONscreen Innovation Award is for Fagal’s dedicated service in pioneering media ministries.
“Virginia Fagal was one of those unique women who blended gracious hospitality with a commitment to working with her husband to reach people for the kingdom of God,” said Mark A. Finley, a general vice president of the General Conference and former speaker/director of It Is Written, another pioneering Adventist ministry. “Her infectious smile always brought joy to my heart. She modeled a united team ministry with her husband for future generations of Adventist ministers and their wives.”
Survivors include her son, William; daughter, Kathryn Fagal Prall; brothers Harvey Rittenhouse and Robert Rittenhouse; a sister, Geneva Anderson; four grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.