Faith Break is 20 years old!

Faith Break marks 20 years Inspirational spots now expanded to internet!

By Linda T. Gracey For the Altoona Mirror

Encouraging words can go a long way to brighten someone’s day. Those words could come from a friend, family member or Faith Break.

Originally started as 60-second spots on three local radio stations 20 years ago, Faith Break has now expanded to the internet where additional messages of hope and inspiration can be found on Facebook.

The voice behind the messages is the Rev. Carol Gathagan, a United Methodist pastor who served eight churches in the State College and Altoona area from 1988 to 2004.

Although she retired from full-time preaching more than 10 years ago, Gathagan of Bellwood continues to go the studio each month to record inspiring words that can be heard on Mix 94 WBRX-FM in Cresson/Altoona, Classic Rock 94.3 WBXQ-FM in Patton/Altoona and 1370 WKMC-AM in Roaring Spring/Altoona.

Faith Break is broadcast on those stations weekdays between 10 and 10:30 a.m. and again between 3 and 3:30 p.m.

Radio listeners can also hear past spots on the Faith Break website:

Gathagan said her outreach started when she was pastor at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church. She had learned about other pastors doing something similar and approached the church’s administrative council for approval. After the church gave the OK, the outreach eventually was approved by the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church, and it is a ministry of the Altoona District in that conference.

Associating her work with the biblical principle of sowing seeds, Gathagan said she is broadcasting seeds of hope.

All her segments are original.

“I write and produce all of them myself,” she said.

“It’s amazing how she gets a thought across in such a short period of time,” said Altoona resident Jeanie McMinn.   Gathagan’s messages “hit home. They make your day better,” added McMinn, who was there at the beginning as a member of Wesley UMC.

Gathagan said ideas “just come to me. They come from everyday living, from people’s experiences. I am always listening. Sometimes people will say something that will trigger an idea.”

“Almost” daily devotions can also be found on Faith Break’s Facebook page. Gathagan said most of the time, the devotionals on Facebook are different from her 60-second radio spots. She said she usually gets between 400 and 500 hits a day on her Facebook page, but a recent devotional had 2,000 hits.

“It’s because people share them,” she said. “If you put a picture up, it grabs people,” she added.

Gathagan said being on the radio stations and Facebook is like having a huge congregation that she doesn’t even know. But, she often receives affirmations that they are listening.

“Everywhere I go, people say: ‘Your voice sounds so familiar. Do you do Faith Break?’ It’s just amazing. I can’t get over it,” she said.

Those encounters are the only compensation she receives.

“A lot of people think I get paid to do this, but I don’t,” she said.

As a matter of fact, Faith Break must pay to be on the radio stations. Gathagan said it is funded by donations, and there have always been enough funds to keep it going.

She said every time the money gets flat, she and others pray.

“(Faith Break) has never been interrupted,” Gathagan said, since it started on   Oct. 27, 1997.

And at age 75, she intends to keep it going.

She said she tells people who think that she should slow down that she is like a determined football player.

“I’m playing in the last quarter,” she said she tells them. “It’s not over until it’s over. I could make a score at the last minute.”

“Rev. Carol is really an involved person,” McMinn said, noting Gathagan is very sincere. “She is an all around good person. There is no artificial faith in her. Everybody knows her and everybody loves her,” McMinn said.

For Gathagan, Faith Break is a calling from God, and she believes in carrying out His mission.

“My goal is to help people in their everyday lives — to give them reminders that God is with them. I want them to know they are not alone, whatever they are going through,” she said.