Asylum Hill Congregational Church Prepares for A Live Television Broadcast

04/10/1971 |


Preparations for the next day’s live broadcast of the church’s Easter service began. A crew from CBS arrived and set up a broadcast truck on Huntington Street. They ran a special power cable from the Cathedral of Saint Joseph across Asylum Avenue, and the lighting and sound equipment were set up inside the nave so that they would be invisible to the viewers.

Neat Little Tidbit

According to Bernard Drew, CBS selected Asylum Hill Congregational Church for this broadcast because Ivor Hugh, director of communications for the Connecticut and Greater Hartford Councils of Churches, had pitched the church as a location for a televised Easter service at a meeting he attended with CBS executives.  Hugh reportedly told the executives that Asylum Hill Congregational was colorful, had excellent music, and was interesting historically – it was Mark Twain’s church, after all.  The executives responded that if Hugh could arrange it, they’d do it.

Trust but verify

There’s no reason to doubt Drew’s account of Hugh’s meeting with the CBS executives, but Drew was silent about what Hugh did – or needed to do – to convince Drew to go along with this broadcast.

Put into context

Drew told Ann Hall, a Courant reporter, that he planned that the Easter service would be a typical one for the church and that the lighting and equipment would be out of sight in order that the service would look as natural as possible.  Hall additionally noted that the music selections would be traditional as well, so nothing was done to alter the service for a national television audience.

Speculating without evidence

Although it’s unclear when Hugh met with CBS, preparations for the broadcast were underway on March 23, when the Courant ran an article reporting that the church had been selected for the national broadcast.  By the time of the article, Drew could tell Hall that he planned to have his sermon ready by April 1, and Richard Einsel, the choir director, could tell her he had selected four hymns for the service:  “Hallelujah Chorus,” “Entrata Festiva,” “O Clap Your Hands,” and “Achieved Is They Glory.”


Hall, Ann, “TV to Air Services from City Church,” Hartford Courant, March 23, 1971, page 1A.

Kauffman, Bruce, “City minister preaches Easter sermon to millions via TV,” Hartford Courant, April 12, 1971, page 5.

Asylum Hill Congregational Church


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