The Rev. Robert H. Schuller has received an invitation to become the first American to address the Soviet people on national television since the short-lived overthrow of the country’s reform government, according to a spokesman for the Schuller ministry.
Michael Nason, a consultant to Schuller, pastor of Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove who is best known for his internationally broadcast “Hour of Power,” said the minister was “overwhelmed” when he received a telegram from officials of Gosteleradio Friday morning.
Schuller was asked to prepare a taped message of up to 15 minutes that will be shown throughout the Soviet Union, Nason said. Schuller declined to comment, saying through an aide that he was working on his message to the economically and politically troubled nation.
“We have been talking back and forth to officials in Russia, and they say he will be the first American to speak to the (Soviet) people” since the coup, Nason said. Schuller has agreed to be interviewed by a Gosteleradio representative for broadcast, Nason said.
Schuller appeared on Soviet national television in May, 1990, at the time of the U.S.-Soviet Summit talks and when the country was suffering a severe food shortage. Nason said Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev commented that Schuller’s message had a “calming effect.”
Nason said Schuller will tape his new message at Crystal Cathedral this morning and take it when he leaves this afternoon for Europe.
The invitation from Gosteleradio reflects a change in management and political leanings at the station, which last spring abruptly yanked Schuller from its broadcasting schedule, Nason said.
Schuller had agreed to create a “Heart to Heart” series of 12 20-minute sermons for broadcast once a month. But the station suspended the broadcasts in March after only two tapes were aired.
The ascendancy of hard-liners at Gosteleradio led to the cancellation, but in recent days sympathizers with the reform movement have regained control of the station, according to Nason.
“While the telegram didn’t mention the ‘Heart to Heart’ show, I assume that under the new management it will go back on the air,” Nason said.
Schuller said earlier this week that during his trip he will also be negotiating agreements to appear on stations that broadcast to individual republics within the Soviet Union in recognition of the growing decentralization of the country’s communications industry.
Schuller said that initially he will be making arrangements to have the “Hour of Power” shown on television stations that broadcast to the Ukraine, Russia and Hungary.