On September 1, 2016, after serving for thirty-five years as pastor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Franklin Square, Long Island, New York, I began my new ministerial labors as regional home missionary (RHM) of the Presbytery of Connecticut and Southern New York. The preparation for the call to this work and the call itself came after much thought, discussion with others, and prayer. Through the presbytery itself and through the generous support of the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension, God made provision for most of the funding (see below) for a five-year trial period of RHM work in the presbytery that covers the largest portion of the population of the United States (with the Presbytery of Southern California coming up as a close second). The combined population of Connecticut, the five boroughs of New York City, and Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) is over 26 million people—8 percent of the population of the entire United States. And the population of this region (centered on New York City) includes people and entire communities from, literally, every nation of the world. I love to speak of “that great city, New York.” To reach New York is to reach the world.
While ministry in this area is a unique opportunity, it is also a herculean task. The sheer number of people, the varieties of cultures and the challenge of reaching them, the pervasive secularism and materialism, the multiple distractions of “Vanity Fair,” and the high cost of living (close to the highest in the nation) make all church work here seem as daunting as climbing Mount Everest. Most effective ministries in the metropolitan New York area depend, to some extent, on outside funding—and lots of it. And the OPC is simply not a financially wealthy denomination. All of these things factored into what has become an RHM job description that is hardly a traditional one for the OPC.
A Different Approach and a Broadcast Presence
After securing approval by the Presbytery of Connecticut and Southern New York at its April meeting in 2015, steps were taken to establish a nonprofit corporation called Reformation Metro New York, Inc. That 501(c)(3) organization was officially approved by the IRS and the State of New York late last year. It is governed by a board that includes two ministers and a ruling elder of the presbytery. Its purpose is to raise support for the ministry of the RHM and for works of church planting in the presbytery. This enables the presbytery to reach beyond its own congregations (in one of our smaller presbyteries) and beyond Worldwide Outreach to raise funds for this herculean task with a unique opportunity.
But how do we raise the visibility of the work of evangelism, church planting, church revitalization, and ongoing biblical reformation done by the OPC in the metropolitan New York area? How can we capitalize on our rather limited resources to both raise more funds and also serve the kingdom of God?
I began working in secular radio in northeastern Connecticut at the ripe age of fifteen! During my late high school years and during the summers of my college years, I continued to work in radio. I even did call-in talk shows well before there was a Rush Limbaugh or a Sean Hannity. During my years of pastoral ministry, I have periodically had opportunities to do radio ministry, including A Visit to the Pastor’s Study—a live talk program first done in North Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1980s, and later through WMCA radio while I was pastoring in Franklin Square. In addition, I have had the privilege of working closely with Dan Elmendorf, the director of Redeemer Broadcasting, Inc., a terrestrial and Internet radio network that is specifically committed to the Reformed confessions and a high view of the church. Radio broadcasting is in my blood. It is part of my skill set. But how can we make regular use of radio in a way that reaches the whole
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area of our presbytery—as well as those people who access Christian programming through the Internet?
A Generous Donation and a Radio Program
With the assistance of Chris Arnzen, a good friend of the OPC, who hosts the radio program Iron Sharpens Iron and runs the organization Cruciform Media (which assists pastors and churches in reaching local markets via radio), I was offered a ninety-minute time slot (Saturdays from noon to 1:30 p.m.) on WLIE radio, 540 AM. On the weekdays, this is a largely Spanish-speaking radio station, but on the weekends it includes more English-speaking programming. During the day, it is a 10,000-watt station, sending its radio signal from two towers on Long Island. Remarkably, its signal reaches almost the entire area of our presbytery. But a weekly program is costly—like everything else in this area.
Remarkably, again, the Lord provided a donor (another friend of the OPC) who has paid for the first year of the broadcast! The first sixty minutes will present A Visit to the Pastor’s Study, and the other thirty-minute program will be God and Your Health, which will include promotion of the donor’s local businesses on Long Island. And because A Visit to the Pastor’s Study will be commercial-free, we will eventually be able to simulcast the program through Redeemer Broadcasting, Inc. Between the local range of WLIE, the live streaming from that station, and simulcasts through the Redeemer network (both terrestrial stations and Internet streaming), we will have, literally, a worldwide outreach for pastoral ministry, the Reformed faith, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. This will also provide a broadcast presence for the NAPARC churches with which we are affiliated—a niche market that is not represented by any national church ministry. How the Lord has worked to this point!
The program will be a combination of monologue, interview, and calls from listeners. The goal is to bring biblically faithful pastoral ministry to listeners, but it is also intended to introduce people to the exciting life of the kingdom of God in a way in which they can participate. There is certainly a place for broadcast preaching and teaching, but there is not much programming currently that allows listeners to interact with pastors, teachers, and other Christians. A Visit to the Pastor’s Study will help fill that void.
Your Help Needed!
Our presbytery wants all of you to be a part of this unique opportunity for us and for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In fact, we need your help! Pray for my ongoing preparation for the radio program. To say the least, there are many voices competing to be heard in our media-saturated day. Pray that the programming will be rich in content, excellent in production, relevant to the present day, and so interesting that people will want to listen. That is so important. Pray for God’s generous provision of financial support for the work. I also invite you to listen to the program on Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. on www.wlie540am.com or from www.redeemerbroadcasting.org (check the link for live streaming). We want you to be part of this broadcast ministry. And do encourage others to listen and call as well. This is meant to be a means of outreach. If you are interested in learning more and keeping in touch, send your physical address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. My RHM duties also include encouraging evangelism within the bounds of our presbytery and working in various ways with groups that may grow into church plants. (Our hope is that the radio ministry will help us form or reach such groups.) As I said, the task is herculean. But our living Lord is greater than the mythical Hercules. Pray that God would grant the strength needed for all of these labors, all to the exalting of his name and for the furtherance of his kingdom in the metropolitan New York area and beyond. Remember: to reach New York is to reach the world.