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Rock and Rabbi

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

As I write this letter, we are just days away from being able to broadcast from the new studio location. It will begin a new era for this ministry and begin what we think will be an increased ability to serve the Southern Illinois community.

Being located across the street from the Marion Civic Center opens up several new opportunities. One such opportunity is our recent announcement about WBVN bringing in The Rock and the Rabbi. This is an Off-Broadway production that has been front-and-center on our priority list for the past year. For us, the station’s new location and being able to contract this event have simultaneously been one project. One (the new studio location) has created the possibility of the other. It has been on our hearts for a year now to do something very special for our listeners.

We have been serving this listening community for over 17 years and wanted to do something that was exceptional as a celebration of your faithfulness to WBVN. We wanted to bring in something so special it could impact Southern Illinois believers and perhaps their ‘unbelieving’ friends. Of all the options we had to choose from, The Rock and the Rabbi is our effort to bring you the very best contemporary production that we could get our hands on. In our opinion, it is the most exciting and valuable event we could have scheduled. It is a production that has toured New York, Tulsa, and Orlando; now Marion is added to that list of cities. This specific presentation of the Gospel is a perfect fit for our ministry purpose and our characteristic of Contemporary Gospel. (We have material for a three week Bible study available for download on our web site. Just go to and scroll down to where you see two fish and a green block with “The Rock and the Rabbi Bible Study” in it. This is a wonderful tool and terrific teaching that we feel all who choose to use it will love.) Now, let me tell you a little about The Rock and the Rabbi.

Creators Gary Richardson and Danny Hamilton each have a quick answer when asked about the beginnings of The Rock and the Rabbi. Richardson, who wrote the show’s script, likes to say he got the idea for the show from a book someone left in his hotel room. When asked about how long it took to come up with the programs, composer and music director Hamilton simply says, “All my life.”
Here’s the longer version of Richardson’s story:

It was in the mid-1970’s and I was visiting with a friend of mine, who was a pastor. He started telling me about something that just struck him, how there are two miraculous catches of fish in the Gospels- one comes at the start of Jesus ministry, and the other after His resurrection. And Peter plays a big role in both these events.

It was not until 1997 that Richardson got around to turning the fishing catches idea into something more concrete. He and Hamilton decided to collaborate on making a musical out of the story of Jesus and Peter. The Rock and the Rabbi premiered in 1998.

What Hamilton and Richardson ultimately produced is a unique theatrical show done in a style they like to describe as “Garrison Keillor meets MTV Unplugged”- storytelling that is plain, direct and seasoned with quiet humor set to music that is acoustic yet energetic. The combination of a former television host (Richardson) and a central Florida minister of music (Hamilton) ventures beyond church walls and takes it’s story to the secular and church worlds alike.

Told from Peter’s perspective, The Rock and the Rabbi gives a contemporary treatment to the classic biblical story. The show traveled from Florida to New York, finding a permanent home in Orlando Florida. It caught the attention of Larry Payton, whose Oklahoma-based theatrical production company has done shows such as Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera in a variety of Southeastern venues. In his wife Kay’s words, “[The Rock and the Rabbi] makes you both laugh and cry, while challenging you with both high energy as well as soft meaningful songs.” Talented performers blend storytelling and acoustic music together into an intimate, emotional, funny and thrilling tale of friendship, betrayal, forgiveness and reconciliation.

You will not want to miss this event! It’s one of the most profound representations of the Gospel that we have been aware of in the 17 years of broadcasting over WBVN. So now we have these two wonderful things happening at the same time. We are so grateful for all the financial help and prayers of our listeners. A big thank you goes to so many volunteers who gave their time and many their material goods to see that WBVN is now broadcasting from a wonderful facility. As I mentioned earlier, The Rock and the Rabbi event is our effort to bring something into our community of believers that represents the heart of this ministry and the quality of a national event. It’s something that is usually reserved for the larger cities and venues but is coming to the Marion Civic Center. Come, bring a friend, encourage unbelievers to attend. It will be a special three-day event, one that WBVN can say with all the confidence and hope, is well worth the time and money to attend. Thursday, March 29th will be especially tailored for church groups. For that event you will be able to purchase 10 tickets and get 5 free tickets. So, bring your group and some friends to what we think will change people’s lives. The Rock and the Rabbi is an event we know that those who attend will never, ever be the same.

Note: As of Monday, February 12, 2007, we are in the new building!

Tony’s Pics

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Instead of a message from Ken, this month we’re showing you the beginning of the progression of our new building. It was Tony’s Restaurant, but now it’s becoming WBVN’s studios.

Religion: NOT

Posted on by Ken Posted in Newsletters | Leave a comment

Celebrating the birth of Christ.  We should stop just there and think about that a moment. In our everyday hustle and bustle we tend to just meet the ‘holidays’ head on and not pay much attention to what specifically we might be celebrating.  The birth of Christ is so central to what we believe and hope for as Christians. It is one incident in a chain of events that, without it, the whole chain breaks apart.  Each section is unable to provide what only the whole can provide.  Our Faith depends on this: a chosen people, the small town of Nazareth, a young Jewish girl, one single winter’s night, a small stable and a bright shining star! That’s why this ministry spends all its time dedicated to keeping our thoughts and attention on the child born at that single moment. This ministry is not about denominations, we’re not about ‘we are right and you’re wrong and you need to get right.’ No, we are about the birth, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus and keeping our mind on Him daily.


Here we are, seventeen years into this thing called WBVN.  Next month, on January 8th, we will begin the eighteen. The initial purpose of this ministry was to come and serve this community of believers.  Becoming a believer brought us great personal blessings, but just as rewarding, it offers all of us a chance to be a blessing as well. That in a nutshell is the desire of WBVN.



I guess we could have chosen a lot of things to come and serve. There are tons of religions in the world. Many of them have a more ‘lawful’ ethic or higher demand for morality than Christianity. Some have hundreds and hundreds of laws, observances and traditions. But in our Faith, believing in Christ is not an ethical or moral decision.  It is simply a faith question.  In our Faith, there is a morality; it contains an ethic, but the central theme is not our ‘perfect’ behavior.  It is His perfect behavior.  The question we all must ask is whether we believe His life was ‘perfect enough’ to cover what we do.  It is not morality that we adhere to; it’s a Faith in Him that we hold fast to.



The real test of religion, as Christ has taught, is does it make wings to lift people up or is it wings (as many religious groups are) that are dead weight that drag people down?  Very simply, does our Faith carry us or do we have the burden of carrying it? Jesus did not come to convict believers but rather to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and judgment.  God’s Law reveals our sin, but in our Gospel, Mercy and Grace reveal Him. The Grace of God is powerful because it reveals how to live rather than revealing our how we ‘miss it’ some of the time.  Jesus said His yoke was easy and light.  It is the yoke of a finished work.  The very thing that empowers us is the thing that so many in the modern church are afraid of: Grace. We will at the first sign of trouble, at our first chance, depend on our works to get God to do something for us.  It becomes a ‘if You will do this I will promise to do that’ transaction. We have a tendency to look at ‘our walk’ and see that it is not what it should be all the time, perhaps most the time.  Our mistaken response is to set ourselves at work, mending it as best we can, improving it if possible, only to find ourselves back where we began: inadequate at best.  That process frustrates us and should frustrate us. That frustration should cause us to search out the Grace of God. Anything but that Grace is a strange doctrine according to Paul’s Spirit-inspired scripture.  Performance and works are strangers to grace and mercy.




Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians while in prison. However, each is a celebration of joy. Why was he joyous?  I think Paul answers that in Philippians: he had been found by God, come to know Him, experienced the power of His resurrection, suffered His sufferings (sufferings for his faith, more akin to persecutions because of his Faith, rather than having had a bad cold), died with Him, been raised with Him and was looking to Christ’s return.




Paul had come to know that, if there is any gain in this life it is to gain Christ. Christ was the central focus of Paul’s life. He should be the central figure of our Faith. It is Christ we must grasp.  It is a simple formula: keep Christ the center of our Faith, not you or your neighbor as the center of your Faith.  We will be tempted away from that simplicity. We can be turned and look at what others are doing as evidence of God or No God.  We can be enticed to try and solve our problems by making this Faith one of morality, turning our Faith into perfecting the flesh at the expense of the Spirit.  To discover Paul’s truth is to be empowered to live out the Christian life in practice.  In the book of Ephesians, Paul speaks of being perfect, but he had no illusions about the flesh and it’s imperfection. Rather, to be perfect was to come to the place of maturity in ‘Christ learning.’  There is nowhere else to go from that truth.  That is not to say that if we read Paul’s teachings alone, and only those teachings, we need no other instruction. It is to say that as we read and study all the other scripture we will come to the conclusion that Christ is ‘all in all.’ He is the full deal, the finished work — we are not and never will be!

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