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Monthly Archives: February 2007

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!