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Movement.org, LEAD.NYC Host 34th Pastors’ Prayer Summit

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By Tom Campisi

Bishop Joshua Rodriguez, the senior pastor of Cityline Church in Jersey City, was a keynote speaker at the 34th Pastors’ Prayer Summit at Tuscarora Inn and Conference Center in Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania.

Before he spoke on the topic of “Radical Justice,” Rodriguez paid homage to the impact the Pastors’ Prayer Summit had on him as a young minister.

“I’m grateful to God for the amazing history of this prayer gathering,” he said. “About 30 years ago, one of my mentors, the late Dr. Luciano Padilla, said, ‘Joshua, you need to come with me.’ ”

“[At that Prayer Summit], we fasted on Tuesday morning and had a long time with the Lord in our rooms. I had a life-changing experience that resulted in the planting of a church in Gibraltar. Powerful things happen in these gatherings.”

Hosted by Movement.org and LEAD.NYC on January 22-24, the Pastor’s Prayer Summit (PPS) included 275 attendees from New York City, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other cities across the United States. Dr. Mac Pier, the founder of Movement.org and Concerts of Prayer Greater New York (the original host of the PPS), opened the summit by reflecting on how spending 48 hours together to seek the Lord can be transformative.

“Thinking back over the last 35 years, I’ve been struck by the fact that the things that we pray for in this room have changed the world,” he said.

“In these days together, we do four things: We pray together. We worship. We take communion. And we build friendships. And God uses those four elements to change the world.”

Dr. Pier cited the growth of Movement Day as an example of answered prayer. Movement Day was founded by Pier; the late Dr. Tim Keller, renowned author, and the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan; and Bob Doll, President, CEO & CIO of Crossmark Global Investments, Inc. The first Movement Day, held in 2010 in New York, brought together church and marketplace leaders to catalyze a city gospel movement.

Since Pier and Keller cast the vision for Movement Day, it has expanded from one city to 500 cities around the world; Over the next month, Movement Day events will be hosted in four locations across the Middle East.

“Radical Encounter” was the theme of the 2024 Pastors’ Prayer Summit. Keynote messages in the five general sessions focused on “Radical Holiness,” “Radical Worship,” “Radical Justice,” “Radical Gospel,” and “Radical Prayer.” Each general session featured personal and small group prayer times and Lectio Davina impactful reflections from the Book of Isaiah led by Marya Pier, a Bible Study Fellowship Leader in Queens, and Joshua Miles, Managing Director of Movement.org. Lectio Davina, a way of allowing God’s word to “read us” as we contemplate before Him, was introduced to the PPS by Marya Pier this year.

RADICAL HOLINESS

In the first session, David Ireland, founder and lead pastor of Christ Church in Rockaway and Montclair, NJ, preached from Isaiah 35:8, exhorting the pastors and ministry leaders to pursue radical holiness: And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the highway of holiness.

“You must choose holiness…because all of us are one decision away from a scandal,” Ireland said. “If we don’t make the right decisions, year after year, decade after decade, then we are going to find ourselves on the ash piles, alongside of our fallen brothers and sisters in Christ…”

“Choosing holiness guarantees your safety. It guarantees the arrival to your God-ordained destination. Remember, our destination is not to build big churches. That has never been the goal. The goal is to be more like Jesus; to be conformed into His image.”

Consistent Bible reading is paramount to being conformed to the image and Jesus and pursuing radical holiness.

“I have to read the Bible so it keeps reading me,” Ireland said. “I have to read the Word so it keeps judging me and challenging me to evaluate my motivation, my conscience, my actions, and my treatment of others.”

Practicing radical holiness is a lifelong calling, that never ends despite ministry accomplishments and length of service.

“Radical wholeness invites us to finish well. Finishing well is your assignment.”

RADICAL WORSHIP

“Do I have the heart of my father to see every nation sitting at His table?”

Those were the words of Rev. Steve Milazzo, lead pastor of Bethlehem Assembly of God and founder of Hope Day. Milazzo challenged PPS attendees to step out of their comfort zones and seek unreached people in their communities who may be different than the demographics of their congregations.

“God has always had a passion for the nations,” said Milazzo, whose church includes people from 52 countries.

“Jesus said, ‘My house will be a house of prayer for all nations’ (Mark 11:17). [That means] all people, all ethnicities, all tribes, all languages—anyone who is thirsty, anyone who’s hungry, anyone who’s desperate, anyone who is honestly seeking God.”

“I want to worship side by side, hand by hand, with people who are different than me because this is what heaven is all about.”

RADICAL JUSTICE

Bishop Joshua Rodriguez shared from Isaiah 56:6-7 at the beginning of his message about radical justice:

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

“This is the kind of fasting that God desires,” Rodriguez said. “Not ritualistic humility, but actions that break the bonds of injustice.”

Bishop Rodriguez said there was a disconnect, In Isaiah’s days, between what God’s people knew and what they practiced. He suggested to the PPS attendees that their theological framework on social justice might also need some modifications, especially in light of the words of Jesus in Matthew 25:35-40 (“I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty…”)

“The question,” he said, “is what will we do with the least of these?”

The Radical Justice session also included insight from Matt Andersen, executive director of Star of Hope Ministries in Paterson, NJ, and Doug Goulding, director of the New Canaan Society’s Paterson chapter. The men shared about what it looks like when community organizers come together to see kingdom justice happen in Paterson.

RADICAL GOSPEL

Rev. Gabrielle Beam, the leader of Mary of Bethany Anglican Mission and Saturate Bridgeport (Conn.), shared about the role of united prayer in impacting her city.

Beam recalled meeting Pastor David Beidel (Saturate New York) at a previous PPS, and how the Lord used that connection to enable her to form Saturate Bridgeport in 2021 and give out Bibles and Christian resources as Christians “from every denomination, race, and creed” came together to prayer walk and evangelize.

Beam said the mission statement of Jesus found in Isaiah 61:1-7 is also our mandate: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor…

“We have the privilege of being a manifestation of the fulfillment of the call of Jesus,” she said.

RADICAL PRAYER

The first part of the Radical Prayer session focused on reaching the next generation.

Vandalyn Kennedy, Chairlady of the International Youth Department of the six-million-member Church of God in Christ, shared a message about how it took a village to raise the Prophet Samuel. She led the PPS in prayer and attendees commissioned themselves into the priority of that space.

“He’s deputizing you today into youth ministry….You have something that this generation needs,” Kennedy said.

The PPS concluded with a message from Charles Hammond, who has served as an assistant pastor at Brooklyn Tabernacle for the last 35 years and as the former Vice President for Church Relations & Dean of the Chapel at Alliance University.

“Pastor Hammond has been integral in leading the prayer meeting at Brooklyn Tabernacle over the last four decades. It’s one of the great prayer meetings in American history,” Mac Pier said.

Hammond preached on Isaiah 62:6-7:

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.

“You and I are the watchmen on the wall,” said Hammond, who called Isaiah 62 a picture of persistent and radical prayer.

After sharing several testimonies about the power of prayer in his life and at Brooklyn Tabernacle, he challenged the pastors and ministry leaders at the summit to continue to cry out to the Lord for their churches, their families, the unsaved, and the nations.

“Brothers and sisters, God wants your churches to be lighthouses. And He wants it to start with radical prayer,” Hammond said. “Doesn’t your heart ache over the sick world we are living in? The violence, the moral decay, the political turmoil, the racism…the list goes on. But God is not speaking through the clouds. He wants to use every one of you. He’s looking for you and I to be radical in our prayers.”

REGIONAL PRAYER ROOMS

One of the highlights of the PPS was a Tuesday afternoon breakout session where attendees prayed in regional prayer rooms: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Staten Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and National. Other breakouts included a seminar for emerging youth leaders; a Christian education session with Dr. David Schroeder, president of Pillar College, and Dr. Ron Walborn, director of Urban Initiatives, Asbury Theological Seminary; and sessions led by Compassion International, Saturate New York, Hope Day, and Lamb Insurance.

With economic justice as one of its themes, Movement.org was able to secure $60,000 in scholarship money to enable some pastors from the Bronx and Paterson, NJ to attend the event. The PPS included an information seminar with Crowe Beacon, a consulting firm that helps churches become economic hubs. The Crowe Beacon Initiative will create funding opportunities for businesses in low-income communities and unite church, community, and political leaders to address critical issues.

Tuesday night, communion was led by Pastor Tom Mahairas of Citivision, the founder of various ministries, including Manhattan Bible Church, Manhattan Christian Academy and Transformation Life Center in Upstate New York. Mahairas, a founding board member of Concerts of Prayer Greater New York, hosted the first PPS at Transformation Life Center in 1992.

At the summit, Movement.org acknowledged the passing of beloved former board members Rev. David Hernquist (Van Nest Assembly of God), Bishop Ron Bailey (Love Gospel Assembly), Pastor Tim Keller, and Luciano Padilla (Bay Ridge Christian Center).

Another long-time leader in New York City and a former Concerts of Prayer Board member, Bishop Roderick Caesar, was honored at the PPS for the impact he has made during a lifetime of service. Bishop Caesar served as the senior pastor at Bethel Gospel Assembly (now Foundations Church) in Jamaica, Queens, from 1984 to 2017.

“As the people of God, one of the greatest things we can do is learn the worth and the value of prayer,” Bishop Caesar told PPS attendees. “Prayer is our most underutilized weapon. We don’t pray enough. If we realized the power that is released through our prayers, we would pray without ceasing. Prayer needs to be an integral part of our lives and our ministries.”

PPS sponsors included: Crowe, Historical Bible Society, Daniel Buttafuoco and Associates, Asbury Theological Seminary, Compassion, Tuscarora Inn and Conference Center, Lamb Insurance Services, Hope Day, Pillar College, The Mission WMCA, and Haiti One by One.

PASTORS’ PRAYER SUMMIT PHOTO GALLERY: