by AT Staff

Tony Romeo, pastor of the Historic Manhattan Seventh-day Adventist Church, is used to controversy. Adventist Today reported on him and his willingness to use unconventional methods to catch the attention of people who might be interested in what his church has to offer. [June 8, 2012] Unconventional, that is, to “church people”—very conventional in the world Romeo comes from. He worked for many years in marketing and public relations before becoming a pastor, and is often frustrated at the unwillingness of many in the church to use the skills of people like him in outreach ministry. “If they don’t know you’re there, you’re not there!”
We thought it was time for an update. Especially since his latest event seems likely to bring him some more controversy from some in the church. This Sunday, July 21, in partnership with Pathways to Housing, NY, the Manhattan church will be hosting a Variety Show. The poster (sent in Reach-NYC’s email newsletter) says, “Join us for a terrific afternoon of entertainment! Musicians, comics, poets, artists, exceptional talents!”
Here is an excerpt of Romeo’s description, both of the event and of the reason for it:

One of the goals of REACH-NYC, is to connect with members of the community, who are doing good things for others. One such group is called "Pathways To Housing NY" a non-profit organization providing housing and services here in New York City. The connection was made via one of the talented and local individuals who shared their music at a 911 Memorial Service that was held at Historic Manhattan Seventh-day Adventist Church last year.
Pathways To Housing NY, is having their Variety Show this year on Sunday, July 21, 2013, at 4:00 p.m. in the community room of Historic Manhattan Seventh-day Adventist Church, 232 West 11th Street, NYC, and it would be great if you could help make this event special, by attending.
This is a group that is helping individuals find affordable housing in the most unaffordable cities in the world, New York City. The work they do is needed and a vital part of helping people. . . .
In a city with so many needs, Historic Manhattan Seventh-day Adventist Church is happy to support their work.

Romeo goes on to delineate some of the other offerings of the church and invite people to join in. This particular letter mentions Wednesday night Bible studies and five separate AA groups, as well as weekend services. The church also has small discussion groups, vegetarian cooking classes (received with acclaim in a city whose mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is controversially active on health issues). Romeo’s “bandwidth” on the liberal/conservative spectrum may be exemplified by two recent events: This spring, the church hosted an evangelistic series by Ted Wilson, President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Romeo also took part in a Blessing of the Animals ceremony with an ecumenical group nearby, including a Native American, a Buddhist, and a New Age spiritual leader. For his part, Tony explained the creation story as he sees it, and said that God made the animals for us to love and be loved by.
It may be that Romeo and the church will come under fire—again—for this variety show, which is likely to include jazz and tap dancing. And it is true that he sometimes feels discouraged. However, those who are drawn to Christ through this ministry, including artists and musicians who are often underserved by traditional “talking-head” church services, will cause rejoicing in heaven. AT salutes Reach-NYC and all who volunteer their time and effort in this attempt to reach hearts for the Kingdom of God.

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