For almost two years, Rev. Dr. Stephen Hendry and Ven. Rich Jones have been going into the recording studios of a Christian radio station in Woodstock once a week to record a 30-minute program known as Oh, For Heaven’s Sake.
“We started out with a 15-minute interview of one of the local clergy followed by 15 minutes of discussion on a topic or issue which we chose,” Rich said.
“We invited our listeners to e-mail in with questions or ideas that they wanted us to talk about. Listeners asked such questions as ‘What do I say to a friend at a funeral of a loved one?’ and ‘If you had 15 minutes with the new pope, what would you ask him?’ “
The radio station approached Steve, the rector of Church of the Epiphany, Woodstock, and Rich, who was archdeacon of Brant/Norfolk and Oxford until the end of 2015, with the idea of hosting a show. Previously, a Pentecostal minister had a half-hour show on the station, but he moved away and the station was looking for new local content.
The radio station gave Rich and Steve’s show a time slot of Wednesday at 6 p.m. Soon, however, the station staff realized the show was getting a great response from the listeners and so they aired it again on Fridays at 6 p.m.
Months later there was an opening on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. and the station staff decided that Oh, For Heaven’s Sake would fit with their programming for that slot as well.
The style is conversational and light with more than a few laughs, yet it covers some serious topics.
Rich and Steve do not always agree and often explore topics from different perspectives, but always with respect.
When they do interviews, they ask three main questions:
Please tell us about your call to the ministry you are currently doing.
What sustains you when times get tough?
Where are you seeing God at work these days?
Beyond these interviews, Rich and Steve are open to a variety of topics.
Often they enter the studio with only a sketch of a topic in mind; sometimes they have notes and quotes.
Using the lectionary Scripture readings for that week, church seasons, and news headlines, they always have something to talk about.
Discussions range from theological understandings to matters of everyday life. They’ve talked about everything from meditation, to new life in retirement, to planning for a church wedding.
They’ve had vernacular reflections on salvation, sanctification, worship, christology, biblical history, and ecclesiology.
People of faith in the Woodstock community often have little or no opportunity to think about these things, especially from an Anglican perspective. There have even been comments by church leaders from other denominations about how helpful Oh, For Heaven’s Sake has been in their journey.
“People have come up to me and asked me about the topic of a recent show, so I know folks are listening in,” Rich said.
“It also means that what we say on air needs to be honestly what we think and believe, because people who know us are hearing what we say and may call us on it face to face.”
“Or they will talk to our wives about what we said, and that can be more serious,” Steve adds in the bantering style common on the show.
There are several good reasons for doing this ministry. While HOPE-FM is a Christian radio station, the show reaches people who may not go to church services or have any church connection at all. So there is an evangelistic component to this.
All in all, these two Anglicans talking on an evangelical Christian radio station enjoy doing the show each week.
“It’s more like play than work,” Steve said. “We get to discuss the things that we are passionate about. What could be more fun?”
HOPE-FM, which is at 94.3 on the dial, has a very small broadcast range, so mostly only people near Woodstock can listen on air.
But people outside its range can listen in online by going to hopefm.ca and clicking on the “listen live” button during the broadcast times.
The station recently asked Rich and Steve, who hold the copyright to the program, to allow the show to available “on demand” on the website so that listeners can tune in any time they wish. That service is expected to be set up soon.
With ownership of the copyright, Steve and Rich hope that program’s material can eventually be used in other settings as well.