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OPC Presbytery of Philadelphia
Wendell L. Rockey, Jr.
Take Wendell Rockey.
This retired OP minister has lived at Quarryville for four years, but his schedule is full. When I visited the retirement community in November, Rockey calculated he had preached seven times in the last ten weeks. It's a robust pace for a man set to turn eighty-nine in January. Rockey is accustomed to robust ministry. The father of four served five OP congregations before moving to Quarryville in 2008. His beloved wife, Trudi, died in June 2011, but his ministry continues. He volunteers as chairman of the community's residence council. He provides pulpit supply at area churches. He preaches twice a month in Quarryville's chapel services and once a month in the skilled nursing unit. "There's a lot of need around here," says Rockey, "and a lot of opportunity." As Rockey and other retired OP pastors at Quarryville seek opportunities for service, the OPC's Committee on Diaconal Ministries (CDM) seeks to encourage the pastors. Rockey is one example of an Obadiah who has served the OPC for decades. He was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1924-twelve years before the OPC's founding-and grew up in New York. After graduating from high school, he worked as a messenger and proofreader at a law firm on Wall Street. By 1942, Rockey had enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He served as a radar operator on a destroyer escort during World War II. Those convoys took Rockey as far away as North Africa, but his most significant experiences happened closer to home. Rockey would go on to pastor four more OP congregations and serve as director of Deerwater Bible Conference. He also served as his presbytery's secretary of home missions. He especially enjoyed church planting, and he was grateful for a congregation that supported him after the loss of his first wife. First OPC in Hamilton, Massachusetts, called the widower with three young children as its first pastor. "Can you imagine the kindness to do that? he asks. Rockey also enjoyed nurturing college and seminary students, and introducing them to the doctrines of grace. These days Rockey continues to nurture the community at Quarryville with the same biblical principles that undergirded his ministry for fifty years. Rockey was thankful for the unsolicited gift from the Obadiah Fund, and says it's a reminder that sessions should discuss financial needs-including retirement plans-with their pastors. It's a discussion Rockey never had with his elders. That left him with substantial needs and led him into full-time work for the U.S. Postal Service while serving full-time as a pastor. He's thankful the Lord used his work in both areas to provide for his needs, but he encourages sessions and presbyteries to be more proactive. For now, Rockey is thankful that his needs are met apart from outside help, but he finds the unexpected gifts encouraging: "To experience the love of God and the love of his people-you give thanks for that."
Church Profile and Vision Statement
By 1964, the church had been received in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, had purchased a church building in Hamilton, Massachusetts, and had called its first pastor, Wendell Rockey.The church experienced slow but continued growth over the years under the leadership of Rockey and two subsequent pastors, Kenneth Ironside and James Kern, until by the mid-80s we had clearly outgrown our limited property in Hamilton.The first pastor, Wendell L. Rockey, Jr., was called in 1964.His first wife died shortly before he came to us as pastor with three young children, Linda, Margaret, and John.Elder Grady Spires later brought him in contact with an engineer from Boston, Trudi whom he soon married.The two later had a son, Mark.With space for classes being very limited in the church building, the Rockeys graciously opened their home, the manse located next door.Wendell led the church through its early years during which the fledgling church experienced modest growth in numbers.He left in 1975 to pastor an OPC church on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.