Philip Bongiorno will retire this year as superintendent
of the Pennsylvania-Delaware District of the Assemblies of God after
24 years of service. During his administration, the district has grown
from about 270 to 360 churches and from approximately 600 to 850 credentialed
ministers. District support of Assemblies of God ministries, both at
home and overseas, has also grown dramatically. Bongiorno directed the
district in the development of its conference center, loan fund and
new administrative office building. He spoke recently with Scott Harrup,
EVANGEL: As you leave your district ministry,
what are your plans for continued service?
Ive always said that preachers never retire, they just change
venue. I want to be out there preaching, helping our young pastors and
perhaps traveling overseas. Ive received invitations from Ghana,
Burkina Faso and other areas of Africa, as well as South America and
Europe. I went to our familys homeland of Italy almost 20 years
ago and would love to return and minister there. I will also continue
as chairman of the Pennsylvania-Delaware District Loan Fund which I
helped establish about 20 years ago. Its done very well, and we
lend funds to churches across the district. So I plan to stay active.
EVANGEL: You and your wife are preparing to celebrate
your 50th anniversary in August. Any advice for young people starting
BONGIORNO: Its important that they
start off on the right foot in regard to their relationship with God.
When you have the right relationship with God, you can have a right
relationship with one another. Its important that couples pray
together. I emphasize that to all our ministers, that husbands and wives
should pray together and then pray with their children. The family altar
is too often a forgotten thing. But its important, and not just
at mealtimes and at bedtimes. Parents need to listen to their childrens
prayer needs and hold them up in prayer and study the Word with them.
When these things are maintained, we will relate better to our children
and they will confide in us when they face problems. Finally, we need
to set an example as parents for our children. It doesnt do a
whole lot of good to go out and save the world if youre going
to lose your own family.
EVANGEL: What encouragement would you offer to
a young man or woman preparing to enter the ministry?
BONGIORNO: The primary goal should be to
develop character and integrity. Anyone going into ministry needs to
be completely honest with God and with himself/herself. They need to
recognize Gods specific calling in their lives and then apply
themselves to prepare for that calling. I believe God gives us special
gifts. If youre able to be a pastor, then be the best pastor you
can possibly be and train yourself in every way possible to enhance
Pray, study, read all that you can read. Know God,
know yourself, know your calling, and give yourself faithfully to that
calling whatever it may be.
EVANGEL: As you look at the world in which your
grandchildren are growing up, what is your prayer for them?
BONGIORNO: Janette and I have our private
devotions each morning, and then have devotions together. One of our
main prayer emphases is our seven grandchildren. We have five beautiful
granddaughters and two handsome grandsons, and Im fearful sometimes
for what they will face. We pray for them every day, that they will
never allow their faith in any way to be diluted. We pray that they
will always focus on God and the spiritual things they have learned.
The spirit of this age is the spirit of evil, and our children and grandchildren
need our prayers.
EVANGEL: Where do you see the Assemblies of God
heading in the 21st century?
BONGIORNO: I see good things. We can dwell
on negatives all we want, and there is certainly some concern about
the leveling off of our growth in the United States. But thank God for
the growth that is taking place around the world. My prayer is that
we will see in this country the kind of revival and growth taking place
overseas. As we rediscover the spiritual priorities of our forefathers,
I believe we will experience that growth. Salvation by the blood of
Jesus Christ, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the preaching and teaching
of the Word of God these must be our priorities. We need to seek
after holiness. We need to perpetuate the wonderful Pentecostal message.
We need to reject the spirit of this age. As we honor God; He will honor