Not too long ago, my wife and I caught a live streaming event from the Reagan lectures at the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College.2 I was particularly interested in the lectures that night because the main speaker was the Rev. John Boyles, the pastor to President Reagan during his two terms. I learned that night that President and Mrs. Reagan transferred their membership from Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Hollywood to the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. He did this because of his lifelong conviction, instilled into his soul by God through his mother, Nellie, to be connected and involved in the fellowship of local believers.
It would have been very easy for the president of the United States to say, "My membership is back in Hollywood; once I'm finished with this gig here, I will return to my home church." Yet that is not the testimony we heard from Rev. John Bowles. President and Mrs. Reagan became actively involved members until he felt that his own involvement in public worship was a nuisance to others and a distraction from the worship of Jesus. The pastor and other pastors then would go to the White House to conduct worship there. Still, Ronald Reagan believed in the fellowship of the local assembly of believers, and that brought him great joy.
On his first Christmas address to the nation, he wanted to speak of the divinity of Jesus Christ and to be able to bring that message especially to people behind the Iron Curtain who could be listening through the Voice of America. In fact, he did so that night. The next day, The Washington Post printed his Christmas address, but apparently and intentionally left out the first opening paragraphs—those with the paragraphs which spoke of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, who miraculously had come into the world.
Rev. Boyles was upset that The Washington Post expunged what he felt was the president's obvious intent to get the message of the gospel out to the world; so he wrote a letter to The Washington Post, and his letter was published in…the church newsletter. He was surprised when he received a handwritten letter from the president of the United States, one of his parishioners, thanking him for standing up for him. He had learned about what Rev. John Boyles had done because the president of the United States not only read the great newspapers of our cities and the cities of the world, but took the time each week to read his own home church's newsletter.
When he wrote his pastor, he thanked him for his stand. He also said words to this effect: "Pastor, I hope I never will let you down or the church. I hope I never bring any embarrassment on you, the church or our Savior as I do this job."
Many people who knew Ronald Reagan characterized him as joyful. When he finished his term as president in the people's house, he returned to his home in Bel Air, California. You know what happened: He transferred his membership back to his home church. He believed in a local assembly of believers, and it would be a minister from that assembly who would conduct the services of the funeral of the 40th president of the United States of America. His joy came, in great part, not only from his fellowship with his bride, Nancy, but from his fellowship with the Bride of Christ, the church.
Michael Milton. "The Joy Of Fellowship In The Church" Preaching. Sept/Oct 2013