Dr. Ron Burgio:
A Leader’s Leader
by Kyle Patterson
It was the year 1971 when Ron Burgio was serving as a medic in the army at Ft. Mead, MD when he committed his life to Christ. Through the witness of a couple of friends, Burgio made the decision that would forever alter his life and immediately felt a call to ministry. What he didn’t know was how God would use his passion for Christ to influence thousands around the world. Forsaking the acceptance letter he had received from Duke University, Burgio choose the road less traveled and went to a small Bible school, Elim Bible Institute in Lima, NY. But Burgio never looked back, and like Robert Frost, it has made all the difference for him.
Shortly after finishing school at Elim and then Roberts Wesleyan College, Burgio felt the call to return to Buffalo, as Co-Pastor of Williamsville Christian Fellowship, a church that
meets on Saturday nights. It was during this time that Burgio began developing a love and passion for reaching Buffalo. While his services were held on Saturday nights at Williamsville Christian Fellowship, Burgio found himself praying and interceding for other churches and pastors on Sunday mornings. This, Burgio explained, grew into a passion to partner with other churches, and he formed a habit of praying for other churches every Sunday morning, first in his quiet time, now a tradition that continues to this day where he currently pastors–Love Joy Church in Lancaster, NY. Attend Love Joy, where Burgio now presides as Lead Pastor, and you’ll see that the habit God formed in him in the early days of ministry is still something he practices. He has his whole congregation, some 500 members and adherents join him praying for ministries, churches, and business people that may have nothing to do with Love Joy, but play a role in what he describes as the bigger picture– reaching our region for Christ. This type of mindset, Burgio explains, is something God impressed on him back in the day of small beginnings and something he continued when he took over as lead Pastor of Love Joy Church back in 1984. “I still remember it, the first Sunday (at Love Joy back when it was located at Clinton and Bailey) I was up for early morning prayer, I was on my knees and the Lord spoke to me out of the blue and said, ‘Ron, will you continue to pray for your friends in the city?’ And I chuckled because I felt the Lord was saying to me, “Are you going to view other churches as competition now or will you pray for them,” and I made a commitment that day to pray for them,” explained Burgio. Shortly after that, the Lord spoke a second time to Burgio, this time in a vision of a Buffalo street map, “I actually saw this in a vision, gazing at it I began to see homes and then people walking around on the streets of Buffalo and the Lord spoke and said, ‘Ron, let us work together to win Buffalo for Christ,”’ and when he said that, I knew he didn’t mean just me, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I knew he meant me and all the other churches in the city. He said again, ‘Ron, you used to pray for them, now you are one of them.’”
Through the years, Burgio has never taken his eyes off of his call of working together to win Buffalo for Christ. His close ties to Bishop Tommy Reid at The Tabernacle in Orchard Park, along with his friendship with Dr. Robert Stearns of Eagles’ Wings, and Al and Deb Warner of Set Free Inc. among many others, keep his finger on the pulse of the spiritual awakening he believes is coming to our region. Love Joy is also a frequent conference host to Eagles’ Wings River Conferences, held twice a year in Western New York. Additionally, Burgio has opened up Love Joy in the past for monthly all night prayer gatherings, something he, Stearns and Al and Deb Warner, have been pioneering in Western New York for years. While unity for unity’s sake doesn’t amount to much, Burgio is passionate about reaching Western New York for Christ and taking action on that, going so far as bringing into town Tommy Zito Ministries, a Miami, Florida based evangelism ministry that served as a catalyst to get his church involved in active street evangelism resulting in over 2,500 people giving their lives to Christ through the ministry at Love Joy since 2006. Additionally, Love Joy has a strong outreach to the campus of UB through a ministry called BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ) reaching out to students weekly. Burgio and his wife Rev. Judy Burgio, parents of four grown children, serve full time together in ministry at Love Joy with their son Jonathon, a full time college campus minister and frequent speaker at youth events.
Dr. Burgio is frankly, a leader of leaders. His vision for Love Joy is to advance the Kingdom of God in Western New York by changing lives to follow Christ. Burgio’s goal is to raise up leaders and workers to do the work of the ministry. Dr. Burgio along with his leadership team supervises a team of lay leaders who direct the ministries of the church. Since taking over as Lead Pastor of Love Joy in 1984 the church has grown from a weekly attendance of 25 to over 500. Along with other key pastors in the city of Buffalo, he gives visionary leadership to the region. He and his congregation support missionary families and organizations around the world, both in prayer and in finances, and he often travels to minister to missionaries, pastors, leaders and churches. Besides ministering in various cities in the United States and Canada, he has traveled to eleven countries in Asia, Central America, Africa and the Middle East. He is the author of Living in the Spirit of Revival. Burgio is ordained through Elim Fellowship and has a Doctorate of Ministry from the School of Bible Theology.
Dr. Burgio also serves as the President of Elim Fellowship, an association of a thousand pastors, ministers, missionaries, and over two hundred affiliated churches.
Aside from ministry Burgio enjoys time with his family, sports, and the history channel, something he jokingly says is what he is getting his next degree in. Find out more about his ministry at www.lovejoy.org or better yet, stop by on a Sunday morning.