Known on the air as “The Reverend,” radio personality Cisco Cotto has decided to open a church in Oak Park, Ill.
After analyzing the 2010 U.S. Census report on the suburb, which borders the west side of Chicago, Cotto made a striking discovery. “I realized that 80 percent of people in Oak Park have absolutely no religious affiliation whatsoever,” according to the Chicago Tribune. “I specifically (want) to build relationships with the 40,000 people who do not belong to any religious background.”
His conservative talk radio program has attracted a flock of listeners, and his religious background includes studying at Moody Bible Institute. The decision to open a church for the “irreligious” people of Oak Park stemmed from his time at Moody, and the groundwork started after losing his radio show in July.
On his website, Cotto wrote, “Many of you know about my years of study at Moody. I felt strongly that God led me there for something specific (other than meeting my wife, though that was cool).”
Cotto describes his love and loyalty to the area, and describes the residents as “intelligent and engaged.” He feels strongly that opening a church for the 40,000 “irreligious” people in the community is his calling.
After working tirelessly in an evaluation process, the church-planting team at the Evangelical Free Church of America confirmed Cotto’s plans to launch and build Village Church of Oak Park last week.
Paperwork and planning are underway, and Cotto hopes to hold regular services by February.
Cotto admits that opening the church will not be easy, and has made it very clear that he is leaving behind his political affiliations.
“I think I am going to be labeled, ‘that guy who used to be the conservative talk show host,’ and that is going to be a significant barrier,” Cotto said to Trib Local. “Someone who is serving as a pastor should not be taking sides along a party line.”
“The fact is I am incapable. But God can get it done,” Cotto included on his site about his plans for Village Church of Oak Park.