About Messiah’s Congregation

Messiah’s Congregation is first and foremost a Reformed Church [1] and within that blessed tradition, the Word of God is at the center of all that we endeavor to do. It is our three-fold purpose to glorify our Covenant Lord by faithfully representing His Word [2]: from Messiah’s pulpit and in our corporate Worship; within the homes of Messiah’s families; and in witness and ministry to the community in which He has placed us.

Messiah’s Doctrinal Standards

The Belgic Confession of Faith
The Canons of Dordt
The Heidelberg Catechism

Council and Staff

Steve M. Schlissel — Senior Pastor

Steve Schlissel has served as pastor of Messiah’s Congregation since 1979. Born and raised in New York City, Schlissel became a Christian by reading the Bible. When Jesus said that everyone who hears His words will give an account for his response (Matthew 7:24-27), Steve took it seriously and sought the mercy of God through Jesus.

Steve and his wife Jeanne were married in a synagogue in 1974 by a rabbi and a priest. You had to be there—they marched down the aisle to an organ arrangement of Led Zeppelins’s “Stairway to Heaven.” The Schlissels homeschooled their five children (who now range in age from 28 to 39), and also helped raise several foster children (mostly Vietnamese). In 2003, they adopted Anna (who was born in Hong Kong in 1988, but is now a U.S. citizen). They have 8 foster grandchildren and eighteen “natural” grandchildren, and likely more on the way!

Nicholas Kozak — Pastor, Messiah’s Congregation – Maine

Born and raised in a Ukrainian Catholic Church in Pittsburgh, PA, Nicholas is now the pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Oakland, Maine where he ow lives with his wife, Lori, and six children, Kaiya, Naomi, Isaiah, Priscilla, Jeremiah and Lydia. It was because of our Lord’s compassion and forgiveness that Nicholas was first called to live consistently as a Christian through the witness of a friend (Craig Brann, son-in-law of Rev. Schlissel).  Then, through his study of the Reformed Faith, the Lord brought Nicholas to Messiah’s Congregation and has pressed upon his heart the dire need in the broader church for men devoted to Reformed Ministry.  Nicholas currently volunteers at the local municipal hospital ministering to the sick, spent two years regularly Exhorting the Chinese congregation at New Life Gospel Church (under the aegis of Messiah’s Council), and works as a Manager for an international coffee retailer.

Anthony Venetian — Elder

Anthony lives in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn with his wife Zulaika, and his children Joshua, Angelina, Antonella, Eli, and Santiago. Although Anthony was raised a Roman Catholic, by the mercy and grace of God he was saved and called to live a life of faithfulness through the witness of a coworker. Anthony is an Engineer with a communications firm.

Craig Brann — Deacon

A native of rural Maine, Craig moved to the metropolitan area in 1996 to study Jazz Performance. After his first visit to Messiah’s in 2002, he was immediately taken by the unabashed preaching of the Word as well as the ‘hand to the plow’ ethos of Messiah’s broader ministries. He has served as an Assistant to Rev. Schlissel since 2003 and as a Deacon since 2010. His fifth international release as a bandleader, “The Twelve,” is available from SteepleChase Records (2019), and he also works as the Brooklyn Field Manager of Right-of-Way and Engineering for a communications firm. He married Rebeccah Hope (née Schlissel) in 2004 and they have four lovely children, Tehilah, Irving, Verdinah, and Dorothy.

Ministerial Affiliates

Rev. Paul T. Murphy — Pastor, Messiah’s Reformed Fellowship of Manhattan

Rev. Paul T. Murphy was born in Rome, Italy (1953) and came to this country when he was three. He was raised in an Irish-Catholic neighborhood in the Bronx, N.Y.C.. Although he was an altar boy in the church and attended regularly until age 14 he did not know Jesus Christ personally.

From an early age he searched for Truth and the meaning of life. A college degree in philosophy brought him no closer to the Truth. He pursued a career in deep-sea diving and underwater construction that took him all around the world as he continued the search for Truth. This searching also was vain. At the age of 29 he was confronted with the claims of Jesus Christ. Thinking them foolishness he sought to refute Christianity with the teaching of secular philosophy. The Lord broke down the barriers of his heart and captivated his life. The Truth had found him! Now like the apostle Paul this Paul can say ” to live is Christ.

Prior to coming to Messiah’s Reformed Fellowship, Rev. Murphy pastored Dutton Independent Reformed Church, Dutton, Michigan.

[1] Messiah’s Congregation is a Reformed Church in the Continental Tradition as represented, not only by the Reformed Church of the Netherlands, but the broader Continent as exemplified in our Standards (The Three Forms of Unity), particularly the Synod of Dordrecht wherein the Netherland Churches were conjoined by delegates from some 27 other nations.
After a period of roughly a decade as a Particular Church in the CRCNA, with good reason according to the Word of God—which has preeminence in all doctrine and life—Messiah’s parted ways with the denomination. However, this was not an autonomous or unilateral departure.
Messiah’s was maturing in two directions. First, growing in appreciation for the broader Church as it was well-represented by godly Officers in other ostensibly reformed and presbyterian churches—while forming healthy friendships with the same. Messiah’s also grew in appreciation for the work of Rev. Klaas Schilder, who played an instrumental role in articulating the responsibility of the Local Church to faithfully represent and defend the Word of God, which in turn clarified the Reformed Churches’ existing polity, placing the Local Church at the center with Broader Classes/Synods comprised of delegates from neighboring-churches to serve the Local Church and ensure the her well-being.
In keeping with Messiah’s appreciation for the broader church as well as the primacy of the Local Church, CORO (Covenant of Reformed Officers) was adopted as an ad hoc classis comprised of Officers from diverse reformed and presbyterian churches covenanting to serve Messiah’s according to the Order of Dordt and the Word of God, should classical assistance be required, as in Ordinations, Excommunications or Appeals of any sort.
[2] In keeping with our Standards, it is our goal to understand the Word of God as it was intended and applied to the times in which we live, waging war against sin wherever we are confronted by it. By not identifying the Papists, Arminians or Anabaptists as our primary theological enemies we do not deny the faithfulness of our fathers for faulting and correcting those errors some four centuries ago; not at all! We laud and applaud them. However, in the post-christian West of the 21st Century, we find ourselves confronting the antithesis in greater epistemological self-consciousness with the Twin Whore-Daughters of the French Revolution, Evolution and Eve-olution (egalitarianism/feminism) as were so ably identified by our Reformed father, Groen van Prinsterer, more than a century ago as “Unbelief and Revolution,” and further developed by R.J. Rushdoony to be rooted in Man’s desire to reject God’s blessed Covenant Law-Word in satanic pursuit of autonomy and antinomianism.

We’d love to hear from you!