John Amandola: A Lighthouse on Long Island

John Amandola Photo taken by Li Wang

“When I was in college I made a commitment to follow Jesus no matter what.  I felt that I wanted to make my life count. I was not interested in gaining wealth or accumulating stuff. I just wanted my life to result in benefiting others.”

This was a statement professed by John Amandola, 49, Pastor of Lighthouse Community Church in Merrick, Long Island, on his commitment to choose an unusual life.

Amandola was born in Astoria, Queens, New York, and was raised in Babylon, Long Island. He attended University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, majoring in Psychology. Upon following the call to obey Jesus Christ, Amandola attended Pheonix Seminary School, in Pheonix, Arizona, where he obtained his Master’s in Divinity. While attending Pheonix Seminary School, Amandola helped out with neighboring high school ministries, spreading the word of Christ. After 15 years of being involved in high school and college ministries, he and his family decided to return to his roots of Long Island.

“Well, I love Long Island,” he said, “I have been to a dozen countries and 46 states, and to me, Long Island is the best and most beautiful place in the world!  I have always had a burden to make a difference on Long Island. I long felt that there was a great shortage of churches here that are gracious, multi-ethnic, gospel centered, and that believed in doing justice.”

After packing up and moving to Long Island with his wife Caryn, and his three sons, Amandola met Justin and Sherry Varughese. The Varughese’s helped found and fund the church that is now known as Lighthouse Community Church. The name Lighthouse was chosen because of its relevance and meaning to the community. Lighthouses, being a way sailor’s found home, or in the sense for Amandola and Lighthouse Community Church, the way lost souls find their way to God.

The Lighthouse Community Church, or LCC, has made an impact on the Hofstra University Community, very much like it makes an impact on Long Island. If Hofstra students do not have a ride to attend Christian services, they are able to carpool with Amandola and other members of the church. Every Sunday, Hofstra students are offered car rides to attend a Christian service at the LCC. It started one day when an original member of LCC who was a Hofstra Student, invited fellow students to attend the LCC. Since then, transportation for Hofstra students has always been available. “[The church community] made an intentional effort to welcome them. We started having outings and inviting them to our home for home cooked Italian meals. The rest is history,” Amandola said.

Amandola is adamant that Hofstra students are a great part of the Lighthouse Community. “They are extremely enjoyable to associate with. They are intelligent, driven and ambitious. We are happy that we have many friends from the student body. What I love most is the energy and life they bring to our congregation,” Amandola explained.

Some Hofstra students and staff also feel the same way about Amandola and the church. “Personally Lighthouse is a family away from family. They ask you how you are, not out of courtesy, but because they care; and the next time they see you they remember you,” Li Wang, 18, graduate student, said.

“Amandola breaks the stereotype of New Yorkers being cold, he is just so loving and so caring,” Faith Rialem, 21, undergraduate student, said.

Rialem has attended Lighthouse Community Church for a little over a year, and praises it for its diversity.

Janine Hackman, 30, Director of Hofstra University Intervarsity, said, “He has a great talent in reaching out and really showing the love of God in tangible and practical ways.”

Amandola appreciates the love he feels from the Hofstra community for what he feels is his call in life. Although, he feels as though he has made progress in his community he still has goals for the community in the future.

Amandola wants to continue the LCC’s goal, which is to produce a greater community of followers of Jesus throughout Long Island. He feels that the LCC will be a benefit to the neighborhoods of Long Island.

-Tatiana M. Brown

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