Obituary: Tom Green / Christian television program producer

UPDATE: I’m getting a lot of traffic from searches for Rose and Tom. Please leave a comment or shout out here. I’d like to see where you all are coming from. It might also be nice to turn this into a tribute page for Tom, Thom and/or Rose (even though she’s not dead yet 😉 – Hmm maybe I’ll do another post for her and put up a few pictures from 20 years ago 😉 I think I might have one or two of her at Creation ’86 with a towel wrapped around her head).

Also, if you are just looking for the song “Forty Brave Soldiers”, here’s how to get it…
(This links directly to I don’t get a cut or anything like that. You’ll exit my site when you hit buy now…)

Thanks to the generosity
of Candy Green and the Green family, we are now offering “40 Brave
Soldiers” for download (mp3). Proceeds will benefit, which is
dedicated to preserving Tom’s memory. We accept Visa, MasterCard, American
Express, and Discover. Thank you.

I came across a friend’s obituary again today. I thought I would post it. Tom Green was a good man. Set a good example and lead a life that lead others. To him, I was probably just some teenager he knew by name from a church he visited off and on and went to retreats with. But he’s one of the people that showed me early what a successful life truly meant…

I was already in a bit of a weird mood since I was looking at three somewhat related websites and trying to figure out what I thought of them. One is Slacktivist, another is BadChristian, and another is Anabaptist Monk (which has two mirror urls that are censored for nudity at the office for some reason I do not understand he’s a baptist preacher after all…). Discovered in that order. They’ve in this whole subculture of liberal Christians and I’ve been trying to decide where I come down one each of their sites.

I gave up on that for the night and moved on to trying to find an mp3 or a track of Tom Green’s song “Forty Brave Soldiers”. I’d really like to sing it in church or at least hear it a few more times if I can’t get an accompaniment tape. So, I stumbled across his obituary again. I’d found it out of the blue about a year ago and it was a bit of a shock. The shock tonight was less, but I’m still shocked at how strong an emotion it pulls out of me.

I still think about Tom on occasion as as another person that was equally influential in my early life can be heard on the radio every morning Rose (Somma) Tennent co-host with Jim Quinn in their “war room” She actually helped put Lightmusic on the air. I guess I feel protective over Rose as I considered her, and still do though we haven’t spoken for two decades, a very close friend. She was one of our youth group’s (The Cornerstone Crusaders) leaders and a good person. Some of Quinn’s attitudes and demeanors are not, shall we say, founded on intellectualism. I think Rose could do, and deserves better. I’m always melancholy when I listen to their morning show. So I usually don’t. But like I said, I’m a bit over-protective.

Oh jeez, I went out to to find a picture of Rose and found out that someone else I knew just died in a car accident. Thom Hickling, co-creator of light music and the man who hosted “His Place” from 1989 to 2003. You can read about him here:

Now, Lightmusic was nationally sindicated and was one of the driving forces of Christian Music as it is today. Some of you may have heard of Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith? They can, in part, thank the chocolate chip cookie loving Tom Green for their success. If you haven’t heard of “His Place”, that might be expected, it was more of a Pittsburgh thing as far as I know. I sort of missed out on it as I was away at college for the first few years it was around…

OK, I just saw that the song is available for 9.99 from Candy (Tom’s wife. Nice woman.) I listened to the first 15 seconds. That’s all I can do right now. It’s the kind of song that makes your hair from your arms all the way to the back of your scalp rise, and your heart catch in your throat even when you aren’t giving it your full attention.

I’m going to bed before anything else even more emotional happens…

For Tom Green, one of the brave soldiers:
Obituary: Tom Green / Christian television program producer

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

By Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Tom Green, 55, a creative force and lovingly scathing critic in Christian media, died Friday after heart surgery in New Zealand, where he has lived since 1997.

Mr. Green was a longtime producer for Cornerstone Television in Wall, where he was best known as the host of the “Lightmusic” video show. He was also a co-creator of “His Place,” a soap opera and talk show set in a diner.

With his wife, Candy, he wrote and recorded many songs, including “Forty Brave Soldiers,” a Christian radio hit about Roman soldiers who were left to die on a frozen lake because of their faith.

“Tom was a groundbreaker, both as an artist back in the late 1970s and certainly as one of the pioneering Christian music video shows,” said John Styll, president of the Gospel Music Association. “He was a real innovator who took chances.”

Born in San Francisco, Mr. Green in the 1960s ran the lights at the Troubadour, a club on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. Many of the elite folk and rock artists who played there also came to see the art theater that Mr. Green produced.

After moving to Vermont, Mr. Green, who was Jewish, became a Christian, along with his wife.

“They almost instantly became Tom and Candy Green, the guitar-strumming evangelists,” said Thom Hickling, a friend and co-worker.

After their first child was born, Mr. Green became head of the theater department at televangelist Jim Bakker’s ill-fated Heritage University in North Carolina. They entered that world of clean-shaven Southern evangelicals as “a couple of hippie types from the Jesus movement,” said Roger Wilson, a close friend and co-worker there and at Cornerstone Television.

Mr. Green was never comfortable in the evangelical media industry.

“He didn’t care about fund raising and making a commercial appeal to the donors. Tom wanted to make good television that people who didn’t love God would be willing to watch and maybe it would have an impact on them,” Hickling said.

Cornerstone Television received complaints that he ran secular videos like Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise” on “Lightmusic.” Mr. Green insisted that Collins’ message about homelessness was biblical. After the show was nationally syndicated in 1985, not-yet-disgraced televangelist Jimmy Swaggart threatened to pull his preaching from any station that carried “Lightmusic.”

“[Mr. Green] was on the cutting edge of contemporary music, not afraid to disagree with [the president] or the general manager or anyone about what we had to do if we wanted to reach young people,” Wilson said.

In 13 years, Mr. Green produced more than 3,000 episodes of “Lightmusic.” But he complained that too many evangelical hits sounded like last year’s secular hits with the name “Jesus” inserted.

“The difference between art and propaganda is often blurred in Christian videos,” he wrote. “Propaganda tells us what to think. Art allows us to come to truth on our own. Propaganda keeps everything easy. Art forces us to confront issues that we perhaps would rather not think about.”

“Lightmusic” won three consecutive Billboard magazine awards for best Christian music video show, but in 1997, Mr. Green was offered the opportunity to run a pioneering Christian station in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The Christchurch station did not feature preachers. It ran old American sitcoms like “Leave It to Beaver.” Mr. Green produced specials designed to make the faith appealing in a highly secular society.

When the station was purchased by American evangelicals, Mr. Green believed that his creative wings would be clipped. He left to produce independent videos. While he was preparing for a working trip to Antarctica, a physical revealed a leaky heart valve.

There was a lag of months before surgery, and he was extremely weak by the time of the June 30 operation, Hickling said.

During his last days, New Zealand was hit by the coldest blast of Antarctic air on record, Candy Green wrote.

“At the time of his dying we were not only praying for Tom but we prayed for the peace of Jerusalem and peace in the world. Our children had spoken forth great words of faith and prayers of healing for their father. It is now our prayer that these words were caught up with this blast of air which takes 10 years to travel around the world. I am going to be looking for answers to these prayers.”

A local memorial service is planned for sometime in August. Details will be posted at

In addition to his wife, Mr. Green is survived by two daughters, Shoshanna Hill of King of Prussia, Montgomery County, and Hadassah, at home in Christchurch; two sons, Joe and Nate, both of Christchurch; his mother, Dottie Green of California; and one grandson.

Ann Rodgers-Melnick can be reached at arodgersmelnick or 412-263-1416.

Date Sunday, July 06 @ 09:00:38
The Fourth of July 2003 was Tom Green’s Independence DayBy V. Glen Megill
Tom Green, former host of the award winning Christian music program LIGHTMUSIC, died Friday (New Zealand time) in Christchurch, New Zealand from complications following open heart surgery. July 4, 2003 was Tom Green’s Independence Day.

After surgery on Monday to repair a leaking heart valve, Tom’s heart could not be restarted. There was no option but to keep him on the heart-lung machine, and the prognosis became bleak. (Pictured: Tom Green).

As news reached the US, friends around the world covered Tomand family with a blanket of prayer. Finally on Wednesday morning his heart began to beat with the help of a pacemaker, and everyone rejoiced. During this time Tom’s mother and daughter, Shoshanna, were able to travel from the US to be at his bedside. Tom’s heart was beating, but he was not out of danger.

Wednesday and Thursday Tomwent on and off the heart-lung machine. He was not able to sustain sufficient blood pressure for a long period of time. After a series of ups and downs, Tomlost the battle Friday morning. He had never regained consciousness following his surgery.
Tom’s father had died in his early forties from a genetic heart defect. Ten years ago Tomdiscovered he carried the same defect and had a heart valve replaced. This recent problem was only revealed during a physical examination in preparation for a trip to Antarctica to film a documentary.

Tom Green and his family have lived in Christchurch, New Zealand for the past seven years where he had worked for a Christian television station, and as a freelance filmmaker. He was born in 1947 and is survived by his mother Dottie, wife Candy, and children, Shoshanna, Joseph, Nathan and Hadassah. The birth of his son Joseph’s first child just two months ago had made him a grandfather for the first time.

Tom Green was a pioneering music missionary. When some saw Christian rock music as rebellion, Tomsaw the gospel translated into a new language. Contemporary music was a language that many people in darkness would listen to, and Tomembraced this new opportunity to share Jesus with missionary zeal.

Tomcreated LIGHTMUSIC, the groundbreaking contemporary Christian music program, featuring music and videos for a dark world. He produced and hosted over 3,000 daily half-hour broadcasts in over thirteen years with Cornerstone Television and received “Best Contemporary Christian Music Video Show” honors from Billboard Magazine for three consecutive years.

B.E. Taylor, LIGHTMUSIC music director remembered, “Some people thought Tomwas radical. He just didn’t fit into the norm — but God called Tomto radical ministry. He was called to take the gospel into streets of darkness. When we received letters from people on the verge of suicide that were alienated from the church, it was powerful! That is what Tomwas all about. It was simply about being obedient to God and letting God use you.” (Pictured: LIGHTMUSIC Music Director B.E. Taylor with Tom Green).

Gregg Cooper, cameraman and creative consultant to LIGHTMUSIC said, “A long time before the term ‘seeker sensitive’ was even mentioned, that was pretty much Tom. He would reach out to people that were alienated from the church. That was Tom’s ministry.”

Tom Green’s remarkable personality had a powerful impact on many people. Rose Somma Tennent former co-host and associate producer of LIGHTMUSIC said of Tom, “The relationship I had with Tom Green has become the yardstick by which I have measured all subsequent friendships. Tomwas unique in that he was one of the few people I know that had a gift for identifying talent in others and encouraging and aiding its development. Some people seek to be large by diminishing those around them. Wiser men become large in the shared gifts and talents of their peers. Tomwas a wise man, but he didn’t think so, and that was part of his charm.”

Gregg Copper added, “Tomwas really good at helping people soar to their God-given potential, and he was just always there for us. That was one of the most difficult things in going through this. Tomwas always there when we needed him, and when he was going though this most difficult time, he was in New Zealand and we couldn’t be there for him”

Friend and colleague, Thom Hickling said, “Many people know Tomas a broadcaster, but Tomwas also an accomplished musician. Tomand his wife Candy recorded about thirteen albums, including the powerful and moving ballad ‘Forty Brave Soldiers for Christ’ that was recorded in the late seventies and still receives much airplay.”

Only God knows how many lives were impacted by this contemporary Christian music pioneer. The impact of his untimely death will undoubtedly ripple through the lives of many more. Tomproudly carried the torch for Jesus to a dark world and has now completed his assignment. I am grateful his path crossed mine. I will carry that torch with renewed energy. Only God knows how many lives were impacted.

Tom Green ended each show saying,” God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” God loved Tomand had a wonderful plan for his life, and we are very grateful Tomfaithfully answered the call.

B.E. Taylor served as music director for LIGHTMUSIC and is currently a recording artist and performer living in Wheeling, West Virginia. He can be reached at:

Gregg Cooper was a cameraman and creative consultant to LIGHTMUSIC and is currently production manager for Orchard Hill Church in Wexford, Pennsylvania

Rose Somma Tennent was co-host and associate producer of LIGHTMUSIC and is currently a radio personality and co-host of “Quinn and Rose in the Morning” WRRK-FM, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Thom Hickling was formerly with Cornerstone Television and is currently a journalist living in Baltimore, Maryland. He can be reached at:

LIGHTMUSIC was produced at Cornerstone Television located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cornerston TV

Additional information on LIGHTMUSIC and Tom Green will be posted at Light Music Tv

“13 years of Christian Video: Enough Already?” (an interview with Tom Green)
Crown Vider

“My Favorite Christian Music Videos” (an article by Tom Green)

V. Glen Megill is Director of International Outreach for the World Bible Society He also serves as president of the Rock of Africa Mission, an outreach to sub-Saharan Africa. Glen can be reached in Huntington Beach, CA at

This article comes from Christian-Connection
http://www.christian-connection.orgThe URL for this story is:


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.