Touché May 22, 2015
Posted on May 22, 2015 by under Touché,

The Colonel and His Bride

Gerry and Barbie Richardson are moving to Pennsylvania. This Sunday we will be saying goodbye to them in our Foundations service.  There are many transitions that take place at HRC and we do not want to slight anybody by highlighting one and neglecting another, but Gerry and Barbie have caused some significant paradigm shifts in my leadership and at Hopewell, and so I highlight these to honor them as well as celebrate new models of ministry.

Gerry and Barbie were both people on mission: they traveled to Ecuador, the D.R. and many other places working together, but I remember a particular return from a mission trip. Gerry had gone to Appalachia with Group Work Camps; he came back to Hopewell and during a fellowship time he came up to me and said: “we ought to do that here.”  I thought he was crazy- we could never handle two hundred high school students descending on East Fishkill, but the next summer Hopewell hosted a Group Work Camp in Dutchess County.  It opened my eyes to the poverty in our own area, and when the kids left and there were still homes to work on Gerry had the vision to start CMP so that the homes still needing to be finished could be completed.  It moved from there to a monthly time to rehab homes for those in need and is certainly a signature mission of HRC.  I learned from Gerry the leadership lesson of unleashing leaders and trusting them.  We are still living into the fruits of his vision.


Gerry was a deacon for one year, but he did not like sitting in meetings.  He came to me and said, “Let me resign from the board of deacons so that I can take care of the grounds around the church.” “Instead of hiring a contractor to cut our grass” Gerry said, “Let’s do it ourselves.”  He got a team together that included Mario Paolilli, who always called him the Colonel, and almost ten years later that group, with new additions, has saved the church thousands of dollars and given us a much higher level of grounds care.  Gerry taught me the lesson of putting people in their gift areas and letting them go.  We are still living into the fruits of that vision.  During his leadership of the grounds we got a permit to burn brush and Christmas trees in our great Epiphany celebration.  It was a combustibles idea that combined worship and practicality in a blazing way.

Barbie was a key member of Loving Stitches, taking the vision of Sheri Hondorp for a knitting ministry and giving it structure as she served as a leader in this ministry. This is a ministry that knits blankets, mittens and love for World Vision and nursing homes creating prayer shawls and other comforting items.

It is fitting as well that we say good bye to the Richardsons on Memorial Day.  Gerry graduated from West Point and his service to our country and Gerry and Barbie’s love for this country is something that we celebrate in their legacy, as their children have served this country as well.

Thanks Gerry and Barbie for all you have done.  We will miss you,

Gratefully from the Congregation,    Taylor