Touché August 11, 2017

Is Work Enough?

“What do people get for all their toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?”  Ecclesiastes 2 v 22

I am looking forward to sharing with you this Sunday. We will be praying for Karen and all the volunteers leading VBS this week and continuing in Ecclesiastes, looking at ‘When Work is Not Enough’.

As I’ve been preparing, Read more »

Touché August 4, 2017


The Wisdom after Wisdom

“Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

I grew a beard so I could preach from Ecclesiastes.  I spent a week in the wilderness away from Read more »

Touché July 14, 2017


Your Money and Your Life

“Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)

I didn’t get out of town fast enough.  Next week Read more »

Touché July 7, 2017


Girl Power

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.  Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”  (Proverbs 31:30-31)

Biblical feminism are not two words we often Read more »

Touche June 30, 2017

Re: The Moment of Meeting
…..rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.  (Proverbs 8:31)
This picture reflects the focus of our week– delighting in the human race in the face of William Carleton.   See you Sunday when Proverbs 8 opens us up to God’s original blessing.

Read more »

Touché June 23, 2017

Water is Thicker than Blood

“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is Read more »

Touché June 16, 2017


 Now We Thank God for Sheryle

“I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3)

Sung to the tune of Now Thank We All Our God: Read more »

Touché June 9, 2017


With One Voice

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!”  (Psalm 92:5)

Kate Valdivia will do great things for worship and music in the kingdom of God.  She has been our Director of Music Ministry for three years and I have been in awe of her grasp of music, liturgy and worship.  She will conclude Read more »

Touché June 2, 2017


From Africa to Odyssey

“In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, “Acts 2:17

This Pentecost Sunday we will celebrate a special needs ministry in Zambia.  We will also be raising funds for a special needs ministry in the USA.  The promise Read more »

Touché May 26, 2017


Tattoo You

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19)

We have some beautiful tattoos on the women joining the church this Sunday. That is a good thing. One is a reflection of her profession as a veterinarian, another is Read more »

Touché May 19, 2017


The Ridder Run

“And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”                                      (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Pray for our Ridder Church Renewal Team as we meet for the last time in retreat with Read more »

Touche May 12, 2017

Will Our Children Have Faith?

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.” (2 Timothy 1:5)

It is my pleasure to introduce our new Children’s Ministry Director, Karen Shogren. Our searchteam headed by Denise Hayes and Kim Scoralick, including Matt and Lauren Fitzgerald, Shireen Gilbert, Kurt Knoernschild and Stephanie Reynolds presented Karen to consistory as the candidate they felt could best lead our Children’s ministry in this next season. Consistory approved their recommendation on Tuesday night. We will celebrate Sheryle Silvern’s ministry on June 19. She will be finished on June 30 and Karen will take over July 1. The month of June
they will be working together to make sure of a smooth transition.

Karen comes with incredible credentials. She has been a teacher in our Sunday school since 2001. She has volunteered at VBS for many years. She has been a leader in youth ministry and youth missions throughout her time at Hopewell. She has been a confirmation mentor five times. She is a Kids Hope mentor and a Stephen Minister. She plays in our Bell Choir. She has been a member of Hopewell since 2000. It was in her time here that Jesus became more than just a name to her. She was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and was faithful in attendance in her
upbringing, that faith became personal through worship, ChristCare, missions and more, when she came to HRC.

She is currently getting a Masters in Social Work and is working with middle school kids in her internship. She has a Master of Science in Elementary Education and is a certified New York state teacher. She has organized and implemented a children’s summer camp at Taconic Retreat Center. She is a nature educator for elementary school kids, a soccer coach and club organizer. Her family has paddled the Boundary Waters Wilderness area when her kids were in diapers. (I added that to her resume, most impressive to me.)

She comes with a great resume, a great spirit and great energy, but her success in this ministry is built around our families. She needs the support, encouragement and faith formation that comes from the family. The Apostle Paul picks up on this when he speaks of the young disciple Timothy. This is my text for Mother’s Day and a biblical reminder that our children have faith  as their parents have faith.

Maybe that is the last piece on Karen’s resume that was not listed. I told my wife that Karen had applied and Cathy said “she has an awesome kid.” Cathy teaches her daughter, Miriam, in 11 A.P. English. That is what I hope is listed on the resume of HRC, “awesome kids of faith.

Touché May 5, 2017


Foundational Worship

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” (Colossians 3:16)

In 2005 we reshaped Read more »

Touché April 28, 2017


The “1” in 167

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:16-17)

Will we worship is not the question.  Who, what, where, when, how and why we worship is the question.   For the next five weeks at HRC, we will Read more »

Touché April 7, 2017


A Bombshell Lands in Hopewell

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. (Ephesians 4:4-6 MSG)

On Tuesday evening Read more »

Touché March 31, 2017


Psalm 91

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” (Psalm 91:1-2) Read more »

Touché March 24, 2017


Creating Congregational Cultures of Generosity II

“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Shurawl, Mason, Michelle, Wesley, Cyndy and I will not be joining the generous walkers raising money for clean water around the world.  As many Read more »

Touché March 17, 2017


Classis-Up Close and Personal

“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3)

It is the best of times to have classis here. It is the worst of times to have classis here. To pivot Read more »

Touché March 3, 2017


What Are You Taking On For Lent?

“I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.”  (Psalm 4:8)

The Doobie Brothers in the 70’s lamented on an album cover: “What Were Once Vices are Now Habits.”  Lent is the season of forty days to Read more »

Touché February 24, 2017


Aaro and Umar

“Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah.”

                                                                                                (Genesis 25:8-9)

Ishmael and Isaac lived apart their whole life until they came together to bury their father.  I don’t know that the conflict between these two competing sons was buried with Abraham, but their conflict is as intense in our day as that day.  The religion of Read more »

Touché February 16, 2017



“A generous person will be enriched, and one who gives water will get water.” (Proverbs 11:25)

Does it pay to be generous? Proverbs says it does. Sociological studies say it does. Whether that comes from being less greedy and satisfied with what one has, or a return on investment that sees resources grow as giving grows, does not really matter. Generous people live longer, happier, healthier lives. Read more »

Touché February 10, 2017

Twitter Touché

“Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.”                                                                   Habakkuk 2:2

President Trump must have read Habakkuk when he decided Read more »

Touché February 3, 2017


Winter Wednesdays @ the Well on Worship-February 8, 15, 22-7:00-9:00 PM

In October, the Consistory set up a task force to look at worship at Hopewell.  We stated a goal of Read more »

Touché January 27, 2017


Core Values-Love

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”                                                                                                  (1 John 4:7)

“All you need is love.”  That’s what The Beatles sang, but it didn’t work so well for them.  Yoko Ono broke Read more »

Touché January 20, 2017



I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  (Philippians 1:20; NIV)

I finished a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer the night before the inauguration.  Bonhoeffer was a preacher in Read more »

Touché January 13, 2017


Cleaning Up Our Messes

“Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”                            (James 5:16)

Last week we looked at “getting naked” with the first core value of authenticity.  This week we look at the core value of “integrity.”  Integrity is Read more »

Touché January 6, 2017 (Epiphany)


Core Values-Authenticity

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

“Can I be honest?” – that phrase is intriguing.  Does it imply that up to that point Read more »

Touché December 16, 2016


Christmas Coffee

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Psalm 122:1)

Nelson Nieves and Ann Bell have been working all week getting the sanctuary cleaned for Christmas.  They found a long lost diamond earring and Nelson thinks he may have also found Jimmy Hoffa.  They polished Read more »

Touché December 9, 2016


What’s A Deacon to Do?

“In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.  They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” (1 Timothy 3:8-10)

Nelson Nieves is our new sexton.  We rejoice! But that also means he needs to step off the Board of Deacons.  He was in charge of Buildings and Grounds.  He cannot be his own boss so we need to find a new deacon.  Nancy Geysen has served her term and is stepping off as well; therefore we need to name two new deacons.  I invite you to submit names of people you recommend for those who oversee our mission, money and maintenance.  The current deacons are Mason Johnson (Head Deacon), Harvey Jennings and Cynthia Gerber.

The Reformed Church in America Book of Church Order describes it this way:

“The office of the deacon is one of servanthood and service representing Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit. In the local church deacons are chosen members of spiritual commitment, exemplary life, compassionate spirit, and sound judgment, who are set apart for a ministry of mercy, service, and outreach. They are to receive the contributions of the congregation and to distribute them under the direction of the consistory. The deacons give particular attention and care to the whole benevolence program of the church. They have charge of all gifts contributed for the benefit of the poor and distribute them with discretion. They visit and comfort those in material need and perform such other duties as the consistory may assign them.”

Consistory will meet on Tuesday to consider whom to invite to this high and holy calling.  You can make your recommendations on your Connection Card on Sunday, or by hitting reply to this e-mail and letting me know.  The Liturgy of the RCA encourages you well, stating: Everything in the church will be done decently and in order when faithful persons are called to office, and responsibly fulfil their charge.

Thanks for your prayerful consideration for these positions.

In Christ,


Touché December 2, 2016


Christmas Giving

“Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)

Last weekend was great at HRC.  We received nine new members on Sunday.  Saturday we sent out a bunch of guys Read more »

A Thanksgiving Touché November 23, 2016


Together Again at 7 PM

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)

It has been a few years since we have had an ecumenical service in Hopewell.  With a new priest at St. Columba, he recommended that we get together for Thanksgiving.  So tonight Read more »

Touché November 11, 2016


What About When Love Doesn’t Win?

“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.”                                                                                                                                        (1 Peter 4:8)

One of the last times I was with Jeff Munroe was in the Trump Tower in Chicago on Memorial Day.  A generous donor to Western Seminary Read more »

Touché November 4, 2016

For All the Saints

To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  (Romans 1:7)

Steve Dambra and I left our Ridder retreat yesterday to go be with Jim Collins and his family Read more »

Touché October 28, 2016


Ode to John Barach

“Well done good and faithful servant!”  (Matthew 25:21)

Ode to John (Sung to the tune-Ode to Joy by Beethoven-Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee)

John our sexton is retiring

We are grieving, he is blessed. Read more »

Touché October 21, 2016


Missional Living

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Jesus)

“We are on a mission from God” (Elwood Blues) Read more »

Touché October 14, 2016


The Twelve Disciples

“And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles.”

Confirmation is coming early this year.  We began Wednesday night and we will go through Easter.  The Sunday after Easter, we will celebrate Read more »

Touché October 7, 2016


A First Rate Preacher in the Third World

“The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.” (Psalm 46)

Dave Bast has preached from Times Square to Timbuktu.  This Sunday he preaches in Hopewell.  I traveled with him through Niger as HRC supported a Words of Hope radio studio in Maradi.  He has been to Read more »

Touché September 30, 2016


A Reflective Life

“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” (Mark6:31)

Last weekend, I spent time with guys from the church along with my son at the Northeast Men’s Retreat. We went through the weekend with Rembrandt’s famous Read more »

Touché September 23, 2016

Lost in the Catskills

 This is a guest Touché by Wesley Joseph, who will be preaching this Sunday.

Crouching under a ledge barely deep enough to keep the rain off, with a scraggly spruce in front of me to block the wind, I waited for the sudden thunderstorm to pass over. I was between Lone Mountain Read more »

Touché September 16, 2016


$20,000 in Two Weeks

“We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us:….the giver in generosity.”  (Romans 12:6,8)

Our fiscal year ends September 30.  That means we have two Sundays left in our giving for this year.  We need to see over and above Read more »