Touché October 20, 2017


Practicing Transformation

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      (Philippians 4:8, 9)

You don’t need another sermon.  You don’t need more information.  You do need to practice what’s been preached.  You do need to turn information into action and to reflect on that action. This is the pattern of transformational learning.

We are halfway through our Fifty Days of Transformation.  Chris Mowbray will share transformation testimony this Sunday.  I hope all of us have a testimony to share and have collected some good origami.  Origami is not our goal, transformed lives are.

We have received information Sunday mornings, in our small groups and in personal devotions, but this information in and of itself is not transforming.  When we take that information and put it into practice, that is where transformation happens. This is a process outlined in the Ridder Church Renewal.  It requires three key elements: Information-Practice-Reflection.  It is what Paul is talking about in Philippians 4.  It is not enough to simply think about what is true, just, and pure. His final call is to put that into practice.  As we put into practice what we are learning, we reflect on the outcome of how that change is taking place.

The Fifty Days process captures this beautifully as each week we are invited to write down a goal that we will live into for the next three months, and have the opportunity to share how that is going with our group.  I pray that you are seeing transformation in key areas of your life.  Keep learning, keep practicing, keep reflecting.

It’s morphing time,


Guest Touche from Randy Prentiss

Hello friends! Greetings from Randy Prentiss!

I am thankful to Taylor for giving me this opportunity to write. I feel like the apostle Paul, as I say …

To the saints at Hopewell, I think of you with joy and fondness, when I remember my time with you, the joys and journeys we shared together, and the work I have seen God doing in you and through you all! To God be the glory!

For those who don’t know me, I had the joy of being on staff at Hopewell from 2001 to 2012. I currently work at the Taconic Retreat Center, near Red Hook.

Can I tell you about a struggle I’ve had? For years I experienced obstacles as I tried to be transformed and become more like Jesus. I struggled to overcome particular issues that I could not break through, even though I had asked God for help.

I’ve discovered that I was not alone. While at Hopewell I came upon the work of Peter and Geri Scazzero. While co-leading a successful church in Queens, NY, Pete and Geri saw that particular issues in their lives threatened the health of their family and their ministry. This launched them on a journey to discover what they now call EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY SPIRITUALITY. See This journey saved their marriage and their ministry. It has helped other believers as well.

“Emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable.” Peter Scazzero

Because I have seen the benefit of their work, I have invited two of their trained coaches to lead a one day retreat at Taconic Retreat Center. This retreat is a perfect complement to the 50 Days of Transformation you are currently doing at HRC. On October 22, Taylor will be preaching on Transformed in my Emotional Health. That very weekend we are having this retreat about emotional health and discipleship, at Taconic. Well, that’s interesting!!
I invite any and all of you to attend this one day retreat.


This retreat takes discipleship beyond head knowledge into Christ-like transformation. By integrating scripture, spiritual practices and self-knowledge, participants will discover healthy practices for discipleship that equip them to love God, themselves and others.

DATE: OCTOBER 21, 9:30am – 5:00 pm
PRICE: $95 includes lunch and materials.

People don’t need more to do; people need a healthier spirituality.

I have read their materials, and find myself working through them again. They offer helpful insights, practices, and wisdom. They have an approach to discipleship that is unique and genuinely effective. While not being fluff, this is not going to overwhelm you. The guidance they offer will help you to understand yourself, and has the potential to lead you into greater personal and spiritual freedom.

I invite and encourage any of you who are able, to attend this one day retreat. I invite you to invite friends. We are giving discounts to groups of 5 or more.

I hope to see you soon. If you have any questions, please email me at, or call me at 914-629-8943.

Yours in Christ,

Touché October 6, 2017

 From Stressed to Blessed

“He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:3)

Working with Rick Warren through these Fifty Days of Transformation, I recognize his genius.  He is simple, straightforward and practical.  He takes what we have heard before and gives clear application to life.  He does that this week as we talk about physical transformation applying the truths of a most beloved Psalm 23 to address our addictions to hurry, food, alcohol or any other coping mechanism taking us away from God.

John Ortberg in his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, tells the story of speaking with a spiritual director.  He asked, “What do I need to do to be spiritually healthy?”  After a long pause the director said, “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”  After a long pause Ortberg says he wrote that down and said, “That’s a good one.  Now what else is there?” He states, “I had many things to do, and this was a long-distance conversation, so I was anxious to cram as many units of spiritual wisdom into the least amount of time possible.”  Another long pause.  “There is nothing else,” the director said.  That conversation was transformative for him.

Transformation is a process of body, mind and spirit.  This week we focus on the body – doing those things that bring health to the body and restoration to our souls.  It aligns with the week that Steve Dambra, Mark Mast, Warren Jee and I will all be running the Hartford Marathon.  I have run Hartford one time before and, because of an injury, I had not trained well.  I thought I could do it without the work and, while I finished, at about the half way point my body crashed and I cramped and struggled through the second half.  This time I have put in the work and I am not injured.  I pray it pays off, but I know that at a certain point the will needs to carry my body.  I am asking for prayers at 11 AM next Saturday, October 14, because I anticipate that is when I will be operating on will.

Is there a place in your physical well-being that you need to think differently?  Our core verse from transformation comes from Romans 12:2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  If we are to act differently, we need to think differently. It could be in eating habits, in exercise habits, or in habits of rest and relaxation.  Your small group will help you think about those things this week as you look at “Six Reasons Your Health Matters to God.”

I set a goal to run this marathon and I needed to think differently to allow my body to get in shape and work through the tough times of training.  What is the goal you will set this week for work with your body?

Peace, Taylor

By the way- Mark Mast (our former Pastor of Outreach) will be pushing his son Kyle and raising funds for Mitochondria concerns. (Kyle and Courtney have a Mito condition.)  He has a goal for running four Marathons (Hartford, Amsterdam, Chicago, and New York).  You can give support to them here. (


Touché September 29, 2017


The First Day of the Rest of Your Life


“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  (Romans 12:2)

“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  I wanted that patch sewn onto my blue jeans when I was in high school.  I never got around to it, don’t know where the patch went, but I still like the saying.  As we embark this Sunday on Fifty Days of Transformation I pray that each of us moves into this season with that patch in mind.  It does not matter whether we are eight or eighty, God can still work new things in our lives.  I remember my favorite toast at a fiftieth wedding anniversary.  The aged groom raised his glass and said: “Here’s to a great start on a great marriage.”  Raise a glass for transformation.

We begin this Saturday with a 24 hour prayer vigil.  People will be praying for you round the clock.  Some of those folks will include fasting as part of that vigil.  On Sunday, we all begin the journey with fifty days of devotions, seven weeks in small groups and each Sunday a large group gathering focused on the theme for that week.  Here is the outline of themes for the next seven weeks:

October 1- Transformed in My Spiritual Health

October 8- Transformed in My Physical Health

October 15- Transformed in My Mental Health

October 22- Transformed in My Emotional Health

October 29- Transformed in My Relational Health

November 5- Transformed in My Financial Health

November 12- Transformed in My Vocational Health

November 19-Celebration Sunday

Each week will include a transformation testimony from a person on the journey, and we will conclude with a celebration on the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Thanks to the team headed by Janine Dolan and including: Ofelia Napolitano (prayer coordinator), Alan Willeford (publicity coordinator), Linda Smith (Gatherings coordinator), Wes Joseph (small groups and Foundations coordinator.)  Our youth and children are working through these themes as well thanks to Karen Shogren, Warren Jee and Sharon Batt.

Each week we will have the opportunity of transforming a piece of paper into an origami creation.  Cyndy Warren is doing this for worship and others will be helping you do this at a table in the fellowship.

Let the journey begin and here’s to the first day of the rest of your life.


Touché September 22, 2017

It’s Morphing Time

“The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him.” (Romans 8:29, The Message)

Our Faithwalking Retreat in Holmes is sold out for the weekend.  I will be Read more »

Touché September 15, 2017


Freedom Sunday 

 “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.” (Luke 4:18) 

 There’s been a lot of talk this summer Read more »

Touché September 8, 2017


Together in One Place

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.”  (Acts 2:1)

The start of the story of the early church begins when they are together in one place and the Spirit comes with tongues of fire.  The start of our ministry year begins this Sunday when we are all together in one place.  We will Read more »

Touché August 31, 2017

Help for Houston

“I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. “ (Psalm 69:2)

The devastating pictures from Houston are before us. Read more »

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 »