october 11, 2023


Last week in the Reflection I offered some blessings and things I am grateful for about Coolwater.  I ended it with to be continued. So here we go, with more about what I am grateful for at Coolwater.

One of the great joys I have experienced is the opportunity to work weekly with Sonya Tinault on worship. Each Sunday morning I confer with her on pictures to include in the sermon presentation.  I find pictures at home and bring them in on a flashdrive.  Sonya and I then talk through the images.  I value her input about which pictures fit best on Sunday mornings. 

Sonya has a unique talent for creating amazing worship displays.  We regularly see her creative talents as she decorates the communion table for weekly worship.  Give Sonya a theme or an idea and prepare to be amazed with displays that draw you into the spirit of worship.  Displays that fit the theme and the message in ways that are visually stimulating and help the worshipper reflect.  Sonya also utilizes the wall behind the communion table with extraordinary effect, as well as other parts of our worship space.  

On a much bigger scale, Sonya’s amazing talents designed the sets for the Drive-thru Nativity in 2021 and 2022. Those stations were marvels to behold, and made the Drive-thru Nativity a rich, meaningful experience. I am in awe of her creative talents that brought the scenes to life.  I will always remember the extraordinary sight of the angel in the air by the shepherds and the elegance of the wiseman’s tent.  

The people of Coolwater.  I could go on for pages and pages about this blessing.  In short, we have built a bond that is unique.  We have known the blessing of being church people who care deeply for others.  Church people who look to be involved in service and compassionate, caring ministry.  

I have been a part of Coolwater since January of 2008. My time at Coolwater has concluded with the unexpected experience of being a pastor of a congregation once again.  I am grateful beyond words to express for the opportunity to serve Coolwater in this way.  This journey with Coolwater has been a blessing to my faith. It has been a rewarding and affirming experience for me as a follower of Jesus and as a pastor in Christ’s service. I have been blessed by you in so many ways. 

On Sunday “What Coolwater Means to Me” featured Mansoor Rowhani and Dick Huggins.  Mansoor’s words told about his own remarkable faith journey to being a believer in Christ.  Dick offered an extraordinary reflection about the experience of the Christian journey using the TV show Wagon Train as a metaphor for our journey together.  Yes, the Christian journey is both deeply personal and an experience that we share together.

As we go through life being a follower of Jesus, we touch lives.  We help to make a difference.  We will not see all the ways we have made an impact.  But we can know that our living and serving in the name of Christ has made a difference.  That is what we have done at Coolwater together.  That is what Coolwater has done for 20 years of ministry in the name of Jesus Christ.  That is what you will continue to do as you go to new places to live out the next chapter in your Christian journey.  And you go with all that Coolwater has helped you to become as a disciple of Christ.  Thanks be to God!



Pastor Rick

october 4, 2023


I am glad that we have had the part “What Coolwater Means to Me” as part of our last worship services.  So far, Sonya Tinault, Diane Foley, and Emmalou Nierman have blessed us with moving and heartfelt thoughts during worship.  Last Sunday Emmalou included communion in her reflections.  At the end she presented a gift to all in attendance.  The gift was a small communion chalice made out of wood. What a fitting remembrance of Coolwater, our Disciples heritage, and a vital part of our worship services as a congregation! 

I want to offer you an opportunity to share these final two Sundays in a unique way.  We will have a Coolwater Blessing wall.  There will be slips of paper, writing utensils and tape.  You are invited to write a special memory of Coolwater or a blessing in your life that occurred through some part of our life together as a congregation.  Write your thoughts on the paper and then tape it up on the wall. 

I have so much to be grateful for as I reflect on all the years I have been a part of Coolwater, and in particular, these last few years as the pastor.

So here we go, in no particular order. I am grateful for:

Karen Blue’s amazing newsletters each week, composed with such engaging and eloquent style!

Sonya’s table decorations that prepare our congregation every week for worship with visual effects to engage us and draw us into worship and the Spirit in our midst.

Singing and music at Coolwater with such wonderful musicians who have graced our worship space in homes, in schools, and in our building.  Their gifts on instruments and with voices have graced our worship in ways that only devoted music can.  Along the way, this music has especially involved the voices of the congregation members offering praise to God and creating wondrous moments in our worship together.

The joy of working with thoughtful and creative people who have developed some marvelous ideas. There is a joy when ideas pour out and come together.  Some recent examples are the team that planned our return to in person worship during covid and our monthly planning team to guide our mission and ministry.  

The flexibility and engagement in leadership and service by many people the people of Coolwater during these last 3 years and 9 months.  That flexibility and dedicated effort enabled me to do my full-time job teaching and serve with you as pastor.  

Paired with the above is the amazing way we worked together and the working connection we had established.  I had worked alongside you as a layperson for so many years.  There was a familiarity and trust that had developed through service together at Coolwater and friendships over those years.  That made it easier to step into a new role with you in those uncertain times of 2020 and beyond.

Sitting alone in the sanctuary on Sunday after everyone else has left, to enjoy moments to just be still and feel the peacefulness and sacredness of this place.  Cherished times to think, reflect and pray.

To be continued next week…



Pastor Rick


september 27, 2023




Here we are at long last - we are gathering for our final three Sundays at Coolwater.  They will all be significant worship services.  We begin these last three Sundays on October 1 by celebrating the blessing of communion in a very special and significant way.

In Disciples of Christ churches communion is celebrated every Sunday.  Communion has a special place in our worship, and many people would say that the Lord’s Supper is the heart of our worship service.  I learned long ago that Judy Cox and I share a passion for communion in worship and look forward to the first Sunday in October every year.  

The first Sunday in October is World Communion Sunday.  Christians of many different types will celebrate at the table of the Lord and recognize its importance in worship.  Many years ago the first Sunday of October was selected to be the day when Christians all over the world gathered at the communion table.  Symbolically this is a Sunday when we are gathered as many parts of the One Body of Christ.  This is a Sunday where so many around the world will give thanks at the table for the gift of Christ and the difference He makes in our lives.  

I am delighted that a few people will be helping make this World Communion Sunday so special this year. Rev. Carole Williams will be joining me in offering part of the sermon this Sunday.  Carole and I will be reflecting on the meaning of communion.  Ross and Emmalou Nierman will be sharing “What Coolwater Means to Me.”  Mansoor and Iliama Rowhani will bring a worldly flavor to the communion table.  Mansoor will say the words of institution in Farsi and Iliana will speak them in Spanish.

This Sunday we will gather at our communion table to share the bread and the cup in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ. In remembrance with Christians all over the world. In remembrance of who we are as Christians and as the church, gathering together in worship.  In remembrance as we give thanks for special people in our lives, in our church, and in our journey of faith in Christ. Thanks be to God!




Blessings to All!


september 20, 2023


September 24 features the fourth blessing of Coolwater in the Seven Final Blessings of Coolwater. This Sunday we are lifting up the blessing of music.  Music has played a rich part in the life of Coolwater Christian Church, as it also has in churches around the world.  Why is that?  I am certain it is because music is a universal expression of the human heart and soul.  Music conveys emotions and feelings that go beyond the ability of words to express. Victor Hugo wrote, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” 

Consider these words from “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” offering an expression of praise and worship to God: “Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace.”  The combination of this musical tune with the poetry and prose of the verses creates a profound expression of the desire to be filled with the grace and love of God.

It is fitting that Coolwater will celebrate music this Sunday.  Our congregation has been blessed with amazing musical talent over these 20 years.  In our beginning, Jenny Shirey shined as keyboard player and music leader.  Through the years we have had numerous talented music leaders and musicians involved in our worship. Among those leaders have been Kevin Glenn and Dwight Brewer. In our twilight we have been blessed with Dale Lamphear as the music director leading the Dynamite Band.

This Sunday offers a rich variety of music.  Traditional hymns and contemporary songs.  Pianos, guitars, and rumor has it, maybe even a banjo.  Lots of congregational singing when we all join our voices in song and praise.  Special music numbers by musicians and singers. An extraordinary piano medley by Dwight Brewer.  Jenn LaDuke and Lynn Allen offering songs Music by Dale Lamphear and the Dynamite Band.  Worship this Sunday promises to be a special musical delight to the heart and soul!



Pastor Rick

september 13, 2023


This Sunday is the third Sunday of our final seven Sundays.  This Sunday we lift up the blessing of family and being a church family together.  This idea of family will take on even more meaning for me this Sunday.  I have family coming to town and they will be at Coolwater.  My son, Chris, is traveling over from California.  My sister and her husband are coming from Georgia. 

Coolwater has been rich in family connections and family ties.  Through the years family relationships have been an important part of our church development and our church life.  Some people refer to a church as a church family.  Other people prefer the term church community.  However you view it or whatever you call it, a church body is unique. So unique that Paul writes in First Corinthians  12:27, “Now we are the body of Christ together.”  No other organization, group or company makes that claim.

Part of the life of a church is the living out of this statement about being the body of Christ together.  Like families, in a church there will be ups and downs, celebrations and sadnesses, cooperation and conflict. Paul himself started churches that brought him great joy and great distress and aggravation.  The greatest test of a church may be how Christlike the people are in living and serving together.  

On this Sunday, it is fitting that Jenn LaDuke will be presenting her thoughts in the “What Coolwater Means to Me” portion of the worship service.  Her family is one huge reason Coolwater even exists.  Many years ago, Jenn’s grandfather, Jim Cox, had a dream of a Disciples of Christ church in the north part of Scottsdale.  Jim and Judy Cox were part of the core group that worked with David Shirey to launch Coolwater as a new church start.  There are three generations of this family together in Coolwater’s history – the Cox family, the Pollack family, and the LaDuke family.  There are numerous families throughout the years that have also enjoyed multi-generational involvement at Coolwater.

Family connections are just a part of Coolwater like it is in most churches around the world.  One person or a family finds a place that seems to fit.  Then an invitation is given to others, often family members.  That sharing with family goes back to the earliest followers of Jesus.  In the Gospel of John Andrew heard Jesus first, then went and told his brother, Peter.  They were among his earliest disciples.

This is a time for Coolwater to celebrate our ties together.  Those ties have shaped us, our ministry, our service.  I am grateful for my church family.  You have been such a rich part of my life for many years now.  I have been blessed with opportunities to serve with you.  I have been shaped and molded in my Christian life by my experiences as a part of the Body of Christ with you.  I will be there on Sunday to celebrate with you and to give thanks to God.



Pastor Rick