Nativity Farm Begins Building!

As the days get longer and warmer, the crew has been hard at work on Nativity Farm, gearing up for the Potluck Lunch and Garden Workshop on Saturday, My 21.

First, we had a wonderful Service Sunday! Kids drew plans, imagining what the farm might look like. They planted seeds for the garden and took some to grow at home.

After the seeds were planted, Courtney Steininger moved the sprouts indoors and outdoors, trying to make sure that they got adequate sun and water. Then Natasha Mast and Courtney constructed a “Hoop House,” a temporary greenhouse in the back of the fire station.

(Don’t worry! The firefighters at the BFD were very thankful that we let them use that area for so many years. They were happy to hand it back over as they prepare to move into their new home.)

Today, they started to construct the raised beds.

In the next couple of weeks, they will continue to construct the beds and move the mulch. If you would like to help before May 21, you can talk with Natasha or Courtney. Then, please join us for the Potluck Lunch and Garden Workshop.

Thank you, all! We are thrilled to see all the hard work!



Session Updates

The last time the session met, we welcomed Sarah Ryan and Bart Tyler as new elders. They will be tremendous additions to the church leadership.


Sarah has a lot of experience in real estate and interior design, so she is working with the property and maintenance committee. Her expertise will be invaluable as we talk with the town on a plan for a parking lot. We also discussed designing a space for parents to go with their children when they get restless. Currently, we have windows and speakers in the back of the sanctuary. We wondered if we could also have a comfortablechair or a place where moms could nurse their babies. Now that livestreaming is accessible, people could sit and watch the service on an iPad. Sarah will help with the design.


Bart has served on session in another church and as the Moderator for the Presbytery. As a part of BPC’s session, he feels particularly called to welcome new members and friends. As the previous co-owner (with Diana) of Kellogg’s and Lawrence Hardware, he understands the importance of becoming a part of a community and developing relationships with new people. To that end, Bart is starting a new Friends and Members committee. As we thought more about membership and attendance, the elders discussed the idea that the deacons have suggested—having a welcome table at the entrance of the sanctuary. We also talked about the importance of reaching out to inactive and former members.


We discussed the offerings that the church traditionally receives. We have a One Great Hour of Sharing offering during Easter that goes to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. We also have the Souper Bowl of Sharing, the fresh food drive, and the Christmas Eve offerings that support local missions. The elders really missed having the Children’s offering, so we discussed how we could have the children come back into the service at the end to collect it. The children typically decide where they want that money to go. We will begin the Children’s offering again the second week of May.


Speaking of children, Christian Education is in full swing!Sunday Spirit is meeting, and we have more children attending regularly. The confirmation class is a fantastic group, and you can meet them on June 12, Confirmation Sunday June 12. Because of COVID, we were not able to have the Bible Class for the last couple of years, so we want to extend the group of students from 3rd grade to 3rd through 6th grade.


The Mission Committee reported on how they would disburse their budget to Neighbor’s Link, Bridges, the Mt. Kisco Food Pantry, Rewarding Potential Scholarship, and ReSet.


As always, if you have any questions about session business, I’m always happy to talk with you!





Legacy Farm Grant

Last week, the Council of the Hudson River Presbytery approved the first installment of a Legacy Grant for Nativity Farm!

The first year of the grant is for $50,000 and it funds ministries that demonstrate partnership, hospitality, justice, passion, curiosity, honesty, joy, generosity, and inclusivity. It enables churches to transform through new visions of ministry and mission.

How did we get here?

When I first arrived at Bedford, the church said that they wanted to continue their anti-racism work. So, we invited Derrick Weston to lead us in a discussion on the systemic injustices of our food systems. We wanted to know how we could respond. Then on February 28, 2021, Rick and Natasha Mast presented the idea of Nativity Farm, a place for faith-based food justice education and activism. Since then, we have been working with Derrick to plan what that would look like. We want to

•Plant seeds—get our hands dirty as we work with one another and the land,

•Nourish people—use the farm as an educational tool to explore social and ecological justice, and

•Feed everybody—donate the harvests from Nativity Farm to feed people who are food insecure.

In this time, we have had a Second Sunday Soup event and a Service Sunday dedicated to exploring the idea with the congregation. I have preached about it and we have formed a steering committee. After a year of dreaming, hoping, and planning, the Hudson River Presbytery granted us $50,000. If we continue to develop the ministry, we can be eligible for two more $50,000 installments in 2023 and 2024. We will be using $30,000 of this year’s grant to help pay for Courtney Steininger’s salary, and we plan to use $90,000 over the lifetime of the grant. In addition to being a Christian Educator and Youth Director, Courtney has extensive experience with farming, and she will be handling the day-to-day operations.

Rick and Courtney are designing the space behind the firehouse, and soon we will can contribute to building beds, collecting food scraps, and tending the soil. So watch out for the work days that will be coming up.

We are incredibly grateful to the Presbytery for all that they have done for us. And we look forward to hearing your ideas and feedback as this new life and ministry spring up!



God is for us

During Lent, Courtney Steininger has been leading us through The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I don’t know how many times I have been through the book since I fist picked it up twenty years ago. I was a new pastor at a wonderful, struggling church. It was in a rural town in Louisiana, which had just lost the Hanes factory, a major economic force and source of employment for the community. I had one goal: I wanted to have a positive impact on six lives. It felt like a solid hope for a small church minister—at the end of my career, I wanted to be able to look back and name six people whom I had helped in some small way.


When I picked up the book, my world was tiny and manageable, but as I read, it expanded. I began to sense God calling me to something else. Not that I would leave the pastorate, but I knew that I would step into a creative life beyond what I could have imagined. Each time I have read it, something has shifted inside of me. My calling has transformed.


There is one powerful message at the heart of this transformation: God is for us. In our work, in our creative process, God moves through us, animating us. God created us and God wants to keep creating with us.


As a congregation, we are shifting as well. We have been discerning how we will come out of this pandemic. What will we do with our new understandings of racial injustice and environmental devastation?  How do we respond in the face of the destruction in Ukraine? How do we understand God’s creative force moving within our congregation?


With all the transitions in leadership and general disruptions within our church, it’s natural for the congregation to long for the past and try to recreate the comfort and security of days gone by. Nostalgia is a powerful force that keeps many churches from moving ahead. But nostalgia is especially difficult because it is impossible for us to re-create the past. As a body, we must constantly honor our histories, preserve our traditions, as we open ourselves to new things.


We stand at the precipice of many exciting adventures. Let us remember that in all the newness, creativity, and life, God is for us.





I took this photo while standing on a precipice, overseeing the valley that the psalmist wrote about: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Changing our Image of God

I often talk with people who struggle with faith, and one of the most important questions that they ask is, “Why do innocent people suffer?” We turn on the news and see hospitals in Ukraine being bombed, and we wonder, “Where is God in all of this?”


It is difficult when we have an idea of God as an all-powerful entity who should protect us in every situation. And it is one of the most difficult things in our journey when life and circumstances lead us to let go of that image of God. What can replace it?


This week, I visited the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus wept before he was arrested and executed. He was sweating blood as he prayed that God would take the cup from him, that he wouldn’t have to go through the suffering that awaited him.


Walking around the olive grove, where the 900-year-old trees stood, I could feel the heaviness of the place. The limbs quietly bore witness to generations of sadness. I wept.


And something shifted. I was reminded once again that in Jesus Christ, we have a suffering God. Jesus was not protected from the death that was to come, but a messenger came to Jesus and strengthened him.


There are times when our understanding of who God is changes. We let go of images that we had as children, and we take comfort in other things. May you have open hearts this Lent, as our understanding of our loving God takes new forms and shapes.


Open Unto Me


Before each church season, the staff sits down and thinks about a theme that we would like to explore with the congregation. Right now, we are focusing on Howard Thurman’s prayer:

Lord, Lord, Open Unto Me

Open unto me, light for my darkness
Open unto me, courage for my fear
Open unto me, hope for my despair
Open unto me, peace for my turmoil
Open unto me, joy for my sorrow
Open unto me, strength for my weakness
Open unto me, wisdom for my confusion
Open unto me, forgiveness for my sins
Open unto me, tenderness for my toughness
Open unto me, love for my hates
Open unto me, Thy Self for myself

Lord, Lord, open unto me!

I chose this theme for a few reasons. This church season began on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, and it will continue through Black History month, so it seemed fitting that we focus on Howard Thurman. He was a chaplain at Howard University and Boston University. He was also Martin Luther King’s mentor, and one of our preeminent American religious thinkers. He met with Gandhi and became a force for non-violence in the Civil Rights movement. He wrote 22 books.

On the cover of our bulletins, we have been featuring different doors to illustrate “Open Unto Me.” We have chosen works painted by artists in the Harlem Renaissance.

I also wanted to concentrate on this prayer, because it has meant so much to me in the last 10 years. I remember when my father was dying, and amid my confusing sorrow, I kept dreaming that I found a door in my tiny home, an entry that I never knew existed.  I would open it and step into a completely different part of the house. There was an addition that I didn’t know about. It was yellow tinted, full of windows and light. I kept having the dream, until I realized that I was being called into another phase of my life. But I needed to open the door before I could step into it.

I encountered this prayer during the same time in my life. It resonated deep within me then and continues to speak to me.

Now, our church is emerging from the closed doors of a pandemic that has lasted longer than most of us expected.  And my prayer is that, as a community and in our personal lives, we will open ourselves to a new phase of courage, strength, and love. My hope is that we will enter new doors and become surprised by joy.



The painting is “Chalet in the Mountains” by William Johnson.