How to Listen (on the internet)

God’s grace and peace be with you.

This is a post from the Westhope sound team, offering instruction on ways that you can listen to sermons and services from Westhope Pres. Obviously, nothing beats being present with the rest of the community in person, but almost everyone has days when they can’t be there.

The bugs seem to be worked out for now, so we thought we’d take an opportunity to summarize the ways that you can hear and listen in.

Listen Live: most Sunday morning services are now being broadcast live over the internet. We begin the broadcast a few minutes before 10 am. Simply go to (If you’re reading this, you’re here.) Hover your mouse pointer over ‘Listen’  and select ‘Listen Live.’ If we’re on the air, you’ll see a circle with a right-pointing triangle. Click on that and you should be able to hear us.

Listen to recorded sermons: You can hear archived sermons anytime, night or day, dating back to August 2015, by hovering over ‘Listen’ and selecting ‘Sermons.’ After finding the sermon you’d like to hear, you can choose to listen from within the site by clicking on the right-pointing triangle, or you can click ‘Download file’ to download the recording to your device. You can hear recordings of sung prayers and special events (such as the evenings with John Philip Newell and Brother Emile) by clicking on the respective links.

Listen to complete services: Click on the word ‘Listen’ in the menu bar. On the page that opens, click anywhere in the sentence that says, ‘Click here to see a list of available sermons and services.’ A new window will open and a sign in box may appear. Click on the “x” to close the box and proceed to the recordings list. You do not need a dropbox account in order to listen. Choose the recording that you’re interested in. You can listen from within the web page or you can download the recording to your device.

Happy listening! Please leave comments to let us know if this is helpful or not.

Post-election thoughts from your Pastor

God’s grace and peace be with you all.

I am writing to you in light of last night’s election and the results. I will tell you that I feel a little like I have been punched in the gut this morning. I am saddened and dismayed because the words I heard from the campaign sounded so angry and fearful and exclusive. I have heard this echoed in the reactions that I have been hearing around the church today and that I heard from Monroe Middle School this morning. Some congregation members were stunned and a little scared. Children and teachers at the school were in tears and were afraid of what could happen to them or their friends. I could say plenty more about this, but I am more concerned about how many of you are doing as you process. This letter comes to you in my care for you and our country and our church as we move forward. Here are a couple things to ponder.

First, however you received the results I encourage you to think of those around you. If you are celebrating, celebrate well and respectfully. I am aware that a large majority that voted for Mr. Trump were voting because they were hurting, have been hurting, and wanted a change from what has been. If you are hurting from either these past years or from the results of the election I encourage you to honor that grief and give yourself time to heal. You don’t have to rush. Notice what specifically that grief and hurt is about, and find ways to take care of yourself. Also allow community to hold you as you heal. Second, I am very clear that many of the words used about women, minorities, handicapped, and immigrant people are frightening to me and many. Please don’t think that is the voice of Christianity. A large part of our calling as Christians is to care for the “other”, and that is more important now than ever. I will be doing my best to watch for opportunities to speak for and care for those who may find themselves in difficult situations. I will pray for and act for justice, and I hope many will join me in this. Third, I encourage us all to keep our eyes and hearts and minds firmly focused on God as our Source and our Strength and our Inspiration. God is all inclusive. God is all loving. God is who, at our core, gives us vision and courage for each day and helps us to see the world for what it truly is. Our discernment then is to decipher what is of the world and what is of God’s reign and work to bring the Reign of God to bear in each moment of our lives- sometimes over and against the rule of this world. Stay connected to our Source in prayer, meditation, service, community, and love.

Finally, I am hopeful that this Presidency will be different from the campaign. I will be praying forcefully that the rhetoric was simply to get elected and that this term will be more inclusive and just. I was impressed by the grace with which both Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton addressed the nation last night and today, and we can, hopefully, all learn from that grace. As we move into this next Presidency may we know the God whose love holds us all (and I do mean ALL) and may we find ways to bind the wounds of this divisive campaign. Know that you and President-Elect Trump will be in my prayers. God bless us all. I remain
In communion,


My Dear Westhope Community,

         God’s deep peace and strength be known by you in this time.  Over the last couple of days I have been searching for words to say to you with regards to the violent attack on the people in the nightclub in Orlando. I am not sure I have the best words but I feel like I want to say something.  First let me encourage all of us to pray for the family and friends of those involved in the violence.  Second let me encourage us to continue to work for peace and work to actively engage God’s vision of how to see the world and the people in it.  Violence is never an answer and is not God’s way.  Neither is hate or bigotry or sexism…all of which we see play out in these occasions of violence and all of which I hope that we can continue to condemn whenever and wherever we notice them.  Jesus consistently spoke of love and care of ‘the other’ as example of what it meant to follow him and participate in the kingdom of God.  The Good Samaritan, Love your neighbor as yourself and so many others remind us that we are to strive for caring and loving even in the face of violence.  May we continue to strive to be a light in this world and this valley where the Holy is known and where healing happens and where we stand for something different and More than what the culture around us does.  Deep blessings to you as we wrestle in our own ways with this latest incident of violence in our country and world.  I remain
      With you in communion,  Erik
If you want to know what the Presbyterian Church is doing to help you can look at this link.

Statement for Peace from the Saratoga Ministerial Association

We join together in this statement to encourage people in moderation of speech and listening, to be wary of hate speech in public discourse, and to encourage unity during this election season.

The Saratoga Ministerial Association is a community of leaders from the houses of faith in Saratoga including Catholic and Protestant, Jewish and Muslim, Latter Day Saints and Episcopal, as well as Council members from the City of Saratoga. We are men and women who support one another in our efforts to heal, care for, inspire goodness, and remove barriers that exist within the fabric of our neighborhoods. In this particular moment in our national conversation we are very aware of the power of the words being used to erode the unity that we seek in our community. This rhetoric is leading many to construct a modern false idol out of power and privilege, and we reject the notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others. The language is causing Americans to turn against their neighbors, particularly those who many appear different from themselves. No matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we must respect the dignity of every human being and seek the common good. We reject as well the uplifting of anger and violence as a mode of being and dealing with one another in this nation and in this world. From the holy men and women through our sacred histories we have learned tolerance, we have seen a higher standard of how to both care for people as well as stand up firmly, but peacefully, to those in power who seem to take advantage of that power. A society should not be judged by how it rewards its most privileged but how it cares for its most vulnerable. We urge all citizens to stand for peace, patience, and tolerance with one another (even those with whom we disagree), for civil public discourse, and wise discernment when enacting the privilege of voting in the midst of all the arguments and words.

We worry for the community that we are working hard to care for and live within. We also worry for the safety of all our children as they are very aware of the ramifications of the rhetoric that filters down to them in the form of threats and fear. Over and over again in our scriptures we hear “do not be afraid”. We are far too often hearing words of hate and thinly veiled racism, classism, and sexism that are indeed disturbing and causing great fear in many people of this nation. Thus we call for prayer for our country that a spirit of reconciliation will prevail, and we will not betray our truest selves.

Our hope is that we might find a common humanity, the strength of our unity, and our best selves that we might welcome the stranger and find the Holy in all of our encounters. May we know God’s blessing for all of humanity.

Rev. Erik Swanson, Westhope Presbyterian

Rev. Derek Engfelt, Immanuel Lutheran

Fr. Gary Thomas, Sacred Heart Catholic

Rev. Arvin Engelson, Saratoga Federated

Rev. Sara Pearson, Prince of Peace Lutheran

Rev. Nathan Winterhof, Prince of Peace Lutheran

Rev. Channing Smith, St. Andrews Episcopal

Manny Cappello, Mayor of Saratoga

Rabbi Philip Ohriner, Congregation Beth David

Dr. Imtiaz Qureshi, West Valley Muslim Association

Fr. Robert McKay, Sacred Heart Catholic


Ten Years!

We celebrate all God continues to do among us here, and for Pastor Erik, who has led us with such care and faithfulness these last ten years. We are blessed and inspired to live more deeply into our lives with Christ, and for our pastor who holds a gracious place for us to be able to find our belovedness again week after week. We are grateful for the reminder, as we so easily forget.



On the last Sunday of the season of Advent, the Shepherd’s candle was lit. It was the candle of Love, following the lighting of the candles of Hope, Peace, and Joy in the prior weeks. We were invited to come forward and light candles, naming places in our lives where we have noticed love as we added our candle to the sand tray. It was a beautiful way to prepare for Christmas.


Many thank yous for all those turkeys for Monroe Middle School!

And we are thankful for all the work that was done this afternoon. One particularly impressive (and rather heartstopping) feat: Ed and Erik carrying a couch down from the sound room, finding it wouldn’t fit through the door at the bottom of the stairs, then deciding it should go *over* the wall instead…well, just look at the pictures. Problem-solving and teamwork at its finest!


Loss is never easy. It sure helps to have a faith community who walks together through those fragile times, with prayers, shared tears, gentle listening, strong shoulders, and comforting hugs. We will miss Ann Campbell, are sad with Marion at the loss of her brother Bill, and with Susan as she grieves her father.

Blessing Jim and Portia

Jim and Portia have been such an integral part of our church family, and we will miss them as they prepare to retire in the Pacific Northwest. Jim’s music and gentle way of making everyone feel welcome, and Portia’s warmth and big beautiful heart for people…they are people who embody the love of God with grace, kindness and joy. We bless them as they step into a new season of life and community.
Portia.Jim2 Portia.Jim.cake

Kick-Off BBQ

Every BBQ needs its masters at the grill – here are ours: Ed and Jay! This last Sunday, we got to enjoy time together, some great weather, a delicious meal, and even playing (or watching) bocce ball. Thank yous to everyone who brought food and helped with setup/cleanup, and Erik for his boundless enthusiasm!