The Spiritual Life of MasterWorks

Here's a video on the spiritual life of MasterWorks, created by MasterWorks Theatre Department alum, David Kavanaugh. It opens with the Bible study that Joyce and I had the pleasure of leading, along with Terry Ewell, who composed new music for Paradise Lost, in which I performed earlier this year.


God of Hope DVD now available

In this section of the larger God of Hope project, which includes a book, music CD, audio book and DVD, I play the Apostle Paul.

When Paul begins telling his story, his hatred of Jesus' followers -- of these traitors to Israel -- is obvious. Paul describes the trial of Peter, the bloody stoning of Stephen, and then his life-changing encounter with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus. realizing he has been an enemy of God, the terrified Paul believes the situation is hopeless and that he is to be severely judged, but instead he receives God's grace, unlimited love, and the assignment to tell the world that Jesus is King. Paul speaks of rethinking his convictions and learning that God's secret plan is to defeat evil through His Son Jesus.

For the next thirty years, Paul tirelessly and fearlessly preaches the gospel that Jesus is King. Paul also confesses that he is burdened by guilt for his persecution of God's people. Emperor Nero is also persecuting Jesus' followers, and Paul is taken out to be executed. Jesus has not returned, but Paul knows he has fought the good fight and kept the faith. He knows that nothing can separate him from God's love as revealed through God's son Jesus. Before he is executed, Paul calls on the readers to have a spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline; to stand firm in the faith as they wait for Jesus to return; and to do everything in love.

Video and audio excerpts are available here: God's Story.

Your performance, GOD OF HOPE, was anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit of God!! Enjoyed it very much... Thank you for blessing the Nyack students with the gift that God has given unto you for His glory!!
--Latricia T. Moore
Pastoral Ministry student (class of 2012)
Nyack College, Manhattan Campus

Rich - I wanted to thank you once again for the awesome performance yesterday at our church! It was a powerful message from the life of Paul who seemed to step out of the pages of the scriptures yesterday. The papers stopped rustling, the auditorium grew silent as the Spirit of God moved amongst us. And I'm SO glad you worked extra hard to prepare this new play as it was exactly where our church has been and exactly what we needed!
--Scott Cornett
Bethel Baptist Temple

I really enjoyed your dramatization/sermon of Saul/Paul! You have a gift!!! Hope you can come back and visit soon!
--Sarah Beth Zylka

Thank you for coming to our church today. Everyone so enjoyed you!!! I was truly impressed by your drama of Paul's life.
--Mark Doeding

It was great to have you minister to our people. You certainly did make Paul come to life. Thank you so much.
--Larry Cornett
Bethel Baptist Temple

Rich recorded the voice of Saul/Paul for the Audio Book and performed for the DVD of God of Hope. They are both available now.

Registration Deadline Approaching for CITA Secondary Festival!

I'll be adjudicating events and leading a workshop...

  Everyone at CITA hopes that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great start to the holiday season! We also wanted to remind you that the registration deadline for the CITA Secondary Festival is January 3, 2012! Come take part in this exciting opportunity for students.

Two $1,000 scholarships will be offered to the best male and female performer. Representatives from several colleges will also be attending, including Anderson University, Rocky Mountain College, Asbury College, Abilene Christian University, Lee University, North Greenville University, Indiana Wesleyan University and more!

The CITA Secondary Festival is an opportunity for students who share their common faith and passion for theatre to connect with one another during a weekend of workshops, professional performances and student performances for ajudication.

For more information, please visit our website!

Also, "like" us on Facebook and receive updates about how to prepare for the festival!

The Covenant Keeper

Rich Swingle performed his sketch "The Covenant Keeper" from his Christmas play, Views of the Manger, and Pastor Joyce Swingle preached on the text the piece dramatizes: Genesis 15.  This service closes the Freedom Series and launches a five-part series which will include each sketch from Views of the Manger. Opening prayer by Pastor Linda Warren.


 This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Wielding the Sword of the Spirit with guest Rich Swingle

I'll be interviewed by talk show host Donald James Parker on Dec. 11 at 6pm ET. You can also call in and ask questions. I'm looking forward to it.  Click here to listen.

Views of the Manger throughout Advent

I'll be performing my play Views of the Manger throughout Advent and Christmas at Westchester Chapel. Each week I'll perform one of the sections of the play:
Sunday, November 27
The Covenant Keeper: Abraham looks forward to the Christ 
Sunday, December 4
Guess What?: Gabriel brings the Good News that the Light of the World is about to shine 
Sunday, December 11
What!? part 1: Mary tells her fiancĂ©, Joseph, that she and her elderly cousin are with child 
Sunday, December 18
What!? part 2: Joseph sees that his fears were unfounded
Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25
Harvey Silverstein: The innkeeper had no idea who they were 
Sunday, January 1
The New King: Wise men cross the earth to worship Him
After Rich performs in the main service he'll bring the sketch to the nursery. On December 18 he'll perform Thomas Tornado Tinglehoop and the Three Christmas Clues for the nursery in lieu of What!? part 2.

Join us each Sunday at 11am at The Crowne Plaza, 66 Hale Ave, White Plains, NY.

Audio recordings will be posted to

Freedom from the Fear of Circumstances

Rich Swingle preaches from Matthew 14: 22-33 on Peter's walk on water. Opening prayer by Pastor Randy Solomon.

This sermon is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store. Here's footage of Rich performing the role of Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee from their May 2011 trip to Jordan and Israel with Christians in Theatre Arts:

Rich alluded to The Tree of Life by Terrance Malick:   


The First Thanksgiving

Tonight at our Thanksgiving Eve service one of our pastors, Randy Solomon, told the story of the first Thanksgiving. It's such a powerful story of the Lord's grace on those that came to America for religious freedom. You can read about it in Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, which you can download now on a Kindle:

The Jeweler's Shop Off-Broadway

This year the MasterWorks Festival Theatre Program will include performances in an Off-Broadway theatre after our final performance in Winona Lake.

Our master class instructors are falling into place. Phillip Telfer wrote, produced and directed a recent documentary called Captivated. I heard Phillip speak to the cast and crew of Indescribable, the film in which Joyce and I played the parents of nine. The documentary wasn't complete last summer, and in fact Phillip interviewed at least one crew member on set. But his talk was so spot on for many of our goals for the theatre program I'm excited that he'll be speaking to us and sharing his documentary. Captivated was featured at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, where it was runner up for best documentary and an Official Selection as a finalist for Best of Festival, which was won by Courageous.

Our first night in New York we're planning to join a Bible study made up of Broadway actors.

Because this will be our first on-the-road experience, we decided to keep things simple with our play. We'll be performing The Jeweler's Shop, written by Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II. Before he was a priest he was an actor and playwright through the Rhapsodic Theatre in Krakow, Poland, during Nazi occupation. Their focus was on simplicity of production so that the full attention could be placed on meaning and acting.

Besides simplicity, we specifically chose a lesser-known play because New Yorkers have access to popular plays with A-list actors. We wanted to choose a play that would be intriguing to audiences in both Winona Lake and New York, and we believe this play will do just that.

A photo of me from an article
on The Jeweler's Shop
I had the opportunity to perform two roles in the play in the mid-90s with the Polish Theatre Group of New York. We performed it in Michigan, Georgia (here's an article from the Augusta Chronicle: "Pope's play testifies to enduring power of love"),  Florida, including Miami.  We also performed it throughout the New York City area, including a performance at the United Nations that received a standing ovation. In fact, I can't remember a single time during our performances that it did not receive a standing ovation. Before I came on board, they'd performed it at Carnegie Hall and The Lincoln Center, and bookings were underway at Princeton University, Tokyo, Paris, Poland and in The Vatican for the Pope. Unfortunately our director died of a heart attack before those dreams were realized.
The director of our 1990s
production with
Pope John Paul II.

The play tells the story of three couples and the joy and pain of love and marriage. New York's Daily News reported on our production: "City's Polish Troupe Thrives On Pope's Play".

The play employs a very different style from plays we've produced in the past unfolding mostly in a series of monologues directed to the audience. It invites audience members into the private thoughts of the characters at various stages of life and love. This makes the play a great challenge for actors, and as we experienced, it affects audiences in a profound way. Richard Barbuto wrote of our UN performance, "...the play made me feel like I was participating in it. ...It was clearly the the objective of (the) author... to invite the audience to more than aesthetic appreciation: to artistic participation!" I just saw a play Off-Broadway that used this technique with great skill, and it was captivating.

MasterWorks Theatre Alum in VW spot

Chad Rasor, a MasterWorks alum and recent master class instructor was just featured in this very fun VW ad. (He's the one in the driver's seat.)
VW "engage" :60 from derrick borte on Vimeo.

Thanksgiving Greetings from all of us at Graceworks!

For over a decade I've used my theatre background to coach people on their presentation skills through Graceworks. I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had to see major breakthroughs, and we send our Thanksgiving greetings to you.

Graceworks Inc.
470 West End Ave. New York, NY 10024
212-724-1541 | |
© 2009 - 2011 Graceworks Inc.

Shepherds Reflect on Psalm 23

Conceived by Pastor Linda Warren, who plays the role of Shoshona, Rich and Pastor Joyce Swingle address their flock as Zelophahad and Pethahiah, shepherds with a perspective on Psalm 23.


This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

For more sermons by Joyce, click here.

To book Rich and Joyce for a live performance visit

Music at the start of the service is from "Stand Up and Give Him the Praise", from the album Shalom Jerusalem.

The Tree of Life

I just experienced a masterpiece. Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is profound.

Christianity Today has a couple of reviews that you should read before or after the film. Joyce had already seen it and urged me to read them before hand, but I ran out of time. I'm glad I did. It was enough to have her recommendation. If mine is enough, check it out, and then read these articles. Th
I just experienced a masterpiece. Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is profound.

Christianity Today has a couple of reviews that you should read before or after the film. Joyce had already seen it and urged me to read them before hand, but I ran out of time. I'm glad I did. It was enough to have her recommendation. If mine is enough, check it out, and then read these articles. They'll enhance your experience even more:
Brett McCracken points out that the form of the film is more like a symphony.
Kristen Scharold highlights some of powerful reflections Malick has made on the meaning of life.

Don't go in looking for a traditional narrative. Joyce described the style like seeing life through the eyes of a child. What an appropriate way to look at a journey to faith.

Freedom from Fear of the Future

Pastor Joyce Swingle preaches on Revelation 14:1-5.

 This sermon is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.