WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK

Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl in 5 minutes | Animated

Barbara Fox and Isabella Dougan recommend this video: “Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl in 5 minutes | Animated.” The presentation is inspirational with human stories and life lessons. 

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl explains in his memoir, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” that it is neither the pursuit of happiness nor the attainment of success that makes life worth living. Instead, we should “find meaning in whatever we do and always have something left to accomplish.” He uses his experience in Nazi death camps to teach us how to cope with suffering and pursue what we find meaningful.

We hope everyone would find time to also read the book, especially in these uncertain times of the COVID crisis.

 

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PASTOR GINNY’S LETTER: The Nature of Life in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Dear Friends,

Grace and Peace in the name of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ!

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 we read the beautiful words about the nature of life. Attributed to King Solomon and written in his older years, they are a summary of the ups and downs and the joys and challenges of the human experience. This reminder of what Solomon learned as King begins this way:

      “To everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven.”

I hope you are comforted by the reminder of the truth in this verse and those that follow it. And I hope that you will read them today if you haven’t before. They are a treasure house of the wisdom Solomon came to be known for and every time they spring to my mind, I find myself comforted by them. I see within them the contours of God’s plans for our time on earth. Solomon rightly predicts that we will all know these things in our lives: birth and death; seed sowing and reaping; killing and healing; weeping and laughing; mourning and dancing; casting stones and gathering stones; embracing and distancing; gaining and losing; silence and speaking; loving and hating, and war and peace.

The verse I have quoted above (verse 1) came to mind today as I began to write this Pastor’s Note. As you may remember, it is soon time for me to finish my sojourn among you at PUMC since I will be retiring at the end of June. Leaving all of you will be very difficult for me to do. I knew it would be difficult, whenever that day would come, within a very few months of my arrival at PUMC now three years ago! PUMC is a truly remarkable church in my life-long experience of churches.

I firmly believe that God is the One who brought me to PUMC and I have given God thanks countless times over the past 3 years for doing so. You are a remarkable part of the Body of Christ! You are very dedicated to the practice and application of your faith. You are courageous in facing whatever the future has held for you including the present circumstances we are in now. You are intentional about reaching out to the world beyond the church and caring for each other within the church. And you are joyful Christians as you do all of this.

In this season that we have been together, which is now two years longer than I originally thought it would be, I have grown. I have learned to love life again after a long season of debilitating grief; I have delighted in working with you on all sorts of things including the ever-present social justice issues that plague the world, and I have been enriched by our worship of the God who loves us with an everlasting love each and every Sunday. In all ways, I have been blessed to be at PUMC. And I have received 10-fold what I have given to you. This is no surprise to me as in God’s economy nothing is wasted and there is always a two-way benefit in any exchange bathed in the love of Christ.

To everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven. Solomon is right and it is now time for Norm and me to fully retire and to downsize our home. These things will occupy me for the summer and, perhaps, fall. Whenever our house is sold, we plan to move to Bethlehem, PA just across the NJ border. We have loved this little town ever since our son Russ was a student at Moravian.

Beyond that move we both see ourselves volunteering with Habitat for Humanity which is quite active in the Lehigh Valley. No doubt we will spend some time over the winter months in Florida which has long been a dream of Norm’s. Wherever we go, we will take the love we have absorbed from all of you with us. We are strengthened in our faith by your faith. We are encouraged to continue to reach out and work for social justice by your example. And we are more in love with God because of the public ways you live out your own love of God, our Beloved Friend.

In the few weeks remaining, I hope to be able to talk with many of you to convey my sincerest gratitude for your acceptance of Norm and of me for these precious three years. Meanwhile, I pray for God’s richest blessing to continue to be yours. And I pray that all who know you, know God better and love God more.

In Christ’s Name,

Pastor Ginny

(This was published in Happenings, the weekly newsletter, on May 22, 2020)

 

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Confirmands to Serve as Worship Leaders

Pentecost Sunday in the United Methodist Church traditionally celebrates two important events: the beginning of the Christian church and Confirmation, where, after months of preparation, a group of young people publicly profess their faith before a welcoming congregation.  Because of the quarantine,  Princeton UMC’s five confirmands will not be commissioned on May 31; however, they will serve as worship leaders in what promises to be a very special Pentecost Sunday.

Ever since clergy and staff made the decision to postpone Confirmation until the church community can gather together again, the five confirmands – Anatalia Cabus, Ben Ashworth Nalbone, Camille Jones, Elli Collins, and Rosalind Hayes – have been been working closely with their teachers on designing the service. The students will be leading worship via phone and video like we have done in prior services. There will also be a special video which brings them all together to read the UMC Social Creed,” shared Sarah Betancourt, one of the teachers. They will also share original prayers. 

During the Confirmation ceremony, confirmands take control of their faith by professing it before family, friends, and the congregation.  Although in-person professing is not possible, “each confirmand will, over the next five weeks (except for June 7), share by video their own faith stories as well as their original versions of The Lord’s Prayer,” explained Hyelim Yoon, another of their teachers. So through the July 5 service , these five young people will be creating for themselves and the congregation unique faith experiences. 

To help the confirmands organize their faith stories, the teachers provided a list of thought-provoking questions, such as “When was a moment when your ‘eyes were opened’ and you understood something that you hadn’t before?   Who was a person who demonstrated to you what it means to live as a follower of Christ? Tell us about a time when you experienced God’s presence.”   

During the traditional Confirmation service, confirmands pledge to take more of a leadership role in the church.  By the time Anatalia, Ben, Camille, Eli, and Rosalind make their Confirmation, they will be seasoned youth leaders, well prepared “to go into the world and spread the Gospel,” said Hyelim.   Pastor Erik ‘Skitch’ Matson concluded that “While most people can remember the day they were confirmed, not many people will be able to say they were confirmed during a pandemic. I’m excited to see how this particular context will shape their understanding of living out their vows, and their understanding of what “Church” means.”

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A Tale of Two Beasts


In “Taking the Walk” sermon series on May 24, 2020, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz preached on “Stories We Tell.”  Her sermon was based on Philippians 1: 12-21.

At Children’s Time, she read part of  A Tale of Two Beasts by Fiona Roberton. Here, actress Sarah Silverman reads this charming story with a subtle message about how to see different points of view.

 

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Relationships and Faith Series Tackles Complex Issues

Relationships and Faith groups are reading this book by Trevor Hudson

On August 12, 2017, Charlottesville Virginia was rocked by the violence that erupted at the Unite-the-Right rally. The hatred on display that day shocked the country and prompted questions about who we are as a nation. At Princeton United Methodist Church, the tragedy gave rise to a discussion of the question, “What do we do as a
church and as Christians in the wake of such racism?” To answer that question, church clergy designed the Relationships and Faith initiative. Now in its third year, the program has tackled several complex societal issues such as racism, human sexuality, poverty and women’s rights in a variety of ways.

In building the curriculum for that first year, “ [We] clergy worked off of three central questions: “What are the barriers that separate us?; What does it mean to be the other?; How can we as Christians be inclusive?,” explained Discipleship Pastor Skitch Matson. The first year of Relationships and Faith organized around small-group study of the Bible. Intergenerational in composition, the groups shared perspectives and asked questions on how life experiences shaped and changed perspectives. More than 100 people participated that first year. “The response to the initial roll out fueled our commitment to continue,” explained Skitch.

In developing the curriculum for year two, the clergy focused on how societal aspects, specifically racism and human sexuality, often separate us from one another. The first two months concentrated on human sexuality, timely as it” coincided with the Annual Methodist Conference which was grappling with this very issue,” pointed
out Pastor Skitch. For an in-depth look into how misconceptions about sexuality can be divisive, the church team assembled a panel composed of a Princeton Seminary professor, a heterosexual Puerto Rican man for the Latin-X perspective, and the Associate Dean of Princeton Chapel who openly identifies as queer.

In the final two months of the program, the focus moved to racism and the vehicle was, again, a panel discussion. Among the participants was a church member currently studying journalism at Northwestern, and a member of Not In Our Town Princeton,
a multi-racial, multi-faith group of individuals who stand together for racial justice and inclusive communities.

This year, Relationships and Faith is focusing on poverty (March and April) and on women’s rights (May and June). As a springboard for discussing poverty, those participating are reading Trevor Hudson’s A Mile in My Shoes. More than sixty participants meet regularly in small groups at various locations, with each group having
two book leaders who cultivate discussion. Michael Cabus, one of the leaders, values Hudson’s book, not only for its emphasis on reflection but also because it “is more about cultivating a personhood that is able to make compassion actionable, then it is about how to offer compassion to others. To grow as a Christian, your faith must
challenge you to be uncomfortable,” added Cabus. Hopefully, at the end of this year’s program, the participants will engage in an experiential trip, possibly an outing that puts the participants in another’s shoes and prompts the question: “How would our lives change if this was our daily routine?”

While coronavirus has made it hard for book groups to meet in person and for leaders to plan out the second half of the program, the need to, as Hudson
says, cultivate compassion is a certainty in these uncertain times.

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Sunday 17 May 2020

SPOTLIGHT

 

Youth Choir 

&

Director Tom Shelton

Sunday being Youth Music Sunday, our Youth Choir led all of the music and liturgist parts. Under Tom Shelton’s musical leadership, William Ponder, Leanne Griffiths, Kasey Angelo, Amy Angelo, Julia Potts, Ana Francisco-Cabus. Reanna Bartels- Quansah, Gillian Bartels- Quansah, Lena Hamilton, Elli Collins, Maggie Collins, Julia Potts, Sophia Penn, Robin Roth, Delaney McCarty, Andre Penn, Izzy Distase all took part in leading the service. We have such gifted and grace-filled young people who genuinely lead worship and not just perform. 

Tom does a brilliant job,” says Pastor Jenny Smith Walz, “teaching them about worship and worship leadership, about the liturgical year, scripture, and being a church community, as well as musical techniques and anthems.” The songs they performed included popular hymns, “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” “Amazing Grace,” “For the Beauty of the Earth,”  “Down to the River to Pray,” and Chopin’s Waltz in A minor.

They have just wrapped up another year of singing, playing, leading worship, offering their gifts, learning, and loving. Thank You Youth Choir and Director Tom Shelton!

If you weren’t able to worship with us this past Sunday, you’d want to go back to the archive on our website or Facebook Link to watch our amazing youth doing God’s work.

 

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WE ARE PROUD OF YOU GRADUATES: CLASS OF 2020

Congratulations!!

College and Graduate School Graduates 

  • Alex Martinez, Ashley Willingham, Clare Cook, Emma Pannullo, Meredith Hooper, Sarah Betancourt, Chamari White-Mink, Annie Xie, Trina Swanson, Ariel Chen – Bachelor’s Degree from Princeton University and engaged with our PUMC Congregation and/or the Wesley Foundation led by Pastor Skitch, which also met at PUMC.

  • Colin Michael Kane from Ithaca College and Brendan Joseph Kane from College of New Jersey. 

  • Pearl Quick – Master’s Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary

  • Malisa Langdon –  Master’s Degree from Rowan University

  • Robert Scheffler – Ph.D. from Princeton University

  • (should other names be here? Let us know! )

 

 

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THIS WEEK: RECOMMENDED READING & WATCHING

Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints, Daneen Akers

Evangeline Burgers recommends this book, written for children but with wisdom for all ages. It has stories of real-life faith heroes, many who are still doing important work among us. You can hear the author read chapters on this YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2vGRRW0G6WzjJMwa6nivyWKWIkj9QgUD 

 

Spiritual Practices to Calm Your Anxious Brain, Charles Stone

In this video, Dr. Stone outlines how the spiritual practice of mindfulness can invigorate the Christian life in a time of such uncertainty and fear, more especially helping you through the COVID crisis. https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-e5wJuloT8/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

 

 

 

 

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Relocation Report: Tim and Linda Henry

The Henry Family, from left: Harper, Alli, Mark, Grace, Tim, Linda, Will

Hello Princeton UMC from sunny Southern California!

After a heartwarming send-off from the church and closing on the sale of our home, we set off from Princeton in May 2015 and spent the next six months traveling around the U.S. We settled in Palm Springs, in the Sonoran Desert. What a change! Climate, lifestyle, priorities—and, yes, churches. Tim sought a church choir similar to PUMCs, and it wasn’t easy. The United Methodist congregation here is quite small, as is their choir. We eventually began attending the large, local Episcopal Church. Tim enjoys the music program at St. Paul in the Desert, but as you can imagine nothing can replace the joyful music ministry at PUMC or the family-like closeness among choir members created by Hyosang Park. Now that we’re all in quarantine, Tim enjoys weekly Zoom rehearsals with Hyosang and the choir, which includes former members like us who have moved away. We worship with PUMC on Sundays via Facebook.

How fortunate we are to have been members of the PUMC family for more than 20 years! Yvonne Macdonald welcomed our sons into her wonderful youth choirs and encouraged Mark and Will, now 37 and 29, to share their love of choral music in worship. No Sunday at PUMC was complete without afternoon choir practices followed by youth club dinners and fellowship with church friends. Both sons would not have missed going on ASP mission trips each summer where they learned important life skills from Ed and Cindy Bennett, John Powell, Bill and Stacy Chick, Tim Ewer, Alex Lang, and others. Our beloved Peggy Fullman had such an impact on our children.  Her heart and hands helped shape them into generous, compassionate young men. Peggy was always present for church families, keeping a watchful eye on her young flock and teaching them to do all the good they can at all times.  Jim Harris, David Mertz, and Nancy Duff were wonderfully supportive to our sons, especially during their teen years.

Son Will shared: “PUMC was one of the constants in my early life. As I advanced through school and grew through phases of adolescence, and while my weekends were filled with playing on different sports teams, there is always for me a memory of Sundays spent at the church. I am well aware that numerous pillars of my personality, which are based on goodwill and positive moral values, I gained at PUMC. I will always be forever grateful for that. I believe this valuable impression on young minds is a goal of the Methodist Church, and PUMC greatly succeeded in achieving that for me and the many young friends I had there.”

I am reminded so often of the wonderful fellowship of PUMC women. They are dear friends with whom I shared laughter, tears, and prayers as we prepared fellowship meals and funeral luncheons, organized family life events and made advent crafts, cleaned and painted the old kitchen, set up rummage and bake sales in the social hall, and taught VBS. We were church friends who shared our faith and experiences, caring for our church and each other. Many of us have stayed in touch from afar; sadly, some friends have passed away, and my heart is saddened by their loss.

Our family news now: Mark and Alli live in Evanston, IL. Like many young parents during this pandemic, they’re juggling working from home with their role as their children’s part-time teachers. They are members of First United Methodist Church, where they help teach Sunday School. Mark and Alli have given us three wonderful grandchildren: two boys, Harper and Cameron, who are 8 and 2; and a daughter, Grace, age 5. They will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this summer.

Will, a filmmaker, settled in Los Angeles five years ago. He is Associate Producer of a new documentary The High Frontier: The Untold Story of Gerard K. O’Neill, which tells the life story of Princeton University physics professor and space pioneer, Gerry O’Neill. The film is slated for release later this year to a streaming service. Will shares his life with his lovely girlfriend, Hannah.

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Pastor Skitch: Be kind to yourself

“Here’s the thing I keep saying to people, and the thing I think we need to hear most in this time: Be kind to yourself.

That’s what our leader, Amanda said to us all as we signed off from our every-so-often campus ministry call.

Be kind to yourself.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the stories of Jesus, and the letters of the early Church, we find many places where people are learning what it means to love God, and to love their neighbor. From prophets crying out to love those on the margins, to the Apostle Paul writing a theological treatise about what the love of God looks like in Jesus, we see account after account of loving God and our neighbor.

But what about loving ourselves?

When Jesus is asked what commandment is the greatest, the Gospel of Mark says he responds with, “‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Love your neighbor as yourself.

We often focus on the front half, don’t we? We try to love the neighbor near, and the neighbor far. We try to love the neighbor we like, and the neighbor we don’t. We try to love our neighbor by transforming systems that hurt our neighbor. We don’t always get it right, but we try our best. But what about loving ourselves?

How can we try our best to love ourselves?

I think that’s what Amanda was getting at it. In asking our group to be kind to ourselves, she was reminding us that not only are we called to give grace to others but we are called to receive grace for ourselves, too.

What ways can you love yourself in terms of your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being?  This week I’m going to look myself in the mirror each day and say out loud, “Be kind to yourself.” I want to hear the words spoken to me, from me. I want to accept the grace that God has been extending to me, and I want to rest in it. Who cares if someone thinks I’m wacky. I need to hear it.

Let us be kind to ourselves, accepting God’s grace, and seeking to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit. Maybe you’ll want to join my practice, too.

Be Kind To Yourself,

Pastor Skitch

(This was published in Happenings, the weekly newsletter, on May 15, 2020)

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