Sermon: “God’s Home: Sacrifice Lives Here”

On November 11, 2018, the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz preached a sermon titled  “Sacrifice Lives Here” from the series ‘God’s Home’. Her text is from Mark 12: 38-44 and Hebrews 9:24-28.

To hear the sermon live, go to the Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page

Also the sermon will be podcast soon on this webpage under the category “worship”.




As we look around today – here and elsewhere – what draws our attention? Who draws our attention?

Jesus and disciples sitting in the Temple observing. It’s easy to see the Scribes of the Temple doing their ritual thing. It’s easy to see the grandeur of the temple itself, its large stones. It’s not so easy to see the widow who is giving her two tiny lepta coins – it’s easy to overlook her, but it’s also hard to really see her because she exposes something in us we don’t particularly like to see. (but we’ll get to that in a moment).  What or who draws your attention – this morning while in worship, but also as you go about your day?



Taking a tour of God’s Home – Yes, God is everywhere. Particularly focusing on the Kingdom of God /Kin-dom. Peace, sharing, balance, let God be our God, love lives here. So does sacrifice.

Sacrifice – really risky to talk about because in today’s world sacrifice often means something very different from an act of devotion or worship, which it’s Latin roots would indicate it means. Comes from:  “sacred” and “to make” – sacrifice is something of value offered as an act of devotion or worship to God. 

In the US often it means: 

  • ● giving up more than should be given up;
  • ● asking those in the working class and those who are poor to bear the weight of tax cuts that benefit those who are wealthier; 
  • ● it often means expecting people to stay in exploitative situations in the name of
    • ○ virtue or
    • ○ some diminished concept of love
    • ○ the American Dream
    • ○ in order to just get by
  • ● It often carries an expectation of loss of self, sometimes in the hope of gaining power or reward or favor as a result;
  • ● Our non-sacred version of sacrifice often means holding up women like the widow in our story as a beautiful example without looking a little more closely.

She is where a lot of women in our world end up (Karoline Lewis reminds us) – sandwiched between violence and power. She is overlooked. Partly because she is exactly where she’s expected to be and where people in power like to keep her, lest they end up like her. It’s easy for us to look around this story and observe the widow and identify with her, even though few, if any, of us will actually do what she is doing. She is giving everything she has away. Everything. She’s completely trusting God and the system in which she lives.  Rather we are much more likely to overlook the widows of our day as the Scribes are so good at doing. We don’t want to be powerless like her. And we are afraid that to actually help her might demand the kind of sacrifice she demonstrates. 

It’s tricky because Sacrifice does indeed live here in God’s Kin-dom. Yet, it’s so easy for that sacrifice to fall off the thin edge into exploitation at the hands of us who are terrified to sacrifice in the ways God actually asks, terrified to sacrifice our own power or position or privilege or security or wealth. Not unlike the particular Scribes Jesus is observing that day. No one was going to overlook them! These were men who had PhDs in the law of Moses, the Torah. They were credentialed specialists. They were the insiders at the temple, among the Jerusalem elite. And their power is given largely by Rome at this stage in history. They were not easily overlooked because the system was designed to entice our attention toward them. 

We, like the Scribes Jesus is observing, love our power and our symbols of it – long robes, long prayers, public adoration, best seats in the temple and at the banquet table. 

What symbols of power, position, privilege, wealth do you wear? Which ones help you and others know your position in the world? What might it mean for us to take them off?

This is the last scene of Jesus’s public ministry. This is the last week of Jesus’s life. Not long after this, Jesus will sit with his disciples and take off his robe. He will take on the role of a servant and wash the feet of his disciples. He will tell them to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should love one another.  No one has greater love than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. I have called you friends. 


Jesus gave his whole self as a sacrifice, He died, gave himself over to death. He did this without losing himself – he didn’t become less of Jesus, less Christ, less son of God. Yet he gave up his power. He allowed others to have power over him. And he did this all in love – an act of love, laying down his life for his friends. 

Sacrifice is about giving away power for the sake of love that others might be free and have life more fully.  It’s about offering ourselves fully, our whole selves, that we might make our lives sacred.

What draws the attention of God?  Sacrifice. Not because God needs it or demands it or because God is keeping score. In that temple – Jesus is telling his disciples – right here in my presence and in this widow’s, you find yourself in God’s home. Because here’s where sacrifice lives, whole trust, love of God, 

What robes of power are you being invited to take off, to sacrifice today?

Who needs you to lay down power and privilege and your own safety such that he or she might be able to live more fully, more freely? To whom is God sending you to love in this most difficult and powerful way?

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At the Seminary: Everyone Welcome


Joe R. Engel organ at Miller Chapel, PTSEM

Many of the courses and events at Princeton Theological Seminary are open to the community. Some are free, and most take place in either Miller Chapel or Mackey Dining Hall, or both. The daily chapel service from 11:30 a.m. to noon is an exciting spiritual experience.

A very popular favorite is the Carols of Many Nations concert on Wednesday, December 12. with three identical services at 3:30, 6:30, and 8:30 p.m. Tickets for that can be reserved on November 12.  Dress warmly – at the close, the congregation will follow the choir outside.  

Anyone may attend the CommUNITY Gatherings at Princeton Theological Seminary. On Thursday, December 6th, engage in a timely topic: Navigating Difficult Conversations in These Challenging Times. Leading discussion will be the Rev. Jennie Salas, PTS Associate Director in the Field Education, and Parish Associate at Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras.

Worship in Miller Chapel is from 11:30 am-12:00 pm, followed by Lunch, Presentation, & Conversation from 12-1:30 pm. Select lunch ($10) in the Mackay Dining Hall, and then come to the the Main Lounge. Future Gatherings:

Thursday, February 7, 2019: Serving Those of Different Faiths: A Military Chaplain’s Experience,with Chaplain Jeffrey Ross, ThM ’19

Friday, March 1, 2019: In His Image: Art Ministry as an Essential Element of Worship, with Dave Teich, Art Minister, First Presbyterian Church of Hightstown

Tuesday, April 30, 2019: Walking with Those with Mental Illness, with the Rev. Kerri Erbig, BCCC, the Rev. MaryJane Inman, BCC, and the Rev. Miriam Diephouse-McMillan, BCCC, Chaplains at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital-Pastoral Services Department

To register for the CommUNITY Gatherings, click here or contact Rev. Joicy Becker-Richards, Director of Campus Relations 609.497.7960. For concert tickets, try this link.

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“Stand here beside us” on All Saints Sunday

For the pastoral prayer on All Saints Sunday, we named, saw photos of, and prayed for the saints, a wide variety of them, ranging from winners of the Nobel Peace Prize to martyrs at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. For each of those named in the liturgy, our response was “Stand here beside us.”

For those who were not at the service, and for those who may have had trouble seeing (and remembering) the many many photographs, click here to review the slides. The names of those dear to the congregation who died during the past year were recited at the service. For reasons of privacy, they are not included here.

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All Saints vs the Marathon

On November 4, All Saints Sunday, our usually saintly personalities may undergo some slight trials. It’s Turn the Clocks Back Sunday and also some roads will be closed for a Half-Marathon race, for a good cause, Hitops, 

The organizers have tried to schedule so the roads are clear in time for worshippers in Princeton to attend services. For the map showing the times when you can get through on a particular road, click here. 

However, the town issues this warning. The race and road closures will begin promptly at 7 am. As the runners proceed through intersections the roadways will be re-opened. Please plan accordingly if you are traveling into town between those hours. If you are attending a religious service or other business we are encouraging you to leave early and if you encounter a road block explain to the officer staffing that where you are going and they will be able to direct you accordingly. The race should conclude and all roadways will be open at approximately 11 am.


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Sermon “Miracles Everywhere: Believing”

On the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, October 21, 2018, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz preached from the sermon series ‘Miracles Everywhere’ on the topic “Believing”. Her text is from John 9:1-12 (Healing the Man Born Blind – He Has to Go and Wash) and  Mark 2:1-12 (Friends Carry Paralyzed Man to Jesus).

To hear the sermon live, go to the Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page

Also the sermon will be podcast soon on this webpage under the category “worship”.

According to Batterson

Jewish rabbis distinguished between a good eye and a bad eye.

A bad eye turned a blind eye toward the poor.

A good eye referred to a person’s ability to see and seize every opportunity to be a blessing toward others.

Greg Stielstra story from PyroMarketing

In a study involving a group of Americans who haven’t been to Mexico and a group of Mexicans who haven’t been to America, researchers used a binocular-like device with an image of baseball in one eye and an image of bullfighting in the other. When asked what they had seen, Mexicans typically saw bullfighting, and Americans saw baseball. We often see what we know, what we’ve experienced, what we expect.

Seeing is a miracle in and of itself.

Even the simplest process in the eye is enormously complex.  The retina conducts close to 10 billion calculations every second, before an image even travels through the optic nerve to the visual cortex.

Day 42 after conception – the first neuron is formed in a baby’s brain. By birth a baby will have an estimated 86 billion brain cells. Brain begins to form neuronal connections called synapses. By six months old, each brain cell has about 18 thousand connections.

Millions of neurons are firing across billions of neuropathways every second of every day.

Babies at birth – vision is no better than 20/200. Can’t focus on anything farther than 12″ away. 8 months – babies can see almost as well as we can. During that process – windows of opportunity open and close. Vision is wired between birth and 18 months. Synaptogenesis in visual cortex peaks at 2 months.

If patch is placed over eye of a newborn and left there during first few years of life, baby would be blind for rest of life in that eye, even if that eye was perfectly normal. No synapses would be formed between the visual cortex and optical nerve. Irreversible.

Not only is this the process for physically seeing, but also being able to create images in our mind’s eye based on our experiences and memory. Mountain. House. Family. School. These words bring up images in our minds that aren’t generic, but are actual images / impressions of places we’ve experienced that have meaning for us. This man born blind didn’t have these images or even ones of mom or dad.

For the Man born blind the whole chapter is a saga, fiasco, a big deal.

Disciples – who sinned?

Neighbors – is this the same man?

Pharisees – Jesus must be the sinner here

Parents – brought in and questioned

Man – questioned more

Jesus and the Man – who’s really blind…

The Blind Man received a set of instructions: Go to the pool of Siloam and wash. We don’t know exactly how far he had to go, but  it seems he would have descended hundreds of steps, and this miracle happened during the Feast of Tabernacles, so he would have bumped into thousands of pilgrims. Why? Why not just heal him on the spot? Seems unnecessary!!

Pool of Siloam










There is this Story by Bishop William Frey. He volunteered to tutor a student who was blind since age thirteen, as a result of a chemical explosion. The student felt like life was over and was feeling sorry for himself. One day his dad said – “John, winter’s coming and the storm windows need to be up – that’s your job. I want those hung by the time I get back this evening.” He pretended to walk out of the room. John got angry – he was so angry he decided to do it – “when I fall they’ll have a blind and paralyzed son!”  He didn’t fall! He discovered he was capable of doing far more than he realized, even with blind eyes.  In reality, dad was never more than 5 feet away. He made sure John was safe, but knew that helplessness was a far worse curse than blindness.                                                                                                                        

Jesus didn’t just heal his blind eyes. He restored his dignity by not leaving him helpless. Most miracles require an act of obedience. Somehow, God keeps calling us, inviting us to be miracle workers with God.

Last week we were invited us to put on God-Vision Goggles in order to see what God is up to. This week, not only our GHE and our GSS, but also to become partners with God in making happen Miracles Everywhere.

I’ve been talking about miracles as experiences of God’s love, power, presence, and purpose, inviting us to open our eyes to a whole huge wide world or miracles.

Even though miracles are all about God – they are experiences of God, they are signposts to God. And while they always affect and change the people they happen to, they are even more about God and about the trust fostered in God as the miracle happens.  

When we think about miracles, we tend to think about God being the doer. And that is true of course. But it’s not the whole story. Think about the miracles that we read about in scripture…… Let’s name some…..and the way humans were part of it.

  • Mark’s paralyzed man – friends carried
  • water into wine – stewards, Mary
  • walking on water – xxx
  • healing paralytic – friends carried on a mat
  • feeding 5000 – boy with fish and bread, disciples
  • raising Lazarus – unwrapping by disciples
  • Moses – parting water
  • healing – faith has made you well
  • resurrection – xxx
  • burning bush – Moses to see it
  • Elijah and widow of Zarephath – flour didn’t run out, then healed son – Elijah
  • walls of Jericho – Joshua and crew
  • creation – xxx

In New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy

  • Nearly 12K volunteers rebuilt over 250 houses
  • immediately after people provided over 50K meals
  • gave 5000 people shelter
  • Mucked out 2000 homes
  • provided 11K flood buckets
  • 3000 Health kits
  • provided tons of clothing, blankets, heaters, etc.

In Africa – Imagine No Malaria

  • cut mortality rate by 60%
  • 4 million nets provided
  • 61 health facilities renovated
  • 2.7 million people treated, averting 6.8 million deaths
  • 175 structures treated
  • 1000 community health workers trained

See you are no less spectacular than any of these other helpers. God works every day with people. God has given you time, talent, treasure, gifts, passions, and a GOOD EYE. Take a moment – what are you seeing with your GVG? hearing with your GHE? With your Good Eye? See and seize every opportunity to bless others, to be a miracles worker! To be a partner of God!


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Sermon “Miracles Everywhere: Seeing”

On October 14, 2018, Pastor Jenny Smith Walz preached from the sermon series ‘Miracles Everywhere’ on the topic “Seeing”. Her text is from Mark 10:46-52 (Blind Bartimaeus – “Rabbi, I want to see”) and 1 Kings 19:11-13 (Elijah – God passes by in the gentle whisper).

How have you experienced God lately?

We are looking for miracles this month.

Mircales Everywhere

For some this is easy and natural. For many of us this is quite foreign. God is everywhere, but not obvious. Seeing takes practice. Speaking about what we have seen also takes practice. That’s why we need our God-Vision-Goggles.

Miracles are those events that bring people from darkness into light. They turn our attention to what really matters in life and in death. Miracles point beyond the one before us to the One who made us for love’s sake. Miracle means the activity of God. (R Bultmann)
Miracles are our experiences of God’s love, power, presence, and purpose.

What’s the miracle here? – of course Bartimaeus’ sight is restored. But there’s more than meets the eye:
Nearing the end of Mark – last healing miracle in the gospel, next to last miracle.
End of a whole section where sight is the issue. Christ confronts Bartimaeus’ physical blindness, but he’s also working on the spiritual blindness of his disciples.
You notice they are trying to keep Bartimaeus from Christ. They are trying to protect Jesus, but haven’t fully figured out that he doesn’t need this kind of protection. This kind of protection goes against the very kind of Messiah he is. He is about healing, unity, reconciliation, love for all people, not just a few chosen ones.

The spiritual blindness of his closest followers who have failed to fully grasp the upside-down kingdom that Christ has brought near.
Earlier in this chapter – James and John ask Jesus to grant them a favor. Jesus asks “What do you want me to do for you?” The very same question he asks Bartimaeus when he cries out for Jesus and finally gets direct access to him. “What do you want me to do for you?”

Disciples: one sit at left hand, one at right in your glory. Bartimaeus: let me see again.
Disciples: sidestep suffering. Bartimaeus: born out of loss, exclusion, helplessness.
The disciples are blind to the reality that in Christ the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, all discover their freedom. Blind to the reality that Christ is the kind of messiah who goes to the poor, the dirty, the obnoxious, the most desperate, most broken, most troubled, most defeated, most rejected ones.
Somehow Bartimaeus sees that Christ is the Messiah. But he too sees only in part.
He’s regained his physical sight at the word of Jesus, and can now do nothing else but follow him! He has experienced God’s power, presence, love, and purpose right in this miraculous moment, and so he goes, follows this one who have him his freedom.
The very next chapter is the Triumphal Entry – they are about to walk into Jerusalem in a grand processional, and every one of those Jesus supporters that day expected a Messianic revolt to commence under the generalship of Jesus of Nazareth.

Instead they will see him suffer, be rejected, die. Their world will be turned upside-down and inside-out. In witnessing all of this, and ultimately the resurrection of Christ, their blindness will be healed. They will be able to see who the God revealed in Jesus actually is. In his resurrection Christ gives his followers eyes to see the good news of God’s ongoing reign.
The work of Christ is seeking to cure the spiritual blindness of his disciples.
Not even the blindness of his closest followers can impede the work of Christ in the world

Eddie in Puerto Rico
I saw a miracle in him, and he told me about miracles he’s experienced.
Going to church. He went because he was invited. He’s a skateboarder, and spends his time on the streets, in skate parks. One day a friend of his asked him to go to church. eventually he went – for a while. Then he faded away again.
He heard God say to him – you need to go back to church. And so he did.
I asked him what was different about his life after being part of a faith community. Everything. How he thinks, how he feels, his relationships, his friends, his family, how he spends his time and money. He feels a call to ministry- possibly to be a missionary. For now he’s working with ReHace. He’s experiencing relief as he manages his Type 1 Diabetes – diagn in Jan. He’s inviting his friends from the skatepark, off the street to come to church, to meet Jesus, to see something he’s been able to see only for a short time himself. But enough time that he’s experienced his own eyes able to see in ways they never have before.
He’s catching flack from his church members about hanging out with the skater kids. But to me it sounds as if he sees something those church insiders don’t, much like the disciples. He’s been given sight and freedom, and now he must follow. He talks to his friends about Jesus, about the miracles he’s experiencing. He invites them to church. Sometimes they come and sometimes they don’t. That doesn’t stop him from talking about the miracles he’s experienced.

Let’s look for Miracles Everywhere:
Prayer – My teacher, Jesus, Let me see again.
Small – ordinary – your breath, the people, another day, glimpses of a bird or a butterfly or a squirrel – ordinary things, yet you notice something more – recognize that life is of God, beauty is a gift from God, a reminder, an assurance, some hope, some comfort. God does not reveal himself in the wind, the fire, the earthquake with Elijah – it’s the sound of sheer silence. The opposite of what we might assume.

Relationships – Pay attention to service, acts of mercy, small sacrifices, what we do for love
Brokenness – Pay attention not just to success, but to failure. Pay attention to what is broken. Pay attention to the broken pieces, the shards, the tears, and to joy. Pay attention to what, and who, needs healing. Pay attention to what is bent over. Miriam – learned music from a woman who could no longer talk, much less sing.

Put on your God-Vision-Goggles. What miracles have you seen?

Bartimaeus couldn’t help but follow this one who had given him sight
When we are able to see Miracles Everywhere, we realize all is gift, and we too can do nothing but follow this one who pours out gifts upon us
Our response is to follow to give.

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Sermon “A Potato, A Fish, and Bread: How Big Is Your Faith”

On World Communion Sunday, October 7, 2018, Pastor Gerri Fowler preached on the topic “A Potato, A Fish, and Bread: How Big Is Your Faith? “ Her text was Mark 9: 30-37.

To hear the sermon live, go to the Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page

Also the sermon will be podcast soon on this webpage under the category “worship”.


Sometimes Mark’s Gospel sounds like it is the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version. The word “immediately” is frequently used and it leaves us breathless in following Jesus as he moves through his ministry here on earth. Jesus and his disciples are on a private journey to Capernaum. Jesus wanted to teach them those things they needed to know while he was still with them. It was nearing his “end time”, as this was the second time he made the prediction of his death. They are listening, but not understanding. We can almost see them nudging one another and quietly saying, “Do you know what he means?” Perhaps they urged one another on saying, “You ask him what he means”. “No, you ask him.” Then Jesus hears them arguing and he finds out they are arguing about who is the greatest among them. We wonder if he perhaps asked in what we would call the vernacular, “Here I am talking about my death and you are worrying about who gets the prize in the Cracker Jack box.” Jesus says to them what we sometimes feel are annoying words, “Whoever would be first must be last of all, and servant of all.”

There was a child in the home where they were staying and he took the child into their presence. The conversation takes a pause. It is as though he holds up a mirror before them in the face of an innocent, trusting, vulnerable, dependent child. In those days, the child would be “the other”. He simply says to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not me but the One who sent me.”

The spiritual journey asks us to set aside presumptions, assumptions, provocations, and prejudices. It often asks us to get on our knees rather than the top rung of the ladder. Sometimes it requires a leap of faith to do so. One month ago I was preparing the chapel at our church for our weekly Monday morning prayer time. Since the first week of our nation’s decision to separate immigrant children from their parents, I have led a time of designated prayer for this situation and the pain and sorrow of these immigrants. I saw a couple in the sanctuary while I was passing through to the chapel. Sometimes we have guests from the community who come to join us in prayer. There is a high ledge separating the room I was in from the sanctuary. In my haste to reach the man and his companion, I walked off the ledge and into thin air. That flying leap took me a distance of about 3 feet and I landed on the back edge of a pew, and then on to the floor.

The man that I was rushing toward in order to offer him prayer, became a vessel of caring to me. He had lived and worked in the United States for 23 years and he was to report to the police station at 1:30 that afternoon for deportation. I saw Jesus in his face. The tables were turned and I found myself in a circumstance of pure grace. He made sure I was able to move and then he helped me to my feet. We had a time of prayer for one another and he left for his appointment. We all lose our bearings from time to time. We suffer discouragement, betrayal, loss, shattered dreams, abandonment, misunderstandings. They all become a deportation into circumstances for which we are not prepared. It is at times like this that we are exposed to the limitless love of God for us.

Here we are on Worldwide Communion Sunday. Today (October 7th) we celebrate one great global relationship with Christians all over the world. Heaven help us if we begin and end our encounter with limitations as we argue about who is invited to God’s party and who is not. God’s table is full of the world– a world full of people created in the image of God. We sit at a table big enough for all “the others”, and even for those who see us as “the others”. Grace isn’t always neat and orderly, precise, and wrapped up in a pretty box with the rest of our prejudices. Grace is undeserved. As a pastor from South Africa once said, “God wants to come into our hearts and lives but God wants to bring God’s friends too”.


When we imitate and follow Jesus our spiritual bowls get larger and larger. As we grow in faith, our world expands and so do we. When we act upon what we already know of what it means to be a Christian, God supplies more faith from God’s inexhaustible storehouse. It is the nature of faith to expand to meet our needs. Today we look around our world with spiritual eyes and we declare, “We are the Body of Christ”. We see millions eating at the table with us and we beckon to “the others” to come and join us. Jesus holds Open House every day. We are all invited whether we are naughty or nice.

We get the best food that is available which is the “Bread of Life”. We don’t say “take, eat, and be careful”. We say, chew the delicious bread, taste the sweet juice from the grapes. For as the Psalmist tells us, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” We celebrate the One who binds us together. God is pushing our boundaries, challenging our comfort zones, stripping us of our camouflage.
And Jesus took a Muslim–
And Jesus took immigrants from every country–
And Jesus took a homosexual couple–
And Jesus took the least, and the lost, the outcasts, and the discriminated, and the abused–
And he said, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the One who sent me.”

For more from this message, click here

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Circle of Friends: Next on November 13

All women who attend Princeton United Methodist Church are invited to Circle of Friends on second Tuesdays, every other month, in Fellowship Hall. The next meeting will be Tuesday, November 13 at 10:30 a.m. Bring your lunch; beverages and dessert will be provided.

Here is an account of the previous meeting on September 11:

Katheryn Ranta

The meeting opened with a hymn sing, led by Karen Zumbrunn, who had selected hymns to coordinate with the day’s presentation on Prayer. Katheryn Ranta shared a devotional reading and led in prayer. Beth Perrine led a short business meeting, introducing this year’s format of sharing the meeting responsibilities.

From left: Beth Perrine, Jenny Smith Walz, Pat Ostberg

Pat Ostberg and LaVerna Albury, from the Outreach Committee, told about volunteer opportunities at HomeFront, a Family Preservation Center in Ewing. . It houses 38 families along with many supportive services. A vote was taken to make a donation to support serving a breakfast at HomeFront. Circle of Friends is continuing our “caring project” of sending notes and cards to church members unable to attend church.

Our speaker was lead pastor Jenny Smith Walz. Pastor Jenny spoke about prayer. She presented how prayer has changed throughout her life, how she understands and experiences prayer now, and how she seeks to “pray without ceasing.” We shared our thoughts and questions on prayer. A time of fellowship over lunch followed.

At our next meeting, Tuesday, November 13 at 10:30 a.m., Dr. Katharine Doob Sakenfeld is our speaker. She was the second female professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, and she taught Old Testament for 43 years. She has a special interest in women and their relationship with the Bible. Among her books are  “Just Wives: Stories of Power and Survival in the Old Testament Today”

All women are welcome. Contact Beth Perrine ( for information.

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Piping God’s Tunes at Princeton UMC

Not every church is fortunate enough to have a real pipe organ. Several times in Princeton UMC’s history, the congregation had to make the decision to financially support what Mozart called ‘the king of instruments.’ Each time they found the funds. 

The first organ at Princeton UMC was installed by the Haskell Organ Company of Philadelphia in 1911.

(Princeton University Chapel’s Skinner organ has four ranks, was installed in 1928 and restored in 1991).

Haskell pipes – constructed to lower the pitch of the pipe without making it a great deal longer — were a relatively new invention then.

Charles Sanford, a friend of the pastor, donated the cost of the Haskell organ, along with monies for the stained glass window in the Sanford Davis Room and the bells for the tower.

When the first floor of the education wing was added in 1959, a Princeton-based, nationally-known organ maker, Chester A. Raymond, rebuilt the organ and was able to retain some of the original Haskell pipes. (These pipes have a ‘trace more string quality,’ according to some experts.)

The aging instrument needed repair in 1992. Though plans called for two manuals with 24 ranks, the project expanded when the church accepted an organ from the estate of a Lincroft-based engineer, Donald Curry. He had built a 98-rank theater organ in his home, and he wanted it to go to a Methodist church.

From the two organs, plus some new materials, Patrick J. Murphy built a 3-manual, 48-rank instrument with 2775 pipes.At that time Opus 13 occupied a prominent place in the portfolio of his young firm; the company is now one of the largest full-service organ builders in the Northeast. Murphy’s firm continues to provide maintenance for PrincetonUMC and  recently installed the recital organ from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore at St. Pauls Roman Catholic Church in Princeton.

The music staff included Mary Jacobsen, organist since 1988; Yvonne Macdonald, youth choir director since 1980; and Lyn Ransom, director of music since 1987. The organ  has been helping Methodist musicians praise God since then 1993.

Currently, Hyosang Park is PUMC’s music director, and Tom Shelton directs Children and Youth Choirs. Yang-Hee Song plays the 25-year-old instrument with this impressive list of 37 stops and 2775 pipes, including some from the original organ.

For comparison, Princeton University Chapel’s Skinner organ has four ranks, was installed in 1928 and restored in 1991. Bristol Chapel’s Aeolian-Skinner organ on the Westminster College campus has 3 manuals, 40 stops, and 50 ranks. Princeton Theological Seminary had a free-standing Haskell organ in 1910 and installed its most recent organ in Miller Chapel, built by Paul Fritts and Company, in 2001.


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Let’s Hear from the Puerto Rico Mission Team!

Members of a Puerto Rico mission team will deliver the sermon atthe worship service of Princeton United Methodist Church (PrincetonUMC) on Laity Sunday, October 28 at 10 a.m.

Partnering with the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey Conference (GNJUMC), they worked in Puerto Rico for a week in early October.

“We aimed to help people feel a little more love and more restored in terms of their homes and their lives,” says Rev. Ginny Cetuk, who led the mission team along with Norm Cetuk of Martinsville, NJ;, Rev. Skitch Matson and Rev. Jenny Smith Walz, both of Princeton. The team includes Princeton UMC members: Susan Davelman of Hillsborough, NJ: Timothy Ewer of East Windsor, NJ; Jennifer Hartigan of Princeton, NJ: TJ Lee of Plainsboro, NJ; and Lori Pantaleo of Princeton Junction, NJ. Also participating: Paul Elyseev, Jesse Bickford of Washington, DC; Jennifer O’Donnell of Christ United Methodist Church in Piscataway, NJ; Rev. Hector Burgos of GNJUMC; and Eunice Vega-Perez, of Bishop Janes UMC in Basking Ridge, NJ.

In the year since Hurricane Maria swept across Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017, The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has contributed more than $20 million, allowing the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico to establish the Renew, Rebuild and Reconstruct (Rehace) program.


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