One day at @PrincetonUMC: #SocialMediaSunday

In many churches around the world September 25, 2016, is “Social Media Sunday,”  the day set aside to use digital devices intentionally to share their life of faith with the world. In that spirit, here are some of today’s videos and pictures taken at Princeton United Methodist Church.

In worship, the Ensemble (Charles Hayes, Harran Williams, Michael Andrew Cabus, Eileen Francisco-Cabus) sang Charles Hayes’ God’s Hands.

Cindy Gordon, in the Children’s Time, illustrated how Jeremiah challenged God’s people to take risks. Machaela Irving read the scripture, and  Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash preached on the Jeremiah selection of this week’s lectionary (Jeremiah 32:1-3a; 6-15) in a sermon entitled “Step Out in Faith.”

The Chancel Choir, directed by Hyosang Park, sang Michael Burkhardt’s The Lord is Beautiful 


Andrew Hayes doubled as Ensemble musician and  SS teacher, with Anita Tong, for middle schoolers

Meanwhile, in Sunday School, The toddlers experience Christ’s love with delight-filled play, and they also practice the habit of simple prayer, with Mae Potts and Marie Griffiths.


4th and 5th graders met with Barbara Sageser, Janis McCarty, and Lorie Roth

First to third graders, led by Yvonne Macdonald and Sharon Distase, helped praise God with a cheerleading chant. 

Skitch Matson, in the Youth Room, had teens working in small groups on the concept of Sabbath, as in Exodus 16. 

One of the two adult classes, Contemporary Issues, met in the library to discuss Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers by Kwame Anthony Appiah.

The Heart of Our Faith class met in Fellowship Hall, where Rev. Don Brash led a discussion on Persevering Hope. 

After church, the Handbell Choir practiced. From noon to 1:30, church doors were open, and the Tiffany Task Force gave a half dozen families (from Iceland to Venezuela) the stained glass window tour.

That evening, the youth choir practiced for their anthem next week, followed by dinner and fellowship.

PUMC didn’t call attention to Social Media Sunday this year, but we are trying to use every media possible to welcome visitors and help each other grow as Christ’s disciples. We  believe that with more than 1 million new social mobile users added each day, we need to use new tools to be where people are. If you would like to help — taking videos and photos, using media like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and more, email the Comm Team, Smart phones at the ready!






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For Women in the Congo: October 1 and 9


In this disturbing time of unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, woman leaders who empower women in the Congo are visiting Princeton. Princeton United Methodist Church traditionally supports two charities based in the Congo, the United Front Against Riverblindness, founded by our own Daniel Shungu, and Woman, Cradle of Abundance.  a non-profit organization that empowers women in the Congo, founded by Professor Elsie McKee of Witherspoon Presbyterian Church and Princeton Theological Seminary.



So we are especially glad to welcome two leaders of Woman, Cradle of Abundance on their visit to the United States this fall. Their visit begins with “Pour Femme,” an all-French concert performed by local singers and pianists on Saturday, October 1, 2 p.m. in Miller Chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary. Tickets at the door or online are $35 for adults and $15 for students. Free offstreet parking is available across Mercer Street (in the library lot) and an anonymous donor will match each donation up to $2,500.

At Princeton United Methodist Church, we have a special welcome for Maman Monique, who will speak at a PUMC breakfast on Sunday, October 9, at 8 a.m. She will be accompanied by Maman Antoinette.



The United Methodist Men serve up a hearty meal, and everyone is welcome. A $5 donation is requested.

Other speaking dates: Sunday, October 2, at 10 a.m. at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, followed by conversation with church members after worship. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m. at Haddonfield Friends’ Meeting, Haddonfield, NJFriday, October 7,  noon, Princeton Theological Seminary, Main Lounge of Mackay Campus Center, sponsored by the Center for Theology, Women and Gender.Sunday, Oct. 16, noon, Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton

Vive les femmes!






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Sermon: Lessons from 9/11

Like a sharp medical instrument, anger sometimes has its legitimate purposes said Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash in her September 11 sermon. Just dispose of it properly. Based on the lectionary reading for this week, Matthew 5:21-26,  her topic was “Lessons from 9/11.”
“What are the long term implications of a society dominated by anger? For a family dominated by an angry style of relations?  For a community?” Jesus reminds us that anger is in the same category as murder.
But aren’t there occasions where anger is truly righteous?
So much of our anger rises unbidden, programmed as the ‘flight or fight.” Adrenaline can be a positive advantage, preparing our muscles to run fast or thrust hard.
Yet non lethal slights trigger anger too. It is not sinful to have angry feelings. Feelings are not something we can easily control (Eph 4:26). Assume that anger is going to happen. Decide not to go to bed angry. Seek reconciliation.
In medical offices, the red sharps container is a safe repository for sharp things. Rather than stuffing angry feelings (which seems to be a Christian response but can lead to physical illness or depression) or rage (which can develop into an addictive need to feel angry with little or no provocation) choose a safe disposal method.
Here are four steps to dealing with anger — the emotional equivalent of the red sharps box 
  • Name the anger
  • Claim it
  • Own it
  • Send it on the way
Naming is powerful.
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PUMC Circle of Friends Meeting September 13, 2016

img_2558The Circle of Friends held their monthly meeting at 10:30 a.m on Tuesday September 13 at the PUMC Fellowship Hall with twelve members present. Beth opened the meeting with a devotion and introduced the guest speaker.

Susan Gange ofimg_2550 PUMC gave a talk on “Successfully Growing Orchids in the Home.” Her presentation  covered different types of orchids such as Phalaenopsis, Oncidiums, Dendrobiums, Cattleyas, and Paphiopedilums as well as her secrets to successful home orchid growing.

Susan was awarded a trophy for the Best Professionally Grown Phalaenopsis Orchid at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Orchid Society International Show in Oaks, PA in April of this year. She also owns Stony Brook Orchids, a large orchid greenhouse in Pennington, New Jersey. Stony Brook Orchids offers orchids and supplies at farmers markets in and around Princeton.

Topics covered by Susan included light, temperatures, water, humidity, fertilizer and potting. The Phalaenopsis orchid is one of the best orchids for growing at home. It grows well in bright windows. Water is critical for this plant which must never dry out but at the same time one must keep in mind that over-watering kills. She recommended watering only on a sunny day before noon so that the leaves are dry by nightfall.  Water should be kept off the leaves to prevent diseases attacking them. In warm weather 1/4 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of water should be used with every watering. In winter fertilizer may be applied once a month. Humidity levels must be between 50% and 80%. Potting is best done in the Spring after blooming, with plants potted in a well-draining mix. For best results repotting is usually done annually. Plastic or clay pots are the perfect choice for repotting.



The Circle of Friends were thrilled with Susan’s presentation and purchased unusual and rare orchids from the lovely array of plants on display, assuring her that they would carefully follow her instructions. Others promised to visit her greenhouse or call for advice. The presentation was followed by lunch and the group’s monthly business discussions. For dessert, Catherine provided a delicious apple honey cake. Karin closed the meeting with the reading of a poem and leading the group in prayer.

All church women are invited to join the Circle of Friends at their next meeting in November 2016, in the Fellowship Hall at PUMC. For more information, please contact the church office at 609-924-2613 or visit

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District Wide Leadership Training for Missions :

Two leadership training opportunities — one on race and social justice, one on leading mission projects — are offered by the United Methodist Church.


Rev. Tom Lank  offers Volunteers in Mission Leadership Training for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist church  United Methodist Volunteers In Mission promotes, encourages, and enables Christians to exemplify “Christian Love In  Action” through short-term mission service in the United States and abroad. Tom was an assistant pastor at PUMC and led our United Front Against Riverblindness mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The training is  Saturday, November 5, in Neptune, N.J. Details here 

Katey Zeh katey-headshot-300x285 offers a Drew Theological School webinar,  Confronting White Privilege in Our Mission for Justice on four Wednesdays , 3 to 4:30 p.m. starting September 21. 

“In this four-part series we will discuss what the missional engagement of the church looks like in a highly racialized context on both a national and a local level.  In addition to personal reflection and group discussion, participants will gain new tools and resources for addressing white privilege in their own communities and ministries and ideas for building ministries that are relationally authentic and socially impactful.”

Katey joins Bill Mefford to teach this course, which costs $60. Scholarships for PUMC members are available.

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Down Memory Lane with the Corson Sisters

jane-and-book-imgp1656On September 12, two daughters with ancestral roots at Princeton United Methodist Church paid a visit to the chapel dedicated to the pastors in their family. Jane Corson Henry and Dorothy Corson Jones are the great granddaughters of Rev. Pennington Corson imgp1662(who served 1899-1904), granddaughters of Rev. Alexander Corson (1929-1932), and daughters of Rev. Lynn Corson. ‘All were pastors here; their father served this church from 1942 to 1950.


The parsonage on Hamilton Avenue was filled with five children; the eldest and youngest were boys.  Jane was the middle daughter and Dorothy the youngest daughter.By a grace-filled coincidence, Barbara Fox and Judy Algor happened to be in the building and able to show them around. and then go to lunch.corson-sisters-imgp1667


The four of us agreed that it was a blessing to meet each other — the PUMC members to learn about the past, and the Corson sisters to see how their father’s work carried into the future.


The sanctuary, they say, looked just as as beautiful as before. They remember the “back stairs” that lead from the Sanford Davis room to the Sunday School classes held in little curtained side rooms of what is now our renovated Fellowship Hall. They admired the music room mural and the library with its “photo wall” depicting three Pastor Corsons.

In 1948, the sisters recalled, Princeton schools were desegregated under “the Princeton Plan” by Chet Stroup, a PUMC member who was superintendent of schools. Instead of attending middle school in the 185 Nassau School, they walked to the school on Quarry Street that is now The Waxwood apartments. Their mother did not drive, so they walked everywhere and ‘hung out’ on the university campus, often rollerskating on the slate sidewalks.

When their father accepted a call to Haddonfield United Methodist Church, Jane was a freshman at Princeton High. Eventually they would attend Methodist schools; Jane and her older sister Barbara trained as nurses at Methodist Hospital in Philadelphia, and Dorothy went to Wesley College in Dover, Delaware and had a career in retail.

As “Preacher’s Kids,” they remember being always on display, at church, in the community, and at home. Their mother always cooked extra for the guests their father would invited, especially on Sunday.

“Our father would get us up in the morning chanting ‘This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it,’ and we would want to throw pillows at him,” says Dorothy.

Dinner — always a family affair and always at 6 p.m. — was always followed by their father reading the passage from the Upper Room.  Some family traditions continue. As they raised their own families, they would begin each meal by holding hands and saying the familiar grace.

For all we eat, for all we wear

For all we have, everywhere,

We thank thee, Father. Amen.

Says Jane: “We were born with our faith, we were raised with it, and we lived by it. But — I wish I had paid more attention to Sunday School when I was here!”



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Confidence – Creativity – Collaboration: Choirs at PUMC



lorie photoParents—PUMC members and non-members–don’t let another year go by without signing  yourr child up for PUMC’s Children’s Choir. Music education is one of the most important developmental programs we offer children and we don’t want you to miss out on this opportunity.

Under the direction of Tom Shelton, Professor of Sacred Music, Westminster Choir College, PUMC’s Children’s Choir offers invaluable musical training. Mr. Shelton is an accomplished choral director, with a long history of conducting children’s choirs in the public schools and directing honors choirs in choral festivals across the country and internationally. He is also very active with choral associations, serving as President elect of the American Choral Directors Association, and selected by the US Choristers Society to teach a webinar on How to Teach Songs to Children’s Choirs, on August 18th. PUMC is very lucky to have a children’s choral director of his caliber.

Under Mr. Shelton’s superb guidance our program develops the highest standards of children’s choral singing. Moreover, it is fun. He makes it fun. The children have a wonderful time singing and performing together and even acting. Part of the musical training at PUMC is musical theatre –a unique element of our program.

It isn’t all just fun and games, however. The children are developing critical life skills through this musical training that will carry them far in life.

In 2008, the President’s  Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) released the findings from a landmark study on arts education (Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future) that “clearly showed the effect of arts education on student academic achievement and creativity.” The report went on to say that “It also became clear that arts education provides a critical benefit to the private sector. To effectively compete in the global economy, business leaders are increasingly looking for employees who are creative, collaborative and innovative thinkers. A greater investment in the arts is an effective way to equip today’s students with the skills they will need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.”

SpreadMusicNow Foundation, a private foundation that raises funds for the arts, has developed a memorable moniker for the key benefits of music education: “Confidence. Creativity. Collaboration.” They go on to say that these are just some of the things that improve when a child participates in structured, rigorous music education.”

So, Parents, please don’t miss out on this opportunity to sign your child up for PUMC’s Children’s Choir and give them the gift of music education.

Contact Tom Shelton directly at to learn more about this program.

by Lindsay Diehl

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Being Molded by God


altar potterEverything went together yesterday, Sunday September 4, to tell a salvation story, that if we make a habit of looking for God, even if we do wrong, God will reshape us. The text from the lectionary was Jeremiah: 18: 1-22,  ‘At The Potter’s House.” Beautiful pots and vases, made by our music director Hyosang Park,  were arranged on the altar.

As Malisa Langdon said, at Children’s Time, all of the pots and bowls are different. We are all made differently, and God works with each of us as individuals.  She told of a failed knitting project that she put on a shelf. In contrast, a potter can take a failed pot, turn it back into a lump of clay, and reshape it.

That’s what God does, said Rev, Jana Purkis-Brash in her sermon “Being Molded by God.” It may take a long time to find directions to “the Potter’s House,” but (paraphrasing) the Creator who made us can take our mistakes and our guilt and reshape us into whole and healthy disciples of Christ. We’re not good at waiting and yielding but here are clues:

  1. Learn the right address, where we are permitted to be works in progress.
  2. Make the right turn, repeatedly. Jeremiah uses language of turning and changing.
  3. Allow the potter to work with your clay as the potter chooses.

The ‘pickup choir,’ directed by Hyosang Park, sang “The Image of God” by Craig Courtney, reminding us that we are all created in God’s image, “uniquely gifted for His own plan and purpose.”

After the service of Holy Communion, and rousing choruses of “Since Jesus Came Into My Heart,” (Gaither version here), we gathered in Fellowship Hall for Summermikaela Sharing, where Mikaela Langdon, a senior at Rowan University,  told of her mission trip to Hawaii and how God changed her while she was there. What she learned about how to witness for Christ is valuable for how PUMC is thinking about reaching out to passersby on Nassau Street.

What she learned: don’t pass out things, instead let the people come to you. Invite them to take a survey. Arrange some kind of display that attracts their attention. The goal is to start a conversation so that they think about God. Let God help them find the Potter’s House.




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Rally around the Heifer Ark on September 11

2016 september rally 2-3rd

Second and third graders meet with Mae Potts and Tracey Feick-Lee

We’re getting off to an exciting start to the Sunday School year! On Rally Day, September 11, kids  parents, teachers will gather in the sanctuary at 9:30 a.m. for the first 15-20 minutes of worship. We will celebrate that our Sunday School is ready to buy an ark for Heifer International.

Kids and teachers will be blessed, and sent off to classrooms to begin a new Sunday School year ad-venture. Adult classes Contemporary Issues and Heart of Faith will begin at 9:30.

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UMM: Chaplain on September 11

photo by Michael Mancuso, Times of Trenton

CHAPLAIN TED TAYLOR photo by Michael Mancuso, Times of Trenton

The date of September 11 lives large in all our memories. This year, for the United Methodist Men’s breakfast, Chaplain Tedford J. Taylor’s topic will be “Thinking about end of life decisions — how to plan for the future.” Ted will discuss this difficult subject in the context of our faith, having peace rather than denial. By coming to terms with it– spiritually, psychologically, and rationally — and thinking it through, families won’t have to scramble with not knowing what Mom or Dad would wish.

Ted joined Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton in 2007 as the Director of Pastoral Care & Training where he supervises more than 20 volunteer and intern chaplains in providing the spiritual and emotional care to patients. Ted is a diplomate in pastoral supervision through the College of Pastoral Supervision & Psychotherapy (CPSP) and is board certified as a clinical chaplain with a fellowship in palliative care and hospice through CPSP. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Baptist Theological Seminary.  Ted resides with his husband Kevin in Ewing Township and is a Recorded Minister in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and is active in the Yardley Monthly Meeting.

When Chaplain Taylor spoke at the UMM breakfast in January 2015, the discussion on patient centered care was so lively that time ran out, and we welcome his return. The delicious hot breakfast begins at 8 AM, followed by the program  at 8:30. A $5 donation for the meal is requested. Everyone is welcome!

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