Renew, Rebuild, Reconstruct – in Puerto Rico

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

From October 6 to October 13 small band of enthusiastic Christians from Princeton UMC, and some from other United Methodist churches in New Jersey, will travel to Puerto Rico. “The reason we are going is to help people feel a little more love and more restored in terms of their homes and their lives, through the various kinds of work we will do,” says Rev. Ginny Cetuk. She and her husband, Norman, and Rev. Skitch Matson, are leading the team.

Princeton UMC’s Outreach committee is partnering with the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, which is connected to the United Methodist Church of Puerto Rico and Bishop Ortiz. “He will essentially be our leader and director – to tell us where the need is, and that’s where will go,” says Pastor Ginny. “We will do everything we can from helping build a roof to having conversations with people to let them know we love them.”

Princeton UMC people making the trip are Susan Davelman, Lori Pantaleo, Timothy Ewer, Jennifer Hartigan, and TJ Lee. From other churches: Jesse Bickford, Jennifer O’Donnell, Paul Elyseev, and Eunice Vega-Parez.

Says Pastor Ginny:  “We are eager to do this work and ask everyone’s prayers that we will be maximally helpful and return home safe and sound.”

In this video we learn how United Methodists (UMCOR) provide both physical and emotional support

In this video we learn how one Puerto Rican woman was grateful for UMCOR help. 

Editor’s note: if you missed this trip but want to help plan or go on the next one, contact the Outreach Committee!

 

 

 

 

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Sermon: “Swing Forward: Growing Pains”

Rev. Jenny Smith Walz preached on September 2, 2018 in the sermon series “Swing Forward”, on the topic ‘Growing Pains’.

Her message is based on the Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith in Mark 7:24-30.

She begins by asking some challenging questions – Who is the church for? Who is PUMC for? For whom will we exist in 20, 50, 80, 100 years? She concluded there was not just one answer.

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

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

Of the four gospels, Mark portrays Jesus as the most human. This allows us to see how Jesus might develop and grow. It’s still surprising to us to hear Jesus calling the woman a ‘dog’, but knowing Jesus is fully human could lessen that surprise a bit. Jesus is open to compassion and love and heals her daughter. Here we see the Kingdom of inclusion, which though not new in theory remains new to us in practice. The disciples were more offended that Jesus healed the woman’s daughter than he called her a dog. While we are offended that Jesus called her a dog, we are not so quick to notice the “dogs” of the world or to offer them healing.

Rev. Smith Walz made reference to Kaylin Haught and Karoline Lewis.

Learn also how Karoline Lewis gets Jesus to change his mind.

Rev. Smith Walz’s message is that church is for everyone. She encouraged everyone to come to church:
the children, who are not saying they left church but that their church left them behind;
– the young adults, the majority of whom feel lonely and disconnected;
those dealing with homelessness;
those who have experienced spiritual trauma, for whom we need to envision a healing center.

We need to share God’s love with them, share the fullness of life that we’ve found. Together with them, we need to discover more of who God is, living more fully in God’s kingdom.

Rev. Smith Waltz feels sadness when people call wondering whether they are welcome at church for all kinds of reasons, notably that they are different or they have nothing to give. She feels sadness also that people don’t call or won’t come to church for many reasons, not least that they don’t actually experience God at church or that their spiritual hunger isn’t being satisfied.

The good news is that Jesus knows our struggles and has compassion for us, but above all God invites us to the Table to serve us a feast, even as we are “unworthy of the crumbs’. Jesus came to save people not to exclude them.

Finally, the church is there to pass on the tradition from one generation to another.

— Isabella Dougan

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GNJ Camps at Pinelands Center Summer 2018

Lives were changed at this year’s summer camping experience at Pinelands Center, run by the Next Generation United Methodists of Greater New Jersey. 

Click here to read more showcasing the fun that was had, friendships that were forged, and faith that was strengthened. You will recognize several youth from our congregation!

 

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Installation Service September 9

Rev. Jenny Smith Walz will be installed September 9

Rev. Jenny Smith Walz will be installed as Lead Pastor at Princeton United Methodist Church (Princeton UMC) on Sunday, September 9. Click here for the link to the Princeton Regional Chamber. 

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A Journey of Faith XII: 1911 dedication

This is the twelvth in a series of excerpts from “A Journey of Faith for 150 years: A history of the Princeton United Methodist Church” by Ruth L. Woodward, Copyright 1997.

The Tiffany window to honor Eddie Durrell and many memorial gifts dedicated in 1911; the Ivy Caper

The new building was finished with Port Deposit granite laid in broken range, in a design referred to as perpendicular Gothic. The interior finish was of hard wood, with quartered oak pews and matching pulpit furniture. The light fixtures were a combination of gas and electricity, known as gasoliers, used in most public buildings of the time. A light bulb could be screwed into the bottom and there was a gas jet on top to be used in emergencies. One of these fixtures still remains in the Vandeventer Avenue entryway of the church (as of 1997). There was a lawn on the space now occupied by the education wing, and it was still considered necessary to build a row of horse sheds across the back of the lot.

The jewels of the building were, and are, the stained glass windows. The magnificent window in the facade of the sanctuary, depicting St. George and the dragon, was the gift of the Reverend Edward Hicks Durrell and his family, in memory of a deceased son and brother, William Edward Durrell, who was a Princeton graduate of 1889. Eddie Durrell died in Italy in 1891 and was buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. Because he was the youngest member of his class, and the first to die, his classmates arranged for a flat marble slab to be erected on his grave as an expression of their love and esteem. The family was probably happy to have an opportunity to provide a memorial of their own.

This window was crafted by the Tiffany Studio of New York City, and the Tiffany signature can be found in the lower right corner. There are several Tiffany windows in campus buildings; however, the United Methodist Church is the only non-campus building in Princeton with a Tiffany window.

Can a Methodist minister afford a Tiffany window? In this case, yes. The elder Durrell spent most of his ministry in churches in the southern part of the state. While serving at Tuckahoe he bought his first cranberry bog. This was the start of a growing and successful business that he carried on as a sideline, and he eventually became one of the largest cranberry growers in the state.

The windows on the main floor of the sanctuary depicting the four Evangelists were gifts of members of the local congregation. There are two unusual things about this set of windows. First, the Evangelists are not shown in the usual sequence of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Instead Luke presides over the choir, with Matthew, Mark and John following. This order is said to have been insisted upon by the studio artists, because they felt this color sequence of the robes was preferable. (??)Second, John does not fit in with his contemporaries. The donor of the window refused to consider the design submitted by the studio, pointing out that John was a young man and she wanted him depicted as such. Though unsigned, these windows came from the Lederle Studios*, as did the one in the Sanford-Davis Room.

There were many individual memorial gifts, most of which have disappeared or been altered in the course of various redecorating projects. Plaques on the sanctuary walls commemorate individuals who gave unstintingly of their time to the building of the church. On the west wall we can read: “In Loving Memory of / Archer Brown / Charter Member of / The Advisory Committee I For the Building of / this Church / his sons: Archer Hitchcock Brown and / Lowell Huntington Brown by their I subscription have helped build this church.” There are two plaques on the east wall. One reads: “In Memory of ; Bishop Henry Spellmeyer, D.O. / Who Died While Presiding Over the / New Jersey Conference; in March 1910/ His last public address was an / Eloquent Plea in Behalf of this Church, / Followed by a Contribution towards; the Building Fund.”

The second honors the work of the pastor. “In Honor and Appreciation of / our Pastor / Rev. William W. Moffett, 0.0./ who, in the erection of this edifice,; witnesses the fruition of ; eight years of ceaseless effort I to advance the interests of the Master’s Kingdom; in this Community.”

The membership of the church placed two plaques in the narthex: “in honor and appreciation of M. Taylor Pyne who gave the westerly part of the lot upon which this edifice stands” and “in honor and appreciation of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Sanford whose generosity made possible the erection of the present edifice and who made a further gift of a special endowment for its permanent preservation.”

However, there was one gift of the Sanfords that not every member of the congregation appreciated. Returning from England one year, Mr. and Mrs. Sanford brought some shoots of ivy from John Wesley’s home at Epworth to present to the Princeton church. One member of the congregation obtained from the university some nails imported from France, especially designed with an L -shaped arm so that ivy could be trained along a wall without the necessity of tape or twine. Some people thought it quite appropriate, and indeed, very special, to have this direct connection with the founder of Methodism. Others thought that the ivy would harm the pointing between the stones.

A large portion of the membership lived close enough to walk to their jobs on Nassau Street or the campus each morning. A member of the anti-ivy constituency would take a moment on the way to work to pull the vines from the wall. A pro-ivyite following would carefully train them back up the wall. These actions were repeated at the end of the working day, and there were some people who went home for lunch, passing the church four times a day. The problem was soon solved when the ivy died from too much attention.

But this was in the future, and everyone was jubilant on the day of dedication. Wednesday, October 11, 1911. District Superintendent Alfred Wagg presided, with Bishop Joseph F. Berry of Buffalo preaching at the morning service and dedicating the church. There was a reunion in the afternoon to which former pastors and members had been invited. Thomas O’Hanlon, who had served the church from 1861 to 1863, presided, and a number of the former pastors spoke. At the evening service both the Bishop and the District Superintendent gave addresses. On Saturday, October 14, Bishop John W. Hamilton lectured on “Some People of Quality at Boston.” On Sunday, with Moffett presiding, Bishop Hamilton spoke in the morning and the Reverend James M. Buckley, editor of The Christian Advocate, in the evening. Music for the services was provided by a chorus choir under the direction of William Christie, with solos by Miss Grace Robinson and Miss Ruth Tolson Mershon.

A recollection of these special events is that “general rejoicing filled the hearts of a grateful and naturally -and properly so proud people.”

*Later an expert said that the Gospel Writer windows were not by Louis Lederle. And, since the same windows can be seen in Germany in the Cathedral at Cologne, it is not likely that the donor could have dictated the aesthetics of the window of John). 

 

 

 

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A Journey of Faith: XI Razing the Sanctuary 1908-1910

This is the eleventh in a series of excerpts from “A Journey of Faith for 150 years: A history of the Princeton United Methodist Church” by Ruth L. Woodward, Copyright 1997.

Financier Charles Sanford contributes nearly one-fourth of construction costs, cornerstone was laid, first services in the new basement in December 1910.

In 1909 Reverend William Moffett announced that he had secured a pledge of $10,000 from Charles H. Sanford, given in memory of his late parents.

Charles Sanford, who had residences in Freehold, New Jersey, and London, England, was a Presbyterian, a member of Old Tennent Church in Freehold. Moffett secured Sanford’s interest by reminding him that he had once been his father’s pastor.

Once interested, Sanford became deeply involved with the building project. His original gift of $10,000 was designated for the construction of the bell tower and his wife donated the peal of bells, one of which is inscribed with her name.

The beautiful triple window depicting Christ blessing the children that faces Vandeventer Avenue, was given in memory of Sanford’s daughter, Ettie Sanford Porter. The windows in the Vandeventer Avenue entryway were given by his daughter Sarita and by his second wife. The Sanford-Davis Room next to the sanctuary honors Charles H. Sanford and B. Woodhull Davis, an active and faithful member of the church.

Charles Sanford, the son of a country doctor, had been sent to Cuba as a teenager in order to learn Spanish. He later returned to Cuba with his wife as a representative of an American firm. He traveled extensively in Central America and at the age of twenty-five was invited to join an American bank in Argentina.

The Republic of Argentina was still quite young and Sanford arrived on the scene as a banker in time to help finance the growth of both the country and the city of Buenos Aires, which was little more than a village when he arrived. He accumulated a vast fortune in the process, owning thousands of acres in the city. He was noted for his philanthropy in Buenos Aires, especially as the founder of a home for children. Able to retire at an early age, he spent most of his time in London, with several months of each year in Freehold.

With the generous gifts of Pyne and Sanford secured, a Building committee was appointed, which awarded a contract to William R. Matthews of Matthews Constructon Company of Princeton. Work was to proceed immediately and the price agreed upon was $39,451.

Even with an important building program on the agenda the church scheduled a series of revival services to be held on the Sunday evenings in January 1910. Guest speakers were provided with board and lodging at members’ homes.

The last services in the original building were held on April 3, 1910. The Reverend Moffett administered the sacrament of communion at the morning service. In the evening there was a commemoration service, with addresses by the pastor and the officers of the various departments of the church.

The Deacons of the First Presbyterian Church had graciously offered the use of their building, “in so far as such use will not interfere with the present appointments of the First Church.” However, the Board thought it best not to inconvenience the members of another congregation.

The following Sunday, April 10, the first services were held in a temporary structure erected on the rear of the lot at 25 Vandeventer Avenue, which came to be known as the Plank Chapel. Pews from the old church building had been arranged in a circle, and the Reverend Henry Belting, who had served the church from 1872 to 1874, preached at the evening service. On October 25, 1910, Mary Elizabeth Pierson and Van Buren Leigh became the only couple to be married in the Plank Chapel.

25 Vandeventer

On April 20 workmen began to raze the former church building. At the same time the frame house on the corner lot was moved to 25 Vandeventer Avenue where, with an extra room and added exterior embellishments, it still stands today.

Work proceeded so quickly that the church’s cornerstone could be laid on June 18, 1910. Participating in “appropriate exercises” were Bishop Luther B. Wilson; District Superintendent Alfred Wagg; the Reverend Sylvester Beach, minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Princeton; former pastor Pennington Corson, and current pastor, Elwell Moffett.

The cornerstone contains names of all who contributed toward the building, a copy of the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a copy of the Princeton Press, a list of members of the University faculty, and a history of the church.

When the basement was completed on December 11, 1910, the congregation began meeting there. The cornerstone from their old building had been placed in the stairwell entry to the basement, where they could view it as a reminder of their beginnings. The white marble stone which had been inscribed, “Methodist Episcopal Church, Founded A.D. 1847. ‘What hath God wrought,'” now bore the additional inscription, “TABLET FROM FRONT OF OLD CHURCH ORIGINALLY ON THIS SITE.”

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A Journey of Faith X: Planning for a Bigger Sanctuary

Upper Pyne. Photo courtesy of Historical society of Princeton

Local philanthropist Moses Taylor Pyne and church hierarchy are eager to replace the modest ‘insignificant’ building with a grander structure than the members can afford.

This is the tenth in a series of excerpts from “A Journey of Faith for 150 years: A history of the Princeton United Methodist Church” by Ruth L. Woodward, Copyright 1997.

At the turn of the century, during the pastorate of the Reverend Pennington Corson, the first practical concern of the trustees was the construction of a parsonage adequate for the needs of the minister’s large family. But there was also growing sentiment for a new church building. There is no doubt that the local congregation worked hard to attain this goal.

Children of the members of that era relate the great pride that their parents took in their new church; it became a point of interest to show to out-at-town visitors in the community. It is also true that there is no way that the local membership could have raised sufficient funds on their own to erect such a building. We should truly be grateful, as a congregation, for all those who gave generously toward the building of our church.

However, much of the initiative for a building campaign came from outside the local church. Unfortunately, the major impetus for building, the type of architecture chosen, and the fund-raising efforts, all reflect an elitism that we like to think is foreign to Methodism. It was felt that a new building needed to reflect the grandeur of the campus buildings on the opposite side of Nassau Street. And much emphasis was put on the need to attract college students by having a handsome new edifice.

In 1902 a number of Methodist clergy, including two Bishops, visited Princeton to determine the feasibility of a building project. At the Annual Conference of 1903 a committee was formally appointed to determine whether a new church building was advisable and, if so, to develop plans for such a building.

Pennington Corson was appointed secretary of this committee, a position which he retained even when succeeded at the Princeton church by the Reverend William W. Moffett, who also had a seat on the committee. This was a high-powered comnittee; four of the twenty-three members were bishops, all but six were members of the clergy, and the local church was represented by only two members.

At its Sesquicentennial in 1896 the College of New Jersey had transformed itself into Princeton University. A growing student body and the wealth of Moses Taylor Pyne, an alumnus of the Class of 1877, had precipitated a spate of new buildings on the campus. Pyne, a wealthy philanthropist, who came to reside in Princeton in 1895, made his home at “Drumthwacket,” the present New Jersey Governor’s Mansion. As much as possible, he emulated the manner of living of the English county gentry.

His vision, however, encompassed more than his own residence. He envisioned Nassau Street as resembling the high street of an English village, and the collegiate Gothic buildings he endowed for the university resembled those on the campus at Oxford. In 1896 he erected two half-timbered buildings on Nassau Street, called Upper and Lower Pyne. With shops on the street level, the two upper floors originally held dormitory rooms. Upper Pyne was razed in 1963 to make room for the bank building at 76 Nassau Street. Lower Pyne is still standing at 92 Nassau Street, on the corner of Witherspoon Street.

A third Pyne building was envisioned for the corner of Nassau Street and Vandeventer Avenue, on the lot that would be needed for the proposed new and larger Methodist Episcopal Church. Pyne, interested in the development of the community as well as the university, had been made a member of the advisory committee appointed by the Conference.

Persuaded that it was in the best interests of both town and gown to have a new church building, Pyne donated the corner lot. By a Deed dated March 4, 1910, M. Taylor Pyne and Margaretta S. Pyne conveyed the property to the Princeton Methodist Episcopal Church with the express condition that the edifice to be erected be a church and not a parsonage.

The Deed also stated that if at any time the Methodist Episcopal Church should cease to occupy the property for religious purposes, then its value should be determined by a representative of the church and of Princeton University, and it be offered for sale to the Trustees of Princeton University. If this offer should be declined, then the value of the land alone must be paid to the University.

The Advisory Comittee published a booklet which included proposed plans for the new building, As well as their strong advocacy of such a project. Their report begins: 

A large committee of ministers and laymen, chosen from New Jersey and adjoining States consider the condition of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Princeton, find the present building entirely unsuited to the needs of the situation and not in keeping with its’:environments. They find a congregation of devoted and faithful people, who are making great sacrifices to sustain the interests of our church, and, under the present conditions, with gratifying success; but they are unable, without assistance, to erect such church buildings as the increasing demands of this growing community require. And, further, in the student body of the University, from year to year, there are over one hundred young men from Methodist families, who have a just claim upon us, and for whom we desire to provide a comfortable and attractive church-home. The committee, therefore, have unanimously decided to appeal to the philanthropic people~f Methodism and other broad-minded and liberal citizens interested in the promotion of the cause of Christ to aid in erecting a church edifice that shall properly represent our denomination in this great educational center and do credit to the cause of religion. 

(Several bishops agreed). Dr. James M. Buckley of the Christian Advocate was less tactful in expressing his agreement.

Princeton is one of the most beautiful places in the.land. Presbyterians have poured out their money until, including the buildings of the Theological Seminary and the University, the town contains the finest assembly of educational buildings in the land. It was a great grief to me to look upon the little Methodist church, in a most. conspicuous place, not because it is a Methodist church, but because of its insignificance and entire inadequacy to represent the denomination in that classic town. All this becomes more significant when we remember that the President of the University expects to secure $12,550,000 for additional buildings and endowments…. When this vast sum becomes operative in the work of the Institution, Princeton will be one of the greatest educational centers of the world.

President of the University Woodrow Wilson added his encouragement.

I learn with a great deal of interest that you are hoping and planning to secure a new. house of worship for your congregation in Princeton, and I wish to express to you my very sincere hope that the movement may succeed. Certainly it would gratify us all very much to see this influential congregation properly housed and the Methodist communion worthily equipped in Princeton.

The proposed floor plan in the booklet shows the sanctuary on the corner section of the lot, with an entrance on Nassau Street opening into a vestibule, and an entrance on Vandeventer Avenue opening directly into the sanctuary. Two large rooms on the east side would provide space for Sunday School, prayer meetings and class meetings.

A picture of the exterior shows a short, rather squatty, tower at the rear of the building. A second picture and floor plan are pasted in the booklet, both of which more closely resemble the building that was actually built. The main difference on the exterior is a set of four spires on the bell tower. It is far more attractive than the building originally proposed.

The booklet invited subscriptions, but the committee had to report at the 1906 Conference that only about $15,000 in cash and reliable pledges had been received. The members of the congregation had responded liberally with pledges, and there was some evidence of community interest. In 1909 a subscription was taken among the ministers attending the Annual Conference and nearly $3,000 was pledged. However, it was not considered safe to consider building until a few months later, when the Reverend William Moffett announced that he had secured a pledge of $10,000 from Charles H. Sanford, given in memory of his late parents.

 

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Journey of Faith IX: Rev. McAnney and Eddie Durrell

Sunday School Classroom in the basement

 

 

‘Unheralded’ Reverend Charles H. McAnney, proves to be an ‘evangelistic preacher of great power,’ serving 1885-1888 when Eddie Durrell was a university student, (Eddie was later commemorated by the Tiffany St. George window)

This is the ninth in a series of excerpts from “A Journey of Faith for 150 years: A history of the Princeton United Methodist Church” by Ruth L. Woodward, Copyright 1997.

(Part 9 of “A Journey of Faith for 150 years” by Ruth L. Woodward)

The Reverend Joseph G. Reed came to Princeton in the spring of 1881 and left within a year because of illness. He was replaced by Samuel F. Gaskill who, according to an undated resolution in the church archives, was unable to meet the needs of the church.

Resolved, That the members of the Princeton Quarterly Conference feel it incumbent upon them to declare, in view of the approaching annual conference, that during the past year our Church has suffered in a very marked degree by the sickness and consequent withdrawal of the Pastor appointed by the last annual conference: -We also acknowledge that the selection of Bro. S. F. Gaskell [sic] to fill the vacancy thus created was probably the best that could have been done under the circumstances, and we further bear testimony that both he and his estimable wife have done everything it was possible for them to do to revive the drooping interests of the church: -they have been earnest, devoted, and self-sacrificing -yet, we must confess, their devotion and labor have availed but little in overcoming the unfavorable circumstances surrounding them: We feel therefore that in justice to them, they ought not to be subject to another year of similar trial and forbearance in this charge.

And further, in view of our weakened condition, we most respectfully and yet earnestly ask for the appointment of a single man for the coming year.

Gaskill was followed in 1883 by John S. Parker, who had been married for three years. The appointment may have been at Parker’s request. While serving in Princeton he matriculated at the College of New Jersey, receiving his degree in 1886 while pastor of the church in nearby Windsor.

He was granted the A.M. degree in 1889. His successor in 1885, the Reverend Charles H. McAnney, was said to be an evangelistic preacher of great power. At the end of his tenure, in March 1888, the Official had a resolution of approbation added to the minutes of the Quarterly Conference.

Resolved, That the members of the Quarterly Conference of the Princeton Methodist Episcopal Church, in Conference assembled, cannot let this opportunity pass, without giving expression to their opinion of the Pastorate of Rev. Charles H. McAnney for the 3 years now about to end, and to express their cordial approbation of most of the methods adopted by him during his entire term. He came to us unheralded and unknown, and by the force of his wonderful ability in the pulpit, his boldness and sincerity in dealing with sinners whether in or outside the church, and his enthusiasm for the cause of Methodism which was not abated or affected by the staid conservatism of his surroundings, he has raised up the Princeton Methodist Church to a position never before attained by the labors of any of his predecessors. And while we are conscious that at time errors have been committed, because to “err is human,” yet we recognize the fact that God has blessed his labors in a most wonderful way. We also deeply regret that the policy of the Methodist Church requires his removal from us at this time and we most cordially and heartily commend him to’ his new charge as one worthy of the love, esteem and affection of good people every where.

For some time the ministers, as well as the sexton, had been paid regularly each month. However, by March 1895, when the Reverend Joseph Dilks arrived, it was deemed necessary to secure a note from the Princeton Bank in the amount of $175, $144 of which would care for the pastor’s salary for April and May. In spite of this, there must have been money in reserve, for in June it was decided to paint and paper the interior of the church, to put in new seats and carpeting, and to alter the galleries.

In September 1895 eight young men were appointed to act as ushers and take up collections. The collections were probably the basket collections received at church services, since there are many earlier references to class leaders getting collections from members, and also mention of a salaried Collector. At the beginning of 1896 it was voted to use the envelope and pledge card system, which is still being used today. ‘One member needed to be informed that his pledge of I¢ per week was unacceptable; no amount less than 5¢ per week would be allowed.

In 1897 there was some informal talk about the possibility of observing the semi-centennial of the church, but nothing seems to have come of this. Within a few years the church was involved first in the building of a new parsonage, and then in the major project of building and paying for a beautiful new building. A sense of commitment and cooperation was apparent as members worked to accomplish these goals.

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A Journey of Faith VIII: 1867-1869

View from Vandeventer Avenue

This is the eighth in a series of excerpts from “A Journey of Faith for 150 years: A history of the Princeton United Methodist Church” by Ruth L. Woodward, Copyright 1997.

First Congregational Meeting, Preachers Henry Westwood, Henry Baker, and Josephus Sooy.

On May 2, 1867, after due legal notice having been given, the annual meeting of the male members of the congregation was held in order to elect trustees. This is the first mention of such a congregational meeting, probably a Quarterly Conference.

In February 1868 the church observed Conference Sunday, as a day to make a special effort to raise money to liquidate the debt of the church. The pastor was requested to collect “Centenary contributions.” A special speaker was desirable, and the choice was Brother Halsted of the Brooklyn Praying Band.

On April 9, 1868 Henry Westwood was appointed by the Bishop to serve a church in Omaha, Nebraska. A committee was immediately set up to find supply preachers to fill the pulpit, but by June 5 the Reverend Henry Baker had been assigned to the Princeton church.

The Committee on Assessment reported that Collectors had again been appointed who had “cheerfully agreed” to perform their duties. However, ”there was not a proper disposition manifested by the members of the congregation towards the payment of the amount assessed.”

In March 1869 the Treasurer reported that $948 had been paid to Baker. With the usual juggling of monies to make ends meet, $42.00 of this sum had been borrowed from a member of the congregation, who was to be paid out of the money collected for the coal bill. In June Baker asked for a leave of absence for health reasons for the month of August and part of September; this was unanimously granted.

Josephus Sooy, who would later become pastor of the church, was a member of the Class of 1871 at the College of New Jersey. On October 2, 1868 he was licensed as an Exhorter and on June 8, 1869 the Quarterly Conference recommended that he be licensed as a Local Preacher. After attending Drew Theological Seminary he became a member of Conference in 1875 and Princeton was his first appointment.

The book containing the Trustees’ Minutes ends on October 4, 1869, when the trustees made provisions for having the rear of the church repaired and sanctioned whatever the Sunday School might do about replenishing the Library. The detailed minutes give us a sense of intimacy with the small group of men who labored so faithfully to guide the church through its infancy. They gave not only many hours of their time, but sometimes took impromptu collections at their meetings in order to augment the always slender treasury. We are indebted to their dedication and perseverance.

 

 

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A Journey of Faith VII

This is the seventh in a series of excerpts from “A Journey of Faith for 150 years: A history of the Princeton United Methodist Church” by Ruth L. Woodward, Copyright 1997.

First mission to what is now Baker’s Basin, Reverend Henry Westwood leads the first ‘Every Member Visitation’

There were other problems besides money. In April 1863 the Secretary of the Official Board was directed “to inform Mrs. Cocks that the practice of throwing slops in the Alley next the Church must be discontinued.” The next month the Board resolved to “recommend earnestly to the members of this Church to attend regularly and punctually the meetings of the Thursday Night Prayer Meeting.”

However, money, or the lack of it, was a constant nagging problem. There seemed to be constant coal bills to be paid. And Brother William Leggett, the long-suffering sexton of the church, frequently threatened to leave. His salary was almost always in arrears and he received no raises, but his devotion to’ his church always persuaded him to remain. At one point he was owed $87.25 in back salary, while the church treasury showed a balance of $1.83. In June, 1864, the church was forced to borrow $275. $105.25 of this went to the sexton, so that he was considered paid in full through the previous April 1. It had been decided to rent the office attached to the parsonage, as well as a house on the rear of the property, and this brought in a small income.

In spite of the scarcity of funds there was outreach. In the spring of 1864 there is mention of the “Brethren of Princessville.” Princessville was a small settlement in Lawrence Township near the Princeton-Kingston Turnpike, now the Princeton Pike, in the area that later came to be known as Baker’s Basin. The Reverend Edmund Hance was the minister at this time and he was authorized “to procure a conveyance to Princessville every Sabbath afternoon (at the expense of this Church) until next Quarterly Conference.”

It is not clear whether this was an attempt to start a new congregation, or a method of attracting the residents of Princessville as prospective members.

The following year it was announced that there would be a basket collection at the Sunday morning and evening service13 for “the cause of missions.”

In 1865 the Trustees were still desperately trying to keep the church solvent. There was $31.00 on hand, with five months’ salary due the sexton. From collections there were receipts of $158.63 and disbursements of $158.54, leaving a balance of 9¢. Funds also came in from the Harvest Home, a Concert, the Mite Society, and the rent of the tenant house, but much of this was used for coal bills from the previous winter and. interest on indebtedness. The minister’s salary was $600 per year for 1864 and 1865, and in October of the latter year a committee was appointed ”to devise a plan to raise the Salary of the Pastor.” 1865 ended with $8.34 in the Treasury; by spring it had been depleted to $6.94.

Still, the Trustees did not let themselves become completely preoccupied with money-raising. Shortly after the arrival of the Reverend Henry Westwood as pastor they conferred with him “in regard to the manner of receiving members by certificate, so that more cordiality, and a better acquaintance may result,” and “regarding times for administering Sacraments.” And the Sexton was directed to rent a pew or pews to the students attending church, indicating that at least a few of the young men were finding their way across Nassau Street. But there was still $50 owing to poor Brother Leggett, to be paid from the first money received from any source whatever. The next year his salary was raised to $8.00 per month, but it is questionable whether he ever received it on time.

In September 1866 an early form of Every Member Canvass was devised, with the membership divided into districts and collectors assigned to each district. Each collector was furnished with a small book “arranged in tabular form” and was given instructions on how to proceed with the collections. Assessments ranged from 1 O¢ to $1.00 each month, with 98 family units represented. Having set this up, “Hoping and believing that the Lord will abundantly bless and prosper this financial effort your Committee beg leave to be discharged.”

 

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