When people hurt, United Methodists help

When people hurt, United Methodists help.

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We know what it feels like – fear, disorientation, grief. Because of Sandy we know what those who were in the path of Hurricane Matthew in the United States are going through.

We can only imagine the pain and fear the people of Haiti are facing after experiencing the brunt of the storm. The immense loss and mass devastation needs the full commitment of all our efforts to reach the hurting, the hungry, the frightened and the hopeless.

We also know what the United Methodist family is like. We are family, there for one another during our greatest challenges. It is God’s love in action.

I have been in communication with our bishops in the affected areas and this past Sunday I worshiped with our Haitian congregation, First United Methodist Church of Asbury Park. All are grateful to know that the United Methodists of GNJ are praying for them and will be sharing gifts of volunteers and money to assist with recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

I call all of our congregations to pray and to receive offerings for Hurricane Matthew relief and recovery over the next two weeks. You may send your gifts marked Hurricane Matthew made out to the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey to the Mission and Resource Center 205 Jumping Brook Road, Neptune, New Jersey 07753.

We will send the money to the impacted areas through UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief), and your church will be credited with the donation. Through UMCOR 100% of your gift will be sent to the impacted areas. None will be kept for administrative purposes.

United Methodists from across our connection have assisted us in our recovery from Sandy. In fact, they have sent more than 11,000 volunteers and millions of dollars that helped us to rebuild 247 homes and assist 450 families in their recovery. When people hurt, United Methodists help. I hope your congregation will be a part of helping our sisters and brothers in their relief and recovery so that all of us can have a future with hope.

Keep the faith!

John Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
of Greater New Jersey

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Bagpipes and Colorful Dress: World Communion


Chip Swartz, bagpiper and PUMC member, with Rev. Jana Purkis Brash, celebrating World Communion Sunday.

PUMC truly is a diverse community, and this is never more evident than on World Communion Sunday.  As has become tradition, members are invited to to attend these services wearing the native dress of their countries of origin, transforming our Sanctuary into a colorful quilt of textures, designs and styles.  For several years our Communion table dismissals have been given by church members in a variety of languages, Korean, Spanish and Swahili, among others. This year, members were also invited to come to the altar area during the singing of hymns, and place a sticker on their country of origin on a large world map.  What a blessing it is to be part of such a diverse church family!....by Lori Pantaleo


All ages sang rousingly, directed here by Hyosang Park. See the PrincetonUMC Facebook page for videos!







Jana Purkis-Brash celebrating World Communion Sunday with, among others, Theresa Cann, Ina Early, Isabella Dougan, Catherine Williams, Christine Shungu



Susan and Vasanth Victor celebrating World Communion Sunday.


Reggie and Theresa Cann: Reggie did the projection



Scot with tartan tie: John Macdonald supervised the AV system


Scot with tartan scarf: Iona Harding, who, along with Lula Crawford, offered international food for coffee hour.


Everyone, including each child, could put a sticker ‘heart’ on their native country or the country ‘close to their heart’


Meanwhile, in Sunday School, everyone was learning about Abraham and Sarah, here the smallest children glimpsed the story told by Marie Griffiths and Mae Potts


Kindergartners learned that story, and Christine Wong and Christine Shungu taught the delightful song -“God is so good — to you and me.” Just right for World Communion Sunday!


Nora and Daddy

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Musical Highlights


La Fiocco, a period instrument ensemble that has scheduled a series of concerts at Princeton United Methodist Church, presents “Golden Age of the Countertenor” on Saturday, October 29 at 7:30 p.m. It features international opera star Ray Chenez and emerging artist Daniel Moody in bravura arias and duets of Handel, Vivaldi, Vinci, and Telemann.  Ray Chenez was a 2014 first-prize winner of the prestigious George London Award and was recently profiled in Opera News. Daniel Moody recently completed his masters degree at Yale, and has been a featured young artist at Tanglewood.  La Fiocco will be performing on period instruments including baroque strings, recorder, and harpsichord. Tickets are $25, $10 for students, children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult.

Other musical events with PUMC connections:

Christopher McWilliams plays in Bristol Chapel of Westminster Choir College on Saturday, October 15, at 7:30 p.m., in a free faculty recital “Tea for Two and Beyond.” He is the organist at PUMC.

PUMC’s handbell choir, directed by Hyosang Park, leads worship on Sunday, October 16 at 9:30 and 11. 

PUMC’s children’s choirs, directed by Tom Shelton, sing on Sunday, November 6, at the (:30 a.m. service.


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‘Saying Hello’ to Donald Lasko in the Kelsey Review


“Saying Goodbye,” a poem by Donald Lasko has just been published in MCCC’s the literary journal Kelsey Review, a 30-year-old publication that has just gone digital. To read the poem, click here. 

At left, Don reads his poetry at MCCC, but PUMC members recognize him as a member of Chancel Choir; he also sings with Pro Musica. A retired public high school English teacher (married to Kate, who also teaches English), Don graduated from Oberlin College and has an MA with additional doctoral studies in English at SUNY Stony Brook. He received an NEH grant to study with Galway Kinnell and Sharon Olds from NYU School of Creative Writing and taught creative writing and poetry for many years at Summer Institute for the Gifted on numerous college campuses. For more than 50 years he has had numerous poems published in “little” magazines and is a co-editor of a two-volume anthology This Is Just To Say: An Anthology Of Reading For Writers for use at the high school level.

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Sunday September 18, Rev. Catherine Williams’ sermon “Pray Every Way You Know How.” 1 Timothy 2:1-7


In the huge pile of mail that greeted me upon my return from Trinidad a couple of weeks ago, was a letter from our Bishop, John Schol. Dear Catherine, it began, I understand you are preparing for next year’s full member retreat and examination. You have already been affirmed in your calling and have been leading people to make disciples and grow vital congregations to transform the world, Thank you. A quick glance through the rest of the letter assured me I wasn’t in any trouble – whew! The Bishop actually wrote to offer me words of hope, admonition, encouragement, and support in advance of my upcoming ordination assessment period. His closing words – “Keep the Faith! John.”

When spiritual overseers write to the pastors under their care, their words carry great import for good or for ill. I’d like to think Pastor Timothy felt at least as supported and cared for when he received his letter from his Bishop, Paul, as I felt when I received this letter from my Bishop, John. Bishops or spiritual overseers tend to be rich in faith, grounded in the Scriptures, and seasoned in life and ministry experiences; any instruction they give to those under their care could very well be the Word of the Lord to the minister and to the church.

So we are fortunate this morning to hear this Word from the Lord as we peer over Timothy’s shoulder, reading what his Bishop had to say as he offered words of instruction and administrative guidance to this young leader of the well-established church in Ephesus. Ephesus was a bustling, commercial metropolis in Western Asia Minor; we now call that region Turkey. Paul had left young Timothy in charge of this urban congregation, where philosophical and theological issues were beginning to pose a threat to the faith. So Paul did some fairly close mentoring and coaching in both letters to the young Pastor. In this first letter, just prior to where we begin reading, Paul gives the same exhortation to Timothy as John Schol gave to me – hold on to faith, he says. Hold on to faith and a good th-39conscience. Then he proceeds to suggest how: First of all, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be madeThe Message Bible translation – which provided the title for today’s sermon – puts it this way, The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. The slightly nuanced differences between supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings don’t really warrant separating them into discrete categories of prayer. It was the writer’s way of saying, pray every way you know how.

In our Christian tradition, to pray is essentially to talk to God. If God does not factor into this faith-building practice, we may as well call it a pious little monologue. Furthermore, if God is not expected to have something to say in response to our petitions, supplications, intercessions, or thanksgivings, then…what can I say? You probably know how it feels to have a conversation with someone where you couldn’t get a word in edgewise to save your th-14life? Granted, God’s response in the conversation may take all kinds of delightful or terrifying forms, but that calls for the kind of discernment we only get by the act of prayer, by practicing to pray. Prayer is a conversation; it is being in a place of God-awareness. Keep the faith, Paul tells Timothy; hold on to faith by first of all praying.

You might be saying, “but I don’t know how to pray.” You probably have in mind the eloquent prayers given by clergy or other spiritual leaders in worship. I am happy to clarify that verbal prayer is only one of many, many ways to pray. “How do you pray?” 

Continue reading

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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, communications@PrincetonUMC.org. 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 www.princetonumc.org

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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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