Encourage families to sing with us!

The beauty of Christian music comes alive when children and youth feel what the lyrics say, according to Tom Shelton, PUMC’s director of children’s and youth choirs. Choir members learn good singing techniques and music theory (video link here); they participate in worship monthly, present a musical in the spring, and sing at special services throughout the year (video link here). “I want young singers to love music their whole life, not just for the time they are with me,” says Tom.

Encourage families you know to bring their children to PUMC’s choir. What they learn is invaluable. They enter wide-eyed and curious and leave as musical and global citizens. Invite newcomers to the first rehearsal on Wednesday, September 13, at 4:30 p.m. (kindergarten and first grade) and on Wednesday, September 13, at 5:30 p.m. (second through fifth grade). The first rehearsal for youth (grades 6-12) is Sunday, September 10, 5 p.m. Tom teaches the youngest children, ages three and four, during their Sunday School class.

There is no charge to be in a choir, and singers do not need to be church members.
Look for flyers in the Sanford Davis Room, forward this blog post “15 reasons why your child should join PUMC’s choirs” , forward a video link showing how kids learn. or here is a link of the choirs singing Hosanna. 

Or encourage those interested to email Tom@princetonumc.org.

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From Bishop Schol: What is Normal?

A message from Bishop John Schol
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I write to you with a heavy heart because I know good people of faith will hear different pieces of news coming out of Charlottesville and come to different conclusions. I believe that conversation is important and hope that we will continue to gain clarity and understanding about these issues.

While in Germany for a Council of Bishop’s meeting several years ago, I toured a concentration camp. Martin Niemöller, clergyperson and Christian theologian, had been imprisoned there for being outspoken about Nazi atrocities against the Jews. The cell where he was in solitary confinement was preserved. Throughout the concentration camp, there were pictures of guards. There were quotes from guards. As I toured the concentration camp, I recognized that artifacts and history were preserved to communicate that while at the time, the behavior of the Nazis seemed the right thing to do, it was not normal. It was not moral. It was not how God intended for us to treat one another.

Today, we are facing one of the greatest challenges for our soul and the soul of our Nation. We are facing the normalization of hatred and the continued normalization of racism. You do not find today in Germany statues of Nazis on horseback or proudly marching. I commend the people of Germany who have preserved the horrors of the Holocaust, not idols that look patriotic or victorious.

What we choose to honor normalizes behavior. What we choose to portray as heroic signifies the behaviors our society normalizes. The argument that statues of heroic confederate soldiers are a part of our history is like saying statues of heroic Nazis are a part of history. It does not tell the story that at its heart, the Civil War was based largely on individual rights to preserve an economic system based on enslaving people. When unjust systems and the people who seek to preserve those systems are honored, it signals that injustices and oppression have a place, not only in our history but our present and future.

To say the Nazis, the KKK and other hate groups and the people who stand up against them are similar only emboldens hate groups. The Nazis of Germany and the dissidents who fought against them are not the same.  The Nazis of today’s hate groups are not the same as those who resist and protest hate groups.  To compare as similar people who seek to preserve oppressive systems and injustices with those who seek to oppose them is a comparison that leads to further harm.  One group of people went to Charlottesville with guns, chanting racial hatred against Jews and people of color to promote racism.  The other group responded to oppose them and stand up for injustice.  To call them the same is not normal. There is no moral equivalency between the groups.

What we witnessed in Charlottesville was not people seeking to preserve history, but people who seek to maintain a culture and system of racism and prejudice clashing with those trying to stop racism and prejudice. 

What occurred is something that happens to a lesser degree in communities, churches, businesses, schools, organizations, and families all across our nation every day. It is a battle for what is right, what is of God and what kind of people we want to be. Racism in all forms, individual and systematic, is wrong. We can learn from the German people that we should never glorify a hate-filled and oppressive past, but we should help people see its horror, pain and evil so we can all work to prevent it from occurring again. Here in the United States, in our churches, communities and organizations, we should not glorify those who perpetrated or fought to preserve slavery, segregation and racism, but help the entire world see how wrong it was, is, and continues to be. When we don’t act, we allow other voices to normalize hate speech and divisiveness, and the injustice continues.

I also believe we cannot minimize behavior that is wrong by saying, “Oh, that is just the way he talks,” or, “That is just what she does.”  Or, “That is just the way they are.”  If we allow this, we normalize behavior that reinforces racism.

In Martin Niemöller’s cell there is a quote that says:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Let’s all work together to resist injustice, to preserve what is right and to stand up to injustice and oppression in the name of Christ.

Greater New Jersey is a diverse church and we have made important progress.  Let’s keep going.   I invite each of you to have conversations during the next several weeks in your homes, Bible studies, small groups and worship and ask, “What can our family/congregation and individual disciples do to increase understanding about racism? What are the stories Jesus told about how to treat people? How will we listen to and honor the stories of those affected by racism? What will we do to work toward ending racism?”

Keep the faith!


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

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Ed Felten speaks September 10

Dr. Ed Felten will speak about his two years in the White House on Sunday, September 10 at 8 a.m. All are welcome to the hot breakfast, prepared by Ian Macdonald and served by the United Methodist Men. That day is also the Fall Kickoff — worship begins at 10 a.m., followed by a “Get connected” fair.

A long-time member of the congregation, Ed is Princeton University’s Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs and founding director of the Center for Information Technology Policy, which hosts the blog  Freedom to Tinker.  In 2015-2017 he served in the White House as Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer. Previously he he served as the first Chief Technologist at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. 

His research interests include computer security and privacy, and technology law and policy. He has published more than 100 papers in the research literature, and two books. His research on topics such as Internet security, privacy, copyright and copy protection, and electronic voting has been covered extensively in the popular press.

Another opportunity to hear Ed will be at the Princeton Regional Chamber luncheon on Thursday, October 5, at 11:30 a.m. at the Forrestal Marriott.  Princeton United Methodist Church is a chamber member, and constituents may attend for the member price.



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From Pastor Ginny: ‘This is love’

Dear Friends,
Grace and Peace in the name of Jesus Christ! I just checked the Bible verse for the day on the Bible Gateway app on my phone. As usual, it seemed like a direct message from God.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14.

This verse has me thinking about what the word “heavenward” means. The usual definition is to be directed toward heaven, or the sky. But I always look to the poets to help me understand deep words like “heavenward.” I was not disappointed when I turned to my favorite poet, Rumi.
Rumi was a 13th-century Sunni Muslim poet, mystic, Islamic scholar and theologian. He lived from 1207 to 1273 but his words are timeless. He has been described as the “best selling poet” in the United States. I understand why. He says this about the word heavenward:
This is Love: to fly heavenward.

This fall we will again gather to celebrate our being back together after summer travels to camps, far away places, and vacations in our own back yards. On September 10 we will have the kickoff to our church year by gathering for exciting worship followed by opportunities to hear about the offerings in education for all ages – some of which are new this fall – along with service opportunities and activities for all ages.

(For the September 10 Rally Day and Discipleship Fair)… many of you will be called upon to help us get ready for this exciting event. Included in the day will be expressions of hospitality for everyone, both church members young and old and visitors to the church. In addition, we will ask everyone to enter the church through the front door on Nassau Street. We’ll have coffee together in the yard, greet one another with the love of Christ, and extend our invitation to join us to passersby.

During my short time at PUMC I have felt the love of God in many ways: your gracious welcome to Trey and me; your affirmation of Skitch as part of the pastoral team; and your intentionality about living fully into your faith in Jesus Christ. Our time together on September 10 will be another opportunity for us to share the great love of God with each other and with visitors. When I think about our future together, Rumi’s words come
back to me. When we boil it all down, we are called to love with God’s love. And that, for me, is the best definition of heavenward I know.

This is Love: to fly heavenward! Are you ready to fly?
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Ginny

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Help build the on-ramp to discipleship: Trey Wince

“There is a lot going on in the life of our churches, but there is just not a sufficient on-ramp, for new visitors at least,” says Worship Pastor Trey Wince.  Here  in this video he tells how our church — and other churches — can help people  get on the path to discipleship

  1. Build the onramp.  Welcome and communicate in a way that easily conneTrey Wince PUMCcts people with your church. Set up ways to easily invite people, to clear away the traffic that gets in the way of people’s experience with God.
  2. Schedule merging lanes: opportunies for new people to learn what’s going on next in the church. Have regular meetings. Organic relationships develop.
  3. Build the highway: Have a clear path of discipleship so that your church is going somewhere on purpose. Clarify where we want to take people on a life of faith.

We start to build the on-ramp on Sunday, September 10, at 9 a.m. with coffee and lemonade on the lawn before 10 a.m. worship. And, after the service, a Discipleship Fair! 


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Planning for “Sent” November 11

The Great Commission calls us to go,make disciples, baptize and teach. Learn from a storyteller, changemaker, organizer and  theologian on how to be SENT into this world. SENT: a one day conference for us all. Everybody is invited to Aldersgate UMC in East Brunswick on Saturday, November 11, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Danielle Fanfair and Marion Hall | Folklore Films  

Danielle serves as strategist and producer for Folklore Films, a film series that tells better stories to the city of Houston about Houston, one folkloric character at a time. She explores the stories people who are using change, trauma and pain to fuel passion through life-giving work. Through films, she tells “visual poems,” to tell good stories, inspire new folklore, and cross-pollinate audiences of different, yet like-minded people.

Marlon is a curator of human potential. Academically trained as an Anthropologist, an accomplished film-maker, and published author. He is a Lecturing Fellow for Duke University and curates Folklore Films which is dedicated to illuminating the beauty from brokenness and the folklore within us all.


Mark DeVries | Ministry Incubators

Mark has trained youth workers across the United States and Canada, as well as in Russia, Uganda, South Africa, Ecuador, Trinidad, Nicaragua, and Northern Ireland, working with a wide variety of denominations. He has taught courses or been a guest lecturer at a number of colleges and seminaries, including Princeton Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt Divinity School, David Lipscomb University and others. Mark is the author of a number of books, including Sustainable Youth Ministry (IVP, 2008), Family-Based Youth Ministry (IVP, Revised and Expanded, 2004) and 2011 releases, Before You Hire a Youth Pastor and The Indispensable Youth Pastor (Group Publishing), both co-authored with YMA Vice-President, Jeff Dunn-Rankin. He is also the president of Ministry Architects, the consulting firm working with Greater New Jersey in developing Next Generation Ministry


Christian Coon | Urban Village, Chicago

Christian is the pastor of Urban Village Church, a fast-growing congregation in Chicago that is one of 30 new “planting churches” started by the United Methodist Church in 2009 that are designed to bring in people who have been turned off by traditional religious institutions. Urban Village attracts a large number of young adults. Total attendance each Sunday averages between 250 to 300 congregants, with an estimated 80 percent of them under 40.  The church has three core watchwords: bold, inclusive and  relevant with clear core values, a highly targeted demographic and authenticity.


Eric Barreto | Princeton Theological Seminary

Eric is a Baptist minister who pursues scholarship for the sake of the church.  He regularly writes for and teaches in faith communities around the country. He has also been a leader in the Hispanic Theological Initiative Consortium, a national, ecumenical, and inter-constitutional consortium comprised of some of the top seminaries, theological schools, and religion departments in the country. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion.




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Party Game Night July 30

Ever laughed so hard you started crying? That’s exactly what our hand-picked party games do! Grab another person and a snack to share, and join us for Celebrity, Four-On-A-Couch, and Heads-Up on Sunday, July 30th, from 7pm-9pm in the Sanford-Davis Room.

Don’t know these games but still want to laugh, that’s totally fine! They’re a breeze to learn and we’d love to teach you. (Email Skitch if you have any questions skitch@princetonumc.org)

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United Methodist Communications – Around the World and Close to Home

A new e-newsletter marks the launch of a denomination-wide effort to streamline and customize communications for United Methodist members, leaders and seekers. It is the first publication to carry the voice of the denomination directly to members. Subscribe to the free e-newsletter and view the most recent articles at UMC.org/newsletter. If you have an inspiring story to share, send ideas to UMNow@UMC.org

Sent twice per month from UMC headquarters in Nashville, United Methodist Now includes inspiration and information –stories, articles, videos, quizzes, links and other multimedia content. Subscribers can anticipate learning about:

  • What it means to be United Methodist
  • Christian living/your daily journey
  • Church beliefs and history
  • Motivation, inspiration and things worth watching

Close to home are you getting the PUMC newsletter in your email? Call or email the office if you aren’t. More news is available on Facebook here. 

If you have news to contribute, email newsletter@PrincetonUMC.org.

Our own conference, Greater New Jersey (GNJ), is doing a great job at trying to communicate with us as members. GNJ was given the “Communication Director of the Year” a ward and six other awards. It offers a weekly e-newsletter, a monthly newspaper that is also online, and a podcast.

Anyone can sign up for the GNJ Digest, a free weekly email newsletter that promotes time sensitive events and resources at the conference level, previews weekly denomination news relevant to Greater New Jersey and the strategic plan, highlights conference-wide initiatives and agencies including Team Vital, the Mission Fund and A Future With Hope and provides a vehicle for job postings and committee meeting announcements. Sign up at https://www.gnjumc.org/the-gnj-digest/

The Relay is a monthly newspaper that provides information on events and resources available throughout Greater New Jersey. The Relay promotes evidence of vitality in our faith communities and bright spots among our worshipers. Print copies are sent free of charge to all clergy, lay leaders and committee leaders, but articles are also online. Print subscriptions are available for $10.

The Uncovered Dish Christian Leadership Podcast is a bi-monthly podcast on Christian leadership by the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey that uncovers stories, equips leaders, and changes the world. In this gospel-centered podcast hosts James Lee and Kaitlynn Deal invite guest on the show to share, discuss, and journey with listeners on what churches and congregations are doing in Greater New Jersey and for the Kingdom of God. The latest episode focuses on why every church should have an Instagram account. (We should, who wants to do it?)

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Ecumenical Service August 6

Everyone is invited to participate in Princeton’s Joint Effort Safe Streets Program from August 4 to 13. Entitled “Looking Back and Moving Forward” it will focus on the historic role of the black church in the Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) community. For details, click here.

A Joint Effort Princeton Ecumenical Service will be held at the Miller Chapel of the Princeton Theological Seminary at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, August 6. It will recall the stories of the black churches in Princeton in words and music.

“The black church in Princeton — including Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, First Baptist Church of Princeton, Mt. Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Morning Star Church of God in Christ — has a story of faith, leadership, history, and community service and is a treasure trove of events and personalities of the W-J community,” says lead organizer John Bailey, a Denver-based political who grew up in Princeton. He launched this celebration a decade ago.

A youth basketball clinic is scheduled for Friday, August 11 from 9 a.m. to noon on the Community Park courts, and the Pete Young Sr. Memorial Safe Streets Basketball Games will take place all day on Sunday, August 13, also on the CP basketball courts.

Other highlights include a time capsule ceremony; a critical issues discussion; awards ceremonies for area youth, elected officials, and community leaders; a golf long ball contest; an art and photography exhibit; a book signing and dialogue with Kathryn Watterson; a walking tour; a community concert; music and other entertainment; workout and conditioning sessions; and more. Here is the schedule. 

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