Celebrating the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

From many faiths and many backgrounds, we joined together to worship and pray and honor the work and ideals of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We were marching “in the light of God.”

See and hear it here

Minister William D. Carter III with Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash, vice president of the Princeton Clergy Association

Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash coordinated the program, sponsored by the Princeton Clergy Association, and welcomed Edith Savage Jennings, a friend of Dr. and Mrs.King. Minister William D. Carter III, a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, sang and preached on “Do You See What I See?” based on Amos 7:1-8.

Rev. Dave Davis, president of the Princeton Clergy Association


Participants included Mr. Salim Manzar of the Institute of Islamic Studies, Rev. Catherine Williams of PrincetonUMC, Dr. Eberhard Wunderlich of the Princeton Baha’i Community, Rabbi Adam Feldman of The Jewish Center of Princeton, Rev. David E. Davis of Nassau Presbyterian Church, and Rev. Bob Moore of the Coalition for Peace Action.

Bill Gardner

Dr. Rochelle Ellis, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, accompanied by Hyosang Park of PrincetonUMC, sang “My Dream” by Florence B. Price and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” Trumpeter Bill Gardner and organist Christopher McWilliams accompanied. Congregants from many churches attended.

The offering will benefit the United Negro College Fund and the Coalition for Peace Action.

Feed Truck Cafe

After the service the Feed Truck Cafe and members of PrincetonUMC hosted a reception in the adjacent Sanford Davis Room, new home of “Sunny After Dark” cafe.

‘Deep in our hearts, we do believe we shall overcome one day.

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What does God do?

“Creation” mural by Michele Jagodzinski





God works in at least seven ways, said  Machaela Irving, director of Christian Education.

In January at the Christian Education committee meeting, she offered this mini-study on what we are teaching our children.

God creates.

God sustains.

God loves.

God suffers.

God judges.

God redeems.

God reigns.

For a more complete explanation of this part of “Our Christian Roots,”  click here.

It is based on the  based on the United Methodist  Member’s Handbook.  

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Pray Our Way Forward: January 29 – February 4

“Holy Spirit, renew and inspire us because the way forward is hard and the disciples’ journey is long.

This sentence concludes the prayer we are asked to offer during the week of January 29. It is part of the Council of Bishops’ prayer initiative, slated for the week of January 29. Bishop John Schol invites all United Methodists to join in “Praying Our Way Forward,” focused prayer before the revision of Book of Discipline on the topic of human sexuality.

Thie UMC bishops call on us to “seek, in this kairos moment, a way forward for profound unity on human sexuality and other matters.” Each conference is assigned a week of prayer, now through Spring, 2018.

Click here to register your commitment to prayer. You can register as an individual or volunteer to coordinate our congregation’s prayer participation. 

Here are the views of  Bishop Schol. As part of his Graceful Controversies initative, anyone from the Greater Jersey Conference may participate in a conference on March 4. 

Click here for the 75-word suggested prayer:  May we find inspiration.


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Bring the Family: January 16 Interfaith Service: Martin Luther King Jr.

Every year the Princeton Clergy Association holds an Interfaith Service in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , and this year our church will host it. On Monday, January 16 at 7 p.m. people from all walks of life and from different faith communities will converge on our corner of Nassau Street. At this tumultuous moment in our nation’s history, this will be an opportunity to welcome our neighbors — to pray together and sing together.

The preacher, Minister William D. Carter , is also a singer-songwriter (here is a clip from his concert at the Princeton Shopping Center) and the former minister of music at First Baptist Church of Princeton. Currently he is a third-year student at the Princeton Theological Seminary. He has served in South Africa and directs an organization that plans interfaith events at the United Nations. He is also scheduled to entertain at One Table Cafe, the ‘pay what you can’ dinner program at Trinity Episcopal Church, on Friday, January 20.

Bring the family! “Attendees are encouraged to bring their children, as the service will conclude by 8:30 pm to enable them to go to bed in a timely way on a school night,” says Rev. Robert Moore, treasurer of the Princeton Clergy Association and executive director of the Coalition for Peace Action which co-sponsors the service.

A  freewill offering will be split equally between the United Negro College Fund and the Coalition for Peace Action (www.peacecoalition.org or 609-924-5022).

Hosting this special service gives a a chance to put our mission statement into action — to demonstrate that we are indeed a diverse community, that we joyfully reach out to serve all people.

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God Imagines: Peace on Earth

Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash – January 8, 2017 –  Matthew 24:1-31

Is this passage anyone’s favorite passage of scripture? Heavy reading isn’t it? It takes me back to time spent with my conservative Baptist grandmother who often lamented that we were moving into the end times, the signs were all around us.

I came to this passage in response to my Annual Conference experience this year. Back in May, New Jersey United Methodist laity and clergy met for Annual Conference. This year our theme for the conference was “Imagine.” Our Bishop, John Schol called us to imagine a new generation of disciples, vital congregations and a transformed world at the 2016. For me one of the most meaningful parts of the conference was a presentation by Dr. Robin DiAngelo who helped us imagine a world without racism. It was revealing and challenging. She challenged United Methodists to develop the skills and mindset necessary to create a world free of racism.  As Skitch, Catherine and I thought about how we as your pastoral team would begin 2017 we felt led to consider what God might imagine for us, for the world, thinking about Peace on earth, all are welcome, all are equal, and all creation in harmony.

,Yet, Is peace possible in a world like this?

That is a question many people are asking, it’s the topic of conversation at lunch tables in Panera and in the nail salon. Don and I even heard a group of 3 or 4 older men seeking an answer to the question this past summer on the boardwalk.

Today, let’s look at what the Gospel according to Matthew says as we consider world peace. The 24th chapter of Matthew’s gospel is filled with Jesus’ predictions about the future. Let me set the scene for you. The disciples had been admiring Solomon’s massive and magnificent temple in Jerusalem. They must have been shocked when Jesus said, “That temple will be utterly destroyed. Not one stone will be left upon another.” Jesus’ prediction did come true forty years later, in the year 70 A.D. The Romans utterly destroyed Jerusalem. Matthew 24: verses 2 and 15 through 22, relates to those awful events of 70 A.D. Indeed, most of that chapter deals with the end of that period in history, the end of time.

You may wonder why this passage// when thinking about whether there is hope for world peace?”

In verses 5 and 11, Jesus tells us that MANY FALSE MESSIAHS AND FALSE PROPHETS WILL APPEAR to deceive many people. Yes, false prophets and false gospels are all around us.

In verses 6 and 7, Jesus also predicted that there would be WARS AND RUMORS OF WAR until the very end. Today there are wars or rumors of war in many countries around the world –  Syria, Turkey, DRC, Afghanistan, Sudan, the Middle East, Central Asia.

Jesus also predicted that before the end of time Christians would face MUCH PERSECUTION. We are told that  more Christians were martyred in the 20th Century than in all of the previous nineteen centuries combined.

The Methodist bishop of Indonesia, reports that his congregations have to post a look-out during worship services. If a roving band of extremists finds a Christian congregation in worship, they will attack them, and the police do nothing. In virtually every country where Christians are a minority, they are persecuted.

Jesus also predicted that there would be AN INCREASE IN WICKEDNESS. But he also said, “Do not be alarmed, for the end is still to come.” Jesus wanted us to be alert and aware, but not fearful. Jesus doesn’t want us to despair or hide under a rock.

Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill was once invited to present the graduation address at a local high school. He gave the shortest address on record, just three words, repeated three times. “Never give up! Never give up! Never give up!” God is also saying to us not to give up but to continue working for the salvation of  the world.

What then can we then do to promote peace on earth and help God to cleanse this hurting conflicted world?  Here are three things we can do:

  1. Pray for peace continually
  2. Participate in the political process
  3. Stand against prejudice, spread forgiveness, understanding and reconciliation

If this morning you feel the Holy Spirit urging you to be a peacemaker, then  pray with me this prayer of St. Francis. Let us pray:

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.


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Youth News—Meet Jacob Davis

The youth program at PUMC includes multiple “Youth Staff” volunteers who dedicate their time to mentoring our teens. Most of these “Staff,” however, are new to PUMC. So, for the next few months we will showcase a short interview with each youth staff, allowing us to know a bit more about them and their passion for our youth. Hopefully this short piece will give you the courage to talk with them the next time you see them!


Pastor Skitch Matson

Q. Tell us a bit about where you’re from.

I was born and raised in Largo, FL right by the beach (near Tampa). After High School I joined the Coast Guard and spent a few years moving around from Virginia to North Carolina, and then eventually back to Jacksonville, FL.

Q. Do you have any past experiences working with youth?

For the past six years I have been working on and off with youth. I have volunteered at my home church when I was around, went on trips with my old youth group as an adult leader (but still a kid at heart), spent 2 weeks working at the Duke Youth Academy a few summers ago, and most recently spent just over a year as a small group leader at a youth group in Jacksonville with my wife, Rachel.

Q. How long have you been in Princeton?

We have now been in Princeton for almost 4 months. We moved here so I could finish my degree in Religion at TCNJ, and my wife, Rachel, could attend Princeton Theological Seminary.

Q.Why are you a Youth Staff?

I am a youth staff because youth matter so much to our church as well as our communities, which is often forgotten. They have great insight, valued praises, and real concerns; their voices need to be heard within our communities and congregations. It is a blessing to work with and walk through life with these students during this formative time in their lives.

Q. What does Youth Staff mean to you?

It’s a group of adults who come together with the hope that God will use us to show each student the endless love God has for each of them.

Q. I hear you like good books, what’s one that you would recommend? Reaching Out: Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life”  by Henri J.M. Nouwen.

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Join the Kitchen Cohort!

Chef Ian Macdonald and Annie Wilcox cooked a scrumptious turkey dinner for Advent Night

Turkey and ham with all the trimmings  —  once again we feasted at an Advent Night dinner with Chef Ian Macdonald presiding. Thank you, Ian and Annie Wilcox, and all the helpers!

Now Ian offers to volunteer his expertise to help us make better use of the new kitchen that we all admire — from afar. Those who work with Cornerstone Community Kitchen know, but most of us don’t know how to use the equipment.

To be fully operational as a professional kitchen it needs certain items.

If you would like to help optimize the efficiency of our kitchen, and learn how to use it efficiently, the person to contact about volunteering is Jamie Gerber.  The first meeting is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, January 15 at noon.

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Meet Our New Music Intern

By Hyosang Park

Marisa Curcio, a student from Westminster Choir College of Rider University is joining our staff to service the Lord with Princeton UMC congregation. She is currently a senior majoring in Church Music and Music Education. She has an exceptionally exquisitely soaring soprano voice that can be heard from miles away and make people turn their heads because of its beauty. She has her senior recital scheduled in March. Please don’t miss an opportunity to hear and be embraced in such a stunning voice. Details be will announced in the February issue, so stay tuned. She already has sung with Chancel Choir at our annual Christmas Concert and during our Longest Night service. She has an outgoing personality and is eager to meet everyone at PUMC. I hope you will all get to meet and know her in 2017.


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Training for God’s Work

Bishop John Schol gives the Greater New Jersey conference a report card here  Among his recommendations are to reach out like a new church (hint: sponsor an Easter Egg hunt NOT on church grounds) and to  “take the church to the community”

  1. Plan “bridge events” designed explicitly to draw people from the community by providing for them something they need or enjoy — block parties, free concerts, seasonal events, parenting classes, sports camps, or school supply giveaways, etc. Source: Get Their Name by Bob Farr, Doug Anderson, and Kay Kotan (Abingdon Press, 2013)
  2. Hold these events off church property or outside the church walls in venues where people feel comfortable and naturally congregate.

As church leaders, we are urged to take training.

Here is the link to “Back to Basics” training for church council members, available in various locations on January 28, 29, or 31. Also February 21 or 23.  Those who have attended say the conference training is excellent! 

The conference’s United Methodist Women have a winter retreat on Monday, February 20 at the Pinelands (former Mt. Misery!) and the registration deadline is supposed to be January 15.

Growing the Church Younger on March 5 is an intriguing conference in Wayne.

Paul Nixon, author of “Weird Church: welcome to the 21st century” will be the keynote speaker at OUTBOUND, A Day on Evangelism, on Saturday, March 25, in Wayne.

On a national level, the Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church offer a plethora of resources. These webinars are available even retroactively and are easy to sign up for.

Leading Congregations Effectively in a Global World, webinar Tuesday, January 17, 7 pm

Church Council: What’s My Role? webinar Tuesday, January 27, 7 pm

What Every Child Should Experience – downloadable guide for teachers and leaders

Older Adult Ministry – how can adults help form children’s faith – webinar to listen to

Baby Boomer spirituality webinars starting Tuesday, January 24, 7 p.m.

How to talk politics in your church without being unChristian, webinar Monday, January 23, 2 p.m.

Healthy Family series: setting financial goals, webinar Tuesday, February 7, 2 p.m.

Here are some downloadable booklets from Discipleship Ministries

From Numbers to Narratives – using a narrative budget

How to Have a Courageous Conversation 

Writing as a Calling, Ministry, & Work

Here are some downloadable booklets from a non-denominational organization Practical Resouces for Churches 

It offers many of the resources that we can find at UMC national headquarters, and the webinars require membership, but some are worth looking at. The booklets seem to be free.

Basic Teacher Training 

On a local level, Princeton Community Works offers useful workshops on Monday, January 30.

Samples: the Three R’s of Volunteer Management, How to Run a Productive Meeting, Tools and Techniques to Build an engaged and Motivated Team.

Overwhelming? Yes. Less daunting if you attend with a friend. Seek out someone you don’t know, someone different from you, and offer this as a bonding experience. You and the church will be enriched.

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Salvation Army Bell Ringers

the Roth Family (photo by Iona Harding)

the Francisco Cabus family (photo by Iona Harding)

The week before Christmas, and all through the town, PUMC Bell Ringers were busy at their stands. The kettles were hung under their Salvation Army sign, and the greetings of ‘Merry Christmas’ greeted each one at hand.


Tuesday through Saturday more than 80 volunteers rang their bells and filled the kettles, collecting over $5,800. The church staff prepared absolutely fabulous food for the volunteers to enjoy as they completed their shift, and much hearty conversation took place over steaming bowls of chicken vegetable, lentil, and beef barley soup.













I Chen Mei

Dart Sageser (photo by Ed Sprole)

Louise Apperson and Beth Perrine (photo by Ed Sprole)


During the last 11 years, PUMC has raised more than $80,000 for the Salvation Army. Well done all that volunteered and know that “as you have done to the least of my family, you have done unto me…” 

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