Welcome to PrincetonUMC Interns for 2020-2021!

“Hello, I am Carly Bartow. I have been attending Princeton UMC since the Fall of 2019. I am a second-year MDiv student and my greatest passion is homeless ministry! I have been a UMC member since 2014 and I’m very devoted to the Methodist Church. I am working and studying remotely from Northwest Arkansas this academic year where I am happy to be close to my home church, Genesis UMC, and living with my best buddy, his wife, and eight-month-old baby girl. I am looking forward to being able to be a part of Princeton UMC this year as well, and I hope that we can grow closer to God, to each other, and in mission this year!”

“I’m Tayler Necoechea (neck-oh-chay-ah) and I’m a 2nd year MDiv student at Princeton Seminary. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I am originally from San Diego, California and when I’m home I love spending time near the beach. My particular interests are women in the Old Testament and talking about discipleship and families but when I’m not in school or at church I am painting or cooking! I am very thankful to be a part of Princeton UMC this year.” Tayler feels strongly that she is called to be ordained as an elder in the UMC as a minister of Word, Order, Sacrament, and Service. For her candidacy letter to the congregation, click here.

Hyelim Yoon is a second-year MDiv student at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is originally from Cheongju, South Korea, and studied Theology at Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea before coming to Princeton last year. When she first visited our church on the Easter of 2019, she was captivated by the diversity and welcoming spirit of Princeton UMC and decided to be part of our community since then. Hyelim is so excited to serve our open and unique church community, and she is hoping to contribute to deepening our congregation’s inclusiveness. For Hyelim’s letter to the congregation, click here. 

All Are Welcome

PrincetonUMC commissioned this banner to display on the lawn.

In the fall of 2018, the Relationships and Faith Team organized a program that included reading the book A Mile in My Shoes: Cultivating Compassion by Trevor Hudson. One of the topics Princeton UMC examined was social justice for the LGBTQIA+ community. In the spring of 2019, they invited a panel of three speakers to visit after the United Methodist Church announced its position on human sexuality. One of the questions put to the panel was, What is it like to be a queer Christian, and what advice do you have for people?” Below are their responses: 

First Panelist: “My advice would be to join us who are queer in the church as we open up this conversation. I think that as we begin to learn from one another and sit around the table more with one another, those spaces will be less hostile. For those who are experiencing hostility, if you are a queer, find a place where you’re neither under oppression nor where you’re always on a panel. I don’t sit on a panel at my church. I just sit in a pew and I’m taught by a wonderful, queer pastor every week. I get to be comfortable. Just create those safe spaces to just belong. That would be my advice to the queer community, and to the those who are identifying as queer in the churches. Just look around, because we’re here.” 

Second Panelist: “I think the first piece of advice I would say is to listen to people’s stories deeply. Hold them with some care. For someone to share their stories, even in a culture that’s moved in a lot of ways, it is a risky and courageous thing to do. So, if somebody shares their story with you, then hold it really tenderly and let that story drive you back to the Scriptures, drive you back to tradition, and drive you back to your own feelings about your own body. I think, for example in their conversations, we turn to people of color to solve things for us. Right? (For us) to be the authoritative speakers into this. But I wonder if among those of us who are straight, we can listen carefully to the stories of our queer neighbors, and don’t ask them to be in charge of our re-imagination of who they are and what their bodies are. So do the hard work of listening and then digging deep back into the scriptures.” 

Third Panelist: “Now as a person who is black, and female, and queer, and a Christian, it brings me great freedom in that I can exhale into who I am, and know that I am a called daughter, child beloved of God that’s fearfully and wonderfully made. It matters that I am embodied in this body. It matters that my identities are what they are across the board. And so the joy of resistance is showing up in a space. I’m showing up in spaces that I also feel that we asked queer people to “out” themselves in ways that we don’t ask cisgender and heterosexual people: “When you get up there, you have to tell people you’re divorced, or you’re having an affair and going through counseling.” All of the ways we are provocative around the LGBTQIA+ community, imagine if we did that to cisgender straight people?And so my resistance is showing up unapologetically, and that when I show up into space I don’t have to say first you must know that I’m black, then you must know I’m a woman, and then you must know that I am deeply in love and I’m queer. We don’t do that in society. The southern word I want to say is just “nosy”, but I also think that it’s a way of control. We like to control people’s narratives for them, and so if you are queer, if you are in an environment that’s not healthy for you, absolutely find your people in a space that is truly loving. They’re out there. And just because there’s a certain group that’s making the most noise. it does not mean that they’re the only group.” 

Princeton UMC’s Mission Statement is “We are a diverse community joyfully responding to God’s love and growing as Disciples of Christ by nurturing, teaching, reaching and serving all people.” Repeating and emphasizing reaching and serving all people. Our goal is to create an environment to make all feel welcome and loved. 


In Spite of Covid, CCK Continues

Led by Tim Ewer, right Cornerstone Community Kitchen (CCK) volunteers serve takeaway meals, groceries, and clothing on Wednesdays from 5 5 to 6:30 p.m. Donors, include TASK, Cherry Grove Organic Farm, Bentley Community Services and Jewish Family and Children Services, enable CCK to deliver two dozen meals to home bound people, plus 25 to 30 people have been picking up takeaway meals, groceries, and clothing.

Since Covid hit, Judy Miller and Clothing Closet volunteers have distributed clothing outside in the walkway beside the church. Because of the cold weather, October 23 was the last CCK clothing distribution day this season.

Celebration: A Healing Practice

For the new sermon series, starting October 18, we will focus on “All Things New: Celebrating God’s Goodness,” about how we can celebrate even when we are in a  wilderness — of Covid, of personal trials, or of the world’s problems.

Pastor Jenny Smith Walz recommends the book,  The Healing Practice of Celebration. It costs under $10 at Cokesbury and is available in a Kindle edition for the same price. The book is part of  a series on different spiritual practices. The author, Elaine Heath, is a former dean of Duke Divinity School.

As described by the publisher: We think of celebration as a response to something good that happens: a birthday, a holiday, a new birth, a graduation. But what about when life is dull or flat, or especially when we hit rock bottom? Does God expect us to celebrate then? Yes, and we can. The Healing Practice of Celebration explores celebration as a response to the reality that God is continually present, always faithful, and ever loving. Celebration as a spiritual practice involves a posture of living so well anchored in the full story of God’s involvement with people throughout history that anticipatory faith and hope, regardless of present circumstances, inform our thoughts, words, and actions.

On October 18, Pastor Jenny opened the service with this prayer from Teresa of Avila

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
she who possesses God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices. Amen.

Church Council: Meet Donna Robinson, Secretary

Donna Robinson has been doing church work all her life, from growing up in a Baptist church in Roebling, New Jersey, to serving at Colesville United Methodist church in the D.C. suburbs. You could find her in the kitchen, or with the prayer shawl ministry, or counseling church members, as the leader of Stephen Ministers.

When she moved here last summer, you could spot Donna sitting on the left side of the sanctuary, halfway down. She joined this year. Like many who transfer from a busy church life, she wanted to take a restful hiatus.  “Sitting in the pew and just being fed, felt like what I needed.”

But – when invited – Donna went to the monthly Coffee with the Pastor, and to the class for newcomers to decide if they wanted to join. Pastor Jenny invited her to be secretary of Church Council, a job that would embed her in the life of the church. Says Donna: “I was shaking my head no, but I said yes.” This position also offers an opportunity for her to stay in the background (her comfort zone) but also to share her experiences from another congregation.

PrincetonUMC matched the profile of the church where Donna raised the children that are the focus of her joy: Michelle (in California), Joshua, (in New York City); and Faith (who stayed in Maryland). She lives in West Windsor with her sister, who works at Princeton University. “My sister Karen felt at home. I felt at home.”

If you get a chance to engage with Donna, you will find yourself doing most of the talking, because she is a professional “listener.” A psychology major at Lafayette College, she earned her master’s degree in spiritual pastoral care at Loyola University. At church, she put this to good use as a Stephen Leader, training Stephen Ministers, “I learned to listen with the ‘third ear’ and enjoyed it very much.”

Though PrincetonUMC’s prayer shawl ministry is on hiatus, she continues crocheting and has donated six prayer shawls so far.  But so far, she has also resisted a call to join the bell choir. “My last two years in Maryland, I rang bells. Being up front was not what I desired to do, but my prayer pal insisted. I finally gave in and it was fun!”


Charge Conference 10/20/2020

Everyone is invited to attend the charge conference, the annual meeting led by our District Superintendant, Rev. Hector Burgos. It will be a zoom meeting on Tuesday, October 20, at 7 p.m.

As we look back at the past year and look ahead to 2021, we will set clergy salaries and elect officers from among the lay members of our congregation. We take a look at changes in the membership rolls.

Pearl Quick
Tayler Necoechea
Hyelim Yoon

An exciting part of this meeting is to recognize and endorse three candidates that are beginning the ordination process: Pearl Quick, our intern for the past two years, and this year’s interns, Tayler Necoechea and Hyelim Yoon,

In every other year, church members were accustomed to signing the attendance sheet at this meeting so their votes could be counted. This year, because the meeting is by Zoom, the bishop’s office has decided that only Church Council members and retired clergy will get a vote. Nevertheless, ALL ARE WELCOME, The zoom link will be available on this website under “News and Events” and then click on Church Calendar. It will also be sent in an email.  Come and find out what’s going on in your church. 

Resolving Conflict: Paul and Appiah Agree

Screenshot from The Bible Project’s animated video about Philippians

This week, the women in Monday Morning Group studied how Paul in chapter 4 of Philippians, advises how to resolve conflict.

  • get to a good emotional place yourself (i.e. gratitude, praise)
  • then focus ONLY on what’s good.

Recently the New York Times ethicist, Kwame Anthony Appiah, gave similar advice when he addressed the Friends of the Princeton University Library. To speak with someone with whom you disagree:  ‘first find what you agree on.’  It also helps, he added if you are engaged in some kind of community activity, like coaching a Little League team.

Details: Paul begins by pleading with two contentious women to “be of the same mind” and calls on others in the group to help them. He continues: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Steve Harper in the lectionary study of the Upper Room book,  Disciplines, explains: “Paul counsels the believers to work for emotional stability. He commends a renewal of gladness and gentleness and an elimination of anxiety brought about through earnest prayer. He knows that very little is changed when we live in the whirlwind of negativity. We don’t think straight. We don’t respond well when we are engulfed by deformative feelings. Paul points to the big Bible word ‘peace’ as the goal for which to aim in reconciliation.”

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Harper continues: “Second, he exhorts the Christians at Philippi to seek edifying soundness… to think of things that are excellent and admirable. Often, reconciliation occurs not by coming to complete agreement but by deciding that the things that unite us are more important than those that divide us. We come together along the lines of common commitments. When we get it wrong through disagreements, we are often reunited through our core convictions and common pursuits.”

DOES THIS MEAN we need more “common pursuits, sports teams, work teams, common projects” Maybe!

For a link to this very informative animated video about the book of Philippians, click here 

Rev. Ronald Dyson

Reverend Ronald Dyson, 82, a resident of Delaware, passed away on October 4, 2020. From 1972-to 1978 he had been the lead pastor here at Princeton United Methodist Church. Larry Apperson has this memory of Rev. Dyson:

Ron Dyson visited Louise and me in late 1977. I thank God for his visit and remember well him talking with us in our living room. The conversation was light and free, and he left us both with a feeling we had to visit his church. We both joined in 1978!

Our prayers go to the Dyson family. One of Rev. Dyson’s sons, Rev. Drew Dyson, is a United Methodist minister who has been a district superintendent and is now executive director of the Princeton Senior Resource Center. Arrangements are being handled by Chandler Funeral Home in Wilmington, Delaware.

Meet Church Council 2020

Princeton UMC’s Church Council, led by Ian Griffiths, has been busy, meeting and going through training sessions. New ministry team leaders have joined the council. In this series of profiles, you will meet them.

Meet Claudio Da Silva, Adult Education Ministry

If you mapped out Claudio Da Silva’s path to Princeton UMC, you would have to traverse three continents, four countries, and countless cities. . . At PUMC,  Claudio sees “an exceptional sense of community, bonding between people and care for each other,” making it easy for him to say ” Yes” to  the pastors. “I can feel here the profound and powerful reality of human connection and godly love [in this church].”

Meet Donna Robinson, Secretary to Church Council 

If you get a chance to engage with Donna, you will find yourself doing most of the talking, because she is a professional “listener.” She put her master’s degree in spiritual pastoral care to good use as a Stephen Leader, training Stephen Ministers at her former church in Maryland.

Meet Theresa Cann: Worship Ministry 

Growing up as the daughter of a Ghanaian diplomat, Theresa spent most of her formative years living in Africa and Europe. . . The Worship Ministry has 10 team members who are tasked to be the eyes and ears of the church. They get feedback about worship, and pay attention to how the order of service is executed for future improvements

Meet Christine Shungu: Breeze Team

If the last name Shungu sounds familiar to you, it’s because they are a multi-generational UMC family involved in various ministries. Christine Shungu grew up in a town called Kananga in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The “Shema” and “When I Pray for You”

The passage in Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, known as the Shema, is a core principal for both Jews and Christians. Notice how it aligns with the children’s book  “When I Pray For You” by Matthew Paul Turner, which Pastor Jenny read on September 20, 2020. It begins

From the moment I saw you,
I started to pray.
Big prayers and small ones
I have sent God’s way.

Here is the Shema passage in the New Revised Standard Version

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.[a]

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

and with all your soul, and with all your might.

And here is the admonition to teach it to the children.

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.

In a different translation,  from The Message***

Attention, Israel!

God, our God! God the one and only!

Love God, your God, with your whole heart:

love him with all that’s in you,

love him with all you’ve got!

6-9 Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.  

These comments came from Beth P. and Kay H.

Thank you Pastor Jenny for a beautiful children’s book that speaks to our prayers for our loved ones.

As a mother and grandmother thanks for sharing that lovely book with us

For a glimpse into the book, here is a video.