The Connection Between the Church and Pretzels

Bavarian Pretzels

In the Medieval Period, the Catholic Church imposed stricter rules regarding fasting and abstinence during Lent than modern times. Meat, dairy, and eggs were prohibited during Lent. Grains, yeast, and water were acceptable. 

Legend has it that monks baked folded strips of bread dough in the basement of a monastery, to resemble the crossed arms of praying children to reward them for learning their prayers. This is one theory of the birth of the pretzel. 

By the 1600s, the interlocking pattern of the pretzel became the symbol of undying love. It is said that royal Swiss couples used a pretzel in their wedding ceremonies. This sealed the bond of matrimony, and might have stemmed from the phrase “tying the knot”, since pretzels were shaped to resemble that form. 

It would be unfair to tell you all about this baked good without sharing a recipe.

Pretzel Dough

Recipe for Bavarian Soft Pretzels – Makes 8 

  • 3.5 oz active dry yeast (half pack)
  • 10 oz lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp softened unsalted butter
  • 4 quarts boiling water
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp coarse salt (or substitute Kosher salt)
  1. Mix yeast and sugar in lukewarm water and add to flour
  2. Mix salt in softened butter and knead into dough then cut into 8 pieces
  3. Roll each piece out to 25 – 30 inches long
  4. Twist into a pretzel form, cover with a clean dish cloth and let rise for 12 minutes
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  6. Bring water to a boil then add baking soda
  7. After rising, boil pretzel dough for 30 seconds and remove with slotted spoon
  8. Place on a cookie sheet/baking pan lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat
  9. Top the pretzels with course salt and let rest for 20 minutes
  10. Bake about 20 minutes, remove, and place of cooling rack

Happy Earth Day!

Canticle of Creation
The Canticle of Creation
By Evangeline Burgers
Happy Earth Day! Did you know that today marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day? To commemorate this special day, I’ve put together some fun resources for your families to use. Pastor Jenny opened her new sermon series this past week talking about God’s story (and our story!) in Genesis and it feels fitting to continue to celebrate our Earth and Cosmos with Genesis this week with our families!
St. Francis of Assisi wrote a beautiful “Canticle of Creation”. Feel free to print off the attached coloring page of the prayer to reflect on God’s creation. Then you can turn it into a “stained glass window” by following these easy steps with your coloring page.
Here is an imaginative prayer to celebrate Earth Day!  I’ve recorded myself leading the prayer, but you might rather do it as a family so there is a .pdf attached of this prayer, “God Loves So Many Things”, from Jared Patrick Boyd’s book, Imaginative Prayer.
Henry and I have been LOVING reading a new book this week that is inspired by God’s story told in Genesis. It is called Love Made and it was written by a spoken word artist named Quina Aragon, when she was pregnant with her daughter. Here is a beautiful animation video with the same poem that was made before the book was published. Then the author tells her powerful story here, with a preview of the picture book. I’m excited for us to continue to explore our own stories with our families in the coming days.
Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about anything and I hope to see our children at 4:30 today at online  Children’s Choir practice with Mr. Tom.

Blood Needed During COVID-19

Princeton Area Blood Drive

The U.S. blood supply is facing a shortage during the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak is affecting the supply for the entire country. Donations from healthy people in the Greater Princeton Area are needed to avoid an additional health care crisis.

There is a natural fear over donating blood during this pandemic. However, according to America’s Blood Centers, whose facilities, in addition to those operated by the Red Cross, it is safe to give. They are executing greater social distancing measures and infection control protocols.

Here are local facilities where you can schedule an appointment to give blood:

Welcome Our New Staff Members and Interns!

It’s Fall, and you’ve probably noticed a lot of new faces working around PUMC. We would like to introduce you to our new staff members and seminary interns. Please seek them out and make them feel welcome.   Introduce yourselves, ask them about themselves, ask them how you can help them become part of the life of our church, and tell them what you love about PUMC! We have several new staff that are focused on our children and youth ministries, in particular. And two seminary interns, one working with our youth and one working with Jenny in ministry.  We are so happy that all of these talented individuals are here!

Evangeline Burgers - Director of Children’s Ministry
Evangeline Burgers

Evangeline Burgers – Director of Children’s Ministry.  Evangeline is the proud mother of Henry, dog mom of Charlie, and wife of Alex. She and her small family are recent transplants to Princeton from Pasadena, CA. Evangeline grew up in St. Louis, MO and attended graduate school in Ann Arbor, MI. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. Evangeline spent the last four years teaching first grade in East LA and six years before that teaching various grades K-5 in the greater Detroit area. Having grown up as a double preacher’s kid in the UMC and serving churches in a variety of capacities as an adult, Evangeline is excited to offer her spiritual gifts of servanthood and exhortation in working together with the children and families of Princeton UMC.

Julia Hanna —Accompanist for Children and Youth Choirs
Julia Hanna

Julia Hanna Accompanist for Children and Youth Choirs.  Taiwan-born pianist Julia Hanna earned her Bachelor of Music and Master’s of Music at Rutgers University studying under Paul Hoffman.   Julia’s husband, Steve, who she met in choir at Rutgers, is a Middle School Band teacher. They have two sons, Kieran and William, ages 7 and 11, Julia has toured in the US and internationally with various choirs and artists in the NYC area.  She currently serves as a staff accompanist and coach at Westminster Choir College and at the summer Co-Operative Program.  Julia is delighted to be working with our children and youth music program at PUMC.

Mikaela (Miki) Langdon—Nursery Care Lead
Mikaela Langdon

Mikaela (Miki) LangdonNursery Care Lead.  Miki grew up at PUMC, singing in the choir and attending youth group. After acquiring an MA and BA in Writing from Rowan University, she is back at her home church, serving as a nursery lead and youth volunteer.  Miki started as a volunteer in the nursery where she clearly demonstrated her love of little children.  Miki’s day job is working as a publications and education administrator at The IEEE in Piscataway, NJ.  She loves being back “home” and working with our youngest and our youth, and we’re happy she is here!

Emma-Claire Martin – Nursery Care Lead
Emma-Claire Martin

Emma-Claire Martin – Nursery Care Lead.  Emma-Claire is a first-year student at Princeton Theological Seminary where she is working toward her Master of Divinity and Master of Christian Education and Formation dual degree with a focus in youth ministry. After studying filmmaking at American University in Washington, DC, Emma-Claire was most recently a substitute high school teacher in Philadelphia. This is her second time working in a UMC nursery, and she loves working with our children.  She can’t wait to meet everyone at PUMC.

Pearl Quick – Youth Intern
Pearl Quick

Pearl Quick – Youth Intern.  Pearl is a Divinity & Youth Ministry student at Princeton Theological Seminary. She is currently getting her DUAL degree and is expected to graduate in May of 2020. She is originally from Littleton, North Carolina where she was raised on a farm.  She has since settled primarily in NYC, where is attended Sarah Lawrence College for her undergrad in Biology— specifically Disease Ecology. She spends her free time  teaching Urban Farming to middle schoolers in hopes of starting a farm dedicated to healing black & brown people back towards the land.  This is Pearl’s second year working with our youth at PUMC, and we are so glad she is back with us!

Rebekah Anderson—Ministry Intern
Rebekah Anderson

Rebekah Anderson—Ministry Intern.   Rebekah is a second year student at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she is pursuing her Master’s of Divinity. Rebekah is originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and studied Religious Studies and Psychology at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida prior to coming to Princeton last fall. Rebekah is in the process of seeking ordination in the Presbyterian Church USA and is passionate about community, social justice, and telling stories. Rebekah is absolutely thrilled to be working at PUMC this year!

God is Doing Miracles Everywhere!

Mircales Everywhere Put on your God-Vision Goggles, take a look around and see what God is up to! Look for signs of God’s love, presence, power, and purpose. Bring your miracle stories to worship with you the next two weeks. They will become cranes and hang in our sanctuary. And get ready! You’ll have the opportunity to joyfully respond to these miracles through your financial pledge on October 28. God is inviting you to be part of Miracles Everywhere through your financial and spiritual gifts given to PUMC in 2019 and the Greater New Jersey Conference. Your gifts will heal, renew, unite, transform, grow, and empower people in our church, in our community, and throughout the world. What a miracle!


15 Reasons Why Your Child Should Join the PUMC Children’s or Youth Choir

Tom Shelton rehearse musical at Princeton United Methodist Church
Tom Shelton rehearse musical at Princeton United Methodist Church
Tom Shelton at PUMC Musical Rehearsal

Princeton United Methodist Church offers robust children and youth choirs for members and non-members. But in the time of kids being encouraged to participate in sports, academic activities, and community service, why should they consider singing in a choir?

  • Children sing naturally and joyfully
  • Builds valuable life skills
  • Boosts self-confidence
  • Increase self-discipline
  • Meet new friends
  • Proven to raise IQs and SAT scores

Why join PUMC’s Children or Youth Choir when there is Princeton Girlchoir and American Boychoir School as choices?

The choir at Princeton United Methodist Church has been a true GIFT for our daughter… Since she started choir two years ago, I have also witnessed increased confidence and actual vocal improvement too! Tom Shelton, our choir director, creates a bonding environment for our children… [he] is EXCEPTIONALLY talented… – Mae, mother of an 8 year-old

  1. Tom Shelton at PUMC
    Tom Shelton at PUMC

    Choirs are under the direction of Tom Shelton, who is also an Assistant Professor of Sacred Music at Westminster College, and has a long career conducting children’s choirs. He directs honors choirs in festivals across the country and internationally

  2. It’s FREE! There are other choirs in Princeton, but they are expensive
  3. There are NO auditions, which makes it very inclusive
  4. There are more chances of getting a solo
  5. Choirs have accompanists (piano, organ, or other instruments) for a more professional performance
  6. It could be supplemental to other choirs (practice makes perfect)
  7. They have weekly or bi-monthly rehearsals and sing monthly (summer months they’re off)
  8. There are four choirs: Children’s (3-4 years old), Lower Elementary (K-1), Upper Elementary (2-5), and Youth (6-12) so they will feel an accomplishment moving up to the next choir
  9. Musical theater training is included since they perform in the PUMC Pageant during Advent, and they stage a musical in the spring.
  10. Smaller group sizes allow for more individualized instruction
  11. If you are not a member of a church, it’s a fun way to introduce your child to church
  12. Children can learn parts of the Bible through song
  13. You do not need to be a member of the church to join and you can ask non-member friends to join you
  14. They will occasionally travel to perform to bring joy to others
  15. Their free off-site performances are also considered outreach and community service

…[Tom’s] respect for children is definitely an asset along with his fine music teaching skill. Through his music program, everybody in the choir felt included and got along well regardless of familiarity with each other and experience level… – Christine, mother of a 6th grader and Kindergartener

There’s no doubt that music education is very beneficial to children. They learn the alphabet and nursery rhymes through song. Being in a PUMC choir is quite special; what they learn is invaluable. They enter wide-eyed and curious and leave musical and global citizens.

…We also benefit from the choir by impacting the lives of other people within the church and the community. It’s fulfilling to know that we can make some [seniors] happy by performing for them at their assisted living community.  We get to do all of that by working with our wonderful Choir Director Tom Shelton and his staff! – Marie

The other asset other choirs are missing is Tom Shelton. Parents praise his ability to connect with their child and help them reach their potential, regardless of their skill level. He makes it fun for them, which increases the retention rate.

Children and parents are invited to a choir open house at the church, Nassau at Vandeventer, on Wednesday, September 7. Kindergarten and first grade come at 4:30 p.m., second through fifth graders at 5:30 p.m. Participation in the choir is free, and all are welcome. Open house for grades 6 to 12 is Sunday, September 11 at 5 p.m.

If you think your child would be interested in joining one of the PUMC choirs or have any questions, contact Tom Shelton at or call 609-924-2613.


4th Annual UFAR African Soirée

Shungu Family At 4th Annual UFAR African Soiree
The Shungu Family

The United Front Against Riverblindness (UFAR) is a non-profit organization led by Executive Director, and Chairman by Dr. Daniel Shungu. UFAR works in partnership with other organizations to combat riverblindness in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last weekend they held their 4th annual African Soirée, which is a dinner and auction, to raise funds for their cause.

4th Annual UFAR African Soiree

The check-in area already had an African marketplace ambience, with diashikis on racks, shoulder bags and other items for sale. The check-in table had a photo of a war canoe with about 30 people seated on it, and in front of it was a 3D model representing it.

4th Annual UFAR African Soiree

Once inside, teens wearing colorful dashikis passed flavorful hors d’oeuvres. The tablescapes beautifully re-created African villages, each with a mini thatch roof hut in the center and wooden female figures surround it. Everyone received a hand-crafted figure as a gift.

The Garvey School DrummersThe Garvey School Dancers

Drummers and percussionists from The Garvey School/Egun Omode Shule started playing, and had the audience participating by singing and clapping. Once we got warmed up, female dancers came in ranging from approximately 14 down to five years of age. They all danced perfectly synchronized, including the little ones.

4th Annual UFAR African Soiree Food4th Annual UFAR African Soiree Food

Soon after, the dinner buffet opened. I saw some dishes I’ve never heard of, but did recognize many. Plantains, peanut soup, goat stew, cassava, bitter greens and more were offered. People were buzzing about the new flavors as they tasted the exotic foods.

Former Princeton Township Mayor James Floyd's 91st BirthdayFormer Princeton Township Mayor Michele Tuck Ponder as Auctioneer

We celebrated former Princeton Township Mayor James Floyd’s 91st birthday with a cake, and another former Princeton Township Mayor, Michelle Tuck Ponder was the auctioneer of the evening. Quilts, artwork, and clothing were auctioned off for the benefit.

4th Annual UFAR African Soiree

The planning committee consisted of Elsie McKee (below left) and Susan Lidstone (below right), and they did a fabulous job! Overall, it was a wonderful cultural experience for an important cause. I hope to see you there next year!

Elsie McKee at the UFAR African SoireeSusan Lidstone at UFAR African Soiree

TASK’s Dennis Micai: Good Report Card

Originally posted on Princeton Comment.

PUMC Cornerstone Community Kitchen Grand Opening
L-R Howard Roundtree, Dennis Micai, Pastor Jana Purkis-Brash, and Larry Apperson

 The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) gets four stars on the report card provided by  Charity Navigator; it earns 69.13 points out of 70. So Dennis Micai, executive director of TASK, will be able to share that good news at a breakfast at Princeton United Methodist Church (PUMC), Nassau and Vandeventer, on Sunday, January 13 at 8 a.m.

Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen MealPUMC volunteers have been serving at TASK in Trenton for two decades, but last June the church and TASK began a new partnership to serve meals in Princeton to more than 50 people every Wednesday. Some come for the food, some for the fellowship, and dozens of volunteers from both the church and the community are helping. TASK cooks most of the meals but outside organizations (the restaurant Zorba’s Brother cooked a turkey dinner last month) have also contributed. TASK has a similar partnership in Hightstown.

TASK offers lots of ways to contribute. So although hunger is a growing problem, Micai will have some good news stories to tell. The breakfast is catered by the United Methodist Men, and all are invited. (Reserve at 609-924-2613 or It will be good to hear some good news for 2013.

TASK has had the four star rating, by the way, for seven consecutive years.


Christmas Concert 2012

PUMC Chancel and High School Choirs

The Christmas Concert took place last Sunday, and included music from the Handbell Choir, the Chancel and High School Choirs, Christmas stories from Holland, China, Guatemala, India, and Ghana, music from nine PUMC instrumentalists (strings, brass, and woodwinds) accompanied by piano and organ, plus hymns and carols were sung.

We are blessed to have so many musically talented members of our congregation willing to share their gifts. It was a truly joyful event. If you missed it this year, you should definitely NOT miss it next year.

Photos can be viewed at our Christmas 2012 Flickr set. More will be added, so please check back occasionally.