PASTOR GINNY’S LETTER: The Nature of Life in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Dear Friends,

Grace and Peace in the name of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ!

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 we read the beautiful words about the nature of life. Attributed to King Solomon and written in his older years, they are a summary of the ups and downs and the joys and challenges of the human experience. This reminder of what Solomon learned as King begins this way:

      “To everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven.”

I hope you are comforted by the reminder of the truth in this verse and those that follow it. And I hope that you will read them today if you haven’t before. They are a treasure house of the wisdom Solomon came to be known for and every time they spring to my mind, I find myself comforted by them. I see within them the contours of God’s plans for our time on earth. Solomon rightly predicts that we will all know these things in our lives: birth and death; seed sowing and reaping; killing and healing; weeping and laughing; mourning and dancing; casting stones and gathering stones; embracing and distancing; gaining and losing; silence and speaking; loving and hating, and war and peace.

The verse I have quoted above (verse 1) came to mind today as I began to write this Pastor’s Note. As you may remember, it is soon time for me to finish my sojourn among you at PUMC since I will be retiring at the end of June. Leaving all of you will be very difficult for me to do. I knew it would be difficult, whenever that day would come, within a very few months of my arrival at PUMC now three years ago! PUMC is a truly remarkable church in my life-long experience of churches.

I firmly believe that God is the One who brought me to PUMC and I have given God thanks countless times over the past 3 years for doing so. You are a remarkable part of the Body of Christ! You are very dedicated to the practice and application of your faith. You are courageous in facing whatever the future has held for you including the present circumstances we are in now. You are intentional about reaching out to the world beyond the church and caring for each other within the church. And you are joyful Christians as you do all of this.

In this season that we have been together, which is now two years longer than I originally thought it would be, I have grown. I have learned to love life again after a long season of debilitating grief; I have delighted in working with you on all sorts of things including the ever-present social justice issues that plague the world, and I have been enriched by our worship of the God who loves us with an everlasting love each and every Sunday. In all ways, I have been blessed to be at PUMC. And I have received 10-fold what I have given to you. This is no surprise to me as in God’s economy nothing is wasted and there is always a two-way benefit in any exchange bathed in the love of Christ.

To everything, there is a season and a time for every purpose under Heaven. Solomon is right and it is now time for Norm and me to fully retire and to downsize our home. These things will occupy me for the summer and, perhaps, fall. Whenever our house is sold, we plan to move to Bethlehem, PA just across the NJ border. We have loved this little town ever since our son Russ was a student at Moravian.Pastor

Beyond that move we both see ourselves volunteering with Habitat for Humanity which is quite active in the Lehigh Valley. No doubt we will spend some time over the winter months in Florida which has long been a dream of Norm’s. Wherever we go, we will take the love we have absorbed from all of you with us. We are strengthened in our faith by your faith. We are encouraged to continue to reach out and work for social justice by your example. And we are more in love with God because of the public ways you live out your own love of God, our Beloved Friend.

In the few weeks remaining, I hope to be able to talk with many of you to convey my sincerest gratitude for your acceptance of Norm and of me for these precious three years. Meanwhile, I pray for God’s richest blessing to continue to be yours. And I pray that all who know you, know God better and love God more.

In Christ’s Name, 

Pastor Ginny

Pastors Ginny and Jenny got together recently to recall how Pastor Ginny came to serve at PrincetonUMC. For the Video Conversation between both Pastors, Click Here

(This was published in Happenings, the weekly newsletter, on May 22, 2020)

 

WE ARE PROUD OF YOU GRADUATES: CLASS OF 2020

Congratulations!!

College and Graduate School Graduates 

  • Alex Martinez, Ashley Willingham, Clare Cook, Emma Pannullo, Meredith Hooper, Sarah Betancourt, Chamari White-Mink, Annie Xie, Trina Swanson, Ariel Chen – Bachelor’s Degree from Princeton University and engaged with our PUMC Congregation and/or the Wesley Foundation led by Pastor Skitch, which also met at PUMC.

  • Colin Michael Kane from Ithaca College and Brendan Joseph Kane from College of New Jersey. 

  • Pearl Quick – Master’s Degree from Princeton Theological Seminary

  • Malisa Langdon –  Master’s Degree from Rowan University

  • Robert Scheffler – Ph.D. from Princeton University

  • (should other names be here? Let us know! )

 

 

THIS WEEK: RECOMMENDED READING & WATCHING

Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints, Daneen Akers

Evangeline Burgers recommends this book, written for children but with wisdom for all ages. It has stories of real-life faith heroes, many who are still doing important work among us. You can hear the author read chapters on this YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2vGRRW0G6WzjJMwa6nivyWKWIkj9QgUD 

 

Spiritual Practices to Calm Your Anxious Brain, Charles Stone

In this video, Dr. Stone outlines how the spiritual practice of mindfulness can invigorate the Christian life in a time of such uncertainty and fear, more especially helping you through the COVID crisis. https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-e5wJuloT8/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

 

 

 

 

Relocation Report: Tim and Linda Henry

The Henry Family, from left: Harper, Alli, Mark, Grace, Tim, Linda, Will

Hello Princeton UMC from sunny Southern California!

After a heartwarming send-off from the church and closing on the sale of our home, we set off from Princeton in May 2015 and spent the next six months traveling around the U.S. We settled in Palm Springs, in the Sonoran Desert. What a change! Climate, lifestyle, priorities—and, yes, churches. Tim sought a church choir similar to PUMCs, and it wasn’t easy. The United Methodist congregation here is quite small, as is their choir. We eventually began attending the large, local Episcopal Church. Tim enjoys the music program at St. Paul in the Desert, but as you can imagine nothing can replace the joyful music ministry at PUMC or the family-like closeness among choir members created by Hyosang Park. Now that we’re all in quarantine, Tim enjoys weekly Zoom rehearsals with Hyosang and the choir, which includes former members like us who have moved away. We worship with PUMC on Sundays via Facebook.

How fortunate we are to have been members of the PUMC family for more than 20 years! Yvonne Macdonald welcomed our sons into her wonderful youth choirs and encouraged Mark and Will, now 37 and 29, to share their love of choral music in worship. No Sunday at PUMC was complete without afternoon choir practices followed by youth club dinners and fellowship with church friends. Both sons would not have missed going on ASP mission trips each summer where they learned important life skills from Ed and Cindy Bennett, John Powell, Bill and Stacy Chick, Tim Ewer, Alex Lang, and others. Our beloved Peggy Fullman had such an impact on our children.  Her heart and hands helped shape them into generous, compassionate young men. Peggy was always present for church families, keeping a watchful eye on her young flock and teaching them to do all the good they can at all times.  Jim Harris, David Mertz, and Nancy Duff were wonderfully supportive to our sons, especially during their teen years.

Son Will shared: “PUMC was one of the constants in my early life. As I advanced through school and grew through phases of adolescence, and while my weekends were filled with playing on different sports teams, there is always for me a memory of Sundays spent at the church. I am well aware that numerous pillars of my personality, which are based on goodwill and positive moral values, I gained at PUMC. I will always be forever grateful for that. I believe this valuable impression on young minds is a goal of the Methodist Church, and PUMC greatly succeeded in achieving that for me and the many young friends I had there.”

I am reminded so often of the wonderful fellowship of PUMC women. They are dear friends with whom I shared laughter, tears, and prayers as we prepared fellowship meals and funeral luncheons, organized family life events and made advent crafts, cleaned and painted the old kitchen, set up rummage and bake sales in the social hall, and taught VBS. We were church friends who shared our faith and experiences, caring for our church and each other. Many of us have stayed in touch from afar; sadly, some friends have passed away, and my heart is saddened by their loss.

Our family news now: Mark and Alli live in Evanston, IL. Like many young parents during this pandemic, they’re juggling working from home with their role as their children’s part-time teachers. They are members of First United Methodist Church, where they help teach Sunday School. Mark and Alli have given us three wonderful grandchildren: two boys, Harper and Cameron, who are 8 and 2; and a daughter, Grace, age 5. They will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this summer.

Will, a filmmaker, settled in Los Angeles five years ago. He is Associate Producer of a new documentary The High Frontier: The Untold Story of Gerard K. O’Neill, which tells the life story of Princeton University physics professor and space pioneer, Gerry O’Neill. The film is slated for release later this year to a streaming service. Will shares his life with his lovely girlfriend, Hannah.

Happy National Day of Prayer! Evangeline Burgers

To honor this National Day of Prayer, here are some great resources:

For our younger ones (and young at heart!),  ‘Friends With God: Discover How to Pray by Jeff White and David Harrington, contains prayer activities and stories from friends in the Bible. Consider taking a walk around the house with your child, looking at photos of family and friends. Use these photos as an opportunity for prayer. You might say, “God bless Grandpa.” or “I pray for peace for my friends from school.”

 

For our older kids and families, here’s a great family prayer activity from  Faithful Families by Traci Smith.

Smartphone Prayers:

1. For this practice, one family member will act as the leader, and others will be participants. Rotate who serves as the leader, to give everyone a chance to participate in the prayer.

2. The leader will call everyone together and explain ‘Smartphone Prayer.’  Say, “This prayer moves through five different activities on our smartphones. Each is one minute long. I will tell you what to do for each activity and then start my timer. When the timer rings, look up at me and listen for the next mission.”

3. Go through the five missions as follows, making sure the leader sets his/her timer after each instruction and calls everyone back together before presenting the next mission:

Minute One: Go to your text messages and take a look at the last five people in the recent messages, whether they are people you text regularly or people you don’t know at all. Take this minute to pray for each of the five people listed there.

– Minute Two: Go to a news app or website and take a minute to scroll through the headlines. Pray for what jumps out at you as a prayer need this day.

– Minute Three: Go to the notepad and spend this minute typing out whatever comes to mind: praise, gratitude, confession, or requests to God.

– Minute Four: Go to your favorite social media site and spend this minute praying for the people who come up on your feed during this minute.

– Minute Five: Go to your photos. Take this moment to scroll through the most recent twenty or so photos. What prayers come to mind? Lift them up to God now.

4. Follow up: After the five-minute prayer is over, take a couple of minutes to talk about the activity together using one or more of the following questions:

Was there anything surprising or unusual that you heard from God when you were using your cell phone to pray today? What was the most important prayer that came through today? How can we incorporate this attitude of prayer as we use our smartphones throughout the week? In your opinion, does technology draw us closer to God or farther away? Talk a little about your opinion.

 

News from the Gillette Familyl

Trey and Anna Gillette are grandparents! They worshiped here with their three sons (Eric, Peter, and Jeffrey) when they were in seminary. Both Trey and Anna served here on the pastoral staff. Trey now works at the seminary. Anna, currently at Marlton UMC, has just been appointed to St. Andrews UMC in Toms River. And Eric and Abby welcomed their son, Jackson Boone, in March. Anna’s appointment just came through from the conference, as below. Her email is Anna@gillettefamily.com if you would like to say hello.

anna gilletteAnna Gillette: a fervent minister who feels called to lead congregations in clarifying and attaining their vision for ministry. She deeply loves creative and passionate worship and teaching Bible studies for all ages. She has served at Marlton United Methodist Church. Princeton UMC, and Centenary UMC in Lambertville. She and her husband Trey are graduates of Princeton Theological Seminary and her husband is an employee there. They have three boys: Eric who lives with his wife in Lubbock TX and is expecting Anna’s first grand baby, Jeffrey who is a student at Rowan College, and Peter who is a senior at Rider University.

 

 

Relocation Report: Jeff and Annette Ransom

After being very active at PrincetonUMC, including in the bellchoir (see photo below) Jeff and Annette Ransom moved to Sun City, Texas in 2016. Here is their update! Their new address is 329 Old Blue Mountain Lane, Georgetown, TX. They have had two more grandchildren for a total of eight, living in Massachusetts, upstate New York, and Texas. 

Past What persons/activities/tasks/committees at PUMC built up our faith?  Everything we tried, did, almost did, and loved made us better disciples for Jesus Christ.  Until that point in our lives over 25 years ago, Sunday church was a  family tradition where good people went to show that they were, or at least it had become something close to that, speaking for me only (Jeff).  Annette, the trained church organist and consummate church office admin had not drifted so far away, but we were challenged with raising teens and sending them to college, and the east coast work environment, ever-demanding more time away from family.  Choir was always the first escape to avoid other things at all our church families, but Sunday School classes and Disciple Studies laid important foundations along the way, yet there were more gentle proddings into many “firsts” for us by the dedicated saints at PUMC who helped us to grow. 

Highlights include Natural Church Development, SPR, Cornerstone Kitchen, Don Brash’s Class and the Lay Leader role, as well as the music and choirs.  Many people encouraged us along the way: Jana, Catherine, Hyosang, Iona, Larry, Susan, LaVerna, Christopher, Chris, Tracey, Ed, Judy, Doug, Peggy, Yvonne, John, Pat, Michelle, George and Barbara, Mary Lib, Lori, and several more no longer there, but not wanting to overlook any others and the many friends we knew from this congregation.  On a more personal level, I do very much miss the finest golfing gentlemen, George and John, I have ever played with, prowess on the course aside and unimportant.  NJ was a tough leave all around. 

The Ransoms - Expats
The Ransoms

What is your current situation? We’re fully retired, professionally speaking, but not “retiring” from an active, spirit-filled life.  We’re members at the FUMC-Round Rock (TX), a friendly, large multi-generational congregation (unlike PUMC, this is a largely white, though a moderately affluent group), very mission active in local and regional efforts.  For example, there is still a monthly gulf-coast rebuilding team for Hurricane Harvey recovery, and a sponsored engagement with a local elementary school for weekend (now everyday) food support of families, and the church just completed making over 200 beds for the “No Child Sleeps on the Floor” project. Click here for more of Jeff’s letter. 

 C. S. Lewis already commented on our present situation over 70 years ago (sort of)?  After pointing out that humanity had always lived under various threats to existence through out our history (wars, plagues, raiders, illnesses, air raids, accidents), “this” would be nothing new, referring to the threat of the atom bomb.  By extension today we only need to replace that term with the coronavirus. …. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because . . (we) have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.” click here for more… 

Along with NT Wright, Donald Brash, and others studied while at PUMC, we have established an enduring legacy of faith previously unexplored.  Or perhaps, led by the (Ecclesiastes) Spirit, it was a time to know, and a readiness to receive.

 In Christ’s love, 

Annette and Jeff Ransom 

 

What’s Your Story: Name Edition

Letter From Evangeline Burgers

Hello Church Community,

I pray that you had a great time celebrating our Earth on Wednesday and that you’ve overall had a good week with your families at home. 

Last week, Pastor Jenny started a new sermon series on stories and she challenged us to share a story about our beginning. One way children might think about their story of beginning is through sharing about their names. One of my very favorite activities to do when I taught Kindergarten was for parents to share the story of their child’s name with the class. We all learned so much about our friends this way and I found it a powerful opportunity to build up a child’s esteem and affirm their identity.

I’ve recorded a read-aloud of my personal favorite book, Chrysanthemum, to help our children think about names and their significance. There’s also this fun video from Scholastic featuring people sharing their name stories. 

If you have a chance, talk with your child about their name. Tell the story of how you decided on their name when they were a baby. Are they named after a specific ancestor or special friend? Is there a funny story about how their name came to be? Why did you love it? Then help your child to share the story of their name in the read-aloud YouTube comments. I pray this will be a fun way for our children to share their personal name stories with one another.

Names are just one small piece of what makes our story special. I love the image Pastor Jenny mentioned last week from Psalms about God knitting us in our mother’s womb. What a beautiful and exciting life we live, that we get to co-write our stories with God!

To follow up from Sunday School last week, I challenged our children to reach out to a friend they are missing and tell them how much they care about them. I’ve attached a “Thinking of You” coloring page here for them to do just that!

Have a great week and let me know if you need anything!

Love,

Evangeline Burgers

Director of Children’s Ministry

Princeton UMC

609-924-2613 (church phone)

She/Her/Hers

SAYING GOODBYE

Phoebe Quaynor, our Director of Children’s Ministries, has been with us for about three years and is leaving Princeton UMC at the end of this month to pursue a Ph.D. at Penn State University. Phoebe has been a blessing to our Children’s Ministries, Sunday School,  our teachers, and most of all, our children. On Monday, June 10, 2019, Staff Parish Relations Committee organized a dinner for Phoebe at Amalfi’s Restaurant in Lawrenceville. Phoebe enjoyed the camaraderie, and everyone had a wonderful time on that rainy Monday evening. Pastor Ginny praised Phoebe for her remarkable energy and all that she achieved at Princeton UMC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During worship in church on Sunday, June 16, Pastor Jenny acknowledged Phoebe, who was standing together with the children, and presented her with the gift of a prayer shawl. The congregation offered their prayers and blessings. At the special Coffee Hour held on Sunday to celebrate Phoebe, Pastor Skitch thanked her for her leadership as Director of Children’s Ministries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Princeton UMC has also recently said farewell to other active members who have served our church family faithfully and have just recently left our congregation for a new home.

Richard and Cindy Gordon relocating to Maryland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Bernard and Karin Brouwer moved to Florida

 

They have all in diverse ways greatly contributed to Princeton UMC. Though we are sad to see them leave our church, yet we are happy for them to continue on their life’s journey.  Our prayers go with them as they pursue their different paths. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)

 

Sermon “Come, Holy Spirit! Make us Resilient”

On Trinity Sunday, June 16, 2019, Pastor Jennifer Smith-Walz preached on the topic “Come Holy Spirit!  Make Us Resilient” from the sermon series “Revealing Resurrection.” Her sermon is based on the scripture reading “Peace and Hope” from  Romans 5:1-5.  

Pastor Jenny pointed out that people have many different responses to suffering, given that there are many kinds of people, different types of struggle, and many different circumstances. Some feel undone by their plight, others nurture a sense of victimhood; still, others feel shame, which leads to depression. She believes that the best option is to face our suffering, hold steady, grow more alive, wise, and hopeful.

She noted that we are suffering because of our faith in Jesus Christ and we should not get stuck in the suffering, introducing us to Luther Smith’s words “There are places in the human heart that do not yet exist. Then suffering enters in to brings them to life.”  She observed that suffering is the Holy Spirit moving in us and through us. Pain creates patience, which builds character, which produces hope. Hope then brings peace because, through the Holy Spirit, God has poured love into our hearts.

Paul teaching in the Roman Catholic Church expounded on suffering and the church’s response to it. Pain leads to endurance, and we must exhibit patience, which will build up our character for peace and hope. He tells us that suffering is something that all Christians are called to expect. The pain will come, especially if we follow Christ who gave himself up for us, suffered under Pontus Pilate, crucified, dead and buried. We are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus.  Even though we know it,  we sometimes go to great lengths to avoid suffering or make up all kinds of excuses for our own struggle and that of others. Paul tells us we shouldn’t. 

Up to 50% of our population has experienced some trauma in our homes, in school, in battle, in our churches.  Suffering can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. Many people don’t talk about it. They simply don’t trust anyone, especially the church, to believe them. And so they find themselves in a world of the walking-wounded – alone, stuck, ashamed, depressed, hopeless. How then do we handle suffering when something happens to us? The church’s response is to rejoice in our sufferings.  

Paul encourages us not to waste the pain or struggle. In Peter L. Steinke’s words,  “We waste suffering if we gloss over, deny, avoid or neglect its message . . .  If however, we can learn from pain, it is not wasted, but a source of life and health.”  People ask, “How is pain a source of life and health when we are under assault?” Pastor Jenny gives four responses:  “When pain comes, denial and avoidance are a waste. We must either (1) look around for help – from God and/or from our community; (2) fight, (3) take flight from the struggle, or (4) go numb.

Paul’s message is that we must be immersed in God and in our community so that when suffering happens, we can look around and see our tribe and continue to see God’s love poured into our hearts as a gift from the Holy Spirit.  Our community does not deny or avoid suffering. It is full of people willing to share in our struggle or bond with one another. We should practice calling on God to receive the Holy Spirit, which makes us brave, brings us together, and opens us to one another so that when suffering comes, the Holy Spirit is already in us. And when we can’t see the other side when we feel afraid, shame or despair, we must remind ourselves that the Holy Spirit will overcome, and we can share burdens with and for one another. Paul promised us that the Holy Spirit will help us in our suffering. Pastor Jenny is, therefore, encouraging us to heed Paul’s promise and call on the Holy Spirit to make us resilient.

 Can we feel the Holy Spirit moving within us, pouring unconditional, eternal, everlasting love on us?  If we feel it, Pastor Jenny invites us to take time to share with someone how the Holy Spirit is working in our life. If we can’t handle it, we must still talk to someone. This Holy Spirit fosters love, faith, and trust.

At the close of the sermon, Pastor Jenny invited Larry Apperson to share his story with the congregation of how he overcame suffering.  Looking back on his life, Larry remembered one snowy night in Princeton, many years ago, when he cooked lots of soup and brought it to our church, wanting to feed hungry people in the area. After setting the tables and putting up the signs outside, he waited hours for people to show up, but no one came. For a long time, Larry suffered enormously from this disappointment. He had this great idea, but he couldn’t get it done.  Yet, he could not let it go. Ten years passed, several things happened. Then, with the arrival of a new pastor, things started to change. One phone call from a church that needed food daily. . . . And so the Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen at Princeton UMC was born. Cornerstone Community Kitchen served its first meal on June 6, 2012, and in partnership with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) have since served 30,000 meals.  In Larry’s mind, he thought he had failed, but the Holy Spirit saw that this was a good idea and was telling him not to give it up.  Full of hope, endurance, patience, and not avoiding suffering, Larry has received God’s love through the Holy Spirit poured into his heart and overflowed to others.

 

 The sermon is podcast on this webpage under the category “worship.” Here is the link

For the complete video of the June 19 service, found on Princeton United Methodist Church Facebook page, click here.