On the Firth Sunday of Pentecost, Pastor Rebekah Anderson preached on “Baptism” while “Exploring the Depths” and left us with this quoteThe Scripture was from Mark 1: 1-14. 

Pastor Rebekah reminded us that we are all incredibly vulnerable, and our vulnerability connects us. She stated, “Baptism calls us to open our hearts to the vulnerability of ourselves and others so that we can recognize that we are all inextricably linked through God’s love. At Baptism, God’s redeeming grace washes the old away and creates in us a new life.” 

Even though we are baptized once, we must return what our Baptism means, over and over again. This way, we open our hearts to be made new each day. There is a new life for us in Baptism, again and again when this happens. This new life offers us the forgiveness that we can give to ourselves for hurting others and, to people who have caused us harm. 

What to focus on now:

    1. Return to what Baptism means for us.
    2. Dive in again and again deeply into the depths of these waters.
    3. Take a hard look at ourselves and the world’s brokenness and recognize our culpability in its pain.

It will wash away hurt and resentment in incredible ways that will make more room in our hearts for love and joy. “May we find that path to the water and dive in again and again, together,” said pastor Rebekah. Click here to listen to Pastor Rebekah preaching about “Baptism.” 

Written by Isabella Dougan

Laity Spotlight: Gillian Bartels-Quansah

As another school year comes to an end, we once again say “goodbye for now” to our graduating seniors. Among them is Gillian Bartels-Quansah. Frequent Sunday service attendees may recognize her from the many times she’s sung with her sister, Reanna, and in the youth choir. Gillian has been attending PUMC for the past three years, along with her mom and sister. She says it was her mom who first got them involved. “I was part of another church in East Brunswick. My mom was drawn to the church first as she had grown up in a Methodist church. After a few weeks of bothering us about it, [my sister and I] finally visited and I just fell in love with the people and the loving atmosphere. Before we knew it, we were completely roped into the Princeton UMC community.”

In addition to the PUMC youth choir, she also sings in the Princeton High School choir and spent seven years as a member of the Princeton Girl Choir. Gillian is a self-described book worm, a Girl Scout, a lacrosse and ice hockey player, a co- instructor for Girls Who Code, and the director of Outreach for her school hackathon, hackPHS. Needless to say, she likes to stay busy!

With respect to this unusual senior year, Gillian says, “This year was challenging because we did- n’t get the fun traditional senior year that we had been dreaming of for 12 years! Not being able to see our friends, especially when it is going to be the last time we are all together was tough.” She also felt the frustration of isolation as political and racial unrest spread across the country. “We couldn’t support our friends and go out to pro- test in the traditional way. Amid the pandemic, we didn’t have access to our cultural/identity support groups. Virtually meeting is not the same. While we were together in an online setting, we were still technically alone.”

Even though this past year brought many challenges, Gillian found joy in it too. “I had more time for self-care, reflection and education. I had more time to learn about God and to spend time with my family. I had the time to educate myself on the various ways humans walk through life and my global footprint. These lessons were the best take away. Especially with the pandemic and everything that was happening in society, I feel as if I walked away with more attention to the world around me, how it impacted me, how I influenced it, and how I can make it better.”

In the fall, Gillian will be attending Barnard College, the women’s college of Columbia University. She will be studying computer science with a focus in computational biology and she’s planning to minor in science and public policy. She says, “I hope to work in the computational bio- medical field and help eliminate algorithmic dis- crimination and increase diversity in clinical trial research.”

It’s very clear that Gillian Bartels-Quansah is a special young woman with a bright future ahead of her. While that future is currently in the Big Apple itself, she will always have a home here at Princeton UMC. Gillian and her sister Reanna will be baptized during worship, June 27, and will be welcomed into professing membership alongside their mother Medina.

Gillian performs here (left) with her sister Reanna at the recent confirmation service on May 23.

Prayer of Examen

Were you unable to participate in the Selah Prayer Practices small group earlier this year? Our intern Tayler Necoechea shares one of the practices from the group here: the Prayer of Examen. The prayer of Examen’s origins might come from St. Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century. When Tayler uses the prayer of Examen, she likes to take a few moments of silence in between each part. This is a great exercise for daily use, and you can choose to sit with these words in silence, respond out loud, or journal.

Do you want to learn about more spiritual practices? Email Tayler to get access to the self-paced Selah Prayer Practices group on Mighty Networks.


This Sunday is Trinity Sunday. During worship, PUMC Accompanist to Children’s and Youth Choirs Julia Hanna will play these pieces of classical music:  “Bell-flower (From Tres Miniaturas)” by Lecuona, “A la Chopin from Vingt Pièce “by Godard, and “En Forme De Fox-trot” by Martinů. She will accompany us on piano as we sing these Trinity hymns: “Christ Is The World’s Light,” “Shine Jesus Shine,” and “O Happy Day, That Fixed My Choice.” 

O Happy Day” was written by Philip Doddridge, an English Non-Conformist minister, and the tune by Edward Francis Rimbault. This hymn celebrates the joy that Doddridge and the Non-Conformists in 18th-century England felt for their Savior and God . “O Happy Day” has become gospel music today and  was made famous by the Edwin Hawkins Singers. It  became an international hit in the US, UK, Ireland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The song has appeared in many movies, including the Walt Disney Film “Secretariat.” Actor, songwriter, producer Maurice Ryan Toby born in Willingboro, New Jersey  sang “O Happy Day” in “Sister Act 2” when he was 17 years old. 

Click here to watch a Youtube video of “O Happy Day.”

On Trinity Sunday, we celebrate the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity – the Three Persons of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This means God is one in essence and three in person.  Click here to join us in this worship service as we lift up our hearts to the Lord with joyful songs and music.

Written by Isabella Dougan

Breaking Bread with Mt. Pisgah AME Church


Rev. Dr. Deborah Blanks

What a joy it was to welcome Rev. Dr. Deborah Blanks, pastor of Mt. Pisgah African Methodist Episcopal Church, as guest preacher on April 25. “If there is a temptation to be someone other than ourselves, that would be a monumental mistake,” she said, preaching on the Good Shepherd theme in the Gospel of John. “God wants us to be the people that God has redeemed us to be.”

Her inspirational message represents a step toward a partnership that Princeton UMC is developing with Mt. Pisgah AME, located on Witherspoon Street. This project was sparked by Professor Emeritus Albert Raboteau, in answer to the question, “What can (one) do to help improve race relations?” shortly after the racially charged events at Charlottesville, VA. His answer was, “Sit down together and share a meal.”

“We proceed in that spirit of fellowship,” says Dana Dreibelbis, who co-chairs the project – a Juneteenth celebration picnic — with Rev. Dr. Blanks. Brenda A. Allen, president of Lincoln University, the oldest of the HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), is a consultant on this effort.

Juneteenth is celebrated around the nation as the day (June 19, 1865) when freedom for enslaved people was finally and belatedly announced in Galveston, Texas, by Union authorities. Celebrations began the following year mainly as church-centered events and have evolved ever since.

PUMC will join Mt. Pisgah AME for the Juneteenth celebration picnic on the actual day, Saturday, June 19, at noon (Covid conditions permitting). Space has been reserved at Community Park South, and Rev. Dr. Blanks and Dana are assembling a volunteer team.

As United Methodists we have so much in common with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. According to the A.M.E. website, it split from the main branch of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1787, not because of doctrinal differences “but rather the result of a time period that was marked by man’s intolerance of his fellow man, based on the color of his skin.” It has grown from one church in Philadelphia to gaining members in 39 countries on five conti- nents.

President Allen suggests the Juneteenth project can “ultimately provide opportunities for diverse groups to build relationships towards the common goals of learning about each other and to come together to fight racial injustice. We agreed that this is not a one and done. Rather we envision a series of activities that bring communities together to build these relationships and develop cross-cultural trust and respect.”

“To this end we envision events throughout the year to keep the goal of genuine equality, respect and fellowship front and center,” says Dana.

Can you help? Email danadreibelbis@gmail.com .

Faith Formation Toolkit

Immanuel Journaling

Were you unable to participate in the Selah Prayer Practices small group earlier this year? Our intern Tayler Necoechea shares one of the practices from the group here: Immanuel Journaling.

Tayler first learned about Immanuel Journaling through Pastor Anna Kang, one of the authors of this practice, while doing ministry in Los Angeles. What makes this journaling exercise so lovely is the emphasis on the “mutual state of mind” between the individual and God. Take a few minutes in between your part and God’s response to invite the Holy Spirit into your space. Remember that God is loving, not shaming.

Use this Immanuel Journaling Worksheet to guide you in your practice.

Do you want to learn about more spiritual practices? Email tayler@princetonumc.org to get access to the self-paced Selah Prayer Practices group on Mighty Networks.


In her sermon on the Second Sunday of Easter, Interim Pastor Rebekah Anderson preached on the story of “The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith,” as recorded in the Scripture Mark 7:24-30.  She stated that when people are brought into direct contact with the truth, they are transformed. Whatever is obstructing their view is removed and allows them to see clearly something they couldn’t see before. In the case of Jesus, it’s as if, for one moment, he lost sight of his mission. He seemingly forgot that he had just taught the crowd of Scribes and Pharisees that “what comes out of our hearts supersedes the law.” 

The Syrophoenician woman of great faith asked Jesus to heal her daughter. She, who was a Gentile, not Jewish, taught Jesus to be more tolerant. This woman brought Jesus into a direct encounter with the truth and reminds him of his mission’s entire point, thus empowering him to transform others. Pastor Rebekah reminds us “that as Christians, we are called to listen deeply to ourselves, to others, and to God.” We are often afraid to listen, she said, “because when we do, we are often confronted with things that are really uncomfortable.” She invites us to honor God with our hearts and actions by listening to those who are different from us, who can remind us of what we are called to be. God’s unconditional love for us will help us listen deeply. 

You, too, can experience God’s love and transformation. Come worship with us at Princeton United Methodist Church, and be a part of this beloved community. Click here to watch the PUMC worship service and listen to the sermon.

Written by Isabella Dougan


On this Second Sunday of Easter, April 11, Music Director Hyosang Park performs a handbell solo, and Pianist Julia Hanna treats us to beautiful classical music pieces.   Our hymns include “Spirit Of God” and “Open My Eyes, That I May See,” popular hymns for this season. “Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us, a favorite hymn of mine,” fittingly brings this service to its close. 

 The hymn, “Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us,” was first published by its composer Dorothy Ann Thrupp in a collection of songs titled “Hymns For The Young,” and sung to the music “Bradbury” by William B. Bradbury. It is a prayer  based on Psalm 23, with pleas for tender care from lost, needy children. The Shepherd responds with love. We are his lambs, and He, our Shepherd continues to lead us.

Video:  “Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us,”      

In this Easter season, we celebrate new life in Christ, who triumphed over death and is alive again. Come, let us worship in the light of his teachings and his healing mercies, and come before his presence with music and hymns.  Pastor Rebekah Anderson is preaching on “The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith,” as recorded in the Scripture Mark 7:24-30.  

Click here to join us in this worship service and share in songs and music.

[Videos credit: YouTube]  [Photo credit: PUMC Library]

Written by Isabella Dougan


In her sermon on Easter Sunday, Rev. Jenny Smith Walz proposed that we make Christ’s death and resurrection story our story and let it sink down deep within us. When that happens, we can do things we never could have dreamed of. We can show peace to one another. We can celebrate with joy. How profoundly transforming this story is! 

“We live falling short of the goals of loving God with our whole selves and with loving one another the way Christ loves us,” stated Pastor Jenny.  May Christ’s saving grace transform us and help us to love God and our fellow men moreShe advised us not to cover up the horrible parts of our story, adding, “If we admit our brokenness, God will go to any length to bring us back and repair our brokenness.” 

What is your death and resurrection story? How do you tell your story? You, too, can experience God’s love and transformation. Come worship with us at Princeton United Methodist Church, and be a part of this beloved community.  Click here to watch the PUMC worship service and listen to the sermon.

Written by Isabella Dougan


🎼🎵♬“Bind us together, Lord, bind us together with cords that cannot be broken. Bind us together, Lord, bind us together, Lord, bind us together in love. .🎼🎵♬

On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, we will have a special music performance featuring our Youth Choir singing “Your Servant I Will Be” by Mark Patterson. Our hymns today bring the message that we need to be united in love as the body of Christ.

The scripture this week comes from Mark 8:31-38 and Colossians 3:1-4.  As we journey with Jesus during Lent and witness his suffering, Jesus predicts his death and explains to us the way of the cross, saying, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” To appear with Christ in Glory, we must set our minds on things above and not on earthly things.   Rev. Jenny Smith Waltz will preach a sermon on the topic:  “Broken From Self.”

VideoBind Us Together” 

Bob Gillman wrote the text and composed the tune to “Bind Us Together” in 1974. This hymn’s theme is that love binds us all together in unity, as reflected in Colossians 3:14 and Ephesians 4:1-6. Gillman started writing songs at the age of 13 when he became a Christian. His interest in music included guitar and banjo playing. He also wrote children’s books, “Tales of Upchurch Station,” being one of them.

Video: “When We Are CalledTo Sing Your Praise”

Mary Nelson Keithahn, a retired UMC ordained pastor, wrote the hymn “When We Are Called To Sing Your Praise” in 2000. Ralph Vaughan set it to the tune KINGSFOLD. In 2016 Keithahn published a chapter book for children entitled “Elfie: Adventures on the Midwest Frontier.”

If you’re looking for inspiration: Come worship with us at PUMC and enjoy our hymns and music. They will give you hope with renewed faith. If you suffer or grieve, you will find healing here. If you are burdened with sin, you will find forgiveness here. If you are exhausted, you will find rest here. Remember, Jesus died for you. There is a place for you here.

Click here to join us as we share in songs, prayer, music, scripture, and listen to Pastor Jenny’s Sermon.

[Images courtesy of Google Images, and PUMC] [Videos Source: YouTube]

Written by Isabella Dougan