Welcome back, Tom Lank

Welcome back to Rev. Tom Lank!  He and his family return to PUMC on Sunday, February 12 so that he can speak at the breakfast served by United Methodist Men. His topic: United Methodist Volunteers in Mission. He will also preach at both services, on the sermon series topic “Life in Community,” based on Deuteronomy 30:15-20 

Tom is a United Methodist Deacon and a product of Princeton UMC, where he discerned his call to ministry as a layperson, and served on staff as the Associate Pastor from 2008-2010.   Tom led the mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo  that launched PUMC’s strong support for United Front Against Riverblindness. He currently serves as the Coordinator of the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission program for the Northeastern Jurisdiction, covering United Methodist congregations from Maine to West Virginia to Washington, DC.  Tom, his wife Gretchen Boger, and their two children, Edith (11) and Alice (8) currently live in Philadelphia.

UMM cooks the tasty hot breakfast, and it’s not ‘just for guys.’ Everyone  is invited; a $5 donation is suggested.

For Women in the Congo: October 1 and 9


In this disturbing time of unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo, woman leaders who empower women in the Congo are visiting Princeton. Princeton United Methodist Church traditionally supports two charities based in the Congo, the United Front Against Riverblindness, founded by our own Daniel Shungu, and Woman, Cradle of Abundance.  a non-profit organization that empowers women in the Congo, founded by Professor Elsie McKee of Witherspoon Presbyterian Church and Princeton Theological Seminary.


So we are especially glad to welcome two leaders of Woman, Cradle of Abundance on their visit to the United States this fall. Their visit begins with “Pour Femme,” an all-French concert performed by local singers and pianists on Saturday, October 1, 2 p.m. in Miller Chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary. Tickets at the door or online are $35 for adults and $15 for students. Free offstreet parking is available across Mercer Street (in the library lot) and an anonymous donor will match each donation up to $2,500.

At Princeton United Methodist Church, we have a special welcome for Maman Monique, who will speak at a PUMC breakfast on Sunday, October 9, at 8 a.m. She will be accompanied by Maman Antoinette.


The United Methodist Men serve up a hearty meal, and everyone is welcome. A $5 donation is requested.

Other speaking dates: Sunday, October 2, at 10 a.m. at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, followed by conversation with church members after worship. Wednesday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m. at Haddonfield Friends’ Meeting, Haddonfield, NJFriday, October 7,  noon, Princeton Theological Seminary, Main Lounge of Mackay Campus Center, sponsored by the Center for Theology, Women and Gender.Sunday, Oct. 16, noon, Nassau Presbyterian Church, Princeton

Vive les femmes!






District Wide Leadership Training for Missions :

Two leadership training opportunities — one on race and social justice, one on leading mission projects — are offered by the United Methodist Church.


Rev. Tom Lank  offers Volunteers in Mission Leadership Training for the Northeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist church  United Methodist Volunteers In Mission promotes, encourages, and enables Christians to exemplify “Christian Love In  Action” through short-term mission service in the United States and abroad. Tom was an assistant pastor at PUMC and led our United Front Against Riverblindness mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The training is  Saturday, November 5, in Neptune, N.J. Details here 

Katey Zeh katey-headshot-300x285 offers a Drew Theological School webinar,  Confronting White Privilege in Our Mission for Justice on four Wednesdays , 3 to 4:30 p.m. starting September 21. 

“In this four-part series we will discuss what the missional engagement of the church looks like in a highly racialized context on both a national and a local level.  In addition to personal reflection and group discussion, participants will gain new tools and resources for addressing white privilege in their own communities and ministries and ideas for building ministries that are relationally authentic and socially impactful.”

Katey joins Bill Mefford to teach this course, which costs $60. Scholarships for PUMC members are available.

African Soiree: March 19

P1010646 geri vasanth at buffet
Geri LaPlaca (left), Anne Fikaris, and Vasanth Victor admire the delectable African dishes at the African Soiree


2016 3 P1010707 daniel podium
Daniel Shungu, PUMC member and founder of United Front Against Riverblindness, updates the guests at the African Soiree on progress made — when $10 saves 7 people in the DNC from going blind.

Our church has been a long-time supporter of United Front Against Riverblindness, founded by our own Daniel Shungu, who has an amazing story — he took early retirement from Merck to “give back” to his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. One of the photos on this page shows our 2008 mission trip to the Congo. That was the year we had four (count ’em 4!) fundraisers including the African Soiree.

Above, a picture of the bountiful feast — the multi-course home-cooked African and American dinner prepared by volunteers — a major feature of the African Soirée.

This year it will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2016,  starting at 5  p.m.(doors open at 4:30 PM). As always, we are grateful to be able to stage the soiree at the Mackay Campus Center of Princeton Theological Seminary, 64 Mercer St. Princeton NJ. Tickets are $70 per adult and $35 per child atwww.riverblindness.org. For free parking, enter from College Road.

At the Soiree you can shop at our “African Market,” bid on exciting auction items, and get an update on the progress of the UFAR mission by Dr. Shungu.

To get support for the mission trip, adults and kids acted out what it means to be blind in the Congo — where riverblindness ruins two lives, the adult who is blind and the child who must leave school to lead the adult with a pole. The photo below shows how we marched through Communiversity with children leading adults to bring the message “$10 saves 7 people from going blind.”

To get support for the mission trip adults and Sunday School students acted out Riverblindness at Communiversity. At left, Ian Griffith and in the center, the late Peter Meggitt.



Chansons pour le Congo: Karrin Allyson

KarinAllyson2015_Ingrid_Hertfelder_6Now is the perfect time, says jazz artist Karrin Allyson, to revisit the Rodgers & Hammerstein songbook. Two days after the release of her latest album,  Allyson will give a benefit concert “Chansons pour le Congo III” at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). The concert, which benefits two Congo-based charities, will be Sunday, September 20, at 3 p.m. at the Mildred & Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall, 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing.

“These songs are innocent yet wise, hopeful yet nobody’s fool, calling us ever forward to be decent human beings,” says Allyson, who features Kenny Barron and John Patitucci on “Many a New Day” on the Motema label. “Sadly, the song ‘You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught,’  from ‘South Pacific’  (a musical that was written with the intention to fight racism) still resonates all too well today.”

The event is presented by the College of New Jersey, Women and Gender Studies Program, Women in Learning and Leadership and Office of the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences.  Allyson will be accompanied by bass guitarist Ed Howard. A reception to meet the artists will follow the performance.

Tickets (available online here) are $70 for adults, $50 for seniors, and $30 for students, with a discount for TCNJ students.  Sponsorships range from Patron  at $240, including three tickets. to Karrin’s Circle for $1,000 with six tickets. For information  call 609-688-9979.

This will be the third concert that Allyson, a four-time Grammy nominee, has given to benefit the two charities. Founded  by an ecumenical group of Congolese women, Woman, Cradle of Abundance (FEBA) supports a sewing school for girls, medical care for women and children living with HIV/AIDS, counseling for survivors of rape and forced prostitution, and school fees for orphans .

UFAR, founded by PUMC member Dr. Daniel Shungu, is an African-inspired, Lawrenceville-based nonprofit charitable organization that aims, in partnership with other organizations, to eradicate onchocerciasis, a major public health problem in the Kasongo region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Women of the Congo have amazing strength,” says Allyson, “and I only want to help with their goals of a safe and healthy society, freed from diseases like AIDS and riverblindness, and to help the world see that they are FIRST class citizens.”

Masks from the Congo: March 21 Auction

3 Luba Shankadi mask

This mask from the Congo is a traditional Luba craft, not created for the tourist trade. Bidding starts at $200.

This amazing Luba Shankadi mask will be on sale, in a live auction, at the African Soiree on Saturday, March 21. Anyone may buy other items at the African marketplace, from 4:30 on, but you need a ticket to the dinner to participate in the Kuba art auction. Go to the United Front Against Riverblindness website for tickets.  3 cowry shell and bead purse

 Also,  a cowry-shell and bead purse. How unusual! Cowry shells were a form of money, so this purse is a double-entendre — cowry shells on a handbag that holds money. Bidding starts at $100.  jack title holders hat

And — just for fun — here is Jack wearing a title holder’s hat of office, similar to one in the auction. Our own Michele Tuck-Ponder will call the auction, all to benefit United Front Against Riverblindness, giving hope to thousnds of Congolese.

Kuba Art at UFAR’s African Soiree

two menFascinating masks and textiles, intriguing pottery, carved figurines, and exquisite beading with cowrie shells — Kuba artwork from the Democratic Republic of Congo will be for sale at the African Soiree on Saturday, March 21, 5 to 9 p.m. in the main lounge of the Mackay Center at the Princeton Theological Seminary.

Many of these beautiful items will be for sale at the African Marketplace, which starts at 4:30 p.m., and a dozen of the choicest artworks will be up for auction. The Marketplace is open to the public. For $70 African Soiree tickets ($35 for children) go to the UFAR website, Riverblindness.org.

The Soiree  is always exciting and fun. Youth from PUMC will help serve the sumptuous buffet of African and international foods and this year we will enjoy gospel music by Selah, a seminary ensemble directed by La Thelma Armstrong.

Traditional Congolese “Kuba” art was affected by influences from abroad that arrived during the era of colonization, but the individuality and variety of tribal customs has been preserved. Proceeds from the sale will benefit  UFAR (United Front Against Riverblindness), founded by PUMC’s Daniel Shungu, and FEBA (Woman, Cradle of Abundance), founded in the DRC by an ecumenical group of women.





Songs for Congo: November 9

Karrin and Bill

Here is a way to support a cause founded by PUMC’s own Daniel Shungu, United Front Against Riverblindness. Together with another worthy charity for Congo, Woman Cradle of Abundance, UFAR presents its second annual benefit concert with 4-Time Grammy Nominee Karrin Allyson.

When: Sunday, November 9 at 3:00 PM
Reception with the artist will follow. Doors open at 2:30 PM.

Where: Solley Theatre, Arts Council of Princeton
Corner of Paul Robeson Place and Witherspoon St. in Princeton, NJ

Tickets are $70, $30 for students, and sponsorship opportunities are available.

Many at PUMC know how UFAR is working to stamp out riverblindness. We sent a mission team to the DRC five years ago. One-third of the 60 million people in the DRC are at risk for getting riverblindness, which starts with a rash and leads to sight loss, forcing children to leave school to care for parents.

But what is Woman, Cradle of Abundance, also known as FEBA? It aims to change the dismal future for many women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, known as one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a woman. Founded in 1999 by an ecumenical group of Congolese women, it supports a sewing school where girls learn a marketable trade. It also provides medical care and support for women and children living with HIV / AIDS, counseling for survivors of rape and forced prostitution, and school fees for orphans. The US partner is raising funds to help the Congo project build a Women’s Center.

Help both causes by enjoing a jazz afternoon with Karrin (shown here with her partner Bill McLaughlin). She is described as “always globetrotting and delighting audiences all over the world with her unique and personal style — straight from the heart.”



Our Beloved Sally

sallyIt is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of Sally Ross.  Sally was a long-time member of Princeton United Methodist Church, and an active member of the Chancel Choir, United Methodist Women, and the Communications Committee.  For the obituary in the Times of Trenton, click here.

We ask for your prayers for Sally’s husband, Charles Phillips, and their family.

Visitation will be at Mather Hodge Funeral home on Saturday, April 26​, 3-5PM.  The Funeral Service will be at Princeton UMC on Monday, April 28 at 11AM​.  Interment will be at Princeton Cemetery. For parking suggestions, click here.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Christian Education Department of Princeton United Methodist Church or the United Front Against Riverblindness (UFAR).

Fighting Cholera in the Congo

Tom Lank, formerly on the staff at PUMC — he led the 2010 mission trip to the Congo for the United Front Against Riverblindness — sent us a note from Bishop Ntambo asking for help in the cholera outbreak. The mission team met him in the DRC. “several PUMC folks will recognize the Bishop and may feel called to respond to the need,” says Tom. We were glad that Tom, Gretchen, and the girls could come to the African Soiree to present the very special UFAR award, honoring Pete, to Liz Meggitt and her family.

The message from Bishop Ntambo: Each year, North Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo experiences a severe Cholera outbreak that claims thousands of lives during the rainy season. UMCOR needs your help to respond to this outbreak and help prevent it from happening again. Watch this video to hear from Bishop NTAMBO Nkulu Ntanda on how you can help.

We are also asked to keep the people of North Katanga in our prayers.