Congratulations To Pastor Ginny Cetuk

Congratulations to Pastor Ginny on her 45 years of service in the body of Christ. It is the life she is called to live.

Congratulatios also to Princeton UMC for getting Pastor Ginny to stay on in the category of ‘retired pastor’ for one more year. We pray for God’s guidance and strength for her.

During Coffee Hour, after the worship service on Sunday June 2, 2019, SPRC Chair Iona Harding joyfully told her”We are thankful that at this time in your career you are here with us.” She thanked Norman Cetuk for bringing the cake for his lovely wife.

Honoring Larry Apperson with Chuck Inman Award – Saturday, April 13, 2019

On April 13 the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) will present the Chuck Inman Memorial Award to Larry Apperson. The annual award honors an individual who has made a significant impact on feeding hungry people in Mercer County. Larry will be recognized for his long-standing service at TASK and for helping set up the very active satellite at Princeton UMC.

TASK serves those who are hungry in the Trenton area and offers programs to promote self-sufficiency and improve the quality of life of its patrons. As one of 16 satellites operated by TASK, Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen serves 100 meals each week. On April 6, 2019, Cornerstone recorded its 30,000th meal served since beginning in June 2012.

“We are proud of the help and commitment of our partners such as at Princeton United Methodist Church,” says Charlie Orth of TASK. “It’s leaders like Larry that make change happen.”

When people hurt, United Methodists help

When people hurt, United Methodists help.

Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We know what it feels like – fear, disorientation, grief. Because of Sandy we know what those who were in the path of Hurricane Matthew in the United States are going through.

We can only imagine the pain and fear the people of Haiti are facing after experiencing the brunt of the storm. The immense loss and mass devastation needs the full commitment of all our efforts to reach the hurting, the hungry, the frightened and the hopeless.

We also know what the United Methodist family is like. We are family, there for one another during our greatest challenges. It is God’s love in action.

I have been in communication with our bishops in the affected areas and this past Sunday I worshiped with our Haitian congregation, First United Methodist Church of Asbury Park. All are grateful to know that the United Methodists of GNJ are praying for them and will be sharing gifts of volunteers and money to assist with recovery from Hurricane Matthew.

I call all of our congregations to pray and to receive offerings for Hurricane Matthew relief and recovery over the next two weeks. You may send your gifts marked Hurricane Matthew made out to the United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey to the Mission and Resource Center 205 Jumping Brook Road, Neptune, New Jersey 07753.

We will send the money to the impacted areas through UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief), and your church will be credited with the donation. Through UMCOR 100% of your gift will be sent to the impacted areas. None will be kept for administrative purposes.

United Methodists from across our connection have assisted us in our recovery from Sandy. In fact, they have sent more than 11,000 volunteers and millions of dollars that helped us to rebuild 247 homes and assist 450 families in their recovery. When people hurt, United Methodists help. I hope your congregation will be a part of helping our sisters and brothers in their relief and recovery so that all of us can have a future with hope.

Keep the faith!

John Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
of Greater New Jersey

Sustaining — Renewing — God’s World

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Rick Engel (left) and Michael Catania (executive director of Duke Farms) pose with an eagle replica in front of the live eaglecam showing the adorable nestlings at Duke Farm. Now that New Jersey’s chemically polluted sites are being cleaned up, the bald eagle population has grown exponentially.  Photo and blog post by Barbara Fox. 

Today more than a dozen PUMC members explored Duke Farms, the 2,000 acre property with 18 miles of trails that are open to the public. Michael Catania — an environmental lawyer who has had a long association with PUMC member Rick Engel, also an environmental lawyer — described how the property transitioned from the private estate of the late Doris Duke into a thriving, free-to-the- public environmental center that focuses on sustainability.

Here is a link to some of the photos from the excursion  that was organized by the Membership Committee. (More are welcome!)

Visible traces of Doris Duke are gone. Many of her possessions were auctioned off (link to some photos)  But the brilliance of her father’s hydroelectric and landscaping plan endures. James Buchanan Duke, a tobacco mogul, had hired hundreds of men to excavate nine lakes, construct 45 buildings, and build more than two miles of stone walls. Here is the timeline, 

Now, with a $10 million annual budget from the foundation, Duke Farms supports numerous research projects and serves as an education center for visitors to learn about  sustainability practices on both a large and small scale.

One of the most endearing research projects is an extensive study of bald eagles. Here is the link to an eaglecam; you can see the nestlings 4 x 7  and watching is addictive!

That eagles flourish makes us appreciate this passage in Isaiah all the more.  If “sustainable land-use practices” help us to be good stewards of God’s world, a “sustainable prayer life” nurtures our spirits.

they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 

— by Barbara Fox

Outreach Initiatives

In an effort to foster new and innovative ministries, the Outreach Committee is announcing PUMC
Outreach Initiatives Program to:
1. Expand the depth and reach of outreach ministries at PUMC.
2. Engage more of our congregation in ministries of justice and mercy.

The Outreach Committee will support Initiative Teams implementing outreach ministries through funding and/or coaching.
This is a one or two year grant program. Consideration for funding of year two will depend on implementation, goal achievement, active participation of all parties and availability of funds. The ministries qualifying for this support will:
1. Target a need or community not currently addressed through Outreach ministries at PUMC
2. Engage a new or existing group (ex. Committee, Small Group, Sunday School Class) of the PUMC church family who will develop and implement a ministry of justice and mercy
3. Engage and empower members of the targeted community through active participation in the execution of the ministry
A written application and interview with Outreach Committee will inform the awarding of Initiatives grants. Grants will not exceed $1,000. Outreach will work with Initiative Teams to secure additional funding should budgets exceed this amount.
Support/Accountability
Upon granting of funds, an Outreach Committee member will be assigned to the Initiative Team as a resource for the Initiative Team. An accountability/progress report will be completed jointly during the grant year (assigned committee member and Initiative Team). A report to the Outreach Committee on the effect, level of participation and future of the new ministry will be prepared at the end of the first grant year for purposes of assessment and extension/revision of the ministry.
Key Dates
Notification of Interest: Interested teams are invited to send a general notification of interest by April 15, 2016. The notification should include a brief description of your team’s planned initiative.
Deadline for applications: Completed applications are due May 15, 2016.
Selection of Grantees: The Outreach Committee will announce grantees on June 30, 2016.
For more information, or to express interest in applying for PUMC Outreach Initiatives, contact LaVerna Albury, Chair of Outreach albury_1@verizon.net
Announcing: PUMC Outreach Initiatives Program
In an effort to foster new and innovative ministries, the Outreach Committee is announcing PUMC
Outreach Initiatives Program to:
1. Expand the depth and reach of outreach ministries at PUMC.
2. Engage more of our congregation in ministries of justice and mercy.

Endless buckets of love

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Prayer at Children’s Time. “There’s always another bucket.”
P1070391 up steps
Middle-schoolers get ready to take ‘buckets of God’s love’ down the aisles, collecting today’s offering.

God offers endless buckets of love — that was Lay Minister Cindy Gordon’s message on Sunday (2/7/2016), at Children’s Time. For a photo essay, click here.

Hands On in Christ’s Service

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Cindy Bennett and Anne Fikaris were “hands on for Christ when they baked cookies for Womanspace

This is a personal post. In the several decades I’ve been at Princeton United Methodist Church, one of the congregational traits I value the most is an understanding attitude regarding personal schedules. We don’t play the blame game. If something comes up and you can’t do what you signed up to do, we’ll manage somehow. If you say you don’t have time to do a particular task, we won’t guilt you into doing it.

But perhaps we aren’t reaching everybody with the right message. The opportunity to be “hands on in Christ’s service” can be so exhilarating, even life changing. It’s just a matter of finding the square holes for the square pegs.  Maybe we aren’t being savvy about offering volunteer opportunities.

So I was intrigued by a post in the national United Methodist weekly digest: How to recruit volunteers when begging and badgering doesn’t work. And was delighted to find that at least one committee is already using one of the tips.

Take a look at the article (click here) and see what you think. If you think one of these strategies will work at PUMC, email the communications committee at communications@PrincetonUMC.

But how you are “hands on in Christ’s service” is up to you — and Jesus! We promise — you won’t have to take charge of your idea unless you want to!

Barbara Fox

Carla MacGuigan: Giving Joyfully at Threads of Hope

threads logoEarlier this week I had written down completely different thoughts to share with you about “giving joyfully and putting God first.” However, my plan changed after my service experience yesterday. God has been calling me for a year and a half or so to “give joyfully” one Saturday morning a month to PUMC’s outreach mission project in Trenton at Chamber United Methodist Church.  This project Threads of Hope, has become near and dear to my heart and that of my family because it is not so much a project as it is a one to one opportunity to reach out to the “least of these” that Jesus so frequently advocated for.  Matthew 25:40 reminds us “anything you have done for the least of these, you did for me.” My family has been involved with many youth mission trips and projects, but this ongoing experience of “giving joyfully” to the least of these (or the “nobodies” as discussed this summer) has changed us all.

I feel that God is asking me to share this experience with you because so few of you have had the opportunity to directly experience Threads of Hope yourselves. Many of you are “giving joyfully” to the numerous other opportunities offered through PUMC such as The Cornerstone Kitchen, ASP, VBS, etc…all of which I think, many of you know a great deal about. My prayers are that after I do my best to make these wonderful and grateful people at Threads of Hope come alive for you, that you will join others from the PUMC family in this very worthwhile mission/outreach project. Minimal time is needed, but the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life is endless.  Our church has been supporting this outreach through our ongoing clothing donations, school supplies donations (such as the recent very successful and much appreciated school supply collection during VBS), prayers and through the dedication of a small group of volunteers and staff members.

So much more help is needed and the Outreach Committee  recently committed to fund the buying of containers to store the out of season clothing which will help us protect this very important commodity from the dampness of the church basement.  They have also committed to helping pay for craft projects, academic workbooks, and food (usually snacks, but sometimes a breakfast), that we share with the attending families. So far providing these things has come from the generosity of a few volunteers, now it is guaranteed that we can continue to meet our patrons’ needs, especially the children.

From 10 am -noon on the 2nd Saturday each month, we are open as a free, take what you need, clothing closet for people of all ages, colors, faiths, and backgrounds, but really Threads is so much more.  In the summer, we are a cool place for people to come and visit with one another and in the winter months we are a warm, inviting place for people to come and visit with one another. The individuals attending range in age from a few weeks old to seniors.  The families include multi-generations of great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc…

We started out with about ten people coming the first few months to approximately 40 people yesterday (20 were kids and teens, 20  men and women).  They come in all shapes and sizes, speaking different languages or dialects, with most speaking some form of Spanish.  Unfortunately, we are lacking volunteers who share this language so communication continues to be difficult as children try to interpret for their non-English speaking adults.  Our primary Spanish speaking volunteer, my daughter, is now a freshman living at college and so she has left a huge hole in our ability to even minimally communicate with our patrons.

A parental aside here, watching our daughter move from being very cautious about trying to speak using her limited Spanish to her feeling pretty confident communicating with the children and adults alike, was such a rewarding experience as a mom and dad.  She loved attending each month and rearranged her job so that she could be at Threads on the second Saturday every month.  The children loved having her talk to them and loved being able to help her improve her Spanish. Many laughs were shared as she did this. God was definitely working through Threads to help our daughter gain confidence and making her feel valued through her service to others. Along with many other opportunities she had for service throughout her years attending church, Threads of Hope has given her a firm foundation of “giving joyfully” of her time and talents.

At Threads yesterday, infants who first came in mothers’ arms are now walking, talking, and participating in craft activities we provide.  They are eating the markers and trying to ingest the wiggly eyes.  Their fingers, faces, and clothing are colorfully decorated in cheery magic marker.  Half-eaten Halloween lollipops, donuts, and fruit are spread across the low tables, craft supplies are creatively being put to use, and little toddlers wander around spending their time taking books and toys in and out of boxes. Yesterday, they were proudly filling donated plastic pumpkins with whatever they could find- shoes, candy, toys, and markers.  Older siblings, aunts and uncles who are hardly older than the toddlers, assist the little ones- both those who are family and those they don’t know.  Happy chattering in a language I can’t understand is heard not only at the children’s table, but from the adults as well.

What truly amazes me month after month is how the adults go through the clothing with specific needs in mind- those of their family and those of their friends.  Special requests are made such as, Do you have diapers? We didn’t.  Do you have anything for infants?  We didn’t this month. Phones are used to text or call friends to let them know about special months such as school supplies, Halloween costumes, change of season clothing, breakfast etc…A few minutes later and more people have arrived to shop.

Yesterday, was one of those special days as even the tweens were successfully able to find costumes that they can wear for Halloween.  Eyes lit up and excited voices abounded as some couldn’t wait to tell me what they had found.  “I’m going to be The Hulk,” exclaimed one pre-teen boy.  One of our shy regular fourth grade girls finally got a chance to look at the costumes after caring for her younger cousins and she was so pleased to find a pretty Tinker Bell costume in her size that she would be able to wear- excitedly she went to show her grandmother whose face lit up for her excited granddaughter.

School supply Saturday in September was another memorable month. This year in August we had a few children ask us if we were going to have school supplies- they were thrilled to hear that we would have them in September. The smiling thank-yous of the grateful children as they were able to pick out new backpacks, check out the supplies, and supplement the generous ones, already placed within them by the VBS kids, will stick with me for a long time.  These children, although I believe are living with many material needs unmet, thoughtfully pick out items to share with absent siblings and friends.  Never have we seen our patrons greedily taking extras of anything; the children “joyfully give” to each other and to the adults each month. I get to hear stories from the children such as, “It is my aunt’s birthday, I want to get her something.”

“My brother’s backpack’s zipper is broken, may I take one for him?”

“Look, I found this for my nephew.  I’m an uncle. He’s 1 year old and starting to walk around.”

“Do you have any more of those math books like you had last month?  I want to give one to my friend.”

We also hear “joyful giving” stories among the adults as well. We have one patron who comes every month to find items for his outreach within the community.  He carefully goes through the piles one at a time looking for items that will meet the needs he recognizes within his flock.  He has also become one of our regular volunteers as he helps organize clothing, moves big bags of clothing for us, disposes of garbage, and helps the patrons. His commitment to Threads is worthy of praise.  Adults hand items to their peers, even when they don’t know the person when they find something that meets the needs of the other person.

So if you want to witness God’s abiding love in others, if you wish to “give joyfully” through service as well as or instead of financially (some of us don’t have the funds), or if you are looking for a way for your family to put God first together (all ages are welcome and can be put to work:-), please consider coming to Threads of Hope on the second Saturday of each month. I believe, that you will, as I do, “receive joyfully” as much if not more than you give! If Saturdays aren’t good for you, please consider service through one of PUMC’s other very worthwhile programs.

Tom S. Tong: On Stewardship

tong selfIf giving is an act of love, says Tom S. Tong, you can’t force someone to love unless he or she has been loved. 

A native of Hong Kong (shown here with his wife, Anita), Tom S. Tong graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary and is pursuing further study at Drew University. On Laity Sunday,  in a sermon entitled “Giving puts God First,” Tom preached on the text from Mark 12: 41-44, the story of the widow’s mite:

Today’s Gospel reading is a field trip scenario, in which Jesus took his disciples to observe how people made their offerings to treasury. Jesus specifically brings our attention to two contrasting figures; they are the unnamed poor widow and rich people as a type…

Traditional interpretation sees this poor widow as a model for emulation. But do we seriously encourage people to follow this poor woman’s footstep? For most of us, including myself, we are willing and joyful to contribute out of our abundance. If Jesus thinks this poor widow is praiseworthy, does Jesus imply that we are bad?

Tom suggests the possibility that Jesus laments, rather than praises, this widow. He offers possible motivations — maybe she had confidence that the church community would take care of her — and brings in his own experience.

If giving is an act of love, Tom concludes, you can’t force someone to love unless he or she has been loved. 

For the complete text, click here

John Kuhlthau: On Stewardship

When I was asked to participate  and  speak on stewardship, I agreed right away    because I cherish this community of believers.  This Church has always been and continues to be an amazing collection of diverse, but  genuine , honest,  faithful  believers in and servants of Christ Jesus.  I count myself among you without  any particular pride but  in sincerity and  in the earnestness of  my discipleship..

As many of you know, I came to Princeton as an outsider.  My  father was a loyal  Son of Rutgers and the family attended the annual Rutgers- Princeton season opening fall football game sitting on the sunny side of Palmer Stadium.

So  I had to shift when I applied to and was accepted at Princeton University  .  .  .  but I was a Methodist, having become one of Bishop Fred  Corson’s  Crusaders committed to Christian service.  I joined other Methodist students in the Wesley Foundation meetings here at the corner of Nassau and Vandeventer.     I dutifully did my Latin and undertook Greek in order to really read the New Testament.  Princeton was all male and Carol was going to a Teachers College. We were married here in this church on the Saturday after I graduated on Tuesday. The wedding reception was here in the social hall downstairs  which was convenient because it was raining pretty hard.  Rev. Charles Marker presided over the ceremony.kuhlthau

After Princeton, I attended the Drew Theological School up in Madison as Carol finished her bachelors’ degree.  We lived in married student housing which was quite a different community.  I enjoyed my courses  but quickly realized that I was not  cut out to be a  Biblical scholar  and  I certainly wasn’t cut out for the pastoral ministry.   So I fell back on Plan B which was law school.  I was persuaded by my guidance counselor and the church hierarchy to take the two small churches in South Jersey that had be selected for me for the summer of 1959, which I did.  I preached twice on Sundays and led a Bible Study on Sunday evenings, had a membership class and did most of the things a pastor is called upon to do.  But come September, I could not return to the Drew routine and headed to Newark for three years at  Rutgers Law School while Carol taught grade school.

After law school and a quick six months in the Army at Fort Dix during the Bay of Pigs episode,  I settled in New Brunswick where I began the practice of law under the tutelage of my father, his partners and associates.  I reconnected with the Princeton Wesley Foundation and Rev. Bill Kingston,  Class of ’55.  Carol and I became active in the First Methodist Church of New Brunswick  and helped to shepherd the union of the three Methodist Churches that were then struggling to get along to  form The Methodist Church in New Brunswick which  was at some point pastured by both Rev. Jim Harris  and  Rev. Greg Young  both of whom also served  here at Princeton.

But I digress from my path.  I was Deputy Public Defender   for a  short time;  then I became the first full time County Prosecutor for Middlesex County for 4 years.  As  I was about to resign, the issue of casino gambling in Atlantic City came to the fore and I seized on that as a worthwhile political campaign.  I resigned as Prosecutor to campaign against casino gambling for the Methodist Church in cooperation with other opponents under the slogan “No Dice”.  I worked closely with Rev. Jack Johnson, mostly in South Jersey with church meetings and Saturdays at shopping malls with Youth Fellowship volunteers. Casino gambling was defeated on its first referendum, but of course, it was re-designed and the voters approved.

By that time, I had become a  Middlesex County Judge and could not campaign. In due course I was appointed as a Superior Court Judge.  I sat as a Judge for 22 years.  When I retired from public service, Carol and I decided to move back to Princeton where we have been for the last 15 or so years.   We promptly transferred our membership to Princeton United Methodist  Church while Rev. Jim Harris was here and frankly we felt quite at home. The reception we received was warm and welcoming.  We were soon put to work and began to meet the wonderful people of this congregation.

Rev. Jack Johnson was the District Superintendant  in those days and recruited me to go on the board of trustees of the Pennington School.  What a refreshing experience that was for an old warhorse like me.  The Board was mostly parents of the  students, enthusiastic, energetic and dedicated to the growth and improvement of their children.  There were some pastors: Rev. Dr. Charles Sayre, pastor at Haddonfield whose father went to the school:  Rev. Dr Bob Williams,  church historian and former pastor of  St. Andrews Methodist Church;  Rev David Mertz,  now a pastor in Westfield but formerly an associate here   and there were others.

I have had a wonderful career and expect more opportunities for service. I have supported each  church of which I was a member including my summer membership in Avalon  and my affiliate memberships at Turning Point, plus The Pennington School  Annual Fund and several Scholarships..

As Deuteronomy says in chapter 12,  “You shall bring everything to the place the Lord shall choose, your sacrifices,  your tithes, your donations   AND   (VERSE  12 ) YOU  SHALL  REJOICE before  the  Lord  Your   God !     I  rejoice!   I  rejoice with you all in this wonderful community at Princeton U. M. C.

— John Kuhlthau