Guest Preacher: Gerald Liu on February 17

We welcome Gerald C. Liu — a minister and professor who focuses on multicultural worship and the arts as a theological resource — as our guest preacher on Sunday, February 17 at 10 a.m. In the “Beloved Community” sermon series, he will preach on “Righteous Anger,” based on Jonah 3.

Gerald is assistant professor of worship and preaching at Princeton Theological Seminary. He earned his BA in Music at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, his Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University (during which time he was also a theological fellow at Georg-August Universität in Göttingen, Germany), and his PhD from Vanderbilt University with a concentration in homiletics and liturgics.

He has previously served as a British Methodist Minister in Nottingham, England before becoming ordained in the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church. Currently he volunteers as a minister in residence at Church of the Village, a United Methodist congregation in Manhattan.

His classes and publications explore curiosities about the arts as theological resources and phenomena, Asian American identity, multicultural worship, and the production of believable public Christian witness.



At the Seminary: Everyone Welcome


Joe R. Engel organ at Miller Chapel, PTSEM

Many of the courses and events at Princeton Theological Seminary are open to the community. Some are free, and most take place in either Miller Chapel or Mackey Dining Hall, or both. The daily chapel service from 11:30 a.m. to noon is an exciting spiritual experience.

A very popular favorite is the Carols of Many Nations concert on Wednesday, December 12. with three identical services at 3:30, 6:30, and 8:30 p.m. Tickets for that can be reserved on November 12.  Dress warmly – at the close, the congregation will follow the choir outside.  

Anyone may attend the CommUNITY Gatherings at Princeton Theological Seminary. On Thursday, December 6th, engage in a timely topic: Navigating Difficult Conversations in These Challenging Times. Leading discussion will be the Rev. Jennie Salas, PTS Associate Director in the Field Education, and Parish Associate at Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras.

Worship in Miller Chapel is from 11:30 am-12:00 pm, followed by Lunch, Presentation, & Conversation from 12-1:30 pm. Select lunch ($10) in the Mackay Dining Hall, and then come to the the Main Lounge. Future Gatherings:

Thursday, February 7, 2019: Serving Those of Different Faiths: A Military Chaplain’s Experience,with Chaplain Jeffrey Ross, ThM ’19

Friday, March 1, 2019: In His Image: Art Ministry as an Essential Element of Worship, with Dave Teich, Art Minister, First Presbyterian Church of Hightstown

Tuesday, April 30, 2019: Walking with Those with Mental Illness, with the Rev. Kerri Erbig, BCCC, the Rev. MaryJane Inman, BCC, and the Rev. Miriam Diephouse-McMillan, BCCC, Chaplains at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital-Pastoral Services Department

To register for the CommUNITY Gatherings, click here or contact Rev. Joicy Becker-Richards, Director of Campus Relations 609.497.7960. For concert tickets, try this link.

Circle of Friends: Next on November 13

All women who attend Princeton United Methodist Church are invited to Circle of Friends on second Tuesdays, every other month, in Fellowship Hall. The next meeting will be Tuesday, November 13 at 10:30 a.m. Bring your lunch; beverages and dessert will be provided.

Here is an account of the previous meeting on September 11:

Katheryn Ranta

The meeting opened with a hymn sing, led by Karen Zumbrunn, who had selected hymns to coordinate with the day’s presentation on Prayer. Katheryn Ranta shared a devotional reading and led in prayer. Beth Perrine led a short business meeting, introducing this year’s format of sharing the meeting responsibilities.

From left: Beth Perrine, Jenny Smith Walz, Pat Ostberg

Pat Ostberg and LaVerna Albury, from the Outreach Committee, told about volunteer opportunities at HomeFront, a Family Preservation Center in Ewing. . It houses 38 families along with many supportive services. A vote was taken to make a donation to support serving a breakfast at HomeFront. Circle of Friends is continuing our “caring project” of sending notes and cards to church members unable to attend church.

Our speaker was lead pastor Jenny Smith Walz. Pastor Jenny spoke about prayer. She presented how prayer has changed throughout her life, how she understands and experiences prayer now, and how she seeks to “pray without ceasing.” We shared our thoughts and questions on prayer. A time of fellowship over lunch followed.

At our next meeting, Tuesday, November 13 at 10:30 a.m., Dr. Katharine Doob Sakenfeld is our speaker. She was the second female professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, and she taught Old Testament for 43 years. She has a special interest in women and their relationship with the Bible. Among her books are  “Just Wives: Stories of Power and Survival in the Old Testament Today”

All women are welcome. Contact Beth Perrine ( for information.

Laura Bratton: Overcoming Adversity

Wide Image Bratton3

When you’re in your thirties and the book you’ve written about your life has just been published, you must have done something amazing. The “you” in this case is the Reverend Laura Bratton ’10, author of Harnessing Courage: Overcoming Adversity with Grit and Gratitude (Clovercroft Publishing, 2016). Richard Trenner wrote this in a post for Princeton Theological Seminary, see the rest here. 

Many Princeton UMC members attended Laura’s talk and booksigning. Here is a link to our post on her book and a photo of them getting their books signed (thanks to Richard Trenner for both photos).

Learn more about Laura Bratton’s life and work at

Watch the full video of Bratton’s talk on PTSEM’s Multimedia page.

Youth News—Meet Jacob Davis

The youth program at PUMC includes multiple “Youth Staff” volunteers who dedicate their time to mentoring our teens. Most of these “Staff,” however, are new to PUMC. So, for the next few months we will showcase a short interview with each youth staff, allowing us to know a bit more about them and their passion for our youth. Hopefully this short piece will give you the courage to talk with them the next time you see them!


Pastor Skitch Matson

Q. Tell us a bit about where you’re from.

I was born and raised in Largo, FL right by the beach (near Tampa). After High School I joined the Coast Guard and spent a few years moving around from Virginia to North Carolina, and then eventually back to Jacksonville, FL.

Q. Do you have any past experiences working with youth?

For the past six years I have been working on and off with youth. I have volunteered at my home church when I was around, went on trips with my old youth group as an adult leader (but still a kid at heart), spent 2 weeks working at the Duke Youth Academy a few summers ago, and most recently spent just over a year as a small group leader at a youth group in Jacksonville with my wife, Rachel.

Q. How long have you been in Princeton?

We have now been in Princeton for almost 4 months. We moved here so I could finish my degree in Religion at TCNJ, and my wife, Rachel, could attend Princeton Theological Seminary.

Q.Why are you a Youth Staff?

I am a youth staff because youth matter so much to our church as well as our communities, which is often forgotten. They have great insight, valued praises, and real concerns; their voices need to be heard within our communities and congregations. It is a blessing to work with and walk through life with these students during this formative time in their lives.

Q. What does Youth Staff mean to you?

It’s a group of adults who come together with the hope that God will use us to show each student the endless love God has for each of them.

Q. I hear you like good books, what’s one that you would recommend? Reaching Out: Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life”  by Henri J.M. Nouwen.

Written by Isabella Dougan

So, What’s Your Story?

Everybody’s invited to hear Skitch Matson speak at the breakfast on Sunday, January 8, 8 a.m. in Fellowship Hall. Skitch will talk about the role of sharing faith stories as a way to deepen Christian community.

“From looking at the Gospel of John, to hearing contemporary examples, we will explore how sharing faith stories deepens the relationship between Us and God, Us and Others, and Us and Ourselves,” he says.

Skitch is our Youth Pastor and also directs the Wesley Foundation at Princeton University.  Originally from California, Skitch attended Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated with an M.Div in 2016. He works mainly with youth and young adults, but loves hearing the faith stories from all people, firmly believing that we can learn more about God through each person’s experience. Skitch is a Locally-Licensed UMC Pastor seeking ordination as an Elder in the Methodist Church.

The tasty hot breakfast — sausages, eggs, fruit, yogurt, coffee cake — is prepared by the United Methodist Men, but everyone — families, youth — is invited. A $5 donation is suggested.


November 13: Nancy Duff, welcome back!

Nancy J. Duff

We are so glad to welcome Nancy J. Duff back to PUMC! Nancy will speak at the UMM breakfast in Fellowship Hall on Sunday, November 13, at 8 a.m. Nancy visited us regularly when her husband, David C. Mertz, served here as Associate Pastor. He is now the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Westfield.

Based on her class at the Princeton Theological Seminary on the doctrine of vocation, her topic will be Called by God, exploring four aspects of God’s call in our lives.

  • We are called into being for a divinely appointed purpose.
  • We are called to glorify God in all that we do.
  • We are called to make a space where others can glorify God.
  • We affirm the freedom of God to call individuals to different tasks.

Nancy Duff grew up in Texas and attended Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia for her M.Div. and Union Theological Seminary in New York for her Ph.D. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) she has taught Christian Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary since 1990. Her courses include “The Ethics of Resisting and Accepting Death,” “The Theology and Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” and “The Ethics of the Ten Commandments.” One of her intriguing publications is “Praising God Online”

A hot breakfast is served at 8 am, and the program starts at 8:30. Everyone is invited; a $5 donation is requested.

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!






Erik ‘Skitch’ Matson on ‘Stories We Tell’

SkitchMatsonErik ‘Skitch’ Matson — our new youth pastor — will be in the pulpit on Sunday, August 14, to preach, based on Hebrews 11:29-12:2. His topic is “The Stories We Tell” so here is his biographical story, in his own words:

“Prior to coming to Princeton Seminary, I spent 5 years working with youth in San Diego, CA, and am grateful to lead in this role again. I was born and raised in northern California but headed south to Point Loma Nazarene University for a B.S. in Physics. It was during this time that God pulled my heart towards ministry, and I haven’t looked back since. I enjoy listening to and playing music, exploring the great outdoors, playing sports, and reading a good book. I also enjoy being around young adults, which fits nicely into the second part of my two-point charge as the Director of the Methodist college ministry at Princeton University, the Wesley Foundation.”

Ferguson activist at the seminary

“I will not submit to be charged with praying, nor do I accept the righteousness of the some 60 charges laid against those participating in the Moral Monday protests during Ferguson October,” said Reverend Osagyefo Sekou, pleading not guilty last December at Ferguson. “The only signs of Assault, Disorderly Conduct and Disturbance of the Peace I saw that morning clearly came from the garrison of riot police protecting the state citadel from a group of singing,2015 11 10 black rage praying, peaceful clergy, seminarians and members of the community.”
He will speak at a conference organized by The Center for Black Church Studies at Princeton Seminary, “Black Prophetic Rage in the Age of Ferguson,” on Tuesday, November 10th at 7 pm in the Theron Room at the Princeton Seminary Library. Yolanda Pierce directs the center. The roster also includes Dr. Brittney Cooper, Ph.D. and Minister Janisha Gabriel, MA, responders, and Candice Benbow, MA, M.Div., Moderator. Yolanda Pierce directs the center.