Step forward with your talents


Step forward with your talents! Richard G did that, 22 years ago, when he wrote a series of plays about Bible stories for “Summer Sundays.” Now this program is an integral and much-loved staple of the Christian education program at PUMC.

Kids love it. Who wouldn’t? Older children get to dress up in costumes (we have a fabulous costume stash) and use their thespian talents. They don’t have to memorize lines — they read through the script once on Sunday morning and then they perform it. Young ones do a craft that relates to the play and then get to watch the play. Plus, of course, refreshments.

Going by the maxim that we learn 10 percent of what we hear and 80 percent of what we experience, these thespians surely will remember these Bible stories. Some 50 skits are rotated from year to year. This year’s focus is on women in the Bible: Queen Esther, Miriam (Moses’ sister and prophetess), Ruth, and Mary Magdalene. Also — King Nimrod and the Tower of Babel, Jesus and the Demon Pig, The Christmas Donkey (a donkey who accompanied the Kings through the desert) and a new one, yet to be written, about Peter in prison.

The cast changes weekly, of course, due to family vacation schedules. Richard officially ‘retired’ from active duty three years ago, and this year’s Summer Sunday supervisors, Ed F and Andrew H, with help from Ian G, contact each prospective thespian every week, so they have a cast list in mind. Walk-ins and visiting children are encouraged. Just bring your ready-to-read child or visitor to Rooms 204/205 at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday, now through August 24.

Meanwhile, young children and older kids who aren’t in the play come to Room 202 for crafts, creatively devised in the early years by Cindy G and then Laura F to coordinate with the Bible story. Then, during her freshman and sophomore years in high school, as part of earning her Girl Scout Gold Award, Elizabeth T designed the crafts to echo a wide variety of Bible stories and ran the program when Laura wasn’t there. Now Elizabeth is assembling a catalog of the plays.

What can be more fun than dressing up and acting out? Or of watching your child do it? Hint: parent volunteers welcomed and needed! Helping in the craft room at Summer Sundays is a perfect volunteer opportunity, a one-week-at-a-time commitment and there’s rarely any prep required. We’d love to give our long-time regular teachers a summer break! The signup sheet is on the bulletin board next to the Library.

When you ask Richard about how he used his talents for Christ’s service, he is self-effacing, downplaying his role, saying it was a family project, with the four of them (Cindy and the now-grown Heather and Rory) doing craft cut-outs in front of the TV and making suggestions on the stories. “”Peggy Fullman asked me once where I get the ideas. I told her I honestly don’t know; when I need an idea, it pops up. Peggy said I’m letting God in, and what comes out is His, slightly filtered through a mortal brain. I’ll go with that.”

Surely the rest of us are harboring unused talent and abilities. What talent or idea is God filtering through our mortal brains?

This article appears in the August newsletter. Above, an archival photo. Below, picture taken by Charles P a couple of Sundays ago.

current Summer Sunday



TASK’s Dennis Micai: Good Report Card

Originally posted on Princeton Comment.

PUMC Cornerstone Community Kitchen Grand Opening
L-R Howard Roundtree, Dennis Micai, Pastor Jana Purkis-Brash, and Larry Apperson

 The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) gets four stars on the report card provided by  Charity Navigator; it earns 69.13 points out of 70. So Dennis Micai, executive director of TASK, will be able to share that good news at a breakfast at Princeton United Methodist Church (PUMC), Nassau and Vandeventer, on Sunday, January 13 at 8 a.m.

Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen MealPUMC volunteers have been serving at TASK in Trenton for two decades, but last June the church and TASK began a new partnership to serve meals in Princeton to more than 50 people every Wednesday. Some come for the food, some for the fellowship, and dozens of volunteers from both the church and the community are helping. TASK cooks most of the meals but outside organizations (the restaurant Zorba’s Brother cooked a turkey dinner last month) have also contributed. TASK has a similar partnership in Hightstown.

TASK offers lots of ways to contribute. So although hunger is a growing problem, Micai will have some good news stories to tell. The breakfast is catered by the United Methodist Men, and all are invited. (Reserve at 609-924-2613 or It will be good to hear some good news for 2013.

TASK has had the four star rating, by the way, for seven consecutive years.


Appalachia Service Project (ASP)

Princeton UMC ASP 2012

The Appalachia Service Project, also known as ASP, is a Christian volunteer organization founded in 1969, to repair homes of low-income families. They live in central Appalachia in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The primary goal is to make homes safer and more comfortable for their residents. It’s an 8-week summer program open to all volunteers.

The Princeton United Methodist Church has participated in this ministry since the mid-1970s. Every year we send a team of high school students and adult leaders the beginning of July to help needy families. Volunteers are not restricted to just our church members. We welcome all to participate.

Princeton UMC 2012

While the trip takes place in summer, planning begins a year ahead, basically after the previous group returns. Meetings start in October the year before, so those interested can get informed and start raising funds for the trip.

Princeton UMC ASP 2012

Each participant must pay for the rental of vans that are the mode of transportation, lodging at a facility like a school, meals, and materials to repair the homes. Fundraising helps offset the costs, and is great for early team building.

Princeton UMC ASP 2012

Teens participate for a number of reasons. No matter the objective, their journey returns them as changed young adults. The experience is unparalleled, just based on their personal growth. And as a bonus, sophomores can use some of the time spent toward hours needed for community service (check with individual schools). Of course, adult leaders are also transformed.

The first meeting was last weekend, but it’s not too late to sign up. If you’re interested, please contact PUMC by email or call 609-924-2613 for more information. You can sign up with a friend or family member, and remember, you don’t need to be a member of our church, or any church to participate.

Go to our Flickr album for more ASP 2012 photos.