Ashes to Go: February 10

2016 feb ashes to go“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
This year our pastoral staff will again be offering Ashes to Go to busy Princeton community members. From 9:30 to 11:30 am we will gather outside our church on Nassau Street and offer ashes to those who are unable to visit church on Ash Wednesday, February 10, reminding them of the start of this holy Lenten season.  For our traditional Ash Wednesday services, Scott Sherrill will preach at noon and Jana Purkis-Brash at 7:30 p.m.

How can fear be healthy?


Fear is a healthy emotion, says Bill Hader, who plays the character Fear in the Disney Pixar movie Inside Out. He explains it in this clip.

On Sunday, January 17, Scott Sherrill will preach on how the emotion of fear can be part of everyone’s search for healthy spirituality. How will he tie it in with the scripture passages, Isaiah 41:8-14 and Philipians 4:4-9 ?

His sermon is part of January’s series Healthy Spirituality: Inside Out.  On January 24 Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash will preach on “Joy,” while Catherine Williams talks on January 31 about “The Gift of Sadness.”

Longest Night: Solace for the Solstice

The Longest Night Service is Monday, December 21, at 7:30 p.m.
The Longest Night Service is Monday, December 21, at 7:30 p.m.

When Christmas is just not the same — because of the loss of a loved one, illness, aging, depression, loneliness, unemployment, loss, or broken relationship, — the Longest Night Service offers a peaceful, healing solace — away from the frenzy of the season.  Join us on Monday, December 21, at 7:30 p.m. as we allow the light of Christ to shine through our dark winter night.

In this way people of faith can honor the birth of Jesus away from the dazzling festivity and cheery excitement of crowded holiday gatherings. Stephen Ministers from PUMC will be available to help individuals who would like someone to pray with them. Scott Sherrill will preach.

As Christians, we believe that God is with us, even on the darkest of nights.

(Photo by Tom Tong)

Adult Ed Choices — which is for you?


Adults have lots of education opportunities this fall. Two classes meet on Sunday mornings at 9:30. The Contemporary Issues class, in the Library, will study the Historical Figure of Jesus by EP Sanders. top right from those pictured above. This informal class focuses on issues that individuals, families, groups, and countries face in today’s world. Past topics have included changing attitudes towards religion, understanding major world religions, science and faith, and politics and religion.

The Heart of Our Faith class meets in Fellowship Hall at 9:30 on Sundays. Rev. Don Brash, PUMC’s resident theologian, will lead the study of the Epistle to the Hebrews.Hebrews is richly textured with beliefs and ideas,” says Don. “It contributed to Christian thinking about faith, worship, transcendence, ministry, the church, and more.” 

Phoebe Quaynor leads an in-depth 32-week Disciple Bible Study on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. This year’s book in the valuable series, Remember Who You Are,  focuses on such themes as the call to remember, the call to repentance, the need for renewed vision, and the place of community. It includes the major and minor Old Testament prophets (except for Daniel) plus the 13 years traditionally attributed to Paul. For a sample chapter click here.

Informal study groups meet Monday mornings, Tuesday evenings, and Thursday afternoons. To join the Disciple study, contact All the other groups welcome drop-in visitors, so just drop by!


Keeping watch over their flock by night

IMG_0623 shepherds 2014

Instantly, when we see the phrase “keeping watch over their flock by night,” we recognize it as part of the Christmas story. Scott Sherrill, PUMC’s pastoral assistant, will use the familiar text (Luke 2:8-15) for his sermon on August 9 at 10 a.m. In the Gospel of the Nobodies series, he will talk about “The Night Workers.”

The 21st century night shift is more likely to be stocking shelves than herding sheep — but we’ll see what parallels he draws. Bring your friends, and there is the “Caring Kids” program for nursery through 6th grade!

In this month’s newsletter, Scott affirms: “So many good, vibrant, creative, and engaging things are happening in and through our church. It is a privilege to be a part of a church family that knows how important service is to others in the community, in the area, and in the world. It is a true blessing to be apart of a church that surrounds its members, visitors and community with the love of Christ.”

As you have guessed, the picture shown is of the shepherds in PUMC’s telling of  the story of Christ’s birth, December 2014. 

Welcome to Scott Sherrill!

scott sherrill headshotWe welcome Scott Sherrill as our new pastoral assistant, serving 1/4 time, in charge of fostering multi-generational ministries for our PUMC family. Prior to serving at PUMC he was the Education Intern at Trinity Episcopal, the Pastoral Intern at First UMC of Hightstown, the Lay Leader at Painesdale UMC and a frequent preacher at Chambers UMC.

Scott has been pitching right in, all along, to the work of this church. Last year, for instance, he helped with Vacation Bible School. Last month he preached on “God is Always With Us,” using as his text Psalm 121. He will preach again on August 9.

Scott will begin his third year at Princeton Theological Seminary in the fall as a M.Div student. Originally from Michigan and most recently the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Scott and his wife Deb — who is our fabulous office administrator — are enjoying the area but miss their kids, grandkids, and regular bridge games. Anyone for bridge?

Strong and courageous, strong and courageous, strong and courageous”

2015 3 10 Scott Sherill Tuesday

Scott Sherrill, the divinity student who just happens to be married to Deb Sherrill, PUMC’s office administrator, led the Midweek Lenten Gathering. To illustrate the topic “Change of Circumstances,” he chose the story of Joshua, who had to succeed Moses and lead the Israelites into the promised land.

Scott — who just happens to have experienced many surprising changes of circumstances in the last year — reminds us that God strenthens Joshua’s resolve by promising “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5b)

Three times the Lord uses the same two words, strong and courageous, ending with “Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Next in the “Change” series for Lenten Tuesdays:

Anna Gillette March 17: Change of Perspective
Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan asked us to shift our thinking, our judging, our ideas about what is right. Jesus challenges us to move beyond parameters and into a whole new way of living. 
Bianca Baird March 24: Change of Heart
Jesus’ words to the Pharisees give us pause: “You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me.” Jesus invites us to experience a change of heart that will in fact change every part of our lives.
Shivonne McKay: Change of Plans
God’s ways are not our own. We expect a conquering king and hero, but Jesus instead leads us down the road to Jerusalem and humbles himself on the cross. God changes our plans and replaces them with a love broader and deeper than anything we could imagine.

Scott interned at Hightstown Methodist Church last summer and is at Trinity Episcopal Church this academic  year. We are blessed to have him participate in the life of this church!

PS: Joshua found out that God kept the covenant. The first city they came to crossing  over the Jordan was Jericho, and we all know what happened there!