Psalm 121

A Song of Ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
3 The LORD will not let your foot be moved,
and the One who watches over you will not fall asleep.
4 Behold, the One who keeps watch over Israel
shall neither slumber nor sleep;
5 The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
the LORD shall keep you safe.
8 The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

From the Pastor

Dear Church Family:

As many of you know, I will be having double knee replacement surgery on January 2nd. Careful plans have been made to assure continuity of pastoral care, worship leadership and staff support while I am away. My surgeon says that ordinarily 6 to 8 weeks of recovery are needed before returning to work. We have made plans for 8 weeks, but are praying for 6. These plans were developed in partnership with the deacons, the elders, and the worship and personnel committees. How grateful I am that we not only believe that the members of the church are all ministers of Jesus Christ, but we live into that in this congregation.

Pastoral care needs will be coordinated by Deacon Moderator Christine Vincent (cell: 609-213-5084). Elders and deacons are prepared and eager to provide hospital visitation to members who want a visit from the church. Home communion will still be available to members on the first Sunday of each month. Rev. Cynthia Ritter Parker, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Englishtown, will be on call for any needs beyond the capacity of the deacons and elders. Cynthia is a familiar compassionate presence for us, having provided pastoral care after the departure of our Interim Pastor, Rev. Barbara Heck, as well as times when I have been away for study leave and vacation. She is a pastor I would trust to be at the side of my own family if we faced a challenging time. As you may have pastoral care needs or concerns, please be in touch with either Chris Vincent or your deacon.

Plans for vibrant, engaging, faithful worship are in place. Tom Walton, elder chair of worship committee and graduate of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and Rev. Larissa Kwong Abazia, Vice Moderator of the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the PC (USA) and friend to the congregation will be our primary preachers. Larissa will officiate at communion and preside over the installation and ordination of our new officers. We will also receive the gifts of the skills and diligence of our experienced and deeply faithful Music Director Debbie Tarby and the worship committee. There are plans for a sermon series, God is Still Singing, pairing scripture and song. Don’t miss a Sunday!

Our staff will be supported and supervised by the Personnel Committee, chaired by Cathy Anzuini. How grateful I am to know that you will continue to have amazing partners in ministry in Director of Christian Education Mary Maleski, Office Manager Sheri Devlin, Music Director Debbie Tarby, Kids Club Team Member Leticia Pollard- Torres, and Nursery Attendant Jane Davis. We are so blessed to have staff who see their work as a calling, and not only a job.

I will miss you while I am away. I declined to have my surgery in the fall when the surgeon had recommended it because of the needs of the church in that vibrant season of beginning the program year, stewardship, and Advent and Christmas. As the days are rushing toward the new year, I realize there is no good time to be away from the congregation you love and the ministries God has called you to partner with them to carry out. The increasing pain in my knees, and the limitations that brings to my work and life also make it clear that it is well past time to attend to this. How grateful I am to you for the care and concern so many of you have expressed, for the time away to heal, for the gift of steady leaders and staff partners.

Some have asked how you might care for me while I am away. I am touched by that kindness and so grateful for it. First and most importantly, support the leaders and staff who will be working harder in my absence and express your appreciation to them. Second, please pray for me, for our leaders and for the church. As for practical assistance, I suspect what I will need most is time to focus on rehabilitation and healing. I will be in the hospital one to two days, and then 5 to 7 days doing in-patient rehabilitation. Upon discharge, I will receive short term home-based physical therapy, and then out-patient. I will likely be restricted from driving for 6 weeks. If you are inclined to cook a meal, offer to pick up some groceries, perhaps be on a list of folks available during the day to drive me to PT, these would all be very helpful. My deacon is Chris Vincent, and she has graciously volunteered to coordinate these efforts, including collecting and delivering meals to me. I would be grateful if you would be in touch with Chris with any offers of support as I am certain I will lack the capacity even to respond to such kindnesses in the first few weeks after my surgery.

I leave you with the words of Psalm 121, one of the Songs of Ascent, thought to be sung by pilgrims as they climbed the steps to the Temple. It seems a fitting companion for me in this time when I am relying on God to strengthen my knees, and counting on God to watch over the people God has given me to love while I am absent from you.

Grace and gratitude,




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