Summer Happenings in Newark Presbytery

Join our churches this summer for education, fun and fellowship! And, if you have events to add, please email us.

Bethany Presbyterian Church

293 W Passaic Ave
Bloomfield, NJ 07003

  • Sunday, June 9, 10:30am – Homecoming Sunday, Worship followed by bbq picnic and fellowship

Bloomfield Presbyterian Church on the Green

147 Broad St
Bloomfield, NJ 07003

  • July 7-11, 6:00-8:30pm – Vacation Bible School – “Roar! Life is wild, God is good,” is the theme, Register Now

Central Presbyterian, Montclair

46 Park Street
Montclair NJ 07042

  • July 8-12, 9am-12pm – Vacation Bible School: To Mars and Beyond, Register Now

Elmwood United Presbyterian Church

135 Elmwood Ave
East Orange, NJ 07018

  • Saturday, June 1, 6-9pm – Family Bowling Night, $25 covers shoes and lane for 2 hrs – Eagle Rock Lanes, 424 Eagle Rock Ave, West Orange NJ 07052
  • Tuesday, June 4, 6:30pm – Marriage Enrichment Ministry’s Sip & Sear Event for couples ($25/person)
  • Sunday, June 9, 9:30am – Youth and Young Adult Takeover Pentecost Sunday followed by Caribbean Meal ($12)
  • Saturday, June 15, 11am-2pm – East Orange Annual Father’s Day Brunch – guest speakers, poetry, martial arts demo, vendors, at Langston Hughes School, 160 Rhode Island Ave, East Orange NJ 07018

Fewsmith Memorial Presbyterian Church

444 Union Avenue
Belleville, NJ 07109

  • Sunday, June 9, 10am – Blessing of the Animals

First Presbyterian Church of Arlington

663 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032

  • Saturday, June 15, 10am-4pm – West Hudson Community Blood Drive

First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell

326 Bloomfield Avenue
Caldwell, NJ 07006

  • Saturday, June 8 – Jr High Car Wash to support the youth Pittsburgh Project trip
  • August 12-16 – Johnsonburg VBS

First Presbyterian Church of Irvington

777 Grove St

Irvington, NJ 07111

  • July 22-26 – Johnsonburg on the Road Day Camp, K-5th grades, $25/child, call the church for more information and registration – 973.374.0913

First Hispanic Presbyterian Church

236 Verona Ave
Newark, NJ 07104

  • July 8-12 – ROAR Vacation Bible School

Grace Presbyterian Church, Montclair

153 Grove Street
Montclair, NJ 07042

  • July 8-12, 9am-3pm – Grace Day Camp
    • Johnsonburg on the Road Day Camp is designed for young people aged 6-12
    • $75/camper
    • Registration

Presbyterian Church of Livingston

271 West Northfield Rd
Livingston, NJ 07039

  • Saturday, June 1, 7pm – Voices of Praise Community Choir & Orchestra Concert

Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair

53 Norwood Ave
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043

  • June 30-July 3 – VBS, To Mars and Beyond

Prospect Presbyterian Church

646 Prospect St
Maplewood, NJ 07040

  • Camp Prospect –
    • Monday-Friday, 9am-1pm each session
    • Session One – June 17-21 & June 24-28
      Camping at the Beach
    • Session Two – July 1-3 & July 8-12
      The World of Color Through Art & Science
    • Session Three – July 15-19 & July 22-26
      Animals Big & Small & Near & Far

Roseville United Presbyterian Church

36 Roseville Ave
Newark, NJ 07107

  • Saturday, June 1, 9am-3pm – Annual Flea Market – shop and eat

Taiwanese Presbyterian Church of Northern Jersey

343 East Cedar St
Livingston, NJ 07039

August 9-11 – Summer Camp for ages 4-15

Trinity Presbyterian Church

5 High St
Montclair, NJ 07042

  • Weekdays, July 1-August 2, 8:30am-4pm – Trinity Youth Academy Summer Camp Program
    • Arts, Life Skills, Music, Games, Field Trips and more
    • Ages 6-12, you can register by week or for the whole program
    • $35 Registration Fee and $35/day, $150/wk
    • Contact the Church Office at 973.744.3396 for more information and registration

United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

20 Old Indian Rd
West Orange, NJ 07052

  • Saturday, June 8, 9am  –   St. Cloud Neighborhood Food Drive

Wyoming Presbyterian Church

432 Wyoming Ave
Millburn, NJ 07041

Thirst for Life

Thirst For Life is a song written to support Living Waters for the World (LWW), and subsequently recorded by YouTube “super group” Cimorelli with an accompanying video showing our work in Cuba.
You are invited to share the video with your youth groups and wider congregations, helping raise awareness of LWW and showing how your church can be engaged in the vital work of seeking clean water for all.

Living Waters for the World has been a grass-roots success story, training church teams from virtually every Presbytery in the denomination, resulting in over 900 water system installations in 25 nations, bringing clean water to hundreds of thousands. For many in the communities served by LWW, Presbyterians are considered the “water people,” bringing health, hope and Christ’s love in a tangible way.

For more information on Living Waters for the World, and how your community can get involved, check out their website!

Confirmation Resources

If your church has confirmation education, and you are looking for an update to your curriculum, you have probably noticed there are a lot of options out there.

In addition to what you may have used in past years, here are three excellent options you might consider.

Big God. Big Questions.

Available from the PC(USA) Store, this curriculum is based on the questions asked by people growing in faith, especially children and teenagers. It was developed through research being done by The Confirmation Project and written by PC(USA) pastors. It is a well-rounded curriculum with lessons aimed at different types of learning – videos, infographics, activities, journals and materials for parents and mentors.

Big God, Big Questions is available to order now from the PC(USA) Store.


A couple years ago, the Synod of Mid-America introduced a multimedia PC(USA)-specific curriculum. Through games, group activities and conversations, and video presentations that cover both history and Q&A’s with pastors, it covers the basics of Presbyterian theology and structure with both simplicity and depth. Even difficult concepts are accessible in this 17-lesson curriculum. And, it’s very affordable, with free printed materials accompanying the DVD and online options for the video portion.

The confirmation curriculum is part of the larger Theocademy offerings that include elder and deacon training and new member lessons, lessons from the Old and New Testament and additional conversations on reformed theology – all available at their website.


Colaborate is the latest Presbyterian-specific offering from Sparkhouse, the curriculum division of 1517 Media (formerly Augsburg Fortress). Sparkhouse is another solid reformed option, arising from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). All of their curriculum, like Theocademy, is multimedia – integrating in-depth video presentations and open-ended, deep discussion questions and activities. Colaborate was developed with Presbyterian pastors and educators, so it is not just reformed, but designed specifically for Presbyterian confirmation needs.

You can look at the overview, a sample lesson and order here.

Resources: Future of the Church Conversations

From the beginning of the Church, as the Gospel moved from Judea to Asia Minor, to Europe and Africa and South Asia and eventually the Americas, how we practice and tell the story of our faith has been ever-changing. And with every change has come both fear and hope. The Church, especially in the United States, seems to be going through one of the larger transitions in how we gather, worship, do mission and share the Gospel.

The PC(USA) is certainly not immune to these changes, and with them, the fear and uncertainty, along with the hope and excitement at what is to come. But we are not mere bystanders in our practice of faith. We do not sit and simply watch God at work, but we are ever called into that work. Which is why it is important to change how we lead change and the conversations about that change.

The good news in this time of uncertainty is that there are lots of helpful resources to learn how to have these conversations and do church in new ways, even if we are not sure where to start.

Starting the Conversation

In our post on confirmation resources, we mentioned some of the rich resources that the Synod of Mid-America creates through their Theocademy efforts. These include resources for new members, confirmation students, and leadership teams such as Sessions of Elders and Boards of Deacons (though anyone who is interested is invited to watch and learn). In addition to these, there are other fun and informative series the Synod of Mid-America has put out on their YouTube Channel.

PC(USA) GA222 Co-Moderator Jan Edmiston reposted this 2014 Between Two Plants conversation between Jan and Synod of Mid-America Executive Landon Whitsitt, about the 21st century church, which is just as relevant today. It is just over half an hour, but well worth watching on your own, and with leadership teams interested in leading the type of change needed in our churches and other ministries right now.

PC(USA) Revitalization Initiative

The PC(USA)’s Office of Vital Congregations has just announced a new initiative focusing on the revitalization of congregations and presbyteries. And Newark Presbytery is one of the four pilot presbyteries! For more information on our work so far, and for the resources we are using, check out our Revitalization Initiative page.

Listen to Your Neighbors – LEAD

One of the things Jan and Landon mention again and again in the Between Two Plants conversation is needing to really go out and figure out who is in your neighborhood. So many long-standing churches have members who no longer live in the neighborhood around the church, and may not know the people in that neighborhood as well as they could or should. It can be intimidating to think about doing that work without some guidance.

An organization that is helping churches and middle governing bodies, like presbyteries, do that work well is LEAD (Living Everyday As Disciples). LEAD has a Tune In Process and other processes that help churches listen to their neighbors, and learn how to become a church out in the world instead of looking inward. LEAD comes out of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is dealing with many similar issues and changes in the PC(USA).

New Beginnings

New Beginnings is another long-standing way for congregations to ask important questions and start conversations. There are congregations within Newark Presbytery who have used or are using New Beginnings to take an honest look at their futures. So, find out more about New Beginnings, and ask your neighbors about their experiences to see how it can help your congregation do transformational work.


Knowing where to start in addressing significant change can be difficult, but we hope these resources can help guide your way our of fear and uncertainty into hope (and uncertainty) and excitement.

From the Top of the Pile: Do Something Else

Editor’s Note: We are introducing a new periodic blog series, with book reviews from our Transitional Director of Presbytery Ministries, the Rev. Dr. Barbara Smith. Like most of us, Barbara has a reading pile full of books of interest to others in ministry. She’s eager to share what she gained from this reading, and how your congregations might benefit.

by Nate Phillips (Cascade Books, 2016)

Do Something Else book coverFrom time to time as I have the opportunity to finish something in my reading pile, I will share my thoughts with you –

In his Forward to the book, Bruce Reyes-Chow points out that this “is NOT a book that intends to give a list of “how-to-do” church tips to save any particular faith location, but one that simply asks the question, “What if?” in order to inspire and give texture to the idea that the church is and can be so much more than we can imagine. So read this book, not as a command to go and do something specific, but as a powerful encouragement to go out and be the church in ways that are specific to the community into which it is called to serve.”

Maybe it is because I visited MATE (Mission at the Eastward) in rural Maine a number of years ago that the beginning of this book immediately captured my attention. The author – Nate Phillips – while he is now a pastor at Red Clay Presbyterian Church in Delaware – grew up in rural Maine in an old manse owned by local church. He shared his experiences of church groups showing up to “do something” with their hands. It taught Phillips that “the church can do something. For a long time, it’s done the same thing. Perhaps it’s time for it do so “something else.”

In this book, Phillips talks about different churches that have engaged in different mission, entered cooperative parish arrangements, and started new worshipping communities. All excellent food for thought, but Chapter 4 is the one that caught my attention. As I travel around the Presbytery, I hear a similar question over and over again – a question that wonders how to increase church attendance and, especially, attract young families. Maybe it’s because I’ve been read a lot of these kinds of books and heartily agree that it’s time for the church to rethink itself, that Chapter 4 has the most yellow highlighting of any other. Chapter 4 – “What We Mean When We Say ‘Church’” is actually written by Phillips’ colleague, Matthew Bruce.

A good read through and through. But the icing on the cake for me was the Study Guide at the end of the book – one study guide for each chapter. It is scriptural based and the questions are quite thought provoking.

This would be a good book for an adult study, or a visioning group!


hands holding mugs of tea

Focus on Resources: Sabbath With Those You Love

We don’t often think about this, but while we connect Sabbath to the creation story – on the 7th day, God rested – Sabbath was not part of the practice of the Hebrew people until after they were brought out of slavery in Egypt. We don’t know what their exact routines were before becoming an enslaved people in Egypt, but since they started as a family unit doing agricultural work, and were free, they likely had rest and leisure incorporated into their regular routines. (Even the hard work of farming has times when you have done all the work you can do, and must take a break.)

Upon leaving Egypt, the Hebrew people had grown from an extended family to a nation of people. And it was a nation of people who had only known hard work every day, on someone else’s schedule, not their own. They were a people without a rhythm of freedom.

Sabbath comes as a revelation. Even in the wilderness, God helps the people learn these new rhythms of freedom. They were a people who only knew fear. Their fear had caused them to wander for even longer than they had hoped. And perhaps they needed that time to completely shake off the fears of not having enough, of dying, of truly living, before they could live settled lives where they decided when and how they would work and rest.

In the wilderness, they had only God and each other. The 10 commandments Moses brought to the people and the laws stemming from those commandments are centered around the main themes to love God and love each other.

Planning our sabbath time is often centered around our personal needs and schedules, rather than being seen as a communal affair, but from its very beginning it has been a work of the people. Or, the rest of the people. And if we think about it, we truly need each other to make Sabbath a reality in our lives. In order to not simply fall into the same routine of every other day of our lives we have to communicate how we are changing our rhythms. We have to say no to some things people might want us to do that does not fit into the rhythm of Sabbath. And we should invite others to share our Sabbath.

God created us to be in relationship with other people, and not to do everything alone. Only in community could the Israelites learn to be free, help each other break the bonds of fear. Our Sabbath practice should not exclude our loved ones, but include the needs of those around us, and encourage one another to take a break and enjoy time with one another. Sabbath should be centered on God and God’s will for us to be whole in body, mind, spirit and relationship, which may look different than what we think we need.

Hugh Hollowell, the founder of Love Wins Ministries in Raleigh, NC,  wrote about missing his friends. As he was dreaming of and beginning to build Love Wins, a ministry that works with and has created a community among and for people experiencing homelessness in Raleigh, he drew support, comfort and creativity from regular one-on-one meet-ups and conversations with various people who are now friends. As Love Wins was growing and successful in many ways, Hugh realized he hadn’t been taking the time to connect to these friends in the same ways. And he missed them. As Hugh says, it isn’t just the friendship connections, but that not taking the time to simply meet up and talk affects his work life, as these conversations helped create what Love Wins is today. If we don’t take time to step away from our regular, and important, routines, we wither.

You don’t have to throw a big party every week to celebrate Sabbath (introverts are breathing sighs of relief), but perhaps there is someone in your life you haven’t seen in a while that you would like to spend time with. You might have an activity your family enjoys doing that you never seem to have time for – take time to do that activity and simply be together. Don’t miss those connections – recreate them in your Sabbath time.

two glass and one paper bag luminary on a table in front of a group of people in the distant background

Focus on Resources: Sabbath Space

We don’t often think about space when we think of Sabbath. We think about it figuratively, as in making space in our lives for Sabbath. And this makes sense because we tend to think of our time as a commodity – to slice it up into pieces, and parcel it out to work, family, chores, play, spirituality, sleep. We think of it as a physical thing that we can get a hold of and manage.

Perhaps this is because time is not manageable. It is abstract. It ebbs and flows, moves quickly like a rushing river, then slows down like molasses on a cold day. We want to control it, but it seems to control us. We neglect some of the things we can control, or at least touch and grasp in reality. Like the physical space and objects around us.

We may not have the ideal space. We may dream of a bigger house, or an office with a door that closes. We may want to live in a forest, but are surrounded by streets. We may share our space with more people than is comfortable. Or be uncomfortably lonely.

Sometimes we fill our space with endless trinkets and toys, or clear all the clutter away in a fit of KonMari cleaning, hoping to find meaning in the things, or in the lack of them. We dress up our space or dress it down. But what if for Sabbath we simply gave ourselves a break?

A Sabbath idea of space might be to look around at a less than ideal space and find the good things about it. Or, in a place that is perfectly comfortable and familiar, to take some time to remember all the reasons we love being there.

In Judaism some families choose to follow stricter guidelines, making sure to finish preparing their Sabbath meals before sunset on Fridays, not using electricity throughout the Sabbath, walking instead of driving (these are just a small sampling of possible practices), while others incorporate more modern interpretations of Sabbath into their practice. The point is not be oppressive, but to give rest to even the objects that do work in our lives – in the past this might mean your donkey, today it could mean your car.

Changing how we use the physical things around us changes how we see them. If we decide not to drive, we can only go places we can walk to, and we will see things as we walk that we do not see when we drive, or we will see them at different angles, for different amounts of time.

Regardless of whether or not a Jewish family chooses to use electricity over the Sabbath, the lighting of the candles before the Sabbath evening meal is a common ritual among practicing Jews. Eating by candlelight changes the appearance of the room, the food and the faces around the table. It feels intimate and warm even in cavernous or crowded spaces. We cannot always change where we are – we do not always have the means to move or travel – but we can change how we use or see where we are.

During Advent and Christmas, Christians spend a lot of time transforming our spaces. We put up decorations, bake Christmas goodies, hang greens in churches and homes, and move furniture around to accommodate guests and gifts. We light candles for Advent and Christmas Eve, put Christmas lights on trees and houses and throughout the streets, build fires in fireplaces and yards – light in the darkness that reminds us of the hope of Christ.

For many people Advent is the Sabbath of the year. It can be busy – preparing for Christmas, celebrating Christmas, recovering from the preparation and celebration – but it is also a time set apart when we also change around our physical spaces and engage our senses in new ways, all to prepare our hearts to be changed. Again. The gift of this faith is the chance to do it all again – Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Ordinary Time in between the festivals, and through it all, Sabbath. A chance to change how we see the world every week.

So, turn off the lights, light a candle, and look around.

sun low in the sky, shining through tall wild grass

Focus on Resources: Sabbath Time

We are continuing with our Sabbath theme, as life continues to get busier, and time to breathe gets shorter. We posted this article on Facebook, and in this post we wanted to share a bit about how to get into (or back into) the practice of Sabbath rest.

MaryAnn McKibben Dana, a Presbyterian pastor, wrote Sabbath in the Suburbs as she and her husband realized that though she herself was a pastor, though they were committed Christians and church members, they were neglecting this commandment of God to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, which was causing their family to feel and actually be less rested, overwhelmed and disconnected from each other. It turns out that even pastors have a tough time with this commandment.

It can be difficult to imagine how we could possibly set aside a whole day for Sabbath rest, which is where Rev. McKibben Dana’s book can be instructive. She talks about what Sabbath looks like for her family, as well as how they changed their thinking and practice in order to create a space in their schedule for Sabbath. She names the difficulty of wrapping your head around carving a whole day out of a busy schedule, and some ways you can create space for a Sabbath that you will actually be able to maintain, and perhaps increase to a full day as you begin to experience it.

Taking this time for Sabbath means that our thinking needs to change, that we will have to give up some things – Sabbath is time away from striving, to accomplish work or chores, for recognition, for purpose. We may have to let go of the fact that we didn’t get everything done when we wanted to get it done, which may compel us to change how we get things done, or help us to let go of the need to get things done. And to practice Sabbath has meaning and purpose in itself, it does not need to strive for further meaning.

Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t currently devote a whole day to Sabbath, that defeats the center of Sabbath rest. Do think about how you can make some space in your schedule, on a regular day and time, to simply enjoy God and enjoy your people and life. Take some time to step back and appreciate what we have, and set aside anxieties about your present and your future. This may seem like the ultimate privilege or luxury you can’t afford, but remember that God gave this commandment to the Hebrew people who were wandering around a desert, uncertain and afraid about what was ahead, not completely sure why they had left Egypt, and completely unaccustomed to having time to just spend in rest and enjoyment of life. God commanded the people to do this right when they least knew how or if they could do it, and right when they needed it the most.

You can see a bit of how Rev. McKibben Dana and her family approach their Sabbath day in this short interview on PBS.

Text over a background of a hand holding a heart drawn graphic: Generosity as a Spiritual Practice Being welcoming, encouraging, appreciative, comforting, kind, and forgiving is psychospiritually tougher than dumping out-of-style clothing into a roadside collection bin. Desperately Seeking Spirituality: A Field Guide to Practice Meredith Gould

Focus on Resources: Spirituality

Desperately Seeking Spirituality: A Field Guide to Practice

By Meredith Gould

DSSMeredith Gould, the author of church communications books The Social Media Gospel and The Word Made Fresh, wrote a more personal reflection on the practice of spirituality. Desperately Seeking Spirituality is a fresh and funny take on spiritual renewal. Whether you are hoping to add practices to enrich your spiritual life, or are feeling stuck in your current practices, Gould offers practical, warm and helpful guidance to explore and be renewed. You can purchase it in hard copy, or an e-book for Kindle.
Throughout the year, routines and rhythms are shifted as seasons change, and many of us will refocus on the rhythms of our spirituality as well. This book is a great resource for individuals and churches to take a new look at spiritual practices, whether new at them, or an old hand.
tiny snail crawling on top of glass globe sitting in green grass

Stewardship of Creation

As we continue to think about stewardship, stewardship of creation often comes right behind (if not before) financial stewardship. After all, it’s right there in the beginning of the Bible. The very first thing God tells us is that we have power over creation.

Wow! God isn’t subtle here. We have extreme power over the world around us, which we see as the movement of humanity throughout the globe has changed the very shape of mountains, rivers and fields, not to mention the health of the water, land and everything living on the planet. We need to use parts of creation in order to survive, but if we do not take care of it, we won’t survive. It is a delicate balance.

In order to do our part in caring for creation and ourselves, the PC(USA) encourages churches to become Earth Care Congregations. They have resources on why caring for our environment is so important, liturgy and more information at the Environmental Ministries page of the Presbyterian Mission Agency and more information about becoming an Earth Care Congregation. You can even go deeper, and join the Environmental Ministries Action Network or become an Eco-Steward. There are ways to jump into creation care at any level you and your congregation are ready for.

You can learn what other congregations are doing to be responsible stewards of this great power God has granted us. In fact, First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell is an Earth Care Congregation, first certified in 2014!

Stewardship of creation is deeply tied to food sources and security, which is why Environmental Ministries is part of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, so you may also want to check out what FarminaryFarm Church, Mercy Junction and Stony Point Center are doing around food justice and security. There are plenty of non-PC(USA) groups like Bread for the World and Garden Church doing more good ministry around food, reclaiming land and building community.

What does it look like to be good stewards of creation in your neighborhood? Are there empty or run-down lots that could be reclaimed? How can we look at meeting the needs of the hungry in ways that are sustainable? Do we have a community garden bounty that we could share with neighbors that may be living in food deserts? How does caring for the creation we see everyday help ourselves and others?

From the beginning we were called as caretakers to God’s creation. How are we answering the call?