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A Season of Travels and Visits--Starting in PA and NJ

Wow, did this Fall get away from me--I was on the road quite a bit visiting and celebrating with our congregations on the East Coast! Fortunately, I have a decent pictorial record now--I don't take a lot of photos as I'm more interested in talking with folks and being in worship with our regional family. But there are enough! I'm going to catch us up chronologically.

The first weekend of November found me driving to our denominational HQ in King of Prussia, PA, for a special thank-you celebration of our General Secretary, Dr. C. Jeff Woods, as our new General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Gina Jacobs-Strain, will be taking office in February. Because the Board of General Ministries was meeting that week, I had the pleasure of spending time with Rev. Dr. Cliff Matthews, Jr., pastor of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC, one of our more southerly region congregations. It was great catching up with you, Dr. Matthews!


From there, I toodled my way across the state line to New Jersey. First I met with ordination candidate Denise Carrell in a small town in New Jersey that was midway between where she was and where I'd be for that evening. We had a long, fruitful, and fully enjoyable chat. And nope, I didn't get a picture because I was too busy catching up. So here's one I poached from Facebook just so you can put a face to the name as she moves through our ordination process. (She's a member of Christ Congregation in Princeton, NJ, and PhD Coordinator at Princeton Theological Seminary.)


On Sunday, I had the golden opportunity to visit two churches at once! First Baptist Church of Moorestown has their worship on Sunday mornings, but Christ Congregation in Princeton alternates between Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings two Sundays a month. Schedule it right and bingo, I get the fun of visiting two churches on one day.

Rev. Linda Pepe (pictured at the communion table) and the congregation of First Baptist Church of Moorestown had the joy of welcoming something like 14 new members that morning! The music and energy of worship was phenomenal, and I enjoyed being able to share in communion with our regional family. We also had a wonderful fellowship time with excellent food followed by lunch with some of the leadership with, well, excellent food. (There was definitely a theme to my time in New Jersey.) I also had the pleasure of meeting Rev. Richard Gillespie, a retired ABC pastor whose late wife, Charlotte, I'd served with during my time with American Baptist Women's Ministries prior to coming to ABCRGR. Charlotte was a lovely, faithful woman and I enjoyed meeting Richard. Of course, I also took great joy in finally meeting one of our region board members in person! Leila Morgan has been on our board over a year but we've only ever been in Zoom together. How great it is to finally meet the "for real" behind the "virtual."


I closed out my weekend of visits with Christ Congregation of Princeton, NJ, where I was able to meet their new pastor, Rev. Dr. Kirk Johnson, in person for the first time as well. I drove straight from a fellowship meal and lunch about an hour north to start with a reception with some very tasty snacks and desserts at Christ Congregation. Yes. I basically ate my way through New Jersey. The hospitality was tremendous. Following the reception we had a warm and meaningful worship together, and another opportunity to share communion with more regional family. I especially appreciated that at the end of the service, Dr. Johnson gave us each a fruit of the spirit that we were to reflect upon and do our best to enact during the coming Advent season. I received "joy," and it certainly fit what I was experiencing that weekend!

Another nice plus was seeing another ordination candidate, J.W. Patterson, who I'd met for the first time at the Biennial Mission Summit last July. J.W. is a member of St. Luke's Missionary Baptist in Charlotte, NC, and is a student at Princeton Theological Seminary--hence him being able to come visit Christ Congregation while I was there. I was glad to see that he, Dr. Johnson, and members of the congregation were able to make some connections that I'm sure will support J.W. in his continuing studies.

Happily, I also got to spend time with another region board member, Rev. Ted Hargrove, who is also a member of Christ Congregation. Unfortunately, I could swear I took a picture with him but can't find it anywhere. I suspect it may have been on someone else's phone. I'm so sorry, Ted! I've posted the photo we use on our board listing page on the website, but I'll have to re-do the selfie next time I'm in NJ.

It was a fantastic weekend all around. Thanks, New Jersey Kin, for being wonderful hosts!

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