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Dear Friends,

In several of the congregations that I have served, we observed the tradition of burying the Alleluias on the first Sunday of Lent. On that Sunday the children of the congregation would go throughout the sanctuary and hide papers with “Alleluia” printed on them.  The tradition was developed to mark the somber tones of Lent.  Then, on Easter Sunday, the children would be sent into the sanctuary to find the hidden Alleluias and they would then color them.

Often as we would be moving things in the Sanctuary or especially when decorating for Advent and Christmas we would come across one of the Alleluia papers that hadn’t been found that previous Easter. 

I am reminded of that tradition and finding the Alleluias months after Easter as we are in the middle of Christmas clean up…especially as the Christmas trees are moved outside or stored away.  It seems that no matter how hard you try, there will always be needles here and there.  They are never completely gone.

The church is between times right now…we call it ordinary time. Ordinary time is the seasons outside of the major observances of the Christian year; namely Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. It doesn’t mean this is an unexceptional time of year, rather it takes its name from the fact that ordinal numbers are used to describe the sequence of Sundays. Extraordinary things happen during ordinary time, but I always think we have to pay extra attention because we aren’t in the big, exciting seasons such as Christmas and Easter. Ordinary time gives us a chance to figure out what it means to live out the message of the Christ child…and then the message of the Risen Christ. It’s a time when we aren’t facing the frenzy of preparing for the major holidays, so we have the space to do that.

As we observe ordinary time, I love the fact that you can almost always find an alleluia tucked away somewhere in those sanctuaries where the alleluias were hidden away…and in our homes and at church there’s always a pine needle to vacuum up. The pine needles and alleluias break into our everyday, just as God surprises us and breaks into our lives. Such reminders help us to remember what the love of God has done, and continues to do for us. They are the signs of the mystery of God’s love found in the cross and the cradle. May pine needles and alleluias break into your every day to remind you of the awesome mystery of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ.


Church Opportunities and Resources

Church Happenings

Click here to view all the church to church happenings on the Gateway South District! Church events and flyers are updated on a regular basis so you will never miss out. You can also visit the Southern Regional Informational page to view events that are going on throughout the region. If you would like your church event to be posted on the district events page please email  
Soul Tending: Bishop's Clergy Convocation

Click here to listen to keynote speaker, Rev. Susan Beaumont, in a recent interview about what it means to tend the soul of the church.

Date: January 23-25, 2017
Location: Ocean Place Resort, Long Branch NJ
Featuring plenary and small group sessions led by author, coach and consultant Susan Beaumont and a special event presented by The Music Paradigm

Registration closes next week. Click here to register today!
Clergy Meeting with the Bishop: Registration Required
The meeting is open to all clergy but mandatory for clergy in or expecting to be appointed to a congregation, both part and full-time.

Date: January 11, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Calvary Korean United Methodist Church, 572 Ryders Ln., East Brunswick, NJ 08816

Those who have a scheduling conflict that cannot be resolved can attend a makeup date of Feb. 25, 2017 at the Mission and Resource Center in Neptune from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Click here to register
Save the Date: 2017 Southern Region Day of Learning
Date: Sunday, February 12, 2017
Time: 2:15 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Registration begins at 1:45 p.m. and light dinner served at 5:45 p.m.
Location: Pitman United Methodist Church, 758 N. Broadway, Pitman, NJ 08071
Cost: $10.00

Pastors, church officers, committee and team leaders are invited to a day of learning on the Southern Region. Participants will have the opportunity to choose two workshops presented by conference staff and Regional Clergy members.

More information to come...
2016 Workers Compensation Payroll Audit Forms
The customized 2016 Workers’ Compensation Payroll Audit Forms have been mailed to every church by Church Mutual. The audit covers 2016 payroll for both church and church-controlled nursery school workers. Completed audits are due on January 15, 2017.

NEW! Completed audits are to be sent directly to Church Mutual, not to the Mission and Resource Center. Insurance certificates showing coverage for the entire audit period for workers covered by their own Workers Compensation insurance must be included with the audit submission (do not submit the Master Certificate of Insurance for your church for this purpose). The audit must be completed on the mailed form. Audit submission through Church Mutual’s website is not allowed.

All questions regarding the audit should be directed to Church Mutual at: 800-554-2642 (press Option 4, Extension 4000) or email:, referencing UMC of Greater New Jersey.
2017 Featured PaCE groups
Whether you want to learn more about ways to have an effective online small group or best practices in church leadership, PaCE supports clergy excellence by building trust, reducing isolation, exploring ideas through shared experiences, providing multiple viewpoints, unlocking creativity and engaging in group in deep conversations. Click here for full list of topics to choose from.

Deadline to register is January 15, 2017.
2016 Statistical Reports: Now Open
The deadline is January 31, 2017 and the report can be accessed by clicking here. Please use username 3360 _ _ _ _ (4-digit church number). Password: gnjchurch16. You will be asked to change your password when you log in for the first time Please keep the username and password available for all users. If you have questions or need help, call your Regional Administrative Assistant or Account Supervisor, Danielle Andrews at the Mission and Resource center at (732) 359-1000.
Registration Now Open!
Date: February 11, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Calvary Korean UMC, 572 Ryders Lane, East Brunswick 08816
Cost: $15.00

IGNITE Youth Leaders Day will provide practical resources and tools to help students grow in their faith. Churches of any size will leave with a better understanding of youth, youth ministry in 2017, how to organize and grow a youth ministry, and how to help students grow in their faith. Featuring Preston Centuolo, Kenda Creasy Dean, and Greater New Jersey church leaders.

Click here for more information and to register.
Revolutionizing Stewardship: Clergy Retreat
Led by Horizons Stewardship
Date: February 22-23, 2017
Time: 9:00 a.m. registration
Location: Congress Hall, Cape May NJ

Deadline to register is February 6.
Revolutionizing Stewardship Action Planning and Training
Pastors are encouraged to form a team from their congregation to attend a three session training to create a year-round stewardship action plan and Fall 2017 campaign.

TRACK 1: Churches UNDER 250 in average worship attendance
(Must attend all 3 sessions)

Session One: March 25, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Session Two: April 30, 2017 from 2:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Session Three: June 24, 2017 from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

TRACK 2: Churches OVER 250 in average worship attendance
(Must attend all 3 sessions)

Session One: March 18, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Session Two: May 13, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Session Three: June 24, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Location and cost is TBD.
Graceful Controversies Event
Date: March 4, 2017
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: The Mission and Resource Center, 205 Jumping Brook Road, Neptune NJ 07753
Cost: $10.00
Bishop Schol invites all laity and clergy from GNJ into a deeper conversation to develop our hopes and aspirations for the future of The United Methodist Church and send them to the Commission on the Way Forward. Click here for more information and resources.
Registration will open February 10
Copyright © 2017 United Methodists of Greater New Jersey, All rights reserved.

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