January/February 2017

When I got to be old enough to make (somewhat questionable) decisions on my own, I started trying to stay up and watch the sun rise on New Year's Day. For the most part, the folks I had spent the previous evening with would have celebrated themselves all the way into bed during the wee hours, and most mornings I was the only one still up. After the headlong rush of the holiday season, and the fireworks and champagne frenzy on New Year's Eve, the dawn was a refreshing change of pace.

In traditional Japanese architecture there is a special place in the home called a tokonoma. This alcove is set aside to display a carefully selected item, often a calligraphic scroll, an arrangement of flowers or plants, or occasionally some small objets d'art. The object in the tokonoma is changed several times a year (certainly more often than we Americans tend to update our decor) and the sense of mutability or lack of permanence is as an important part of the display as the item itself. That way, the display does not fade into the background and continually calls for attention and reflection.

For me, solitary New Year's sunrises were a tokonoma of sorts: a chance to take a moment to just appreciate the beauty of a new beginning. All too often we pack away the sense of waiting and wonder we strive to cultivate during Advent when we put our ornaments and decorations away. The continuing miracle of Christmas is not merely left in the manger, to be wrapped up and brought out of storage some time next Fall. We are changed by the birth of Hope, and challenged to carry it with us in our lives. This New Year, I hope you have occasion to reflect on the hope you carry withing, and the ways you can share that with others.

Pastor Jon



Dear Family in Christ,
I attended my final Deacon’s meeting as Interim Pastor of FBC. In this meeting reality set in. So many future plans discussed. Assignments made for future Sundays. Plans made for events that
will take place in October and December. It was clear that it was time to let go and make space for another Pastor.

It was a bitter sweet moment. In two years I’ve come to know and love the folks as First Baptist Church. I have looked forward each Sunday to seeing the faithful gather. Together we have accomplished the difficult work of letting one Pastor move on and prepared the heart of the congregation to receive another Pastoral leader.

The Pulpit Committee has worked diligently and faithfully in their search for your next pastor. It was not an easy road, they faced many challenges and disappointments. In the end they found the individual I believe is called to lead FBC on the next phase of the journey. I am truly excited for you, and Pastor Jon. Thank you, so very much, for the love you have shown me. It was a
healing balm when I needed it most. As I continue to follow the path that unfolds before me you will always have a place in my heart.

May God’s blessings be with you now, and always!

Pastor Teresa


Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
- Isaiah 43:18-19

As I'm writing this, I am surrounded by the half-boxed remains of my office. Packing up always puts me in a reflective mood, as I try and decide what to take with me and what can easily be left behind. I'm sure you've all gone through some version of this: heading off to a new school, a new house, and new state, perhaps even a new country. This process asks us to consider some fundamental questions: is this important, and will I ever use this again? In a sense, we are trying to imagine what the future holds in store for us, how our lives will be and what challenges and joys await us.

I'm very excited to begin a new chapter with all of you at First Baptist, Freehold! For those of you who haven't yet had the chance to meet me, perhaps I should offer a brief introduction. I grew up in Connecticut, the son of an American Baptist minister. I hold a BA in Religion and Political Theory from Marlboro College, and an MTS from the Episcopal Divinity school. I've worked as both a pastor and a hospital chaplain, and found both experiences very satisfying. I've also traveled widely, visiting all the of the States (except Alaska, though that is pretty high on my to-do list) and 12 or 13 countries. One of the things that has always fascinated me is why people believe the things that they do, and how they let those beliefs change their loves. Traveling has helped show me the great diversity of ways people of all faiths (and none) have tried to live out their principles and beliefs.

Other than that, I spend as much time as I can outside: hiking, running, kayaking and sailing. I am looking forward to exploring the Freehold area, and discovering all that it has to offer. More than that, though, I am looking forward to getting to know all of you. During one of my conversations with the search committee one of the members said something to the effect of: “we're looking to grow as a church, but also to grow in faith as individuals.” I cannot wait to see the variety of ways in which we will help each other grow as children of God, and members of Christ's church.

I am so excited that you have called me to be your pastor, and I hope to see you all at Homecoming Sunday on September 11th. It will be a time of new beginnings, new friendships, and a chance to see all of the ways in which God is doing a new thing!

Pastor Jon