"He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require
of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
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Welcome to Old First Church

Join us for our regular service at 10:30 AM.

Rev. Joyce A. Phipps


  January 2017
Pastor’s Message

The New Year means different things to different people. For some, it’s a time to turn over a new leaf and live up to the resolutions that were actually made. For others, it’s little more than just a day off from work or a day to catch sales. And, for some others, this new year of 2017 is a time of particular challenge for our Nation and the world.

The old forms of community seem to be crumbling and we are not sure what will take their place. Change seems to be travelling at the speed of light causing even greater anxiety. It is in this time we need to be grounded in truths that are not just temporary.

We cannot find those truths in a vacuum but within a community which is itself grounded in faith and faithfulness to God’s call to care for others irrespective of race, ethnic group, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation or identity, or disability. The One we follow welcomed all. So should we.


Sunday, January 15: Riotous Readers at 2 PM is discussing Light in August by William Faulkner, a 1932 novel focused on issues of race, class, and gender in the American South of that time. Refreshments and stimulating discussion always served.

Saturday, January 21: Pastor Joyce will lead a workshop at the annual Princeton Theological Seminary’s continuing education event entitled “Immigration Advocacy in an Age of Hostility.” Anyone interested in attending can register at coned.ptsem.edu. The workshop is in the morning from 9:45 to 11:15, and follows worship in Miller Chapel.
Immigration Advocacy in a Time of Hostility – (Joyce Antila Phipps, Esq.)
January 21, 2017
Workshop A in the Stuart Hall
9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Princeton Theological Seminary located at 64 Mercer Street, Princeton NJ 08540
How do we as Christians address the increased hostility toward immigrants and their families? We need to develop alternative strategies to engage those who see their world changing before their eyes and feel themselves diminished and powerless in the face of those changes. Learning how to make the Gospel of inclusiveness broad enough to address the fears that many feel is the focus of this workshop.

Joyce Antila Phipps, Esq.

An immigration attorney for 30 years, Joyce is also an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and a strong advocate for an immigration policy that reflects our fundamental values as Christians and Americans. She received her J.D. from the University of Connecticut and her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School as well as her D.Min. from Hartford Seminary, specializing in interfaith relations. She helped to establish First Friends/IRATE and has taught in paralegal programs and law school clinics.
For more information:

Wednesday, January 25 at Middletown North High School Auditorium 7 PM – Public Hearing on the Monster Power Lines: Residents will have the opportunity to speak to this issue before an Administrative Law Judge.


Support the Calico Cat Resale Shop
Your purchases and contributions to the Calico Cat Resale Shop helps many people in the greater Middletown area with their basic needs. The “Cat” is managed by the Community Outreach Group, a coalition of ten churches, organized to help those in need.

Support the AAUW Book Store

The American Association of University Women, AAUW for short, has a used bookstore in the Old First Church basement. Buy a book here and support scholarships for women needing that little extra help to make it through a college education. Open Saturdays 9 AM to 2 PM.


Our newly redecorated Fellowship Hall with kitchen is a perfect place to have a celebration, whether it’s a baby shower, a going-away party, or an anniversary. Call the church office at 732-671-1905 for more details
During this election season, we hear this phrase a lot, that we have the power to shape the future by voting for this one or that one. In spite of all the campaign rhetoric, for us on the shore, Hurricane Sandy is not just a past event because New Jersey’s so-called rebuilding process has become a program mired in waste and inefficiency causing many homeowners to lose their patience.

Since Hurricane Sandy more than 7400 homes have been or are in the process of being raised, some more successfully than others. Many towns have changed the way they communicate with residents regarding storm warnings. A massive flood control project along Route 35 in Ocean County and the construction of new sea walls have begun. Using $300 million from the Federal Government, the State initiated home buy outs of properties at pre-Sandy home values; to date more than 200 have ben purchased and demolished. Sounds promising, yes?

But, wait! Have we really thought about the future and the effect of climate change on the Jersey Shore as well as other places? And what about all the new “luxury” building that is still being approved, taking up land that acts as a cushion against future storm devastation?

Long Branch has approved several major beachfront luxury condominium projects on land that could serve as a cushion. And Long Branch is not alone. Even further inland, newly planned development projects are leaving longtime residents, who were damaged by Hurricane Sandy, in the lurch, for many of these residents have been unable to return to their former homes -- homes that were not part of the state buy out deal.

The future of the Jersey Shore is in our hands. We have been given this earth by God to be stewards, caretakers, not exploiters. And we are exploiting the earth for the short term financial gain of developers. There are environmentally sensitive areas, and not just McClees Creek near the Navesink River. The destruction of habitat and what is termed “vacant land” by overdevelopment poses a serious danger to our future.

We must continue to be vigilant against those who would look only at a piece of land and see dollar signs. As the author of the Epistle known as 1 Timothy wrote: The love of money is the root of all evil. This evil is being visited upon us through such projects as the JCP&L monster power lines, so called “Village 35” which threatens Middletown Village directly, and huge building projects in Lincroft.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. Protecting the earth for future generations is our responsibility. Not an easy task, but so necessary.

Rev. Joyce