Save the Date!

2020 Equipping the Saints event


February 8, 2020


First Presbyterian Church

Metuchen, New Jersey

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Acts 27:27-28:10 gives us a timely glimpse

into what many of us are facing in our churches today.

In one way or another, many of us are on the voyage with Paul to Rome, 

facing our own versions of a shipwreck, swimming to shore or clinging to debris--

even landing and being misunderstood as something that we are not.


Five years ago, South Presbyterian Church (Rochester, NY) was  a small, urban congregation within months of running out of money and wrestling with closing.

Today, it is a thriving group with almost 60 Presbyterian members,

255 in their ministries weekly, 13,000 contacts in 2018,

20 Acts of Faith ministries in the county, and five healthy worshiping communities.

South is one example of how the Spirit moves us through the storms,

beyond the shipwrecks, and into a bright future.  


Come explore options facing our congregations

and consider what lies ahead for your church through the lens of scripture.

Scroll down for more info!


Work Life Balance -

Reality or Myth?

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Training, Connection & Inspiration!

Change is all around--and within--the church today. What lies ahead for your congregation?

Get a timely glimpse into what we're facing

and how God is leading,

through the story of Paul's voyage to Rome (Acts 27:27-28:10).


 Join the Rev. Deb Swift as she leads us in exploring

how the Spirit moves us through the storms,

beyond the shipwrecks, snakes and more,

and into a future of resurrection hope!

February 8, 2020

9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

(Snow date February 15)

First Presbyterian Church

270 Woodbridge Avenue

Metuchen, New Jersey 08840


Who comes to Equipping the Saints events?

  • New and ongoing church officers, pastors, worship leaders and educators

  • Anyone interested in developing as a church leader

  • Leaders from all over the region (you need not be connected to one of the hosting presbyteries)

  • Not a Presbyterian? Please come! All are welcome.


Transform Your Spirit | Transform Our World

The Reverend

Deborah Fae Swift, 


Rev. Deb Swift is the Pastor of South Presbyterian and Executive Director of Firebird Spirit, Inc. - the outreach and educational arm of that church. She is the author of The Church Has left the Building: A Case Study of One Church's Story of Transformation, Redefinition & New Life - now in its 3rd edition. It is a workbook designed to help traditional churches engage their communities in new, exciting and effective ways of being the church of Jesus Christ in today's world, and she is quick to say, "You do not have to sell your building in order to be missional. Missional is a mindset. What we have to do is say yet to God."

So What Is Church Anyway?

It might be easier for us to tell you what church is NOT. As far as we are concerned, it’s not a place you go to only on Sunday morning to have somebody tell you about God.

Church is a state of mind as well as a state of being. It is an action verb. It’s something that we belong to 24/7. 

And it covers a lot of things:  study, service, worship, quietude, expression, learning, fellowship, and more. But one thing it always seems to include is COMMUNITY. We’re all in this together.


Just like the early Jesus-followers, we find ourselves trying to make sense of our world in light of our faith, our questions, our doubts and fears … in other words we try to LIVE as People of the Way.  The Way? What Way?  The Way of Jesus … that man who taught about God’s love and justice, about how to treat others and how to interact with our world in a way that’s positive and hope-filled. 

But church is NOT a one-size-fits-all kind of thing. Some people like very formal interaction with God and others want things casual; some people really love Bible Study while others would rather go to the movies; some want to sit quietly with their thoughts while others want to talk and explore new ideas out loud.

Church can, and should, be ALL of those things.

  8:00 a.m.  Registration

                    & Coffee 

  9:00 a.m.  Worship

  9:30 a.m.  Plenary

10:30 a.m.  Break

10:45 a.m.  Plenary


11:30 a.m.  Lunch &


12:30 p.m.  Workshops

                     (Choose ONE)

  2:00 p.m.  Depart


Clerks 101 - Rev. Diane Curtis, Transitional Pastor, Presbyterian Churches of Passaic and Clifton

Whether you are a novice Session Clerk or a seasoned veteran, this workshop is for you!  Minutes, rolls, records, statistics, polity, the Book of Order, Robert’s Rules of Order, etc. can seem overwhelming if you are just starting out. Even if you have been a clerk for a while, there is always more to learn.  In this workshop, I will provide resources to assist you and will attempt to answer all your questions about serving as a clerk.


Climate Crisis, Faith Response - Rev. Molly Dykstra, Temporary Pastor for Missional Development, First Presbyterian Church, Trenton

As people of faith, how do we respond to the urgent and immediate need to care for and protect life on our planet? We’ll gather to ask questions, learn new responses, share what we’re doing that works, and support one another in action in our personal lives, our congregations and beyond.

Deacons 101 - Rev. Sharyl Dixon, Pastor, Kingston Presbyterian Church

Called as a Deacon? Come explore your call into this important ministry. Walking through scripture, exploring our gifts and responding to the Spirit and the church's call, we will unpack the layers of saying yes to this essential part of care for Christ's body and the world.

Digital Disciples - John Fong, Elder, First Presbyterian Church of Metuchen

How to reach, minister to 500+ people in your larger community, and welcome at least 4 new visitors in the next 30 days. The training is approximately 30 minutes, followed by Q&A.

Discover New & Vital Mission: The Acts of Faith Model of Ministry -

Rev. Deb Swift

This workshop offers an easy, anybody-can-do-it, every-church-can-afford-it way of making small changes that have big effects by freeing up the Spirit: the Acts of Faith Model of Ministry. You’ll go home with at least one idea and the means to implement it, as well as creative ideas about changing outlooks, mindsets and possibilities for ministry. This workshop will give you the How-To’s of the Acts of Faith Model from the pastor whose church pioneered it six years ago as God transformed them from a traditional church of 30+ into an Acts of Faith Community of 250+.


Discovering Resources for Church Financial Leadership - Rev. Ellie Johns-Kelley, Presbyterian Foundation

How do we move beyond a theology of scarcity to an acknowledgement of God’s sufficiency?  Gain confidence and competence for church financial leadership.  Learn about financial literacy grants as well as new resources created by the Presbyterian Foundation which were made possible by a generous grant by the Lilly Endowment Inc.  

Not Your Mama's PW - Jo Ann Burrell and Lisa Gray, Ruling Elders

Presbyterian Women have a long legacy of following their purpose of prayer, bible study, mission, justice and peace work, and building an inclusive caring community. How do we build that community in today’s culture? We plan to help women (or men who support PW and want to know more) find their “WHY” ; Why PW with so many demands on our time? Then the WHAT (to do) will follow. This will be for those who might want to begin a PW group or energize an existing group with fresh conversations on reaching out to the next generation.  JoAnn Burrell is Vice Moderator of Presbyterian Women (National), and an elder and member of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montclair, NJ. Lisa Gray is  Moderator of Presbyterian Women in the Synod of the Northeast and an elder at Old Greenwich Presbyterian Church in Stewartsville, NJ. Both have been very active in Presbyterian Women over the years, serving in many leadership capacities. Both are retired: JoAnn as senior project manager with HUD and Lisa as a VA medical lab supervisor.


Ruling Elders 101 - Rev. Jeremy Campbell, Stated Clerk, Elizabeth & Newark Presbyteries

The book of order says "Ruling elders… exercise leadership, government, spiritual discernment, and discipline and have responsibilities for the life of a congregation as well as the whole church” G-2.0301 By looking at the scriptural basis for Christian Leadership and the ordination vows which unite us in our ministry we will explore what spiritual leadership means in today's church. We will also introduce resources to learn more!  

Teambuilding- Elise Bates Russell, Executive Director, Johnsonburg Camp and Retreat Center

Calling all leaders and/or group members... deacons, elders, youth chaperones/leaders, church staff. Come experience teambuilding with the Johnsonburg team! Work together to solve challenges and communicate effectively to achieve goals through hands‐on experiences. This is not a “sit and git” workshop! Join us‐ we promise it will be fun and productive as you learn how to build your team to be more effective! 

Youth Ministry: Roses & Thorns - Justin Karmann, Associate Pastor of Youth, Young Adult and Mission, First Presbyterian Church of Metuchen

An opportunity for Youth Leaders and those ministering to Youth to come together and reflect on what works and what doesn’t. A few insider secrets will also be shared as we contemplate what it means to serve Youth in today’s culture and climate.


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