Rev. William Stell
William Stell graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in May 2016 and began serving as our pastor two months later. Before studying at Princeton, he lived and worked in the country of Jordan at a school for Deaf and Deaf-Blind children. Although his familial roots are Presbyterian, William was raised in a black Baptist church, and he has spent significant time in Methodist, Catholic, non-denominational, and other church traditions. We are grateful for the enthusiastic spirit and visionary leadership that he brings to our congregation!
Click on this link to read the article published in the September 2017 publication of the Bordentown Current
“It’s good to cry,” my mom would say, “whenever you lose someone or something.” If you experience a loss and aren’t all that sad about it, that means you haven’t lost anything special. But if you’re sad, that means you’ve been given something beautiful. “Your tears are a testimony to God’s blessings in your life,” she would say.
Her words would infuse gratitude and peace into my sadness.
But even after hearing them, I would still feel sad.
One night, while in college, I went to a small concert and met a young woman who had been living in Uganda for a couple of years. After the concert, she and I spoke for almost two hours. At the time, I had a hunch that God was calling me to live overseas in the near future. Our dialogue about her experiences and my desires felt like one of the most Spirit-led conversations I’d ever had. At the end, knowing that our paths were unlikely to cross again, she gave me a hug and said, “I hope I see you again, but if I don’t…well, I’ll see you in Heaven.” Those were the very last words she spoke to me. I haven’t seen her since then, but I’ve used that line more than once myself: “If I don’t see you again, I’ll see you in Heaven.”
Those words breathe the promise of eternity into my earthly losses.
But even after speaking them, I’ve still lost something.
When I left Jordan, I cried a lot over the good-byes. But the one I cried over most was my good -bye to Hazem, the 14-year-old Deaf-Blind boy with whom I’d been working for a year. Because of his limited communication abilities, Hazem couldn’t understand my good-bye and couldn’t say good-bye back. There was no way to tell him that I was leaving. I just left. Most good-byes are both bitter and sweet: bitter because of the sadness we feel over the loss, sweet because a poignant beauty emerges in shared grief, which bears witness to shared joys.
When I said good-bye to Hazem, I was especially mindful of the bitterness.
But now, preparing to say good-bye to this church, I am especially mindful of the sweetness.
For two years, we have journeyed alongside each other. Learning, listening, laughing, crying, sharing, hurting, growing, loving together.
We are still sad. But the blessings are still—and will always be—sweet.
© 2016 First Presbyterian Church
First Presbyterian Church of Bordentown
420 Farnsworth Ave.
Bordentown, NJ 08505