First Church Welcomes Rev. Ashley Bair
to fill the role of Associate Pastor for Social Justice and Mission
Ashley, with her extensive work experience, comes highly qualified and equipped to serve our congregation with dedication and purpose.
In her role as Interim Associate Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Metuchen, NJ, Ashley demonstrated exceptional pastoral leadership. She not only provided regular preaching, teaching, and pastoral care but also played a pivotal role in the church’s growth. Her commitment extended to overseeing various aspects of church life, from committee facilitation to intern supervision, and she even initiated innovative programs like the Artist-in-Residence program and Youth Manager.
Furthermore, her experience as a Congregational Organizer with the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship showcased her passion for social justice. She developed impactful curriculum and led courses on reimagining public safety, demonstrating her dedication to promoting positive change within faith communities. Her ability to facilitate discussions and recruit teams for data synthesis and reporting exemplifies her leadership skills.
Throughout her career, Ashley has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to faith, social justice, and community engagement. Her varied experiences, from working as a Student Chaplain at NYU Langone Medical Center to organizing outreach initiatives in urban communities, highlight her adaptability, empathy, and dedication to fostering inclusive and compassionate environments.
With such a rich and diverse background, Ashley brings a wealth of skills and perspectives that align well with our church’s mission and values. We eagerly anticipate the positive impact she would have on our congregation and community.
Watch Ashley's Sermon
We are pleased to announce that during our Congregational Meeting on October 29th, Rev. Ashley Bair was voted by a wide margin to approve her to fill the role of Associate Pastor for Social Justice and Mission. We look forward to Ashley sharing her passion for her ministry starting on February 1, 2024.
If you missed her sermon this past Sunday, make sure to watch by clicking here!
The Associate Pastor Nominating Committee Reflects
“We knew from her first interview she would be great. Her energy, pastoral presence and passion was felt. We are excited to have her be a part of the First Church team.”
“We’re impressed that Ashley, in addition to having an M.Div., an MSW, and outstanding Social Justice & Mission experience, has also been a gifted and creative pastor and pastoral presence in her previous church positions. She has what First Church is looking for – meaningful Social Justice & Mission credentials and strong pastoral experience.”
“We all loved the way that Ashley addressed social justice and mission work in her sermons.”
Ashley, describe the ministry setting to which you believe God is calling you.
“Rooted in the Reformed tradition, Presbyterians believe that the elements of the Sacraments are ordinary, everyday items we consume, and that through the power of the Holy Spirit those things become holy and sacred. Similarly, I am called to ordinary communities drawn into the extraordinary. Our bond forms because we are willing to do the hard work of being in community with each other everyday, through the good times and bad. This, to me, means that together we ask ourselves: what kind of extraordinary work are we being called to at this moment?
I am called to minister a congregation where conversations around anti-racism, queer and trans community inclusion, financial responsibility, peacemaking at a local level, and the long work of justice are taking place. I’m called to a ministry context where we are asking questions like: How do we grieve well all that’s been lost – in a global pandemic, climate crisis, time of violence? How does our neighborhood engage with us and why? How do we join alongside other communities that are welcoming and just? How are we imagining new possibilities within our financial sphere? How are we holding our social community and leaning into moments of joy?
I am called to ministry in a congregation that values strength in community, growth in challenges and change, and hope in the promises of God; a community that upholds the values of diversity, creativity, learning, spirituality, and the ultimate power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Ashley's Statement of Faith
God is creator,
The source of all; creating the world good, a community of flora and fauna, beast, bird, and human.
In God’s own image we, as humans, are created, equal, loved beyond measure.
God is wise,
All-knowing and truth.
God is love,
Providing for creation, drawing near to creation, desiring fullness, restoration, and reconciliation for creation.
God is One,
In incomprehensible communion with the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ. One alone whom we worship.
Holy Spirit is breath of life,
The motion and energy of God. The wind that turns the trees and fills our lungs. The water that gives us life in earth and in baptism.
The living God through the bread and the wine at our table.
Holy Spirit is inspiration,
Pouring wisdom out of the mouths of prophets and guiding the pens of the Scripture authors.
Continually moving modern prophets to boldly proclaim, defend, and work for the reconciling God.
Holy Spirit is counselor and comforter,
Calling us into diverse ministry. Giving comfort and encouragement to the suffering.
Strengthening with courage those who walk alongside the oppressed.
Holy Spirit is freedom,
Calling us to nonviolence and peace. Liberating the oppressed and enslaved,
moving us to challenge ourselves and our power as we oppress others.
Jesus Christ is justice,
Standing alongside the suffering and the downtrodden. Healing the sick, eating with the outcasts,
and forgiving the sinners. Showing us how to do the same. Expecting us to do the same.
Jesus Christ is victory,
Wrongly condemned, tortured, and crucified. Giving His life for the sins of the world.
Conquering death through the resurrection. Delivering us from death into life eternal.
Jesus Christ is fullness,
God’s word manifested – fully God and fully human.
Modeling through His life, teaching, death, and resurrection the body and life of the Church.
Church is united,
Siblings together as the body of Christ, we recognize our sin, individual and collective, and repent.
We are sent out into the world to continue the work of Christ and the apostles.
Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sick and the widow, visiting the imprisoned,
including the ostracized, witnessing to the tax collectors, proclaiming the Good News with every move we make.
Church is Reformed,
and always reforming. A community that finds grace freely given and gives grace freely.
Church is always moving with the guidance of the Holy Spirit through the gift of the authoritative Holy Scriptures
and the collaborative efforts of our Confessions. In the Sacraments, baptism and Eucharist,
the tangible signs of an invisible grace draw us into Christ’s presence.
In Scripture, Church understands the work it is called to do while we wait for the return of Jesus Christ,
a time when tears and pain, and sin and death will be no more.