Christian Education

"Do you promise, through prayer and example, to support and encourage [this child] to be a faithful Christian?"

Christian education of God’s children is a core promise at West Side. The Spirit and The Church will help and strengthen our young throughout their lives. For cultivating this solid ground, West Side is blessed with adventurous, sensitive and talented youth leadership for a full range of robust programs, both formal and informal. Church membership is not a pre-requisite for attending. Sunday School and nursery during worship, youth groups, confirmation class, youth choirs, mission trips and local service opportunities abound. West Side has its feet in this world too! Education and fellowship opportunities for children and teens both nurture and support the next generation with outstanding formal and informal programs and activities:

Child Care During Worship

Infants and toddlers are cared for by carefully screened adults and teens in the Little Lambs Nursery from 8:00 to 11:45 am on Sundays, which gives moms and dads a chance to focus on their own spiritual growth. Of course, your little ones are also welcome to stay in worship with you.

Sunday School for Children and Youth

Orange, our vibrant Sunday School strategy for preschool through 7th grade, combines the light of the church (yellow) with the heart of the family (red) to form a lifelong faith in Christ (orange). Each month has a theme—kindness, love, respect—that is carried through with easy lessons to do at home. There’s even a parent app (Parent Cue) that you can use on the go! The result? Home + Church = Greater Impact.

Here’s an overview of Orange:

FIRST LOOK: The preschool curriculum, designed for children up to five years of age, meets kids where they are cognitively, spiritually, physically, emotionally and socially. Through age-appropriate activities, preschoolers build their spiritual foundation so that by the time they graduate to kindergarten they know three simple but powerful truths: God Made Me, God Loves Me, Jesus Wants To Be My Friend Forever. Children leave their classrooms each Sunday with ideas for play time, drive time, bath time, cuddle time and morning time so that the learning can continue at home.

252 KIDS: The elementary school curriculum, designed for kindergarten through fifth grade, provokes discovery and invites children into a new understanding of how to grow in relationship with Jesus. It is centered around three basic but powerful truths modeled by Jesus in Luke 2:52.

  • I need to make the wise choice.
  • I can trust God no matter what.
  • I should treat others the way I want to be treated.

In addition, 252 Kids focuses on 150 key Bible stories, four important faith skills and 30 practical life applications of God’s truth.

XP3 MIDDLE SCHOOL: This curriculum, designed for students in grades 6 through 7, helps middle schoolers experience three things: wonder for who God is, discovery of who He created them to be and passion for loving others. Kids begin to take ownership of their faith through these three basic truths:

  • I will love God because He will never stop loving me.
  • I will follow Jesus because He knows me better than I know myself.
  • I will live out God’s story so others can know who Jesus is.

More programs for families with young children are described on the Families page.  Just click here!

Youth Programs (Middle School/High School)

Camp Johnsonburg:
Children ages 6-14 can participate in Camp Johnsonburg, a year-round PCUSA and American Camp Association Accredited camp.

FOCUS (Finding Ourselves in Christ through Unity and Service), the 8th grade Confirmation Class:
FOCUS is a weekly commitment, running October through May on Sunday evenings, 6:45-8:15 p.m. in the Pulsifer Chapel.  FOCUS is designed to help 8th grade students explore their personal faith and prepare them to make the most important decision of their lives: to proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior and to enter fully into the life and membership of West Side.  For more information, contact Pastor Penny Hogan.

High School BARN: Sunday nights from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Barn
If you’re in high school, join us on Sunday nights for fun, fellowship and faith exploration.

Middle School BARN: Sunday nights once a month
Once a month, the high schoolers move out of the Barn and the middle schoolers move in. Call the office to be added to the middle school mailing list so that we can let you know the dates and times.

Trips and Retreats: West Side’s youth program includes a number of weekend and week-long activities filled with fun, worship, making friends, Bible study, play, rest, and other adventures. Information about Youth Mission Trips can be found on the Serving Others page.


  • An annual Youth Trip is open to kids entering freshmen year in high school, to their senior year. Priority is given to older students.
  • A group of West Side youth attend a regional Presbyterian Youth Conference in Montreat, North Carolina annually. Except every third year they instead attend the national Triennium Youth Conference on the campus of Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
  • Montreat attracts hundreds of regional Presbyterian youth, while Triennium draws thousands of Presbyterian youth from all over the country and the world.
  • Both events are held for one week in July and they strive to connect youth and adults with activities that inspire them to be alert, active and seek ways to connect their lives with their growing faith through presentations, small group meetings, recreational events and mission experiences.

Adult Programs

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself."—Matthew 22:37, 39

A mature Christian faith doesn’t happen by accident. Connect with West Side programs to build and strengthen your faith, nurture your soul, and live a more Christ-filled and Christ-like life. Group study and discussion helps us to deepen our understanding of how God, Christ and the Holy Spirit flow to and from us in what we do, how we contribute to the world, and who we encounter. What we experience and see in the world is through the lens of who we are on the inside. Nurturing our spiritual health allows each of us to connect heart, soul and mind to develop open, joyful, loving and inner peace. Grounded in scripture and tradition, our programs will enrich you through study, prayer, reflection, and sharing. Spiritual growth is encouraged and strengthened through practices:

  • Contemplation (prayer, meditation, spiritual direction);
  • Community (worship, Bible Study, small groups fellowship);
  • Mission and service (compassion, reaching out and serving others, social justice, advocacy, giving, hospitality)

Here, at West Side, we offer the following opportunities to stimulate spiritual and personal growth.

Health Ministries

Health Ministries Committee

The Health Ministries Committee (HMC), along with our Parish Nurse, Pat McGlade, seeks to support the health and wellness of our congregation by caring for the whole person-body, mind, and spirit. Together the HMC acts as the living witness of the healing activity of God in our local congregation, promoting whole-person health through:

  • integration of body, mind, and spirit
  • increased self-knowledge
  • personal responsibility, and
  • interdependence among God’s people.

Parish Nurse

Pat McGlade, ext. 104 The Parish Nurse focuses on the whole person, to emphasize wellness, disease prevention, and health promotion through the span of life. The Parish Nurse’s care is based on the holistic model, which sees health as related to everything a person does, thinks, and feels, rather than merely the absence of disease. The Parish Nurse is available to individuals and families for needs assessment, support, guidance, and evaluation of the ways the church can respond to care requirements.

Care Team Ministry

The Care Teams respond to the real-life needs of individuals and families. Volunteers work together to offer practical, emotional, and spiritual support to those who are experiencing physical and/or mental illness or disability, acute or long-term needs, or other life-challenging events. Teams are made up of trained volunteers working from an established, coordinated plan set up as a team effort. A care team provides services that assist the recipient in activities of daily living at home or in an institutional setting.

Support Groups

Support groups for bereavement and for those dealing with mental illness in their families meet each month from September through June. A support group for individuals with multiple sclerosis meets monthly in the home of a member of the group. For information on any of these groups, contact Pat McGlade at ext. 104.

Welcoming People with Disabilities

Our church building was designed to be compatible with ADA guidelines. For information on accessibility, call the church office at 201-652-1966 or send an EMAIL.

Safe on Your Feet

Is your life balanced? Safe on your Feet is a multi-level fitness program for active seniors or beginning and rehabilitating exercisers. It meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. in the dining room; the cost is $5 per session. Contact Pat McGlade for information or to register,, or ext. 104. Friends welcome, too!


Come to West Side on Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:30 am and learn simple self-care techniques that you can practice at home to remain active, healthy, youthful and pain-free—at any age. The secret? It’s the MELT Method, taught by certified instructor Theresa Mihalopoulos. Class will be held on September 20 and 27; October 4, 11, 18 and 25. The cost is $18 per class for West Side members, $20 for nonmembers—cash only. To learn more, please contact Theresa (

Hospital Visitation

If you are hospitalized or know a West Sider who is being hospitalized, please let a pastor or the parish nurse know, especially is you want a visit from the pastor. Sometimes the hospital will contact the church but not always, and we don’t want anyone to feel “cut off” from West Side. Just call 201-652-1966 and leave a message on one of the following extensions:  Rev. Marc Oehler, ext. 101; Rev. Penny Hogan, ext. 102; Pat McGlade, parish nurse, ext. 104. (Remember that if you want to bypass the recorded message, press *8, then the extension number.)

In Case of a Medical Emergency

The AED Unit (Automated External Defibrillator) is located on the wall across from the Reception Desk. The first aid kit is now located on the inside of the door directly across from the reception desk in the Christian Ed building.


Click here to view the Health Ministries brochure for more information on our programs.

Small Groups

Sunday Small Groups

The Power of Forgiveness: Researchers are examining the physical and psychological effects of forgiveness under a wide variety of conditions, ranging from petty insults to the circumstances surrounding 9/11. Explore how forgiveness can transform your life…at 9:00 am in the Pulsifer Chapel.

Book Study: In his latest book, What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of  Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything, Rob Bell invites us to read our most sacred book in a fresh, new way. Purchase a copy in the church office and join us at 9:00 am in the Conference Room when you are able. No advance preparation is necessary.

Centering Prayer: Centering Prayer, a form of Christian silent meditation, is a purposeful practice of emptying the self so that God can pour in. All are invited and encouraged to join us on an inner journey of spirituality. The class meets at 9:45 am in the Serenity Room, ending at 10:10 am.

Bible Study: Starting at the Beginning: The Book of Genesis. The opening book of the Hebrew bible isn’t a “scientific” text, but it does offer important insights into who God is and how God relates to the created world. We’ll read through this text together – at 10:15 am in the West Side Room – with attention to its literary and cultural background.

Book Study: In Justin Lee’s groundbreaking autobiographical journey, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, he demonstrates that people of faith on both sides of the debate can respect, learn from and love one another. Please purchase the book prior to joining the discussion in the West Side Room at 11:15 am.

Sermon Talk Back: For a deep-dive discussion on each week’s sermon topic, come to the Pulsifer Chapel at 11:30 am. Bring your coffee hour treats and enjoy the exchange about what the service has inspired.

Emotionally Healthy Relationships: Do you find yourself making the same relationship mistakes over and over again? In this immersive eight-session course you’ll learn eight practical skills that will help you break through relationship roadblocks and grow as a mature Christian who can love others – even in difficult situations. The group gathers in DePhillips Hall from 4:00 to 6:00 pm on the second Sunday of the month (with a few exceptions) from October through June. Be sure to check the calendar for specific dates.


Weekday Small Groups

Tuesdays With Marc: Eight in 10 young people are leaving Christianity – often because they think it’s no longer relevant. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Join Pastor Marc’s group of early risers on Tuesdays in the Pulsifer Chapel at 7:30 am to explore Doug Hammack’s book, Rethinking Our Story: Can We Still Be Christians in the Quantum Era? Copies are available in the church office for $14 apiece. No need to stop at Starbucks first. Coffee will be available.

Group Spiritual Direction: Groups facilitated by Rev. Penny Hogan and Mollie Ledwith. New groups form every September. There is an intentional training process prior to being part of these groups. If you are interested in learning about how to be more attentive and responsive to the Holy Spirit in community, please see Rev. Penny Hogan.

English as a Second Language: English as a Second Language (ESL) classes meet each Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., focusing on speaking/listening, reading/writing, pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. Cultural information and basic coping skills for living in another country are part of the class program.  At 1:30 p.m., also on Tuesdays, there is a reading group that discusses current literature decided on by the group. On Fridays, an ESL Bible Study is held at 1:30 p.m., where participants read and discuss passages from the Bible. The leader of the classes is Kathy Koop, who has a graduate degree in teaching English. The 90-minute classes are open to the public and there is no charge.



Daily Devotionals

Want to start your day with some inspiring words? Sign up for our Daily Devotionals, which will arrive in your inbox at 5:oo am Monday through Friday. To sign up, contact Carol Bialkowski (






Men’s Groups

Third Thursday:

Join us the third Thursday evening of each month for Guy’s Night Out, an evening of great food, conversation and fellowship. Contact: Pastor Marc (

June 21 – Steve Marquad’s home

July 19 – Gary Burrell’s home

August 16 – Bill Burdick’s home

September 20 – Dave DeFeo’s home

October 18 – Larry Noel’s home

November 15 – Open date

December 20 – Ron Ledwith’s home

Men’s Council

Led by Pastor Marc Oehler, the Men’s Council offers a pathway for men to work together to develop an even more purposeful life through introspection, contemplation and shared experiences. Men who are called to partner more intentionally with God and deepen their relationships with family members and others are provided a safe environment to pursue such a journey together. Contact: Pastor Marc (


Women’s Groups

First Friday
On the first Friday of the month, the women of West Side get together at a member’s home for an evening of food, fun and fellowship. It’s a great intergenerational opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. To find out more, please contact Pastor Liz (

Women’s Retreat
Once a year, we invite women of all ages to take a break from the busyness of daily life and spend some quality time with themselves at our Women’s Retreat. It’s a wonderful chance to re-center yourself, de-stress, and connect more deeply with God and others. Details about the 2019 retreat are coming soon.

Feisty Ladies
The ladies meet every Tuesday at 10:00 am in the first-floor Library to knit, crochet, pray, support each other and have fun together. Drop in any time! Questions? Please email Pat McGlade (