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

Little Lambs Nursery Care. West Side provides free nursery care during worship services so parents can participate without distraction. Little Lambs cares for newborns and toddlers up to four years of age from 8:30 a.m. to the end of the 10:00 a.m. service, normally around 11:30 a.m. The Nursery is located on 2nd floor of the Christian Education building. Ask an usher or other church staff to direct you to the correct location. Supervised by experienced caregivers. The supervisor is a certified teacher and a registration system is used, especially for first timers. This lets caregivers get to know parents and allows parents to alert caregivers to any issues, such as allergies.

Sunday School for Children and Youth (September through June)

10:00 a.m. Sunday School for children and youth Pre-K through 7th Grade: Offered every week. Children begin worship with parents in the sanctuary at 10:00 a.m. Following the Children’s Message, children are dismissed from worship to the Narthex, where they are escorted to their classrooms by their teachers according to age group. Sunday school runs through the end of service, typically between 11:15 and 11:30 a.m. Parents are asked to pick up children 5th grade and younger from their classrooms in the education building following the service.

Summer Sunday School

West Side also offers a Summer Sunday School for children up through 7th Grade using a two-room format during the summer months.  As during the regular school year, children begin worship with parents in the sanctuary at 10:00 a.m. Following the Children’s Message, children are dismissed from worship to be accompanied to Rooms 303 and 306.

Sunday School Curriculum

On September 10, West Side is launching an innovative new Sunday School curriculum called Orange. Why Orange? Because it combines the light of the church (yellow) with the heart of the family (red) to help lead children toward a lifelong faith in Christ (orange). Realizing that West Side has about 40 hours of potential influence with kids each year, and the average parent or guardian has about 3,000 hours of potential influence, we will be partnering with you, providing you with tangible, easy things you can do at home to reinforce what was talked about in Sunday School.

Here’s a preview 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.

Children’s Library

  • Books, magazines and more available on Sundays
  • Located near elevator on the 2nd floor
  • A perfect place to spend time with small children if your little one is restless during the service or you are waiting for another of your family to finish an activity

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. Please see the letter from Pastor Penny (below) to learn more about this great summer opportunity.

Click here to read Pastor Penny’s letter.

Click here for the Johnsonburg brochure.

FOCUS (Finding Ourselves in Christ through Unity and Service), the 8th grade Confirmation Class: 

8th Grade Confirmation (FOCUS) – FOCUS is a weekly commitment, running October 2, 2016 — May 21, 2017 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 6:45 pm – 7:45 pm at the Barn

If you’re in high school, join us on Sunday nights for fun, fellowship and faith exploration. If you’d like to come for dinner, join the Foundation worshiping community at 6:15 pm in the DePhillips Hall for a meal before youth group.


Middle School BARN:  Tuesday afternoons and evenings

If you’re in middle school, Tuesday is your youth day! Come hang out at the Barn after school from 3:00 pm-5:30 pm. Hang out with friends and work on homework too. Then stay for our regular Middle School BARN youth group meeting from 5:30 pm-6:30 pm. If you can’t come after school, no problem—join us just for the youth group meeting at 5:30 pm.


A modified schedule is run during summertime, with additional recreational opportunities and trips.

Safe-Space: A program where West Side middle and high school youth go to Paterson once a week during July and August to read to the young children in their city camp, called Safe-Space, a longtime tradition for West Side. The group meets Wednesdays at 12:15 and returns at 3:00 p.m.

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.

Young Adults Beyond High School

The church keeps in touch with all its young adults beyond high school age, whether they’re in college, the military, or living at home. Please help by supplying us with your email address; email Pastor Penny Hogan  or call 201-652-1966, ext. 102. College-bound youth receive care packages while they’re away at school in early November. West Side has more than 30 active college-age youth around the country and abroad. Confirmation for Youth Beyond High School who are older than FOCUS age (8th grade) and who are interested in joining West Side Presbyterian Church, are encouraged to contact Penny Hogan at the church. An individual program can be developed to substitute for the FOCUS program.


Click here to view our Middle School and High School Youth brochure for more information on our programs.

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. Click here for the Health Ministries brochure.  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!



Improve flexibility and reduce chronic pain! MELT meets Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in Pulsifer Chapel. MELT is a self-massage technique that will enhance daily life by improving your digestion, sleeping, and reducing stress. The class uses therapeutic small treatment balls and soft body rollers to rebalance your nervous system and rehydrate your connective tissue.  MELT can be used to reduce pain from chronic conditions such as carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, back pain, shoulder issues, hip and knee pain and more. Open to all ages/fitness levels. $30 ($20 for West Side members). Space is limited. Pre-registration required.  Contact Karel (201-264-6248) to register, or register online at

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

Please click here to view our Spiritual Growth brochure for more information about West Side’s small groups.

Weekday Groups:

Tuesdays with Marc, meets (surprise, surprise!) on Tuesdays at 7:30 a.m. in Pulsifer Chapel. Over the next few months, we’ll be journeying with Wrestling With Grace: A Spirituality for the Rough Edges of Everyday Life. It is a how-to manual about loving yourself, others, the world around you and God—especially when the going gets rough. Bob Morris, a personal friend of Marc’s, will nudge us toward new ways of looking at our own behavior and state of mind, showing us how to let God’s grace into daily life. We’ll explore how our frustrations and fears actually can be a doorway into grace.  Join us on Tuesday at 7:30-8:30 a.m. in the Chapel. Come as you are, prepared or not!  We’ll pray, read, and reflect together each week.  Please pick up books for $12 from Carol Walton in the church office.

Group Spiritual Direction: Groups facilitated by Rev. Penny Hogan and Mollie Ledowith. 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.

Food for the Soul: A spiritually based discussion group using DVDs from various thought leaders to help with living into our faith day-to-day. Members rotate leading the session and also preparing simple food to share–to nurture both body and soul! Two groups – Tuesday mornings from 9:30 to 11:15 and Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30. Contact: Shelagh Brooke(

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 1:00 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 1:00 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. For more information or to register, please call Carol Walton at 201-652-1966 ext. 106.


Sunday Groups for All Ages:

Throughout the program year there are both ongoing and limited session adult groups which meet on Sunday mornings, 9:00-9:50 a.m. (child care for preschool children and Sunday School for up to grade 5 provided); some limited opportunities are also available 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Times and locations are indicated, but please check the announcements and calendar for updates and changes.

  • Exploring Jesus’ Calling: Meets Sundays at 8:45 a.m. in the West Side Room. Using video programs and books chosen by the group, this weekly roundtable explores Jesus’ calling and challenges us to discover how God calls us. In particular, we spend time in getting back to the man, Jesus, and how his example can motivate our choices 2,000 years later. No preparation is necessary, and each week is stand-alone. All ages are welcome. Please join this conversation of exploration and enrichment. Coffee, Danishes and childcare are provided. Contact: Mark Babunovic ( and Jim Horton ( for more information.
  • Sunday Morning Prayer Circle: Sundays after 10:00 a.m. worship service, in the West Side Room. Join a group led by two facilitators each week which gathers for about ten minutes to pray for the concerns that were shared in worship that morning. Come as you are able. 
  • Everyday Spirituality Class
    Want to connect with friends at church? West Side’s new “Everyday Spirituality” class begins Sunday, January 31 and will run for 8 weeks. Come to one or ALL, no prep needed, no homework! Class will meet in the West Side Room from 8:45 am – 9:45 am with time for conversation with each other and with our faith! Andy Stanley’s Starting Point program will be our guide. Childcare is provided!
  • Centering Prayer is a form of Christian silent meditation that has been practiced for many years.  It is a form of “resting in God” and letting go of anxieties and fears–as well as any emotions that keep the Love of Christ from flowing through us. This class meets regularly at 9:25 a.m., ending at 9:50 in time for participants to gather upstairs for the 10 a.m.service.  Please direct any questions to Susan McBrayer at or Heidi Ahlborn at  We welcome you to join us as we celebrate the loving, compassionate, forgiving, non-judgemental and inclusive Spirit of God.

Seasonal Programs


Daily Devotional Emails

There’s an African proverb: “When you pray, move your feet.” It speaks to the deep,
inseparable connection between contemplation and action. This year, we’ll be journeying with Brian McLaren’s book We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation. The book, which includes three scripture passages for each chapter, serves as an introduction to the Bible and generous Christian faith, as well as a comprehensive orientation (or re-orientation) to Christian living in today’s world. Each Sunday, the sermon will be inspired by the theme from a chapter in the book, and the bulletin will include an insert to guide you as you live with the theme for the week. And each day (except Sundays), you’ll receive a daily devotional, written by Pastors Marc, Penny or Liz; Debbi; or our two Princeton Seminarians Erik and Jane. These devotions will include a prayer to guide you and a call to live out your faith that day. There will also be small group opportunities for those interested in conversing about the themes of the week. Books are available now in the church office for $10 apiece. Please email Carol Walton ( or stop by to pick one up. To be added to the daily devotional email list, please contact Carol Bialkowski (

On-Line Lenten Devotional – Each Lenten Season, Pastor Marc will be writing a daily devotion to enrich our Lenten Experience.  They will be posted on the church’s Facebook page (“like” the page to receive access to them). To sign up for a daily email of the devotionals, please email Carol Walton.

There will also be opportunities to learn about groups whose Lenten disciplines include fasting, centering prayer (Christian meditation), and/or taking part in our Cents-ability program.
Lenten Fasting Group: Join a group who will fast each Wednesday during Lent, donate money saved to fight hunger, and share their reflections with a virtual community.

Cents-Ability Program: In an effort to heighten awareness of hunger and highlight simple things all of us can do to help, members and families are asked to put spare change into their Cents-Ability container after a meal and to say a prayer together to end hunger and to help those who do not know where their next meal comes from. Change will be dedicated on Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017.




Men’s Groups

Third Thursday:

Join us the third Thursday evening of each month for Guy’s Night Out.  For more information, please contact Pastor Marc.

November 17th, 7:30 pm Arcola Country Club

December 15th, 7:30 pm The 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

Food for the Soul

A spiritually based discussion group using DVDs from various thought leaders to help with living into our faith day-to-day. Members rotate leading the session and also preparing simple food to share–to nurture both body and soul! Two groups – Tuesday mornings from 9:30 to 11:15 and Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30. Contact: Shelagh Brooke(

Annual Women’s Retreat

This year the retreat will once again be at Villa Pauline in Mendham, NJ (less than one-hour drive) on February 25 and 26, 2017. Contact: Alsa Tirgrath (

Feisty Ladies

Feisty Ladies Meets every Tuesday at 10:00 am in the Library. A leaderless group that gathers to knit, pray, support each other and have fun together. Contact: Brenda Roughgarden (