In Memory of Tom Warner 1952-2013

January 16, 2014

When someone we love dies many people say it feels like time slows down. The clock still moves at a regular pace but our perception of time slows. Somehow we feel like we need to take a deeper, longer breath because the person we have known and loved can’t. Perhaps that is as it should be.

Life is a precious gift…a gift we take for granted most of our waking hours. And (strangely) it is precisely when the gift is removed…that we appreciate it most. New Years is a time we make resolutions about how the year ahead will be different; better. This is a good, Godly impulse. We long for better because God put it in our hearts to want better… because this is not our home. (If we are satisfied with war and corruption… selfishness and deceit…then there is something wrong with us!)

God made us for something better: and we long for it. After praying with Tom at bedside this past Monday, I went back to the church and looked for a drawing from Tom I used to have on a bulletin board in my office. It was one of several Tom gave to me over the years of simple, bright, colored flowers in a vase.

I wasn’t able to find it…at some point I will, and I will smile when I do. But (at the moment) like the picture, Tom is gone.  At least temporarily. Like the picture, I will see Tom again-I just don’t know when.

But in the meantime, I am left with some things to hold on to. First, is the memory of the gift of Tom, taking me up to his room on Harding Ave. in Oaklyn… Showing me all his drawing supplies…and giving me (from the heart) one of his masterpieces. There are some gifts you just don’t forget. Tom gave me one of them. Second, Tom helped me to restore 2 words to my vocabulary. Simple, and beauty. (Now we all know that Tom could be stubborn when he wanted to… although probably a lot less stubborn than most of us… We just cover it up better!)

But the words I will take with me from Tom are simple and beauty. Down Syndrome left Tom to live out a life that was, in some ways, more simple than the rest of ours. Yet over the years I have come to see the word simple, as my friend. The rest of us make things too complicated. Life is better lived when simple. We try to pack more and more into our lives…thinking that will make our lives “fuller” but it doesn’t.

Simple is a good word.

A gift from Tom.

Another word Tom retuned to my lexicon: beauty.

There is beauty all around us. In people, in nature, in circumstances, in unlikely packages.

There are flowers if we take time to admire them. Beauty is not something we can buy at a cosmetic counter or in a clothing boutique… it is a characteristic of the spirit. Tom was beautiful in his own unique way.

Simple. Beauty. Today, I stand before you a changed man because I knew Tom Warner. And as I more forward and live out the rest of my life…it is my hope that I will:

Live more simply and…

Look for more beauty.

Being an artist myself, I plan to do more painting and drawing. And I will smile and thank God for the gift of Tom, every time I do.

Climbing Higher

October 3, 2013

On the last weekend of September, over 700 people from American Baptist congregations of all shapes, sizes and ethnic backgrounds gathered for the 183rd time here in New Jersey.  We celebrated, praised, prayed, shared and challenged each other to continue our mission to share God’s love.  I am proud to be a part of this extraordinary group of people who are continuing the work of Jesus in this region and am excited to share a few quick highlights from that meeting with you.


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Looking Up

August 16, 2013

Last night, about 11pm, our family piled into the car in search of a shower….the Perseid Meteor Shower. We drove out Route 70, unsure if we should even proceed.  Was it too cloudy? Should we even bother?  We stopped at the Ponzio’s parking lot to check.  Was it all light pollution or clouds as well?  Hard to tell.  Seeing three dim stars, we decided to press on. We drove past Medford and turned off on a side road near the Lebanon State Forest.  Stopping along the side of a road nex...

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$100 Brownies?

June 17, 2013
God works in mysterious ways.

 This past Saturday, we, as a church, participated in the town-wide yard sale in Oaklyn.  As a part of that venture, our youth had a bake sale to help support the young adults who are going on the mission/service week in Appalachia in July. During the course of the day, someone came up to the table, a stranger to us, and bought $6 worth of baked goods for $100!  It all happened so fast.  It was almost as if the person “vanished”.  What a blessing!!!!!


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A Prayer . . .

April 22, 2013

Almighty and all caring God, this week, in the light of bombings and manhunts and explosions….in the midst of governmental gridlock and gun violence….there were good things that happened….so many good things…..

Weddings, caring people, heroic citizens, blooming flowers, springtime, hope.

Thank you for never leaving.

Help us to see you in the midst of darkness.

Recalibrate our vision.  Remove the cataracts of negativity from our eyes and hearts.

Correct our sight so that we can see that ...

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A Holy Week

March 24, 2013
Holy week begins with a Palm Sunday parade and takes us through the drama of Jesus’s last week in Jerusalem.  It is sometimes called “Passion Week” because it was the intense, driving and overwhelmingly passionate love of Jesus that ultimately brought the Kingdom of God into being on the cross.  We will explore this theme of love at our Maundy Thursday Communion and foot-washing service and at our Good Friday service (both at 7pm) this week.  One of the harder lessons that we have...
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A Solemn Anniversary

March 19, 2013
On March 19, 2003, ten years ago, the U.S. began the Iraq war.  Although no WMD’s were found, thousands of soldiers died, tens of thousands of civilians were killed and billions of dollars were spent.  Let us pray for all whose lives have been torn apart by war and all who are still paying the price for it….
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The Story behind Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2013

I thought some of you would find this bit of information I found about Valentine’s Day enlightening…..

 “ A Christian priest in Rome, Valentine was known for assisting Christians persecuted under Claudius II.  After being caught marrying Christian couples and helping Christians escape persecution, Valentine was arrested and imprisoned.  Although Claudius originally like Valentine, he was condemned to death when he tried to convert the emperor.  Valentine was beaten with stones, clu...

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Pick 6: A strategy for spiritual growth in 2013

January 4, 2013

Many Christians do not grow in their faith because they don’t have a strategy… a plan for growth. We make elaborate plans to build decks or open a home business, but when it comes to spiritual growth…well….too many of us just assume “it will happen”. It won’t. As the saying goes “if you fail to plan you are planning to fail.”

As we begin the new year, I have encouraged our church family to participate in a strategy called “Pick Six”….to pick from three to six s...

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Looking Back with Praise & Ahead with Excitement

October 30, 2012
Any organization worth its salt should, on a regular basis, take inventory of itself.  This includes our church.  As I look back over the last 5 years, we have, by God’s grace, made incredible strides in reaching our community with the practical love of Jesus.  Handicap accessibility, a growing children’s and youth ministry, all during one of the worst economic periods in recent memory…and with no debt!  That has to be God!  Celebrate with me as we recount the wonderful things Go...
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Meet Our Sr. Pastor

Rev. Eric Hoheisel Rev. Eric Hoheisel is the Pastor of the Oaklyn Baptist Church in Oaklyn, NJ, and is a past moderator of the Greater Delaware Valley Association of the American Baptist Churches of NJ. Previously he served as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Jamestown, Ohio, and as an Interim Pastor at Washington Community Fellowship, Washington D.C. Pastor Hoheisel is a 1995 graduate of Eastern Baptist Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary) and a 1984 graduate of Wittenberg University (Ohio). Prior to his service as Pastor, Rev. Hoheisel served as Executive Director of Love & Action, a Christian ministry to men, women and children with HIV/AIDS (1990-1992). There he developed and conducted educational seminars and workshops for churches and helped coordinate a national network of like-minded ministries. From 1987-1990 he worked in Washington D.C. doing urban mission work through Youth with a Mission. At the time he also served on a steering committee for the Congressional Staff Fellowship. Prior to entering ministry, Eric was a Senior Consultant at Booz, Allen & Hamilton in the area of Telecommunications Policy. Pastor Hoheisel has two sons, Will and Luke. His wife, Jennifer, is a Professor of Philosophy at Camden County College. Rev. Hoheisel has a special heart for prayer and spiritual formation issues. He also greatly enjoys finding the connections between spirituality and the fine arts. Pastor Eric conducts a five session workshop on prayer. For more information on this workshop, please contact the church office.