Meet the NJ Missional Structures Working Group

While the New Jersey Missional Structures (NJMS) working group is convened and facilitated by the Synod of the Northeast, the group’s members were appointed through the moderators of each of the seven NJ presbyteries. This is an incredible group of talented, creative, and visionary people, and we are so grateful for their work to imagine a new approach to presbytery life!

Working Group Members

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Linwood Bagby is a Ruling Elder of Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, NJ where he preaches monthly, teaches Sunday school, and serves on Session. He is also an active member in the Presbytery of Elizabeth, and has served as moderator (2012) and chair of the Cabinet (2014-2017). Linwood is employed as a Speech & Language Specialist with the Elizabeth Public Schools Board of Education, and fills much of his remaining time with Restore Ministries, which he founded as a safe haven for kids and teens in 1994 at Second. His hobbies are reading fantasy and mystery novels, playing his acoustic guitar, cooking and riding his bike.



New Brunswick
Bio coming soon!

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Diane Ford is a Teaching Elder member of the Presbytery of Monmouth where she serves as the pastor of the Lincroft Presbyterian Church. In addition to her congregation, she also serves the presbytery as a member of the Mission Counsel, and Worship & Mission Working Group.

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Leah Fowler is the pastor at The Presbyterian Church in Leonia, a multicultural congregation in the Palisades Presbytery. Her church hosts a strong ministry with a community-based English Conversation Program, which holds 8 classes a week taught by volunteers, as well as a shelter for survivors of domestic violence, housed in the former church parsonage. At the presbytery level, she serves on the Anti-Racism Task Force of the Presbytery of Palisades. Leah is married to her wife Chris, and together they have a 7-year old daughter, Kai. Leah's hobbies include skating, global travel, going to the gym, and playing with her family (including dog Lucy).

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New Brunswick
Jim Huang is currently in his fifth year of service as the Senior Pastor of the Taiwanese/American Fellowship Presbyterian Church in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Jim is an active member of the New Brunswick Presbytery, and has served in a number of leadership positions including a term as the Moderator in 2017.

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Amy Lawrence serves the community of Sussex, NJ alongside the members of the First Presbyterian Church of Sussex, NJ (as their pastor). She is a Church Innovations-Missional Practices trained workshop leader. When Amy is not encouraging people to grow in their faith, she is on the water rowing or exploring local coffee shops.

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Alison Paden is currently a Teaching Elder at First Presbyterian Church of Mendham (Hilltop). She serves as co-moderator of Committee on Ministry and works closely with many pastors in the Presbytery of Newton, where she values the strong connections she has made.

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West Jersey
Don Painter has been the solo pastor of the Logan Memorial Presbyterian Church in Audubon NJ (just outside Camden) for the past 18 years. He is a former Moderator of the Presbytery of West Jersey and currently serves on their Council and Nominating Committee.

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Doris Peterson, a Commissioned Ruling Elder (CRE), serves as the Pastor/Moderator of the Elizabeth Avenue-Weequahic Presbyterian Church in Newark, New Jersey. She is a member of the Presbytery of Newark and serves as the Moderator of the Credentialing Committee.

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Laura Phillips is a ruling elder at the Presbyterian Church of Upper Montclair and has served the Presbytery of Newark in a variety of roles, including Moderator, commissioner to the 220th General Assembly, and moderator of the Vision Accountability Board. Laura also loves her work in education for students in Newark and Camden with KIPP New Jersey.



Andrew (Andy) Smith is the pastor of Grace United Presbyterian Church in Wayne, NJ. A member of the Presbytery of the Palisades, Andy serves on the presbytery's Committee on Ministry, Personnel Committee, and Ad-Hoc Anti-Racism Team. Andy is married to Alicia, and together they have twin ten-year-old daughters and a two-and-a-half-year-old son. He's also an ultra-runner with an approximately 1150 day running streak.



West Jersey
Bio coming soon!


Working Group Advisors


West Jersey
Bio coming soon!
Debby is serving the NJ Missional Structures Working Group as a coach to the process.



Bio coming soon!
Jeanne is serving the NJ Missional Structures Working Group as a coach to the process.

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After 27 years as Pastor of the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church and 10 as Stated Clerk of Monmouth Presbytery, the Rev. Dr. Carl Wilton is now serving as Pastor of the Lamington Presbyterian Church in Bedminster. The author of Principles of Presbyterian Polity (Westminster John Knox Press), he is an adjunct professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, teaching courses in Presbyterian Polity and Worship. Carl is serving as the polity and order advisor to the NJ Missional Structures Working Group.