Arts & Entertainment

Press Releases

Newton Organist Celebrates Fifty Years of Service

Christ Church Newton Organist S. Gregory Shaffer is celebrating his 50th anniversary of service in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.

The organist who helps spearhead the heralded music program at Christ Episcopal Church in Newton is celebrating his fiftieth year of service in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.  With the exception of two brief periods during his life, S. Gregory Shaffer has spent his entire musical career in the Diocese, which encompasses the northern third of New Jersey. 

“The world so deeply needs to hear the Good News of God and I celebrate Greg’s 50 years of faithful work in bringing this Word to many generations in the Diocese of Newark through the strains of glorious music – a gift of love from his heart to ours,” comments The Right Reverend Mark Beckwith, Bishop of the Diocese of Newark. 


Shaffer knew from an early age that music had a special hold on him.  He started playing the piano at the age of five and was employed as a church accompanist at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in Oak Ridge by the age of eleven. 

Sign Up for E-News

“As a child, music was everything to me.  While my friends played baseball and water skied on Lake Mohawk, I was practicing the piano,” explains Shaffer, who besides childhood piano lessons and only one year of organ instruction, has never received a formal education in music.   Shaffer added professional musician to his resume when he was hired at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Mount Arlington as organist and choir director at the age of thirteen.  He remained there until he completed high school. 

Shaffer attended The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he embarked on a degree in Chemistry.  Upon the completion of his sophomore year, Shaffer’s father, the late Reverend Dr. Harold F. Shaffer, who was the Rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Sparta at the time, informed his son that the church had a job opening for an organist.  Shaffer filled in as the interim organist during his summer break and when the permanent position was offered, he decided to drop out of college and take the job.  He never returned to school. 

“By the time I was 20 and I was playing in Sparta, music was consuming all of my free time and was something I never wanted to give up,” notes Shaffer who supplemented his income by working as an accompanist for two northern New Jersey ballet schools.

Over the next eight years, Shaffer served as both the organist and choir director at St. Mary’s.  He made the move across Sussex County to Christ Episcopal Church Newton in 1981, when he was wooed away by Music Director Joe Mello. 

“Greg has been the indispensable backbone of our music program at Christ Church.  He is talented, creative and passionate about his art,” remarks Mello.  “I can’t think of anyone with whom I would rather work these last 36 years.”

Shaffer left briefly to serve as the organist and choir director at the Church of the Transfiguration in Towaco in 2002.  He returned to Christ Church in Newton in 2003 and has been there ever since. 

“I'm not aware of any other organist in the diocese with this length of tenure and am proud of my service and contribution to the various churches I have served.”

Shaffer, who has a full-time job as a contracts manager with a New Jersey electronics firm, dedicates at least ten hours per week to his work as a church organist.  In his spare time, he plays croquet competitively and founded the Roxbury Croquet Club in 1988.  Although he was once ranked 10th in the U.S., he now limits his croquet time to weekend play on his home court.    

With over 3,000 pieces in his repertoire, Shaffer is still challenged by performing. 

“I find it exhilarating.  I just love expressing myself through the music.”  Although he plays the piano flawlessly, Shaffer is partial to the organ because of its complex console. 

“What attracts me most is the versatility of the instrument.  I can get thousands of combinations of sounds out of the organ.  Here at Christ Church I have complete freedom to play whatever tempts me and can express it through whatever organ registration feels right.”  


“It is breathtaking to consider the countless lives he has touched with his extraordinary talent,” marvels the Reverend Robert Griner, Rector of Christ Church Newton.  “What a gift!”


Shaffer accompanies the Senior Choir at Christ Church during the Sunday service at 10:00 a.m.  The choir will also perform at the Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols on Sunday, December 17th, at 7:00 p.m.  For more information about the music program, the worship service, or any other program at Christ Church Newton, call 973-383-2245 or visit

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Rear End Collision After Two Mimosas Too Many

February 22, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – A car accident on Winona Parkway left two Sparta residents injured and another facing driving while intoxicated charges.  On February 18 around 7:49 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Steven Guido went to the scene of the accident along with Sgt. Schomp and Cpl. Antonello, police report.

Lisa Degraw, 55 had run into the back of Mark Iussig, 41 who was stopped at the red light ...

Sparta Police: Traffic Stop Yields Pile of Tickets and Active Warrants

SPARTA, NJ – A Newton woman, pulled over for a broken tail light on her black Kia ended up in custody.  On February 16 around 12:50 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Thomas Herd stopped Meagan Klein, 44, on Route 15, police report.

Herd also found the car’s registration was expired.  The car was not insured and Klein’s license was suspended.  The passenger, ...

First Hand Account: Shouts of Racial Slurs Bring Police to Sparta Theatre

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta police were called to the New Vision Sparta Theater on Sunday night because of a woman shouting slurs in a screening of Black Panther.

Former New Jersey Assembly candidate Michael Grace was in the theater when two people started yelling racial slurs including “look at these ‘n-word’” and “can you believe these ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, February 24, 7:00 PM

The Prudential Center, Newark

Sparta Education Foundation Night Out with the NJ ...

Giving Back Sports


Tue, February 27, 6:30 PM

Sparta United Methodist Church, Sparta

Girl Scout STEAM Program

Arts & Entertainment Education


Fri, March 2, 7:00 PM

Wallkill Valley Regional High School, Hamburg

The Drowsy Chaperone

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 3, 7:00 AM

First United Methodist Church, Newton

Newton Rotary Pancake Breakfast

Food & Drink


Sat, March 3, 7:00 PM

Wallkill Valley Regional High School, Hamburg

The Drowsy Chaperone

Arts & Entertainment

Paterson's Poet Laureate

February 13, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- The City of Paterson has given birth to famous athletes, business leaders, actors, and now, a poet laureate.

Born and raised in Paterson, Talena Lachelle Queen told TAPinto Paterson that she has been writing since she was five-years old, and, as she grew older, realized that when it came to pursuing studies and a career in writing, she “didn’t have a choice.” ...

How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

February 15, 2018

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating, leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The school shooting ...

Where Does YOUR School District Rank in Safety?

Family safety remains paramount when it comes to choosing a new home and community in New Jersey, so Team Nest Builder wants to help you know where top local school districts rank., which specializes in all different types of consumer rankings, provided a list of the safest school districts in the United States and New Jersey. Below find a list of the 200 safest school ...

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling in NJ

Team Nest Builder knows that whether you are buying or selling a New Jersey home it can be quite the adventure, which is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal. But in this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ...

Does Marriage or Mortgage Come First?

According to the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, married couples once again dominated the first-time homebuyer statistics in 2017 at 57% of all buyers. Team Nest Builder knows it's no surprise that having two incomes to save for down payments and contribute to monthly housing costs makes buying a home more ...

Height during childhood associated with increased stroke risk in adulthood

Researchers in Denmark studied the health records of more than 300,000 people born between 1930 and 1989 and found that those who were shorter than average height between ages 7 and 13 had a greater risk of stroke as adults. The results of this study were published in the February 15, 2018 issue of the journal Stroke.


Journal ...

Very Hot Tea Increases Cancer Risk

Researchers in China studying the consumption of “burning” hot tea, alcohol, and smoking habits of greater than 450,000 people ages 30 –79 for more than nine years found a five time greater risk of esophageal cancer in those who engaged in all three of the behaviors and a two time greater risk in those who either smoked or drank alcohol and consumed burning hot tea as compared ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link:

Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders February 14 2018 Meeting Video

NEWTON, NJ - Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders February 14 2018 Meeting Video 


Sparta UMC Thrift Shop Holds Bag Sale

February 22, 2018

The Thrift Shop of the Sparta United Methodist Church, 71 Sparta Avenue, is holding a bag sale from Wednesday, MARCH 14TH through Saturday, MARCH 17TH.  Most items in the shop that can fit in a grocery bag can be purchased for $5 per bag. Shop Hours:  Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  All proceeds support local, national, and global ...