Articles & Media Coverage

GC2015 Blog

It is difficult to describe the emotions of this morning, on top of all that has transpired in this joyous week. I, along with the entire deputation from Newark, participated in the Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence procession. Our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, was one of the key leaders of this event, working as part of Bishops United Against Gun Violence, and it was one of the most meaningful moments of this General Convention (and that is saying something, to be sure).

General Convention 2015 in the News

[Deseret News] A prayerful procession led by some 60 Episcopalian bishops traveled through downtown Salt Lake City on Sunday morning calling for an end to the "unholy trinity" of poverty, racism and gun violence.

General Convention 2015 in the News

[Deseret News] The Episcopal Church has elected its first black presiding bishop and primate.

General Convention 2015 in the News

Newark Lay Deputy Bert Jones is quoted in this article.

[Associated Press] The Episcopal Church elected its first African-American presiding bishop, choosing Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina during the denomination's national assembly Saturday.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Michael Curry, Bishop of North Carolina, was overwhelmingly elected as the next Presiding Bishop on the first ballot by the House of Bishops today. It was a great moment, filled with hope and solidarity, which was immediately affirmed by the House of Deputies.

GC2015 Blog

Today is the day our next presiding bishop is elected. At our morning media briefing, Episcopal Church Public Affairs Officer Neva Rae Fox told us, “This is not a day you want to go to the beach. This is a day you want to stay close.”

GC2015 Blog

Today, amid the morning rush between meetings, worship, and the rest, phones started buzzing with texts and calls about the decision of the Supreme Court to recognize marriage equality as the law of the land. And as the day went on, news of a rally by Utah Pride in one of the local parks started filtering through the crowd. Integrity, the LGBT advocacy group of The Episcopal Church, were passing around buttons and making signs. The rally was to start at 6pm, during the afternoon legislative session.

GC2015 Blog

Perhaps it was because a dear friend and parishioner died yesterday. Or maybe it was because this is my tenth General Convention. But when we began our legislative session this morning with a reading of the necrology I found myself weeping.

General Convention 2015 in the News

[The Salt Lake Tribune] The Episcopal Church's top legislative body is reviewing its policies on alcohol and addiction as part of a churchwide soul-searching over a Maryland assistant bishop charged with drunken driving while texting and killing a bicyclist.

GC2015 Blog

I have attended several legislative sessions at the last General Convention in Indianapolis, but this was the first time I ever stood to speak. The hearing was before the Committee on Social Justice and International policy, which was hearing testimony on resolutions A052 and C012. It was standing room only.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, in the first of her several valedictories at this General Convention, was passionate and compelling. As a church, she said, we are finding our edgy DNA. We are discovering God working in places we failed to look at before. And that we need a "next generation operations manual."

GC2015 Blog

While the Bishop and Deputies were attending their respective orientations this morning, I took my camera to Temple Square, the 10-acre complex owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, just one block from the convention center.

GC2015 Blog

Today at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal church a joint session of Deputies and Bishops got a firsthand introduction to the four candidates who are standing for election for Presiding Bishop. The man (and all four candidates are men) who is elected will serve for nine years or until they reach age 72.

GC2015 Blog

Today was the day of orientation as an alternate deputy. To me today was the beginning of the diligence that goes into the governance of the Episcopal Church. I am attentive and ready to work with the other deputies as we embark on the journey that God has called us to while at the 78th General Convention.

GC2015 Blog

The tradition at General Convention is to decorate the stanchion (the pole that indicates your diocese) in some way that represents your location. Our deputation racked our brains trying to figure out what we are going to use to say "Newark is here!!!" And behold... our fabulous "Bridgegate" created by Cynthia Black.

GC2015 Blog

This morning was a joint session of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, and it was the first time our entire deputation was together. We heard first from the Presding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who along with the House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennnings, received a standing ovation before and after the speech.

General Convention 2015 in the News

[The Salt Lake Tribune] In 2006, Nevada's Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was the first woman ever elected to preside over the Episcopal Church. This is her third and last Triennial General Convention, the one that will end her nine-year tenure as head of the 2.5 million-member church.

General Convention 2015 in the News

[Deseret News] As the Episcopal Church embarks on its 78th General Convention this week, church leaders are intently focused on healing the world, the nation and the church itself.

GC2015 Blog

The Diocese of Newark contingent has been arriving in Salt Lake City yesterday and today for the 78th General Convention. Today we've been getting registered, finding our way around the convention complex as well as downtown Salt Lake CIty, and generally preparing for the 10 days ahead.

GC2015 Blog

Over the past few days, members of the Diocese of Newark contingent to the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church have been arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah (look out Salt Lake!!!). This initial day has deputies registering for credentials, and to receive the iPad containing the Virtual Binder (see the image).

General Convention 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] As bishops and deputies prepare to gather for the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society has launched an online Media Hub to make the Convention’s business accessible remotely at no fee. The Media Hub is available here.

General Convention 2015 in the News

[Deseret News] The effort started with four Episcopal bishops who wanted to focus the attention of their church and the broader public on the issue of gun violence.

From the Bishop

Dear members of the Diocese of Newark,

Like many of us, my spirit is shaken and my heart is leaden in the aftermath of the slaughter of nine lives at historic Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When mental illness (which seems to be the case here), fueled by racism (which most certainly is the case), joins together with the possession of guns, the result is a toxic combination that inevitably produces tragedy.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Early in the morning on Wednesday, June 17, I will offer blessings to commuters at Penn Station in Newark. At midday, I will do the same for the guests who come for lunch at the soup kitchen next door to our office. I will have a sign – “Blessings for summer.” I have developed a rhythm of public blessings – on Ash Wednesday, before summer, on September 11 and just before the Thanksgiving holiday. I offer the blessing because it is an act of joining God in the neighborhood; and because the more I offer these blessings, the more I realize that people want – and need, to be blessed.

Feature

Beginning July 1 the Rev. Joseph Harmon, currently full-time Rector of Christ Church, East Orange, will divide his time between Christ Church and the nearby Church of the Epiphany in Orange where he will serve as Priest-in-Charge. The agreement, signed in May, extends for two years. Both churches are located on the same street and are only about three quarters of a mile apart, but the close proximity and the obvious budgetary advantages of sharing a clergy person account for only part of the story. More significant is the process that resulted in the decision to share a priest and the exciting benefits both churches expect to realize in addition to the cost savings.

Feature

Since their election at the Annual Diocesan Convention in January 2014, members of the Diocese of Newark's deputation have been preparing for the 78th General Convention, taking place June 23-July 3 in Salt Lake City. Highlights will be the election of the next Presiding Bishop, and the reports of the task forces established by the 2012 General Convention for Reimagining the Episcopal Church and on the Study of Marriage. Here, the deputies and first alternates share in their own words their responsibilities and expectations for this General Convention.

"Geeks for God" Blog

The Episcopal Church has held 77 General Conventions since 1785. Until the 20th century they were relatively remote events, of little interest except to bishops, elected deputies, lobbyists and convention junkies. News of the proceedings may have been covered by newspaper dispatches; official journals were printed and distributed months after the event.

General Convention 2015

Our diocese will send 11 young people – nine youth and two young adults – to General Convention, accompanied by two chaperones. Each participant is involved in his or her home congregation, and about half are active in diocesan youth ministry as well. While at General Convention they will attend legislative hearings in the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, participate in committee hearings and worship, meet other church leaders and observe our church’s polity.

General Convention 2015

You are invited to add your prayers in words and images to The Prayers of the People at General Convention, via a social media campaign by the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) under the hashtag #prayersof.

Senior Ministries

In Being Mortal, Atul Gawande tells us that a graph of the human population used to look like a triangle, with the young at the very bottom and the elderly at the small tip top. The graph has changed. Now the graph looks like a shoe box, with as many elderly at the top as youth at the bottom.

Associated Organizations

North Porch Women & Infants’ Centers has begun providing critical supplies of diapers and formula to babies and toddlers in Morristown, after opening a satellite center at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

Photo Gallery

On May 31, 2015, 64 members of the diocese were honored with the David P. Hegg II Lifetime Achievement Award at the 19th annual Senior Ministries Evensong, held at St. Peter's Church in Morristown with the Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith, Bishop of Newark, officiating.

In the News

This piece was published as an op-ed in the Star-Ledger on May 30, 2015.

This Monday, the N.J. Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee will hear bill 4218, legislation that would require domestic abusers to turn in their guns. This is just one of two critical pieces of public safety legislation currently before our state legislature. The other is Senate bill 2785/Assembly bill 4348, which fixes a dangerous gap in our state's gun background checks law.

Church News

Washington Elementary School’s Seventh Annual ‘Souper Bowl’ Food Drive was a lesson in compassion as the entire study body formed a human chain to deliver their food to the Holy Trinity-West Orange Food Pantry across the street on May 22.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

I don’t know Tom Erhrich, but I know a bit of his work. He’s an Episcopal priest whose ministry is that of a commentator and writer. In this piece published by Religion News Service on May 19, he says some hard, acerbic and important things about Christian churches in general. His comments are, no doubt, a response to the recently issued Pew report, which has made some data-backed observations about the decline of church membership – and the growth of the “nones” (people who claim no religious affiliation).

"Geeks for God" Blog

We have all been there when someone says “I heard about this new technology I think our church should use….” In our present world, a church has to have a website, an email account and an office computer. What else should you add? Well, it depends.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

Thanks to all of those in our diocese who participated in the Alleluia Fund for Outreach Easter season celebration. It’s a large group of us – the number of donors and total donations are double that of last year at this time. And the celebration was expansive. In addition to financial gifts, you supported our partners’ work with advocacy and volunteerism and shared our stories.

Senior Ministries

Last year Richard Eisenberg, writing in Forbes Magazine, reported that 64% of all adult Americans do NOT have a will. He writes, “Incredibly 51% of Americans age 55 to 64 do not have wills…. Worse, 62% of those age 45 to 54 – and 67% of women that age haven’t drafted wills.”

In the News

[The Montclair Times] When the Rev. C. Melissa Hall became interim rector at St. James Episcopal Church in early 2014, she was surprised to discover the church had no plans for a special Memorial Day service. But her discovery of an old flag piqued her interest and encouraged her to conduct a little research. "I found it behind a couch, and I said, 'What is this?'" she recalled. "It's bordered in red. I believe there are 91 blue stars in the middle on a beige background, and across the top there are seven gold stars."

In the News

The Rev. Ellen Kohn-Perry is quoted in this article.

[The Star-Ledger] Horses can be healers in many different ways.

In the News

[Essex News Daily] Hispanic entrepreneurs have a new resource to help them establish and maintain successful businesses in West Orange.

The West Orange Hispanic Foundation was created by Deputy Mayor Rodolfo Rodriguez and downtown business owner Ysabel Strowe shortly after Rodriguez’s position appointment in February for the purpose of helping township Latinos learn how to set up a local business and assimilate into the community. The group, which the deputy mayor said now has approximately 100 members, currently meets once each month at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, though it plans to eventually expand to every other week. Anyone is welcome to join.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

A friend of mine recently told me an ancient story about a rabbi who was good and faithful – and had found special favor with God. God approached the rabbi and asked the holy man what God could do for him. After offering his gratitude, the rabbi answered – with characteristic humility, “Help me make a difference in the world.”

"Geeks for God" Blog

Last Saturday morning the diocesan Technology Committee held a Church Communications Workshop at Grace Church in Madison. A small but highly motivated group of 11 people from nine congregations attended. The basic premise of the workshop was to give church communicators a chance to sit with the Technology Committee and “pick our brains” – and so they did, on topics such as websites, social media, e-newsletters and electronic giving. The attendees appreciated the personalized attention – there were six workshop presenters working with the 11 of them – as well as the chance to connect with other church communicators facing similar challenges.

In one of the breakout sessions on social media, an idea emerged that I wanted to recommend to all church communicators: use Throwback Thursday to share your church’s history and story on social media.

In the News

[Daily Record] Sensei Ray Cicetti of The Empty Bowl Zen Community and the Rev. Cynthia Black of Church of the Redeemer led members of the community in a brief meditation and raising of prayer flags on Tuesday to call attention to the plight of the people of Nepal following the devastating earthquakes.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

All Saints’ Parish in Hoboken created the All Saints Community Service and Development Corporation in 1995 to help meet the social and economic needs of children and families. Our mission is to equip children and families with the tools not only to survive, but also to overcome the many barriers they face. We believe that all people deserve a fair chance at creating a fulfilling life based on self-esteem, self-reliance, personal accountability and respect for others.

Feature

On Sunday, May 31, Senior Ministries of the Diocese of Newark will present the David P. Hegg II Lifetime Achievement awards at a 4 p.m. evensong service at St. Peter’s, Morristown, following a 3 p.m. reception. Diocese of Newark seniors are recognized annually at this Senior Ministries evensong for their many significant contributions of time and talent to an Episcopal church or diocese. The awards are named in memory of a man who was a tireless advocate and innovator in matters of retirement and aging.

Feature

This article was originally published by the Episcopal Church Foundation as part of the Vestry Papers issue on Facing Leadership Challenges (May 2015).

This is an exciting time in the life of the church. It is a time of hope and promise, of new life, yet it is also a challenging and frightening time to many of us. As leaders, we are charged with leading in this time of transition from the “way it has always been” into, well, we have no idea. But, here’s the thing: In the messiness and chaos of our lives and in the life of the Church, and even when things are unraveling in this transition, the Spirit of God is at work. Where is the Spirit of God at work? Everywhere. And if that is true, the Spirit of God is not only at work among the people in our church community but among the people in our neighborhoods – in the places where we work, play, study, and live.

Church News

On Sunday, May 3, members of Christ Church, Teaneck biked and hiked during Family Promise of Bergen County's annual fundraising event. Christ Church's team participated by biking a 15 mile course, or walking 3 miles for this worthy cause.

In the News

[Northern Valley Suburbanite] The city's Health Department aims to continue its efforts in proclaiming Englewood as one of New Jersey's "Healthy Towns" by offering a new walking program that connects residents with local leaders.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

Jeannette has a story that could have had many tragic endings: drugs, depression, homelessness and tragic loss. But, to quote a popular song, Jeannette wasn't “going out like that.” She had a desire for more. The main reason for her fighting spirit was that she had a teenage daughter who needed her to keep it together.

"Geeks for God" Blog

I love publishing feature articles sharing the good stories of what’s happening around our diocese, and judging from website traffic, people love reading them. That’s why I was excited when I attended the annual Episcopal Communicators Conference earlier this month and one of the workshops was Turning facts into stories: Feature writing for writers and editors, presented by Summerlee Walter of the Diocese of North Carolina. She did such a good job breaking down the process of feature article writing that I want to share my notes with you, in the hope that some of you may be inspired to submit your own feature articles about some of the exciting things happening in your church.

In the News

[Morristown Green] It was the Lord’s Prayer… but with an updated introduction:

“God, our mother and father ….”

And there were a few other little changes in Saturday’s Catholic Mass in Morristown.

For starters, the priests were women.

Which is why the service was celebrated in the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, not a Catholic sanctuary.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

I don’t want to look. I don’t want to look at the images coming from Nepal, where I spent time two years ago while on sabbatical. I don’t want to see the chilling pictures of landslides, toppled buildings and avalanches that have taken thousands of lives in and around Kathmandu.

And I don’t want to look at the footage of burning buildings in Baltimore, and close-ups pictures of angry young people venting their frustration in such destructive ways.

Church News

The Second Annual NJ Royal School of Church Music America Choral Festival was held at Christ Church in East Orange on Saturday, April 25, 2015. More than 30 children from around New Jersey, as well as from New York City, participated.

Feature

Kenneth (Ken) Boccino is scheduled to be ordained to the Vocational Diaconate at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May, 16, 2015 at St. Peter’s Church in Morristown. All are welcome to attend.

Senior Ministries

Three years ago, my husband, Ray, who was 73 at the time, had three surgeries in eight weeks over the summer. One surgery was planned, and the other two were not. To say that I learned a lot would be a gross understatement. I decided to make a list of everything I learned, in case my husband or any other loved one was ever in and out of two hospitals, two Intensive Care Units, two Emergency Rooms and rehab again.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

About 150 of us from about a dozen churches spent much of Good Friday on the streets of Jersey City. We honored Jesus by observing the fourteen Stations of the Cross; and we also honored fourteen Jersey City residents whose lives were either taken or dramatically altered through gun violence.

Feature

Northern New Jersey and Monrovia, Liberia are 4,500 miles apart, but a Lenten initiative undertaken by the eleven congregations that comprise District 9 of the Diocese of Newark brought young Episcopalians from both parts of world into an amazing new relationship.

"Geeks for God" Blog

A congregation seeking to build its first website or to upgrade an existing one has a wide range of choices. There is traditional HTML with editors such as Dreamweaver and Visual Studio, in-the-cloud platforms like Weebly and Google, and the now-popular “open source” applications.

Church News

St James', Upper Montclair hosted a Holocaust survivor; Trinity, Cliffside Park hosted their Muslim neighbors.  The Sunday School kids at St. Peter’s, Livingston created Lenten prayer stations; St. Alban's, Oakland/Franklin Lakes gave out "Palm crosses to go." These are just some of the stories and images shared by our congregations of events and observances both ancient and new that took place during Lent, Holy Week and Easter 2015.

Senior Ministries

“We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we are happy because we laugh.” – William James

Over the last 30 years, hundreds of researchers have studied the health benefits of humor and laughter for healthy and ill adults, children, teens and older adults. These studies have found that there are many physical, mental, and social benefits of laughter. Studies have also shown that we laugh less as we age, with pre-school children laughing up to 400 times a day, adults laughing on average about 17 times a day, and older adults laughing even less.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

Marty Fleisher has been a regular participant at the Senior Resource Center in Chester for the past five years.

In the News

[Chatham Courier] Back in December, middle school students at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church came up with a new way to give Christmas gifts.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Easter is a pure gift. We are given fifty days – longer than Lent – to be transformed by the new life that Easter brings.

One of the ways that individuals and congregations throughout our diocese celebrate and share the abundance of Easter is with gifts to the Alleluia Fund for Outreach. This fund supports programs providing practical, hands-on support to those most vulnerable in our diocese and internationally, and sponsored by our communities of faith or their members.

Church News

Members of the Church of the Redeemer observed Good Friday by processing through Morristown behind a large wooden cross and stopping to remember and hear about people who are often forgotten.

In the News

On Good Friday, April 3, 2015, well over 100 people from more than a than a dozen congregations, including Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Protestants and Roman Catholics performed the Stations of the Cross by visiting 14 sites of violent incidents in Jersey City over the last year.

Coverage includes:

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

It was still dark when Mary went to the tomb, as recorded in this year’s Easter Gospel. In truth, for Mary Magdalene, it had been dark since Friday when Jesus died on Calvary hill. When Jesus gave up his last breath, Mary’s hope died, and darkness took over.

Announcement

Our diocese distributed over $1,000,000 in outreach, congregational support, and scholarships in 2014. This financial support of God’s work in our neighborhoods and communities is made possible by donations from individuals and congregations, and by church pledges. Thank you for your generosity and commitment!

Feature

After a grueling struggle this Lent – among the saints AND many of the staff at Episcopal House – the battle is finally underway to determine which saint will win the Golden Halo in that unique Lenten event known as Lent Madness. The two finalists among the saints are Francis of Assisi and Brigid of Kildare, and at 8 a.m. on Maundy Thursday, April 2, the victor will be crowned.

In the News

[The Jersey Journal] More than a dozen congregations, representing Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Protestants and Roman Catholics [will] perform the Stations of the Cross on April 3, Good Friday, by visiting 14 sites of violent incidents in Jersey City over the past 12 months.

In the News

[The Daily Record] A new chapter of Emotions Anonymous, a 12-step program for people struggling with emotional difficulties, is meeting Friday nights at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Maple Avenue.

Sermon

Diocesan Chancellor Diane Sammons, Esq. gave this sermon at her home parish, St. George's in Maplewood, on March 22, 2015.

Good Morning. It is a privilege and an honor to be invited by the Absalom Jones Committee for Black History and Culture to speak to you today and offer some thoughts about the Voting Rights Act.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

"Encountering the other" was the theme of our just-concluded House of Bishops meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in Western North Carolina. We looked at the "other" through the lens of race, culture, Native American history and interfaith ministry – through a series of meditations offered by various bishops. Table discussions on these issues followed. They were deep and very personal, and inspired action. I was invited to give the meditation on interfaith ministry, and once I was able to work through various levels of anxiety, I was grateful for it, because it gave me the opportunity to reflect on how interfaith relationships, which have been a thread throughout my life, have deepened my relationship with the living Christ.

"Geeks for God" Blog

You have entered the electronic age! You send out your newsletter as e-news using Constant Contact or Mail Chimp or some other service and it looks great. But does it tell your story? Has it become just a page of bulletin announcements about when the next meetings will be held and who is serving on Sunday?

Senior Ministries

July 2010 marked the second anniversary of my retirement from a forty year career in social services. It also marked the beginning of the most challenging and difficult chapter of my life.

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

The Hispanic population of the U.S. is projected to grow to more than 130 million by 2050, said the Rev. Rosa Brown, chair of the Diocese of Newark's Commission on Hispanic/Latino Ministry, in the Commission's report to the 141st Annual Diocesan Convention. And the Commission is "active and working in the diocese," she said as she outlined the group's activities over the past year and its plans for the future.

"Geeks for God" Blog

Keeping a church website up to date is a lot of work, and keeping your church's social media in sync with your website posts can be a tedious chore. I've recently started using a free web-based service that simplifies sharing new website content to the diocesan social media: IFTTT.com.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Over and over again, Jesus went to the edge. Immediately after his baptism, he was driven to the edge – into the wilderness, where he spent forty days and nights. While at the edge, he rediscovered the center – which for him was God.

Senior Ministries

Imagine that you are living alone, active, and fiercely independent. Imagine further that one fine winter day you take a bad fall on the ice, and end up with a painful injury. The long-range prognosis is good, but for the next several months you cannot drive, stoop or lift anything over ten pounds. You can’t drive yourself to a medical appointment. You can’t hop over to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. You can’t even pick up a grocery bag. Literally overnight you have been deprived of the social interaction that comes with your job or your charitable work. You may feel lonely or vulnerable. And, just when you most need the spiritual lift of church, you can’t even get to services on your own.

Photo Gallery

For the fourth year in a row, congregations in the Diocese of Newark took to the streets on Ash Wednesday, February 18, to mark the beginning of Lent by giving “Ashes to Go.”

Church News

On February 23, 2015, the New Jersey General Assembly recognized the Rev. Dr. Canon Sandye A. Wilson of St. Andrew and Holy Communion in South Orange, along with the Rev. Dr. Terry Richardson of the First Baptist Church of South Orange, for their work in their community.

In the News

At least one third of our congregations braved record cold to join Bishop Beckwith and Canon Jacobs in giving Ashes to Go at train stations, bus stops, coffee shops and other public locations across northern New Jersey on Ash Wednesday, February 18, 2015. Here is a round-up of the online media coverage.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

The yes came first. Which may same like a contradiction to the Biblical record, because Jesus’ 40-day encounter with the desert and the devil (which the church has long commemorated as the season of Lent) suggests that it was all about no. Jesus saying no to the cruel temptations the devil dangled in front of him; the desert denying him the basic necessities of food and water. And so, over the centuries, in an effort to be in solidarity with Jesus’ ordeal in the wilderness, faithful Christians have set aside Lent to say no or to engage in various acts of self-denial. No to French fries or chocolate or alcohol or channel surfing – or other distractions or pleasures. All done with the intention of bringing us closer to God.

"Geeks for God" Blog

One of the most useful (and free!) pieces of technology a church can use is having an account with Google. Google, the world’s giant among companies that provide Internet-related services offers a large array of products. I will only be talking about a few of them.

Senior Ministries

Our friend, let’s call her Irene, passed away just about this time last year. I remember there was snow on the ground on that raw winter evening when we got “The Call.”

Feature

For the sixth year running, people worldwide are gearing up for Lent Madness, the “saintly smackdown” in which 32 saints do battle to win the coveted Golden Halo. This online Lenten devotion, which has been featured in media outlets all over the country including NBC, The Washington Post, FOXNews, NPR, USAToday, and even Sports Illustrated, brings together cut-throat competition, the lives of the saints, humor, and the chance to see how God works in the lives of women and men across all walks of life.

This year, Bishop Mark Beckwith and members of diocesan staff will participate in Lent Madness as both a Lenten discipline and a friendly competition with one another.

In the News

[Bergen.com] St. Paul's Church in Englewood celebrated their 150th anniversary with a Mardi Gras concert and supper this past weekend, featuring members of the St. Paul's Choirs along with local musicians.

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

In adopting the 2015 Budget, Convention deputies approved funding for a portion of the costs for a social justice advocate, the Rev. Sara Lilja. Lilja (pronounced "LIL-ya") has been serving as the Director of the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministries for the New Jersey Synod, and will now begin representing our diocese and the Diocese of New Jersey as well, acting as a faith-based advocate in Trenton for social justice issues shared by New Jersey Episcopalians and Lutherans.

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

In his sermon at Convention’s opening Eucharist, the Rev. Alan Roxburgh of The Missional Network said that “God’s abundant spirit is bringing life back to the church. God is up to something in the churches across North America, but it is looking very different than we imagined or ever planned for.” He challenged us to stop trying to fix the church and “get ready” to go on the journey for which the Spirit of God continually invites us.

Senior Ministries

Today having special needs is no longer a barrier to travel and fun. The hospitality industry has stepped up to the challenge of helping folks with all varieties of special needs to enjoy the pleasures of travel.

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

Steven Boston, official photographer of Convention, has posted 249 photos from the 141st Annual Diocesan Convention in his online portfolio.

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

The theme of this year’s Mission Minutes is “How did we join God in our neighborhoods in 2014?” All four Mission Minute videos are posted here.

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

In this video, diocesan members who traveled together on a pilgrimage to Taize, France in July 2014 talk about their experiences.

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

The Afghan School Project is just one of the many efforts supported by diocesan outreach.

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

On July 3 of this past year, I was scheduled to travel to Liberia as the Presiding Bishop’s representative at the consecration of my friend and colleague, Jonathan Hart, as Archbishop of West Africa.

On July 2, I received an email from Kit Cone, a member of Grace, Madison, who had lived in Liberia and has a long list of partnerships and relationships in West Africa. Kit had bundled together a series of emails from medical people in Liberia, England and the US indicating that the Ebola virus had not just spread to Monrovia, where the consecration was to take place; it was out of control.

141st Annual Diocesan Convention

“What is God up to” in our neighborhoods and communities? This question will be the focus of the presentations, workshops and discussions at the 141st Annual Diocesan Convention. Held once again at the Hilton Hotel in Parsippany, the two-day Convention will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, January 30 with registration, and is slated to conclude at 4 p.m. Saturday, January 31 (see the full proposed agenda).

Even if you’re not attending Convention in person, you can still follow it live on social media. Videos, photos, and updates will be posted on the diocesan Facebook page (facebook.com/dionewark), Twitter feed (twitter.com/dionewark) and the diocese’s new Instagram feed (instagram.com/dionewark). Our official hashtag for social media is #dionewark141.

Here are some highlights of what will take place at this year's Convention:

Senior Ministries

Do any of the following comments sound familiar to you? Has anyone seen my car keys? Now why did I just come into the kitchen? What’s his name again? Starts with an “R” – Robert, Roger? And have you ever said to yourself, “People are moving my things!”

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Like many of us, on Tuesday evening I watched the President’s State of the Union address. President Obama offered an impassioned appeal for us as Americans to provide help and hope for everyone in the country. Everybody deserves a shot, he said; and he went on about our ability to overcome adversity through hard work and investing in hope; and providing opportunity through initiatives that will level the uneven playing field.

"Geeks for God" Blog

Well, Christmas is over and you have a brand new camera! Now you would like – or have been asked – to take pictures without flash during the church service or in other low-light situations.

In the News

On Sunday, January 11, 2015, All Saints' Church in Millington co-hosted a vigil marking the anniversary of the disappearance of local resident David Bird. Bird, then age 55, did not return from what he reportedly told his wife would be a short walk on January 11, 2014, triggering a massive search and investigation that is still ongoing.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

The tradition of giving gifts at Christmas is rooted in the gifts the Wise Men left the infant Jesus twelve days after his birth, as recorded in Matthew's Gospel, and which we commemorate as the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6). The original gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh were given out of gratitude; and indeed, the season of Epiphany is set aside for us to express gratitude over the many ways God's presence comes to us.

Gratitude is a choice made by the head, but requires participation of the heart. For the participants in the original Christmas/Epiphany story, the gratitude did not come easily.

Senior Ministries

Let’s face it folks, one of the major concerns that occurs with advancing years is that of disability. And few of us are exempt from some form of disability, ranging from sensory impairments, such as vision and hearing losses, to physical disabilities and a myriad of other disabilities. One out of every five Americans has some sort of disability, and the occurrence of disability does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone at any time, at any place, in any circumstance.

Feature

Over the past two years, 27 congregations in the Diocese of Newark have enrolled in the Energy Services Program, an initiative designed to help faith-based and nonprofit groups reduce their energy use and costs while cutting their carbon footprint. “The program offers faith communities a range of resources to save money that can then be used to support their important work in the community,” said Anne Rahikainen, the Energy Services Program Director at GreenFaith.

"Geeks for God" Blog

Your church’s website can be a wonderful tool for evangelism and sharing the good news. It can attract newcomers to your congregation. Most churches report that all newcomers now have checked the website before visiting and have chosen which church to visit based on the website.

In the News

[Mendham-Chester Patch] It may be a new face, but it’s the same message at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Mendham.

The congregation recently welcomed the church’s new leader and pastor, Reverend Shawn Carty as rector of the parish.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

As the Christmas story continues to be told and dramatized and sung, I have an abiding sense that the cave where the Prince of Peace was born was – for a moment, the center of the universe. His parents were there, of course, as were some local shepherds who were drawn in by the voices of a throng of angels and archangels, who were hovering above. Light emanated from the manger, and a celestial light led three dignitaries from far-off foreign lands to the place of birth. It was the same divine light.

In the News

[The Jersey Journal] The homeless, hungry, and poor congregated inside Old Bergen Church in Jersey City with homeless advocates today for the sixth annual Homeless Persons' Memorial Day interfaith service.

In the News

[The Living Church] Signs of vitality abound these days at St. George’s Church in Maplewood, New Jersey. Attendance is up more than 10 percent in the past five years to 135. Each Sunday, newcomer parents and their young kids add to the laughter, banter, and joyful songs that fill the space.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

A scapegoat is someone who is punished for the sins or offenses of others. It dates back to Leviticus 16, when the “Azazel” goat was sent out into the wilderness from the Temple in Jerusalem on the Day of Atonement. Often the goat had the curses of the community written on his flank. The purpose of the scapegoat was a solemn sacrifice for sin.

In the News

The Venerable Peter Jackson, Archdeacon, is quoted in this article.

[NJ.com] From Pennsauken to Pleasantville to Jersey City, a handful of food pantries scattered across New Jersey are closing or are taking a break, but not because fewer people need help, the Rev. Sara Lilja said, director of the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministries.

There's just not enough food to fill the need, Lilja said.

In the News

The Venerable Peter Jackson, Archdeacon, is quoted in this article.

[The Record] A reality show star joined other anti-hunger activists at the State House and urged New Jersey lawmakers to increase funding for food programs and to approve bills in votes Monday that would ease restrictions and get benefits to people faster.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” That is the King James Version of the third commandment (Exodus 20:7). Like most of us, I was taught that it meant there is certain language you can’t use – swear words being chief among them. And as a kid, we all knew what those forbidden words were (and the excitement we felt when we learned a new one).

"Geeks for God" Blog

Okay. I know this sounds a little extreme. Right now we’re struggling to get the next edition of the church newsletter together, the website hasn’t been updated in a month, and attention to our Facebook page is declining for lack of participation. Now we want to have a YouTube Channel?

Well, maybe yes.

In the News

The Rev. Janet Broderick of St. Peter's Church in Morristown is quoted in this article.

[Morristown Green] In a strange confluence of sights and sounds, demonstrators chanted for the rights of black men as White Christmas wafted from the Green on Saturday.

In the News

Christ Church in Bloomfield/Glen Ridge is included in this article.

[International Business Times] Mark DeYmaz was a youth pastor for a megachurch in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the 1990s when he realized the 5,000 people in the pews all looked alike. “The only minorities were the janitors,” DeYmaz said about the nearly all-white Protestant evangelical church. That realization led him to leave his post in 2001 and found Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas, with the aim to bring diverse people together to worship as one.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

The way we use language influences the way we think. When I was in high school in the late 1960s, the country was in the throes of the civil rights movement. Part of the movement’s energy was directed to creating equity in the use of language. Instead of calling people of color “Negroes” (which is Spanish for black), the culture was challenged to identify people by their color (whites and blacks); thus creating a language equity.

In the News

[The Alternative Press] Saint James Episcopal Church has been selected for the 2014 Best of Montclair Award in the Places of Worship category by the Montclair Award Program.

In the News

Approximately 80 people attended the Candlelight Vigil for Peace, held at Trinity & St. Philip's Cathedral on Sunday, December 7, 2014, in response to the Grand Jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York declining to bring charges in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Some attendees wore bull's-eyes on their backs. The Rev. Sandye Wilson of St. Andrew & Holy Communion in South Orange told a reporter/photographer for The Star-Ledger, "We feel like we all are walking around with a target on our backs, especially young black men." (See The Star-Ledger coverage and photo gallery.)

Personal Witness

This witness was given by the Rev. Deacon Chris McCloud at the Candlelight Vigil for Peace, held at Trinity & St. Philip's Cathedral on December 7, 2014 in response to the Grand Jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York, declining to bring charges in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Dear Lord, I need you to hear my cry. I need you to hear my pain. Dear Lord, I need you hold me close today. Please Lord… hold me closer than close because I am simply exhausted… simply exhausted.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

We tend to read scripture and culture through the lens of the church. Al Roxburgh calls this “ecclesiocentrism” (page 48, Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood). Our predisposition, he says, is to think first and foremost in terms of church questions. Scripture and culture have become secondary to, and a function of, church effectiveness questions: How do we get people into church? What does this biblical passage say about our congregation? We look at the culture and scripture through the lens of the church.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

Dwelling in the word. It is a recurring metaphor in Alan Roxburgh's book, Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood. It derives from the wisdom of Leslie Newbigin, an Anglican missionary to India in the 1930s, who discovered that he needed to relearn the gospel. Newbigin's missionary approach was to sit with local people to listen and learn.

"Geeks for God" Blog

Earlier today the Church Website Project launched its 12th church website, for St. John's Church in Boonton. CWP team member (and diocesan staff member) Randy Johnson served as the consultant during the site's development. Previously Randy supported the development of Church Website Project sites for St. John's, Montclair and St. James', Upper Montclair, and is currently working with a fourth church.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

What is God up to? For me, it is helpful to look back at the biblical record of Jesus, who, during his lifetime, was the living embodiment of God in the world. Jesus went to places of pain; and as his ministry developed, the places of pain, and the people in pain, came to him. He healed, he restored, he taught – and all the while he embodied and expressed a divine hope that was transforming. It was transforming to the people then – and to us now. He was – and is – up to a lot.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

Alleluia! Thanks be to God!

Years ago I found myself working in stewardship, first at my church, and then at the diocese, and eventually at the provincial level. What I learned about stewardship in that decade or so of my life changed how I see myself and how I see the world.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

As the culture and the church continue to experience dramatic change, Al Roxburgh suggests that most of our questions are "church questions" (page 22, Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood). He says these questions misdirect us, because they keep our focus on church, and not on God. The church questions are subsets of the more important God question: what is God up to?

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and successful holiday shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A day to give thanks, two to get deals – but what happens today? There is a new and growing movement, Giving Tuesday, when non-profits, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world are coming together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. This Giving Tuesday I am supporting the Alleluia Fund for Outreach – and I ask each of you to join me!

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

This Advent season, the Episcopal Diocese of Newark’s outreach ministry partners will offer a hot meal and warm bed to a homeless man on a cold night, provide diapers and formula to a mother not able to afford them for her infant, encourage an at-risk, low-income student to stay in school, and much, much more.

Feature

Gerard "Jerry" A. Racioppi is scheduled to be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate (a step in the process toward ordination to the Priesthood) at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 6, 2014 at Trinity & St. Philip's Cathedral in Newark. All are welcome to attend.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new church year. To mark this liturgical season, I am re-reading Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood by Alan Roxburgh. I invite you to read it with me. I will be blogging my reflections about it regularly during these next four weeks.

In the News

The Rev. Greg Lisby, Rector of Christ Church in Ridgewood, is quoted in this article.

[The Ridgewood News] Ridgewood leaders came together this week to discuss the need for more civility in public discourse.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

The Thanksgiving holiday has been inconvenienced by an early snowfall; and the spirit of gratitude which accompanies the holiday has been blunted by the tragic reality that continues to emerge from Ferguson, Missouri. The weather may make it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for people to gather for the Thanksgiving meal. The events in Ferguson yet again expose how difficult, and in some cases how seemingly impossible, it is for people in American society to move beyond the prejudice and racism which have been woven into our nation's fabric – and work together as communities that offer equal justice and freedom for all.

In the News

[Montclair Patch] “It’s amazing,” said the Rev. C. Melissa Hall, surveying the boxes and shopping bags filling the St. James Episcopal Church parish hall. “Look what’s happened. It’s the loaves and the fishes!”

"Geeks for God" Blog

The announcement that a dyslexic Dutch designer (say that three times fast) has created a font to make reading easier for fellow dyslexics has intrigued my inner font geek and got me thinking about the designs and uses of fonts, both in print and online.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

As we approach Thanksgiving and Advent, there are issues in the world that have grabbed our attention, and provide opportunities for us to respond – in study, giving and prayer. I highlight four of them.

In the News

[Anglican Communion News Service] Members of Anglican Communion Churches worldwide are being invited to celebrate Advent through prayer, meditation and by contributing to a global Advent calendar on Instagram.

Church News

How do you bring the issue of human trafficking to your community?

When the Church of Our Saviour in Secaucus wanted to address the issue, it went to the top, and asked Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli to hold a public forum on the topic. The result was a meeting held at the Public Library in mid-October, with presentations by the town's police department, the Hudson County Prosecutors Office's Special Victims Unit, and the FBI's Office of Victims Assistance.

Church News

GreenFaith, the interfaith environmental organization that has worked with churches in the diocese for many years, has been working with 26 of the Diocese of Newark's churches since fall 2014 through the Energy Services Program – an “energy makeover” for faith communities statewide.

Senior Ministries

If you currently are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, group health coverage or some other coverage and if do not have any coverage, it is time to think about getting some. The time when you can sign up through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, created by the Affordable Care Act, starts November 15. The Affordable Care Act is officially The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or PPACA and is also known as “ACA” and “Obamacare.”

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Six months ago, I was invited to preach yesterday, November 4 at General Theological Seminary. Here is my sermon.

In September 2007, Archbishop Rowan Williams came to our House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. He began his introductory remarks with a story from the early days of World War 1. British and German troops were burrowed in trenches, a cannon shot away from each other. During a lull in the fighting, a senior British officer reportedly asked in some desperation, “How did we wind up here?”

In the News

Bishops United Against Gun Violence, an ad hoc group of almost 60 Episcopal bishops, today released a briefing paper that “seeks to shed light on new findings indicating that the vast majority of Americans today, including gun owners, support universal background checks prior to all gun sales.”

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Tomorrow night is Halloween. Millions of children from all over the country will put on costumes and take on a new identity. They will go from house to house, or car trunk to car trunk ("trunk or treat"), or classroom to classroom with empty bags that fill up with candy as the evening goes along.

"Geeks for God" Blog

OK! You’ve gotten your congregation to use electronic newsletters (e-newsletters) with Constant Contact or Mail Chimp or some other method. That’s a great step forward. Now you have to make those e-newsletters communicate!

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

While I am better with painting my thoughts and ideas, I think it would be worth it to explain, with words, where I am coming from. I finished a painting recently, after a period of painter’s block, that encompasses an especially large part of my story.

Feature

The theme of the annual Women’s Retreat at Cross Roads Camp and Retreat Center, held October 17-19, 2014, was “JOY.” Those of us who attended discovered that joy comes in the morning, afternoon, evening and at night. We were full of love and joy after spending two nights together, meditating, praying, singing, sighing, laughing, listening to each other, and learning about our inter-generational friends ages 18 to 85.

Church News

At Diocesan Convention in January 2013, several deputies from Church of the Atonement in Tenafly attended a Justice Board workshop by Laura Russell, Esq. that raised their awareness of human trafficking here in New Jersey. As a result, Atonement has developed a relationship with the Bergen County organization Shelter Our Sisters (SOS) to support their commitment to trafficking victims.

Senior Ministries

"It's in giving that we receive." – Prayer of St. Francis

If there were a way to help others, feel great about yourself, and make a difference, at no cost to you, would you be interested? There is. If you haven’t yet tried it yet, it’s volunteering. And there are ways to keep the volunteering experience fresh and rewarding, so read on.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

One of my deepest convictions has long been that we are called to work with God in the ongoing process of creation – which means that we are called to be creative. I used to think being creative was limited to being able to make something: a painting, a poem, a lasagna, a birdhouse. Something concrete, and infused with artistic expression. That is all part of it, but since many of us are hampered by the notion that we have little capacity for artistic expression, we feel that the opportunity to be creative has passed us by.

It hasn't.

"Geeks for God" Blog

People who are actively seeking a new church no longer turn to the newspapers or an advertisement on a placemat at a diner. The first stop for most people will be the internet – particularly your website and Facebook.

In the News

[northjersey.com] St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, St. Catherine’s Catholic Church and King of Kings Lutheran Church Mountain Lakes, Community Church of Mountain Lakes, and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boonton have joined forces to collect diapers, formula and other items for infants living in poor and low-income families.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

Being in Union City due to my internship gives one an opportunity to experience what New York City offers. In College, I went to Hofstra University and I had access to being very close to the city. Possibly one of my significant times in the city involved being there during the Occupy Wall Street Protest. But this weekend I took part in a very unique protest march. It was unique both in terms of scale and importance. The march which one may have heard about was the People’s Climate March.

Video

At Vestry University 2014, held on October 4, keynote speaker John McLaverty of The Missional Network spoke on the challenges as well as the promise for congregations in "The Space Between" (time: 23:51).

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Christianity is a minority religion in Taiwan, where the House of Bishops met for a week in late September. Christians make up about 5% of a population of 23 million, and Taiwanese Episcopalians make up a fraction of that. In spite of their small size, the impact of the Taiwan diocese is formidable. It was important for us to be there - to show solidarity, and to learn about the extraordinary Asian hospitality, and what it means to engage in ministry in a non-Christian country.

"Geeks for God" Blog

With the enormous popularity of Facebook, we have a great opportunity for what I want to call “Facebook evangelism.” This is possible by using the “Share” option built into Facebook’s operating system.

In the News

[The Alternative Press] The dead body of a male adult was found by dog walkers at approximately 6:30 a.m. Wednesday morning at the playground behind the Gardern Court apartments, near the Chatham Middle School.

The death, an apparent suicide, is being investigated by the Chatham Borough Police and the Morris County Prosecutors Office. According to Chatham Police Chief Phil Crosson, authorities are confirming the identity and notifying next-of-kin before releasing any information.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. While the recent reports of domestic violence involving NFL players has brought some much needed attention to this serious and preventable public health problem, few have spoken about how faith-based organizations can assume an important role in both addressing and preventing domestic violence.

Senior Ministries

It is hard to avoid the streams of ads from Aetna, AARP (UnitedHealthcare), AmeriHealth, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield and others. As annoying as they are, if you are on Medicare and have a Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D), the ads are a reminder that it is time to think about your medical coverage. The Medicare Open Enrollment Period, sometimes called the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), starts October 15 and runs to December 7.

Church News

Somewhere around 2005, when we asked random people in Fort Lee if they knew where Good Shepherd, or the Episcopal Church, was, they would usually look at us blankly. We’d describe the location, and they’d say, “Oh, is that church still open?” “I thought it was a Korean church, because of the sign.” Officials in town and in local social service agencies knew us primarily because of Friends for Life, our HIV support program.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

In the last few weeks as an intern at Newark Acts, my emotions have ranged from excitement, apprehension, curiosity, and downright frustration. Coming in, I was clearly behind some of my fellow interns because internship prospects were diminished somewhat due partly to my summer job at a camp in Maine, where I had little access to phone reception and internet. Along with that, I had very little free time to talk with potential internships. In the end, it may have been better if I had not been to the camp as to better prepare for my internship, but for all the complications it created it for me, the experience I got from working at the camp put me in a better mindset to live in a community and remain disciplined.

Feature

On Sunday, September 21, two days before world leaders met for an emergency UN Climate Summit, 400,000 people took part in the People’s Climate March in Manhattan. After lining up from Columbus Circle on 59th Street North beyond 86th Street, and on countless side streets, legions of people marched peacefully for action on climate change. Calling the March special sells it short. It was a miracle, a concentrated expression of concern for people and the planet and the largest climate march in history, four times larger than expected. “Jesus,” said one police officer when he saw the crowds. “Most groups say they’ll get 50,000 and 5,000 show up. You all delivered.”

Feature

In late August, over 300 people attended the Nuevo Amanecer (“A New Dawn”) Conference at Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina. Sponsored by The Episcopal Church’s Office of Latino/Hispanic Ministries in partnership with the Latino Ministries Office of the Lutheran Church (ELCA), this biennial conference draws participants from all over the U.S., Mexico and Latin America. Attending from the Diocese of Newark were members of the Hispanic/Latino Ministry Task Force led by the Rev. Rosa Brown.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

This picture is Marilyn and me, John and Jill Smylie (John is Bishop of Wyoming, had grown up at Calvary Church in Summit, and had served for several years in the Diocese of Newark); and Mark and Alexis, college students from Taiwan.

Photo

Congratulations to the 2014 recipients of the Clara Horsley Leadership Award from the Union of Black Episcopalians.

Governance

On September 12 and 13, 2014, your Diocesan Council held their 7th annual retreat at the Christ Center at Cross Roads Camp and Retreat Center – our first retreat at one of our own facilities. Twenty-seven Council members and Episcopal House staff gathered to chart the strategic priorities for the year ahead.

"Geeks for God" Blog

With the launch last summer of its 10th website, the Church Website Project is now supplying the websites for 10% of Diocese of Newark congregations. At Vestry University on October 4, you’ll have a chance to talk to some of the church webmasters who use it daily, as well as some of the Technology Committee members who developed it.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Every three years the House of Bishops meets in a diocese outside the United States, but within the Episcopal Church (TEC). This week we are meeting in Taiwan, which has long been a member of TEC – despite its distance from the continental United States. The Diocese of Taiwan was eager to host the TEC bishops and spouses, especially on the occasion of their diocesan 60th anniversary.

Church News

On the 13th anniversary of 9/11, the Rev. Deacon Joyce McGirr and the Rev. Lynne Weber of Church of the Atonement in Tenafly offered "Blessings to Go - Prayers for Peace" to commuters, bus drivers and passers-by at the Tenafly Bus Station during morning rush hour, and later at a local café.

Church News

For one weekend in September, the parish hall at St. James' Church in Upper Montclair transformed into a “speakeasy” as the St. James Players presented a staged reading of William Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” as a Roaring ’20s radio drama.

In the News

[Independent Press] Chatham's Episcopal Church opened its doors and showed off its neighborhood for the bi-annual visit of the Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, on Sunday, Sept. 7.

Church News

The neighborhood immediately surrounding Trinity & St. Phillip’s Cathedral in Newark is the focus of some very exciting development, with the goal of transforming downtown Newark from a 9-5 work place to a vibrant 24/7 community. Our Cathedral is asking for your prayer support as they explore what God is up to and what new opportunities await.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

One of the dangerous delusions we live with in this country is that America is a “color-blind” society. This common cultural spin suggests that once the civil rights movement brought about legislation which provided new (and more just) levels of freedom and opportunity for black people, our country has successfully moved beyond issues of race.

Feature

Cross Roads Camp and Retreat Center is a place where young and adults, alike, can go to be themselves and have fun in God’s creation. The camp experience is meant to strengthen the faith of all campers and send them back to their communities to do God’s work.

Senior Ministries

Do you think it’s possible that you will live into your 80s? If so, do you think it’s possible that you might become frail and need assistance? Have you considered what effect the cost of this care would have on your financial and retirement plans? Today, the median annual cost for a nursing home stay is $87,600. This number will inevitably increase as health care costs increase. And don’t be fooled into thinking that it will be less expensive if you choose to be cared for at home.

Feature

Allyson (Ally) Brundige was 16 years old when she traveled with a group to a rural village in Zimbabwe to build a medical clinic. That experience shaped the beginning of her call to ministry. On Sunday, September 14, Ally will take a big step on her vocational journey when she is ordained to the sacred order of priests by Bishop Mark Beckwith.

Church News

On August 17, 2014, churches in District 1 held a Baby Shower & Pool Party for North Porch Women & Infants' Centers.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

In March, I led a small delegation from The Episcopal Church to the Diocese of Liberia. We were deeply impressed by the fortitude and faith of the people we met, who were still recovering from twenty years of a brutal Civil War.

A smaller group of us were scheduled to travel back to Liberia in early July to attend the enthronement of Jonathan Hart, Bishop of Liberia, as the Archbishop of West Africa. We didn’t go, as the Ebola epidemic was beginning to spread through the capital city of Monrovia.

Announcement

The Bishop’s Church Emergency Fund (BCEF) provides financial support for church buildings in the diocese needing repairs and renovation, usually with a special focus on emergency and unforeseen needs. Through the BCEF, you can support the critical needs identified by the Bishop.

The third BCEF Call of 2014 is to repair the crumbling façade of St. Peter's in Livingston's narthex and bell tower.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

The Taizé community, named for the French town where the international and ecumenical monastic community began nearly 75 years ago, is known for its repetitive, chant-like music. It is also known for gathering thousands of people from all over the world to live in a community of prayer. (There were about 3700 pilgrims there during the same week as our diocesan group of nine young adults and four more seasoned adults.) But what stood out most for me during our week was the continuous invitation. The invitation to join with God in prayer – in song and in silence. The invitation to offer respect to one another – honoring all the linguistic, ethnic, religious and racial diversity that shows up every week. The invitation to be in deep communion with the living Christ.

Church News

Holy Trinity in West Orange recently offered a unique summer program for children: “Science and God,” led by Holy Trinity's Priest-in-Charge, the Rev. Miguel A. Hernandez, who is also a telecommunications engineer.

NEWARK ACTS Director's Blog

At a gathering on July 30 we bid farewell to Emily, Michelle, Ker, Yucleidis, Sandra, Christina and Ryan – the NEWARK ACTS Interns of Year Four. The evening was a culmination of an 11-month journey which began in similar fashion with an informal gathering where we shared not only a meal but a piece of our own story.

"Geeks for God" Blog

If you’ve ever wondered what is the difference between the Facebook “Like” and “Share” buttons, you are not alone. Google the question and you will find hundreds of responses.

Empowering People

The summer evening workshop Stepping Stones: Finding meaning in your life story was "A wonderful opportunity to share our faith journey and be supportive in faith, hope and love," said one of the 30 participants, while others requested more such events.

In the News

[NorthJersey.com] St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Paterson is hosting an ecumenical prayer service in memory of Genesis Rincon on Tuesday, August 5 as part of the city’s National Night Out Against Crime observance.

In the News

The Rev. Sandye Wilson, rector of St. Andrew & Holy Communion in South Orange, is quoted in this article.

[Episcopal News Service] A joyous celebration of the 40th anniversary of women’s priestly ordination on July 26 here included calls for people to realize that the dream of a more egalitarian and less patriarchal Episcopal Church – and society – that was embodied by the Philadelphia 11′s ordinations requires much more work.

"Geeks for God" Blog

Nearly 4000 posts made on #Episcopal Social Media Sunday have been collected into one place. You can scroll through them here.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Religion is taking up less and less space in our culture. In his book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (2012), Harvard professor Robert Putnam unveils his research on the decline of social capital in American culture, which are the voluntary networks people engage in. He indicates that each succeeding generation is ten percent less likely to have a religious affiliation, which is but one form of social capital. The fastest growing religious affiliation in America is that of people who claim no religious affiliation.

In the News

[Episcopal News Service] It’s a “family reunion” like no other: 250 adults, young and older, are gathered at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino for 46th annual meeting and conference of the Union of Black Episcopalians, a confederation of more than 35 chapters and groups in the U.S. and the Caribbean, with members in Canada, Africa and Latin America.

"Geeks for God" Blog

The world-wide web makes it so easy to find just about anything we want to find, and that also makes it seem as though it is all out there for us to use any way we like. Oops! Not quite. You still need to consider copyright issues.

Feature

On June 22, 2014, 79 members of the diocese were honored with the David P. Hegg II Lifetime Achievement Award at the 18th annual Senior Ministries Evensong, held at Christ Church in East Orange with the Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith, Bishop of Newark, officiating.

Feature

Priest, scientist, social activist, and missionary, the Rev. Canon Wade Renn, 79, will retire from House of Prayer in Newark on June 29 after a 50-year ministry that has touched the lives of countless people. When asked what he cherishes most about his long and varied ministry, he answers without hesitation, “To have been called by God to be a domestic and foreign missionary of the Episcopal Church.” In 2005, at age 70, when not a few clergy have settled into less ambitious ministries, Renn founded a faith-based mission to the homeless in Montclair, providing shelter, food and showers for those in need. He remained president of the mission until 2012. It’s but one of many impressive accomplishments during a truly amazing life of service.

"Geeks for God" Blog

Are you on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?

If so, have you ever done any of the following:

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

It is called Military Park, but because of my New England roots, I think of it as a “Common.” A park connotes a place for recreation and refreshment, which are laudable – and necessary, activities. A Common goes a little further than that – in that the whole community can claim participation and ownership. With a Common, everyone has a common interest.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

Jim Walsh grew up in Paterson, NJ, with loving parents who worked hard to provide him every opportunity. After graduating from St. Francis College in Maine with a Bachelors Degree in Sociology and a Minor in Elementary Education, Jim worked for the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), as well as several other several social services agencies supporting children, teens and veterans.

Feature

At 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 14 at Trinity & St. Philip's Cathedral in Newark, Joyce McGirr was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate (a step in the process toward ordination to the Priesthood). Her journey to this day has been diverse and spirit-filled.

Video

"The sun has come out - and that is an omen for this park, for this city, for our life together," said Bishop Mark Beckwith, before leading the assembled people in a blessing of the newly renovated Military Park, at its grand opening on June 13, 2014.

Feature

Twenty-five years ago, the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, under the leadership of the Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, made church history when it created the first official diocesan ministry for gay and lesbian people. That milestone was remembered on Sunday, June 1, 2014 at Trinity & St. Philip’s Cathedral in Newark, where current and former leaders of The OASIS gathered with family and friends for a joyous Eucharist and reception, to look back and also to think about what God might be calling us to do next.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

To use an old Anglican metaphor, it is meet and right that we are celebrating this new congregation – Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, on the Feast of Pentecost – which has long been associated as the birthday of the church. It was on that Pentecost, as recorded in the book of Acts, when incredible sights were seen and dramatic sounds were heard – tongues as of fire on everyone’s head – and the rush of a violent wind – and they spoke in many languages that they could all understand.

"Geeks for God" Blog

When the members of St. Andrew's in Lincoln Park and Church of the Transfiguration in Towaco were in the process of unifying into Good Shepherd Episcopal Church of Lincoln Park & Montville, one Episcopal House resource they turned to was the Church Website Project.

Feature

When Bishop Mark Beckwith blesses the launch of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church of Lincoln Park & Montville on June 8, it will mark the formal end of a methodical process that started more than seven years earlier, and the beginning of a new ministry and mission. The unification of St. Andrew’s in Lincoln Park and Church of the Transfiguration in Towaco (a section of Montville) was affirmed in January at Diocesan Convention.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

In the Diocese of Newark this Easter season, I confirmed 377 people into the Episcopal Church; 142 of them were adults. I am deeply grateful to the Cathedral congregation, which hosted six different confirmation services. In response to several requests, I am sharing the sermon I gave at each of the services.

Church News

The 2014 Memorial Day Service at St. James' Church in Upper Montclair was a very special event.

“I don’t remember such a moving ceremony at St. James',” said parishioner, Ruth Gardner of Montclair, “And I’ve been a member here for over 50 years.”

"I told them that the hand of my God had been gracious upon me, and also the words that the king had spoken to me. Then they said, ‘Let us start building!’ So they committed themselves to the common good." Nehemiah 2:18

In researching the latest recipient for the Bishop’s Church Emergency Fund call, we dove deep into the archives at Episcopal House. In a historical file for this recipient, we discovered details of capital campaigns for the building of the original church, founded in 1914, and for the expanded, present day facility built in 1953. This verse from Nehemiah was utilized in both time periods, to speak to the building and maintaining of the facilities in this suburban Bergen County town. It resonates now, a century later, as we issue the second call of 2014 for the Bishop’s Church Emergency Fund, for Christ Church in Teaneck.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

As a member of Christ Church in Short Hills, for the past few years I have been organizing Christ Church’s involvement with the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges (IFPO), which provides supplemental and emergency food to low-income residents of Orange and East Orange most Wednesdays year-round.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

In Nigeria, the kidnapped victims are girls. In Santa Barbara, the shooting victims were intended to be young women. In both cases, the perpetrators were men wielding guns. In Nigeria, the men were convinced of their gender supremacy, but they needed their guns in a misguided – and tragic, effort to prove it. In Santa Barbara, the killer stoked his misogyny and psychotic need for revenge by spraying gunfire into the sidewalks of a college town’s Friday night activity.

"Geeks for God" Blog

When writing for the internet, “Get to the point fast,” said Catherine Kohn, award-winning writer and Associate Director of the Associated Church Press, in her workshop I attended at the Episcopal Communicators Conference last month.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Many years ago, I was while serving as Rector of All Saints Church in Worcester, Massachusetts, Archbishop Desmond Tutu came to preach on the occasion of his granddaughter’s baptism (whose family were members of the congregation). Bishop Tutu began by thanking us, which was a bit unexpected – given that the packed church was filled with gratitude for his being there – and for his spirit, witness and passion. Bishop Tutu said our prayers – and those of the rest of the world, ended apartheid in South Africa. He thanked us for that.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

Jason, his wife and three children entered one of Family Promise’s New Leaf Transitional Housing program apartments in October of 2013. Having been laid off from his job several months earlier, Jason needed a plan. Working with a Family Promise caseworker, Jason started the research to find a new career path, one that he could build on for the future. He decided truck driving was the route he wanted to take and applied for a Family Promise Break the Cycle scholarship.

In the News

[NorthJersey.com] Local children are getting a lesson in the value of water as they work to get some for a community in need.

The Sunday School children at Christ Episcopal Church in Pompton Lakes are in the process of raising money for the Episcopal Relief and Development group to provide a water well for a village or town in an underdeveloped international region.

In the News

[Parsippany Life] The Whippany River Watershed Action Committee and Saint Gregory's Episcopal Church conducted a rain barrel workshop at the church on Saturday, May 3.

In the News

[Morristown Green] How could white Christians condone the persecution of blacks for centuries in America?

And how were African Americans able to persevere and survive such oppression?

James Cone, a scholar known as the founder of black liberation theology, spent a decade researching those complex subjects for his 2011 book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree.

The author pulled no punches in a recent talk at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, where he delivered a powerful and passionate analysis of racism, faith, love and hope as guest lecturer in the Christine Mary and John Shelby Spong Lecture Series.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

The French are fond of saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Nearly 2000 years ago, the outraged Herod summarily ordered the execution of all two-year old male children in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16). The daughters of Rachel wept for their children "because they were no more." This past week, cries of anguish were again heard, this time in Nigeria. It was the wailing of the mothers of 247 girls kidnapped and destined to be sold into slavery by the Boko Haram.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Last Thursday, May 1, which happened to coincide with the National Day of Prayer, Canon Greg Jacobs, Nina Nicholson (our Director of Communications) and I walked down to Penn Station in Newark to offer “Blessings to Go.” Greg held the sign, Nina took the pictures and I offered blessings with oil. For an hour, we stood inside the concourse as hordes of people made the necessary transportation connections to start their day.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

Since 2005, Haven of Hope for Kids has provided cost-free country retreats for more than 250 urban families caring for a child with a life threatening illness. Visiting families stay for up to six days in our fully equipped, handicap-friendly cottage. All costs for these visits, including food and transportation, are provided by our mission.

Many of our guest families are sharing a first and last family vacation with their terminally ill child. We would like to share Tierra’s story.

"Geeks for God" Blog

I do diocesan communications as a department of one, so I look forward to my annual trip to the Episcopal Communicators Conference. This year we met April 23-25 in Chicago. It's a rare chance for me to talk at length with my fellow communicators and technology geeks about some of the challenges I face in my job, to share with them what I'm currently doing and to be inspired by their successes.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

This is the house that Janice built. It has four rooms to shelter her four children, ages 5-15 years. Strings stretch wall to wall on which clothing hangs. Reed mats for sleeping are neatly stowed away beneath a hanging anti-malaria bed net. In the front room she stores a bicycle.

Feature

On Sunday, June 22, Senior Ministries of the Diocese of Newark will present the David P. Hegg II Lifetime Achievement Awards at a 4 p.m. Evensong service at Christ Church in East Orange, following a 3 p.m. reception. Award recipients are recognized annually for their many significant contributions of time and talent to an Episcopal church or diocese. Who was David P. Hegg II, and why do we honor seniors in his name?

In the News

[The Express-Times] For the fifth year in a row the Phillipsburg Ministerial Alliance, convened by the Rev. Thomas Mathews, rector of St. Luke's Church in Phillipsburg, celebrated National Day of Prayer on May 1.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

The joy of the Resurrection emerged from a sealed tomb. The gift of peace and hope which comes with Easter emerged out of violence. Easter does not end violence (oh, how we wish it could), but Easter does provide the possibility for the transformation of violence into peace.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

The Apostles’ House in Newark turned 30 years old last January. Founded by six area Episcopal Churches (House of Prayer, Newark; Trinity Cathedral and St. Phillip’s, Newark; Christ Church, Short Hills; St. Luke’s, Montclair; and St. George’s, Maplewood), the agency’s continuing mission is to provide comprehensive social services to homeless and “at risk” families in an environment that enables and encourages self-sufficiency.

Alleluia Fund for Outreach

We in the Diocese of Newark joyfully celebrate the Easter season by sharing our gifts through the Alleluia Fund for Outreach. Our donation connects us to God's work not only in the familiar confines of our congregations, but also as God is at work in our neighborhoods and communities.

Feature & photos

“Darkness and danger – they’re not the only things that live here,” said the Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, Bishop of the Diocese of Newark, after praying the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday at 14 sites of violent crimes in Jersey City.

Jersey City’s three Episcopal congregations – St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Church of the Incarnation and Grace Church Van Vorst – organized the procession, which drew more than 80 participants. Worshipers included members of neighboring churches, city officials and local police, who spent nearly two hours walking, praying and singing together along the 2.25 mile route.

Feature

Saturday, April 5 was a busy day in the Diocese of Newark, with educational events on Stewardship and Latino/Hispanic ministry drawing attendees from throughout the diocese.

Feature

On Good Friday, April 18, Bishop Mark Beckwith will participate in two public Stations of the Cross processions as four congregations “take the altar into the world” to focus attention on issues that challenge or enliven their communities.

At 9:30 a.m. the clergy and members of the three Jersey City congregations – St. Paul’s in Bergen, Church of the Incarnation and Grace Church Van Vorst – will start at the intersection of Clinton and Bergen Avenues and visit fourteen street corners that have been the sites of violent crimes. At 3 p.m. Christ Church in Bloomfield/Glen Ridge will hold a procession to locations in their two communities where they feel Christ is present, both in need and in hope.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Last week I engaged in a Mutual Ministry Review (MMR). Actually, it began a month ago when the Rev. Gay Jennings, President of the House of Deputies for the Episcopal Church, and a long-time consultant with dioceses across the church, came and spent two days having conversations with leaders from around the Diocese of Newark. She talked with 55 people – 23 clergy, 18 laypeople and 14 members of the Episcopal House staff. Some conversations were in groups – the Standing Committee, Trustees, steering committee of Diocesan Council; but most were one-on-ones.

First-person Feature

On Sunday, March 16, I headed out to Los Angeles along with eleven other Rutgers students and one staff partner, to start a week of service to the HIV/AIDS population with Rutgers University Alternative Breaks (RUAB).

"Geeks for God" Blog

The joyous celebration of Easter is a great occasion to create a video for your church’s website. The whole drama of Holy Week, leading to the Great Vigil of Easter and Easter Day, is filled with beauty and meaning just waiting to be captured.

Here are some basic steps you’ll want to use for the best results:

Video

Alan Roxburgh discusses why we would want to join with God in our neighborhoods.

Photos & Videos

Several of our congregations shared photos and videos taken during Holy Week and Easter. Here is just a sampling of the worship experiences held around the Diocese of Newark.

In the News

[The Star-Ledger] Essex County has forged a new partnership with local churches in its latest push to reach unemployed and underemployed people.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

"How do we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?" That is a question, if not a lament, that comes out of Psalm 137. Reflections on that question were provided daily by my colleagues at our recently concluded House of Bishops meeting in Texas.

Church News

From eye-catching public signs to a haunting display of empty shoes, congregations in the Diocese of Newark found creative ways to join over a thousand other houses of worship across the country in observing Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath, March 13-16, 2014.

In the News

[The Sparta Independent] A pair of conductors and an organist have been filling the rafters of Christ Episcopal Church with music for more than 30 years.

"Geeks for God" Blog

Holy Week, which is only – gasp! – a few weeks away, provides terrific photo opportunities for church communicators. The weather is improving, people are wearing brighter colors and the services include many visually interesting elements. Services may begin or even take place outdoors, allowing photographers to take advantage of natural light.

Feature

In July 2009, the Office of Latino/Hispanic Ministry presented a vision and strategic plan to General Convention that challenged the Episcopal Church to consider an emerging opportunity:

In the News

[Parsippany Life] Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the season of Lent for Christians, signifying the 40 days until Easter. It’s usually a time for the faithful to reflect and to offer personal sacrifice.

The use of ashes, in fact, dates back to the very early days of the church. In ancient times, they symbolized a period of mourning, expressing sorrow, or penitence. For those raised in Christianity, Ash Wednesday still serves as a reminder, as said in Genesis 3:19, "That thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."

But as modern times progress, the tradition of attending an Ash Wednesday service is becoming less traditional.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Ash Wednesday was a long day for many in the church. For me, it began in Liberia, where I had spent a week with leaders of the Episcopal Church in that country; and ended in New Jersey – where I spent a few hours outside, and then inside, the Newark train station administering ashes.

"Geeks for God" Blog

More and more of our churches have installed wireless networks to facilitate high-speed connections for laptops, tablets and smartphones. But with the increased ease of accessing the Internet comes increased potential for liability. If a network is not secure, hackers could tap into the network, upload or download malicious or pornographic materials, making the church liable for any wrongs committed using the network.

In the News

[The Record] One local church has enacted a unique way to make the distribution of ashes more accessible to the public on Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the Lenten season for western Christians. St. David’s Episcopal Church has established an "Ashes to Go" initiative.

In the News

[The Star-Ledger] For some Christian denominations, a cross of ash on the forehead for the first day of Lent is supposed to represent mortality, and a fleeting period of time on the Earth.

But not every Christian sets aside the time for a church service in the middle of a busy work week.

So instead of waiting in churches for parishioners who might never come, some clergy are going to the people — to the bus stops and coffee shops. They call it “Ashes to Go,” and it’s a way to reach out to the people where they are on this Christian holiday.

“People are busy – we understand,” said the Rev. Adele Hatfield, of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Mountain Lakes. “We’re not trying to beat up on them.”

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Yesterday I arrived in Monrovia, Liberia. I am here as chair of the Liberian Covenant Committee of the Episcopal Church. There are five covenant relationships in the Episcopal Church – Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Central America and Liberia. Liberia is the oldest, dating back to shortly after the country was founded by free American slaves in 1822.

"Geeks for God" Blog

I know it's hard to keep up with the latest and greatest version of the all software we use, but the one program that you absolutely must have, and is so easy to overlook,  is backup software.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

God so loved the world: and God invites us to invest in the world as disciples.

There are many challenges that Dwight Zscheile issues in his book, People of the Way, but the one that stands out most for me is the challenge to move from membership to discipleship.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

I always get excited when the calendar is about to turn March because it means Lent is around the corner. Lent is one of those religious practices that I love and look forward to every year. My fascination comes from the fact that I have always viewed Lent as a wish granting practice. If you have spent enough time with me, you will know that I love to wish every time my eyes catch the clock on 11:11 and I believe in those wishes. I do. That is what Lent is for me except that it comes once a year making it all the more special and let’s not forget that it ends in Easter celebration. Lent is a time of spiritual adventure, meditation, and a time to extend one's own humanity to others by sharing and caring as we should.

In the News

[The Jersey Journal] A nonprofit organization in Bayonne, The Windmill Alliance, will be offering English as a Second Language classes for $10 this spring and is looking for volunteers to help administer the program.

The Rev. Rose Cohen Hassan, the ESL program director, said the program has been in the planning for two years, but with The Windmill Alliance receiving a grant, the ESL program has now come to fruition.

In the News

[The Montclair Times] It's never too late to change the path that you walk.

It was 50 years ago that the Rev. Wade Renn, the founder of Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless (MESH) decided that enough was enough.

The former Boeing and Atomic Energy Commission employee had spent the first part of his life helping to make weapons of mass destruction and participating in research that Renn would only describe as "nasty stuff." His two physics degrees and scientific track record had earned him a spot in a prestigious Johns Hopkins think tank, but none of it brought him satisfaction.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

“We need more members!” is a common litany I hear when I visit congregations. “No,” I typically respond, “we need more disciples.” It turns out that my response echoes that of Dwight Zscheile in his book, People of the Way: “the vitality of our identity as the church depends on the vitality of our discipleship.” (Page 89.)

"Geeks for God" Blog

Periodically you’ll get a notice from me or Randy like this:

All – Apparently someone on the Newark list had their email hacked and is the source of a malicious email (robbed on vacation, please wire money, etc.) Please delete the email and do not respond.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

One of the things many of us in the Episcopal Church have counted on is that we are the established church. We are one of the mainline Protestant denominations. More Presidents of the United States have been Episcopalians than any other denomination.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

Years ago a very wise priest said to me that God is easy to experience but difficult to understand. ‘Signs of God’s grace,” which is an exercise many of us are engaged in – and which is the title for this blog, is one way for people to identify experiences – or encounters, with the holy.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

“This public, community forming, and restoring dimension of the Spirit’s work is vital for the Episcopal Church to recover in order to live into its ideals for diversity and reconciliation.” (Page 70, People of the Way by Dwight Zscheile.)

In the News

[Morristown Green] Pretty soon, visitors to Morristown’s Episcopal Church of the Redeemer may be recharging their cars along with their souls.

A free charging station for electric vehicles–believed to be the first in town–is coming to the church driveway within a few weeks, said the Rev. Cynthia Black, the church’s rector.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

“Jesus leaves as his legacy a community that embodies God’s promises and reconciliation to the world.” (Page 52 People of the Way by Dwight Zscheile.) Dwight’s whole book emphasizes the communal dimension of the Christian witness. He contends that whatever personal revelation we experience through the Resurrection needs to be connected with community.

In the News

On an episode of Aging Insights by the New Jersey Foundation for Aging, the Rev. Diane Riley, a deacon in the Diocese of and Director for Advocacy of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, shares information on food programs that pertain specifically to the elderly.

In the News

[Episcopal News Service] In the months leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, Episcopalians in New Jersey and surrounding states have been gearing up, not for the big game, but for an influx of women and children who officials say will be trafficked into the region for sexual exploitation.

Photo Album

Check out the online album of 149 Convention photos. (Taken by Steven Boston.)

Five Convention Videos

The Bishop's Convention Address (text & video)

Here am I. Send me.

So there I was, a week before my ordination to the diaconate – in June, 1979. I was 27 years old. The Rector of the church where I had just started serving as an Assistant, sent me to go and get my picture taken professionally so my ordination and position could be announced in the local paper. His was a reasonable, and expected, request. I had my new clergy shirts, and buttons and clerical collars – but I had never put them on before. You would think that after all the preparation and formation – and final approvals, with a process that had some bumps along the way, I would be excited about assuming my new identify; but all I could feel was ambivalence. I did have a deep sense of what God was doing in me – but I wasn’t sure what I was doing – or what would happen to me once I put the collar on. Or what was expected of me once I had Reverend in front of my name. All of this roiled in me as I got dressed And even though it was a hot and muggy day, I put on my overcoat – and turned the coat collar up so that my impending ecclesiastical identity could not be seen.

Star-Ledger Op-Ed

[The Star-Ledger] We’ve had years to plan for New Jersey’s Super Bowl, which will be played in the Meadowlands a week from today. The Meadowlands sit squarely in the heart of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, comprising more than 100 congregations in the northern third of the state — and like everyone else in the area, we have been preparing for months.

In the News

[Episcopal News Service] Residents of Millington, New Jersey, have turned to the local All Saints Episcopal Church as a prayerful gathering place as they await word on the fate of a missing Wall Street Journal reporter who lives with his family near the church.

Convention Video

More than 80 images of members engaged in discipleship and bringing the altar into the world, as well as scenes from congregational and diocesan life, taken throughout 2013 in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. (Time: 5:29)

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

“It is in God’s nature to create others to share in God’s Life” (page 47, People of the Way by Dwight Zscheile). Dwight talks about the community of God as Trinity – Creator, Son and Holy Spirit. They exist together in a mysterious community.

Feature

How would the world be transformed if we understood ourselves as being called and sent out to join God in God’s mission? With the theme Daring to be Disciples of Jesus, the 2014 Diocesan Convention seeks to provide innovative answers to this question, which is central to Christians and to the missional church.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

Dwight Zscheile describes them as "none zones" in chapter 2 of People of the Way. Areas where people, when asked of their religious affiliation, check "none." He describes the building tide of secularism, in which the number of younger adults who describe themselves as NONE has doubled in thirty years. It is a rather chilling statistic. Mainline Protestantism has now been functionally sidelined, with only twenty percent of the population (page 33). More and more people are cherry-picking spiritual practices, and are doing so independent from a religious community. He cites a study in which the emerging religious sensibility can be described as moralistic therapeutic deism (page 34).

In the News

[Independent Press] In conjunction with Girls Scouts World Thinking Day, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Youth Group in Chatham is sponsoring a presentation on Sunday, Feb. 9, by Maggie Doyne, a Mendham native, who at age 19 used her babysitting savings to begin building a home for orphaned children in war-ravaged Nepal.

In the News

[Morristown Green] Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty has pledged to review police gun purchases, to ensure the town is buying from manufacturers who are committed to gun safety technology and sales practices that keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.

In the News

The Rev. Diane Riley, a deacon in the Diocese of Newark, is quoted in this article.

[NJSpotlight] Kathy Vanco of Rahway has been out of work for six months. She has been surviving on a biweekly unemployment check of about $700. That came to an end this week, however, and now she may have to dip into her savings to make ends meet.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

Dwight Zscheile notes that the American cultural landscape has changed. “The church no longer stands in a privileged position of moral authority within American society.” (Page 29, People of the Way.)

In the News

[The Alternative Press] Hundreds attended a candlelit prayer service for David Bird on Monday night at All Saints' Episcopal Church [in Millington].

"Geeks for God" Blog

Dear Godly Geeks - I asked Randy if he wanted to take a turn writing a blog post, and he lifted his gaze from the mountain of paperwork on his desk, looked daggers at me and said "Not. Until. After. Convention." He has some ideas he'll be sharing then, but in the meantime I'd like to start responding to some of the questions already put forward by readers.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

In the second chapter of People of the Way, Dwight Zscheile outlines a brief history of mission in the Episcopal Church. He notes that the “established” church in England became the church of the establishment in the American colonies (page 22). From the outset, we were seen – and have seen ourselves, as a church of privilege. Yet, alongside this historical reality is a deep commitment to mission.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

After thirty four years of ordained life, I have developed some assumptions about the church and its ministry. I can own some of these assumptions, but many of them are so embedded in my practices and habits that I don’t know that they are even there.

In the Introduction to his book, People of the Way, Dwight Zscheile outlines some assumptions that most of us bring to the Episcopal Church; that we are shaped by the “establishment” nature of the history and practice of the church.

In the News

[The Alternative Press] Christine’s Kitchen is a program that serves free hot lunches weekly at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church on Main Street in West Orange.

Each Saturday, 75 to 100 people wrap around the corner of Guild Hall to have an opportunity to eat a free, hot lunch. Healthy and balanced lunches include a choice of at least two entrees, vegetables, a side salad, fruit, bread, and desserts. Participants are given containers to take home any remaining food.

In the News

[The Star-Ledger] Residents of the Apostles' House in Newark typically leave the homeless shelter during the day to look for work or participate in job training.

"Geeks for God" Blog

The Church Website Project team is pleased to announce the launch of our 7th church website, for Trinity Church in Allendale. CWP team member Jan Paxton guided the Trinity website team through the development process. Previously, Jan assisted with the websites for St. Paul's, Chatham and St. Agnes', Little Falls.

"Geeks for God" Blog

Ever since Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type, Christians have been using the cutting-edge communications technology of the day to share the word of God. Fast-forward half a millenium, and the technologies available to us today – including websites, digital photos and videos, and ever-expanding social media – can be as baffling and intimidating as they are numerous and diverse. Where is a church with limited staff and resources to start – and how on earth does one keep up?

Bishop Beckwith's Blog - Online Book Discussion

Today is the Feast of the three kings. It is the end of the Christmas cycle and the beginning of Epiphany. As Christians, we have spent part of our holiday remembering and recreating the remarkable story of a birth and angels and a moving star. But as soon as the original Christmas card picture is taken, reality sets in. And the story moves from promise and hope – to survival.

Feature from Episcopal Church Foundation Vestry Papers

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but it was raining at St. Tiffany’s-in-the-Fields. Inside. From the leaky Sunday school bathroom above to the parish hall floor below, the water, a trickle at first, had become a stream.

In the News

[The Montclair Times] Cellular phones ... annoying nuisances or next-generation worship tools?

In an attempt to answer this question, The Montclair Times contacted several of the town's religious leaders. This is what they had to say.

A POSITIVE BENEFIT

The Rev. John Mennell of St. Luke's Episcopal Church told The Times that his church has tried to embrace handheld technology. St. Luke's encourages people to bring their devices and use them to participate in the services, noted Mennell.

Feature

“Trafficking” is a sterile-sounding word used to describe an insidious form of modern slavery. Forced prostitution is a supremely poisonous version, and it often infects large sporting events. The Super Bowl, scheduled for February 2 at the Meadowlands – in our diocese – is just that kind of event.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

A random carjacking at the Short Hills mall on Sunday night resulted in the murder of a 30 year old Hoboken man. Clustered round the first anniversary of the Newtown Connecticut murders were what seemed to be copycat shootings in schools in various parts of the country. Those tragedies – of young lives taken by senseless violence, have been the underbelly of many our communities for a long time. The darkness that Isaiah talked about generations ago (Isaiah 9:2) is still with us. There is indeed a lot of darkness in the world, and a huge measure of suffering that accompanies that darkness.

In the News

[Passaic Valley Today] School No. 2 in Little Falls is spreading some holiday cheer for needy families of the township. In joining Partners for Health, a community foundation of Montclair, the school has created its own food pantry. The donated food being collected will be delivered to the food pantries at St. Agnes Episcopal Church, located at 65 Union Ave., and First Reformed Church, located at 61 Main St.

In the News

[New Jersey Herald] For many people, leftovers are the norm. It’s common to cook a meal and have enough to save for another day.

For Martin Steel, a congregation member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Sparta, leftovers presented an opportunity to help the community.

In the News

[GTS News] Nearly ten years ago, efforts began in the Diocese of Newark to establish a task force recognizing the importance of outreach to the growing Hispanic population throughout communities in New Jersey. The Rev. John C. Habecker (Class of 1978) while serving as rector of St. John’s, Dover before retirement, supported the committee with valuable counsel from 2008 to 2013.

Star-Ledger Op-Ed

[The Star-Ledger] As the country prepares to observe Saturday’s first anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., New Jersey is poised to play what we hope will be a salutary role in thus far fruitless efforts to pass legislation that would help keep guns out of the hands of those who are not allowed to own them.

In the News

[ABC Local] It's the season of giving. Many people are looking to help those less fortunate. But how do you know if your donations are actually reaching those who need it most? Here is some advice when it comes to holiday giving.

The Apostle's House in Newark is a shelter where homeless families live. Down in the pantry is a huge concern because there are empty freezers and bare shelves.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Two years ago I visited Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island. The guide, who was imprisoned with Mandela, said that at least a year before apartheid ended, the prisoners knew they had won. He said the guards knew it too. Institutional evil could not be sustained. Nelson Mandela knew that hope and solidarity and commitment to justice can overtake evil. Thank God for his witness.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

It's my favorite collect from the prayer book. (A collect is a collection of thoughts that make up a prayer.) It opens the new liturgical year, on the first Sunday of Advent.

The collect begins,

Almighty God, give us grace...

Church News

For their second annual Food Drive, the members of Christ Church in Teaneck and the children and staff of the Ridgewood Montessori School in Paramus collected over 1000 pounds of food to be distributed to the Good Shepherd Food Pantry in Weehawken and the Christ Church Food Pantry.

In the News

[The Daily Record] The Church of the Redeemer was the setting Sunday for a group marriage ceremony that celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriages in New Jersey.

The ceremony featured more than two dozen same-sex and straight couples within the church.

From Bishop Beckwith

My favorite definition of stewardship is “All we do with all we have, all the time,” thus making stewardship a year-round enterprise.

Most of our congregations have completed their annual pledge campaign, and are preparing for the Christmas holidays. I invite you to include the Alleluia Fund for Outreach in your holiday giving; and to consider your contribution as another part of year-round stewardship.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

The lady who drives the 8 a.m. bus is interesting. She is quick to lash out on the passengers who don’t follow the rules as she is lovely to the regulars who do follow the rules. One day, she waited for me as I ran across the street to catch the bus. Some days, she is out of control and it is safe to say that she has road rage. She wishes me a blessed day when I thank her for the ride as I step off the bus. I appreciate the blessing.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

Lately, I've been learning how easy it is to lose one's self in the everyday routine. The retreat was a wonderful break for me to get back in touch with myself. I took an early walk the first morning and it felt great to abandon my soul to the fresh air of the woods and feel the good spirits of the world flow through and around me. The second morning, even though tired, I dragged myself out of bed to do it again . I don't get that luxury living in the city, especially in my neighborhood in Newark. Here are some of my photographs with with quotes that speak to me.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

My alarm goes off every weekday at 5am. The first thought that crosses my mind every morning is, "I can't wait to come back home and sleep." Eventually, I roll out of bed around 6am and struggle to prepare myself for the long day ahead. By 7am, I have my headphones in and I'm walking out the door. As I wait for the bus, I pray for there to be an empty seat so I don't have to sit on the side seats, because they're just not comfortable and you're constantly swaying back and forth with the stop and go movement of the bus. Luckily, I've been able to get a decent seat on the bus thus far, allowing me to sit comfortably while I wallow in the fact that it's only 7am for 20 minutes. Around 7:40am, I'm sipping on my cup of tea, waiting for everything to happen. Finally, 8:15am comes and the doors open for parents and students.

In the News

[The Star-Ledger] Cuts to the U.S. food stamp program will mean 1.9 billion fewer meals for hungry Americans in 2014. That’s more than half the number of meals the country’s food banks already are expected to serve. If House Republicans succeed in cutting $40 billion more from the program over the next decade, another 1.5 billion meals will be wiped out.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

St. Paul talks about the "eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. 4:17). I often wondered what he meant. My sense of God's glory has always been that it lifts us up rather than weigh us down. However, in the wake of Super-Typhoon Haiyan, with all its disturbing and disheartening images and stories, I realize that God's glory is indeed a weight if we can’t or won’t share it with people who are afflicted with death and despair. That certainly is the case in Tacloban and the surrounding area in the Philippines.

Feature

Poverty is a complex knot of multiple strands of risk entangled around children, families, and schools, constraining children’s educational and social opportunities and stifling their development. Poverty threatens children’s development from multiple angles at once, arising from the home, school and neighborhood contexts concurrently. This complexity causes otherwise caring people to throw up their hands and walk away in frustration, thinking there is nothing to be done. But a growing body of research is showing us how to untangle the poverty knot.

In the News

[The Montclair Times] Hunger is very present in Essex County.

Toni's Kitchen, the food ministry of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 73 South Fullerton Ave., has seen a 62 percent increase in the number of meals served to its guests since 2007, according to director Anne Mernin. The Salvation Army Montclair Citadel, 13 Trinity Place, served approximately 16 percent more meals in its most recent service year than it did the year previously, according to Major Larry Ashcraft.

In the News

Gerard "Jerry" Racioppi and Randall "Randy" Johnson are long time members of the Diocese of Newark; Randy is a member of the Episcopal House staff.

[West Orange Chronicle] West Orange residents Gerard Racioppi and Randall Johnson always knew they would eventually be able to legally marry in New Jersey, but never assumed it would happen so soon. Racioppi and Johnson were the first same-sex couple to be married in West Orange Township on Oct. 21, days after same-sex marriage was legalized in the state, following Gov. Chris Christie’s withdrawal of an appeal looking to ban the institution.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

“Every experience, no matter how bad it seems, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.” This is my favorite quote said by Buddha; and I think that it applies to being a NEWARK ACTS intern/missioner in many ways.

Although it is a thrilling to take on new and exciting opportunities such as NEWARK ACTS, it is not easy leaving behind the comforts of home. Through NEWARK ACTS I am meeting new people and learning new things; and I hope to continue to grow as a man for others.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

On Tuesday, November 5, most of us will have an opportunity to engage the world. We can vote. (Or at least those of us who are American citizens and have registered can vote).

In addition to voting for various candidates to fill state and local offices, we will be asked to vote on two referendum questions. Question number 2 asks the electorate if we want to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour. There are many groups supporting this measure – including most religious organizations across the state. And there are many that oppose it.

In the News

The Rev. Diane Riley, a Deacon in the Diocese of Newark, is quoted in this article.

[NJToday] Those who receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, will see a decrease in their assistance come Nov. 1. The reduction in benefits comes because a 2009 law temporarily increasing SNAP benefits during the recession has run out. The cut comes right before the holiday season and those involved in food banks and food pantries in New Jersey believe it will be devastating for those in the state who need the help.

Feature

It’s a familiar scenario: every time a mass shooting appears in the national news it is inevitably followed by politicians and media pundits who immediately point to the need for more mental health services as the answer. Questions are quickly raised about the mental health status of the shooter and so the connection is always made in people’s minds between violence and the mentally ill.

In the News

Ed. note: Cindy Meneghin and Maureen Killian are log-time members of the Diocese of Newark.

[The Star-Ledger] Years ago, Cindy Meneghin's father gave her advice about making a lifelong commitment.

Every year, he said, ask Maureen Killian if she wants to spend the coming year together. Never take it for granted.

For 39 years, Killian has stayed by Meneghin's side ("Sometimes, I leave her hanging for a minute," Killian said). And Saturday, for the second or third time — depending on when you start counting — the two will be joined in marriage.

In the News

[The Star-Ledger] Some church leaders around the state were sent scrambling to rework their services this weekend after a state Supreme Court decision affirmed that gay couples in New Jersey can begin getting married on Monday.

The Rev. Cynthia Black, lead pastor at the Church of the Redeemer in Morristown, said she had to quickly rewrite her sermon after the court ruled Friday not to overturn a Mercer County judge’s declaration that same-sex couples in the state could be legally married.

In the News

[The Record] Thanks to the New Jersey Supreme Court, Doris Dicristina and her partner, Sheila Dynan, had one day — Saturday — to plan their wedding.

They bought clothes for the ceremony and rings at the Macy’s in Rockaway Townsquare mall. They met their pastor, the Rev. Cynthia Black of Morristown’s Church of the Redeemer, to discuss the ceremony. They tried to obtain an application for a marriage license, but were greeted by a locked door at their town hall.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Dear members of the Diocese of Newark,

A panel of the State Supreme Court has just ruled that same-sex marriages can proceed in New Jersey, beginning Monday, October 21. I rejoice that state law now provides the opportunity for all couples to receive the full benefits of marriage. I join my prayers of thanksgiving with those many couples who are – at this moment, applying for marriage licenses. Many of our diocesan clergy are preparing to officiate at celebrations. I have been in conversation with one priest whose congregation is planning a group wedding ceremony – and how I as bishop might participate.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

Communication has become a prevalent premise or occurring factor if you will so far in the 30+ days I have been a NEWARK ACTS intern. Besides being the obvious way to communicate and interact with one another in everyday society I have found my experience thus far as an intern experiencing different ways my communication skills have been challenged.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

1. Budget management is very hard when budget is close to non-existent.

2. Going to work full-time is fun but somewhat of a challenge compared to college.

3. Driving in New Jersey is rough. Jersey drivers are rather tough.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

I am inviting the people and congregations of the Diocese of Newark to join in preparations for the Super Bowl, which will be played at Giants Stadium on February 2, 2014. Not the preparations for what we expect and can easily see – which is all the hoopla that surrounds the largest public event in the country every year. My invitation is to join in the preparation for what we don’t expect, probably won’t see and certainly don’t want: the influx of human trafficking which has accompanied each and every previous Super Bowl.

Church News

On three consecutive Sundays, September 22, 29 and October 6, St. Paul’s Church in Chatham sponsored a series of films, sermons and discussion on how our faith can help us remove the isolation and stigma that children and adults of all ages with disability encounter in the community, and oftentimes, sadly, in the church.

In the News

[MorristownGreen.com] Thirteen youngsters from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown left the classroom for South Street on Sunday to raise money for the community’s needy.

In the News

St. Luke's Church in Phillipsburg is included in this article.

[Episcopal News Service] It all started with a sandwich.

Karen Olson was working for Warner Lambert and had taken one of her frequent trips into New York for a lunch meeting when she encountered a homeless woman sitting outside Grand Central Station.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

The experience thus far has been an interesting one. I have experienced all emotions and challenges that come along with living in a community of strangers that you met the day you moved in. I have also had to privilege to face the challenges of coming into a new work place. This week has been a great one because I am beginning to find my place at work. I have had the privilege to visit a Family Success Center in Camden where I was able to see what a center looked like, functioned and how they followed thru with their mission and purpose.

NEWARK ACTS Director's Blog

Each program year begins in similar fashion with a raft of questions and orientation getting to know one another. I pray that the interns will bond and create a new faith community. This year was not any different than the previous three with the exception that we prepared for eight interns and ended up with seven.

In the News

The Rev. Lynne Weber, Rector of Church of the Atonement in Tenafly, is quoted in this article.

[Religion News Service] At an interfaith summer camp in northern New Jersey, two dozen children explored a swamp to learn how creatures depend on safe water.

Justice Board Call to Action

Getting the government out of our lives may sound like a good idea in the abstract, but abruptly halting the government hurts the people that can least afford to take the hit most. While our elected officials are busy arguing about who is to blame, about 14,000 people in New Jersey won’t be getting paid this week. Unless they have a nest egg, that will make it hard to pay this month’s bills.

But as with many of the economic hurricanes that seem as uncontrollable as Mother Nature – the financial crisis, the Sequestration and now the government shutdown – the youngest and the oldest will bear more of the burden than the rest in the most basic ways.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Separate but equal doesn’t work. It never has. Lots of court rulings, policies, edicts and proposals have come down over the decades for the purpose of convincing people that separate can in fact be equal. But it isn’t.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

We all made the conscious decision to join the corps for many different reasons. We all had our own imagination of what it would be and how it will benefit us. We arrived in New Jersey, some more nervous and/or excited than others. On my drive here, I thought about turning around and going home. I mean, what do I know about New Jersey? My friends and family will all be more than three hours away. That thought in itself was enough to give me an anxiety attack.

Feature

Faced with a growing demand for emergency infant supplies due to the downturned economy, North Porch Women and Infants' Centers have recently completed a successful interfaith collection campaign in the Mountain Lakes area.

Joining in the September community collection drive were St. Peter's Church in Mountain Lakes and Church of the Saviour in Denville, as well as King of Kings Lutheran Church and St. Catherine's Catholic Church, both in Mountain Lakes.

In the News

[MorristownGreen.com] Forty members of three churches commemorated the International Day of Peace on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, by marching through Morristown carrying a five-car plywood “Peace Train,” stopping for prayers at several spots along the route.

In the News

[Passaic Valley Today] Their reasons for walking were varied: they opposed violence at home, violence abroad, and supported a greater need for unity in the community.

The group of 50 area residents walked down Main Street Friday evening holding up peace signs and listening to residents tooting their horns in support of the cause.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

One of the foundational aspects of the missional church is to make regular pilgrimages to unfamiliar places for the purpose of finding out where else God is working. And then to build a mission bridge between God's work in the world and God's work in the church – so that each end of the bridge can be transformed by the other.

NEWARK ACTS Interns' Blog

In the past year, I've been through more than I ever thought I'd ever go through. I left the only place I've ever known and moved to Union City, where I knew nothing and had to learn everything. I lost loved ones whom I never thought would leave me. I've tried new things and went to different places that challenged my beliefs and my comfortability. Looking back, I can truly say I've grown emotionally and mentally. The most important thing I've learned this year is that time is of the essence, don't waste it.

In the News

[Observer-Tribune] “Why not try the termites?” Max Condie was asked, as he stood by an open fire at an African orphanage last spring.

“They’re great fried,” he was told.

On another day the 2012 Mendham High School graduate was offered a roasted rat.

As recounted by Sister Barbara Jean of St. John Baptist in Mendham, food was a major challenge for Condie as he began a “gap year” with two and a half months in Cameroon after his graduation from Mendham High School.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus Christ your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen.

Feature

If your church disappeared tomorrow, would your community notice?

That provocative question set the tone for a lively and thought-provoking workshop at Episcopal House on June 14 led by Jim Naughton and Rebecca  Wilson, who make their living helping churches communicate better as the principals of Canticle Communications and co-authors of Speaking Faithfully: Communications as Evangelism in a Noisy World. Jim is also the founder of Episcopal Café, a news blog.

Church News

September 11, 2012 found a group of St. Paul’s parishioners, led by the Rev. Mary Davis, gathered in the early morning dawn at the Chatham Train Station handing out bookmarks to commuters. The bookmarks were simple, including a prayer for peace and the words “Peace, Love, and Hope” in many languages, and the intention was even simpler – to let the commuters know, as they boarded the train exactly eleven years after that horrific day, that they were not alone. We gathered not just as Episcopalians, but also as fellow survivors of a tragic and life-changing event in our shared history.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

It has been a soul-nourishing, spirit-filled, Christ-centered sabbatical leave. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to journey to so many different places to see how God is working. And I am grateful to return to a diocese that is becoming more and more intent on engaging with the living Christ in their congregations and local communities. I am grateful for the diocesan staff for their commitment, heart, leadership and skill in creating space and opportunities for discipleship and mission to emerge.

Church News & Photos

For the second year the Rev. Kathryn King, Rector of St. Alban’s, Oakland, organized a week-long mission trip for the youth of the parish based at our diocesan camp, Cross Roads. This year St. Alban’s extended the program to St. John’s, Ramsey and Trinity, Allendale. The three parishes have just hired a Youth Missioner to run tri-parish youth ministry for their junior and senior high youth. Megan Kendall was hired on July 1 and was able to attend the mission trip, which took place later that month. Eight youth from St. Alban’s and four from St. John’s participated, with three adults in addition to King chaperoning. Trinity, Allendale plans to join for Mission Trip 2014.

In the News

On Tuesday, August 20th, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into a law a bicameral bill banning the use of so-called “conversion therapy” techniques by licensed therapists on minors in attempts to change their sexual orientation.

The news was welcomed by the Rev. Diana Wilcox, Assistant Rector at St. Luke’s, Montclair and Chaplain of the Web of Life Christian Community at Montclair State University, who called the practice “a double-edged sword” for people of all ages, but particularly for young people who are still figuring out who they are.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

August 28th will mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Many remember it as a civil rights march, chiefly because of Martin Luther King’s memorable, “I Have A Dream” speech. But some will recall that the full name of the demonstration, “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” identified poverty, job discrimination, and racial equality as the primary issues that the organizers sought to lay before the conscience of the nation.

Church News

The community garden at Church of the Messiah in Chester can now donate twice as much fresh produce to local food pantries, thanks to an area Boy Scout who enlarged the garden as his Eagle Scout project.

Feature

At their May meeting, the District 1 representatives agreed to hold a shower to benefit North Porch Women & Infants’ Centers, on Sunday, August 11 at Church of the Messiah in Chester. District 1 congregations responded with generous donations of diapers, formula, baby wipes, baby food, hand-knitted baby hats and blankets and baby toiletries.

Feature

Garden State Episcopal CDC received a grant from the Alleluia Fund to add nursing services to its Hudson CASA Recovery Support Project Homeless Drop-in Program. The program has been very successful in serving low-income and homeless individuals, many of whom are not connected with healthcare services. The provision of this grant has allowed us to enhance the program by having a nurse at the Drop-in Center once a week. The following is a story of one woman and asks the question: Does a nurse on the front lines in a homeless program have an effect upon the greater good?

In the News

[Episcopal News Service] This is the story of two congregations, two languages and one teen who helped bring them together to launch a new ministry.

In the News

[Morristown Green] Editor’s note: If you have traversed South Street lately, you have seen a metallic structure that looks like a cross between an alien spaceship and a Gothic tower with orthodontics. We asked a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church to explain…

The much anticipated preservation work on the St. Peter’s Church tower on South Street has started with the erection of scaffolding around the tower.

Church News

Trinity Episcopal Church in Allendale held a ground-breaking ceremony Sunday, July 21 to mark and bless the sacred ground on which construction will begin for new classroom and community parish spaces.

In the News

[Morristown Green] Hannah Kraft didn’t set out to launch a bilingual vacation Bible camp at her Morristown parish, but the successful new summer program at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church was the payoff for her curiosity.

Photos

Ten teen and adult members of St. John's in Montclair and St. James' in Upper Montclair visited our companion Diocese of Panama for a week in early July, strengthening the companion relationship and getting to know members of Panamanian congregations.

Feature & Photos

Last month six members of the Messiah in Chester embarked on a mission trip to a nearby location, Staten Island, where they spent a week repairing a home damaged last year by Hurricane Sandy. Messiah's Rector, the Rev. Margaret Otterburn, and lay participant Julie Crawford describe their work and the impact it had on them.

Feature

If you ask parishioners at St. James’ Church in Hackettstown what they are doing during the summer, they may say to you, “I’m shopping” or “I’m packing this Sunday,” but they wouldn’t be talking about preparing for summer vacation. For five years now, St James’ has partnered with the United Way, the business community, local farmers, bakeries and volunteers in the neighborhood to provide food for children and families in the Greater Hackettstown area.

In the News

[Episcopal News Service] Wearing a traditional black clerical shirt and collar, and less- traditional black shorts and sandals, the Rev. John Mennell sits near a portable altar, waiting for stragglers. About a dozen people — one with a leashed dog named Gideon at her feet — sit facing him in two rows of folding chairs. Backed by the sounds of diners chatting outside a nearby eatery and passing vehicular traffic, Mennell rises and greets worshipers at the corner of Church Street and South Fullerton in Montclair, New Jersey, to the July 28 Worship Without Walls.

In the News

[Cape May County Herald] The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey Choir Camp will present its Choral Evensong Aug. 1 at 4 p.m. at the Church of the Advent, corner of Washington and Franklin streets.

Entering its 25th year, the Choir Camp brings together students from around the state, including Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, Woodbridge, and Englewood. Diane Caruso, music director of Trinity Church in Asbury Park, and Mark Trautman, music director of St. Paul’s Church in Englewood have taken on the leadership roles as the camp undergoes a rebuilding phase.

In the News

The Rev. Mariano Gargiulo, Rector of St. James' Church in Ridgefield, is quoted in this article.

[The Star-Ledger] With one offhand phrase — "Who am I to judge?" — Pope Francis Monday brought encouragement and guarded hope to gay priests and lay people who have felt ostracized by the Roman Catholic church’s strict stance on homosexuality.

In the News

John Simonelli, chair of The Oasis, the Diocese of Newark’s LGBTi Ministry, is quoted in this article.

[The Record] Pope Francis, in an unprecedented and candid press briefing Monday, appeared to break from the views of his predecessor by saying he accepts gay priests, perhaps opening the way for more inclusion of gays in the church, some experts said.

In the News

Editor's note: The original St. Philip's Academy was started by Trinity & St. Philip's Cathedral in Newark.

Fiorella Serrano concedes it will be hard to break the habit of what she says when she answers the phone at school.

“I am so used to saying St. Philip’s Academy, and now its Philip’s Academy Charter School,” said the longtime teacher and parent at the Newark school. “Just seeing that name come off the gym wall was something.” The name change may be the least of it, as St. Philip’s Academy – a Newark private school for 25 years – officially becomes the public Philip’s Academy Charter School this fall with the state’s approval of its final charter last week.

The change represents New Jersey’s first -- and so far only -- charter conversion from either a private or traditional public school.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

The George Zimmerman verdict has exposed a perfect storm in American life: a legal reality that continues to expand the definition of self defense; "stand your ground" laws that invite the proliferation of gun violence – and the chronic, and sometimes acute, cultural disease of racism.

In the News

The Rev. Diane Riley, a deacon in the Diocese of Newark, is quoted in this article.

[The Star-Ledger] After the passage by the House of Representatives last week of a farm bill that does not include funding for the federal food stamp program, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) visited the state's largest food bank this morning to highlight his support for the program, which he cast in stark and unambiguous moral terms.

In the News

The Rev. Diane Riley, a deacon in the Diocese of Newark, is quoted in this article.

[NJ Spotlight] As Congress debates the best way to pass a federal farm bill, advocates for New Jersey’s food-aid recipients are concerned that efforts to slash funding for nutrition programs could overburden family budgets at a time when the state’s economy remains fragile and its unemployment rate remains above the national average.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

O God of peace and healing,
We come before you feeling powerless to stop the hatred that divides races and nations.

In the News

[The Montclair Times] On Thursday, June 27, Toni's Kitchen, the soup kitchen operated by St. Luke's Episcopal Church on South Fullerton Avenue, had more than just vegetables, soup, protein and fruit on offer.

There was a pharmacist, a medical assistant, and a nurse practitioner. There was a table for patient registration. And a social worker for helping with care coordination.

In the News

[Episcopal News Service] When the Rev. Marianne Stuart celebrates Eucharist on a Sunday morning in Birmingham, Alabama, the worshipers may be in pews a few hours south in Mobile or more than a day’s drive north in New York.

Feature

In 2012 the Alleluia Fund granted $5,500 to the Afterschool Program of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Essex County. Recently Ellen Donker, a Development Associate with IHN, shared the following stories about the Afterschool Program, saying, "The Alleluia Fund contributed greatly to its success."

Feature & Video

Sporting T-shirts with rainbows, Episcopal shields and slogans such as "Our welcome is wide," "We are all part of one human family" and "I'm a Christian and I support equality," more than 200 Episcopalians from the Dioceses of Newark and New York marched together down 5th Avenue in NYC at the Gay Pride March on June 30.

In the News

[The Cleveland Plain Dealer] Five years ago, three courageous men of faith took the bold initiative to create an interfaith alliance built on the monotheist traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the understanding that the three religions are inextricably linked to one another.

Feature

Cherish is not just a vow; it is also a good idea.

More than 25 years into our marriage someone asked Ernest and me who Kim Byham is, and I explained, "Kim Byham is my best friend." Later when we were alone, Ernest said, "I know you are close to Kim and I rejoice in that. But I am surprised that I have never heard you name me as your best friend. You are my best friend."

There was no meanness, no 'gotcha' in his countenance, just gentle, loving vulnerability.

In the News

[Episcopal News Service] Steve Price’s white gardenia boutonniere and diamond pinkie ring were bittersweet tributes among a sea of joy at the June 27 “Celebration of Equality” at St. John’s Pro-Cathedral in Los Angeles.

From Los Angeles to New York, worshippers gathered across the church to celebrate in very public and very personal ways, after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ruled California’s ban on gay marriage (Proposition 8) unconstitutional.

In the News

[Morristown Green] Morristown’s Church of the Redeemer and the Presbyterian Church are the big winners in this year’s Morris County historic preservation sweepstakes, which will distribute $2.7 million among 22 sites.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

President Barack Obama delivered a remarkable commencement address recently at Morehouse College It was a speech that focused on the responsibilities of the young black men who were about to seek their fortunes in the world as graduates of one of the leading black educational institutions in this country. The young men were exhorted to take personal responsibility for their lives and to resist blaming this country’s racism for the obstacles that they may encounter in the future.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

I went to Nepal and India, in part, to experience displacement. And there certainly was a lot of geographic and physical displacement - 10 time zones distant, foreign languages, unfamiliar food, heart stopping traffic (I will never complain about the Pulaski Skyway again), a totally different religious landscape; and, in the case of Nepal, the Himalayas - whose angular grandeur was both inviting and forbidding at the same time.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

I celebrate the two rulings issued today by the Supreme Court. It brings us closer to marriage equality - and full equality, for all God's children.

In the News

[Morristown Green] In a Father’s Day outing that could have been dubbed the Cicada Run, members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the wider community participated in a walk and “fun run” at Lewis Morris Park on June 16 to raise funds for the church’s youth group summer mission trip to Topsail, N.C. A portion of the funds also will benefit Abdulai’s Project, which builds homes in remote areas of Sierra Leone.

In the News

[MorristownPatch] While many are out shopping for Father’s Day gifts, some have a dad that’s charitable or into fitness. If that’s the case, this upcoming Father’s day Fun Walk/Run would be perfect.

Morristown’s St. Peter's Episcopal Church Youth Group, along with the church’s Men’s Bible Study Group, are hosting the fun run on Sunday to benefit the youth group’s upcoming mission trip to Top Sail in North Carolina.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Members of a West Delhi Leper colony stand outside their chapel, which was started by the Delhi Brotherhood Society, an Anglican monastic community where I stayed for a week. One of the community's brothers celebrates Eucharist there every week; and the entire brotherhood is engaged in providing fees and support for the education of the community's children.

Photos

On June 9, 2013, more than 70 members of the diocese were honored with the David P. Hegg II Lifetime Achievement Award at the 17th annual Senior Ministries Evensong, held at Christ Church in East Orange with Canon Gregory A. Jacobs officiating.

Announcement

The Rev. Canon Dr. Sandye A. Wilson, rector of St. Andrew & Holy Communion Church in South Orange, has been named one of four recipients of the Union of Black Episcopalians' 2013 humanitarian and honors awards.

Greetings everyone! Now that the day of Pentecost has come and gone and I begin to settle into the position of Coordinator for Missional Church Strategy, I thought I would try to articulate some of what I am learning about the "Missional movement" and what I see as I contemplate and dream of the future of this diocese with regard to being missional.

This is the stupa in Kathmandu, Nepal. We were there on the Buddha's birthday. Thousands of people walked all night clockwise round it. An incredible, and moving, act of piety and devotion.

[Randolph Reporter] Thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Randolph, the Randolph Township schools, and Dover High School, some moms will breathe a sigh of relief because their infants will be fed and clothed in the month of May.

Bonnie Hodge, President and Dee Rincon, Young Child Priority One Chair of the Kiwanis Club of Randolph, came up with the idea to help women and their infants when they learned about North Porch Women and Infants’ Center in January.

[Morristown Green] Military servicemen participating in a Memorial Day salute to fallen soldiers at the statue in front of the reflecting pool at the Vail Mansion in Morristown on Monday crossed South Street to visit the new “peace train” on the lawn of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

[Warren Reporter] School is out and the sound of children’s boisterous fun fills our neighborhoods. You may not notice another sound that begins as a rumble and then moves to a loud growl. This is the sound of a hungry child.

The Holy Spirit brings people together – so that we can see and understand each other at the deepest level. And the understanding is, for Christians, that we are all connected through that same Spirit.

On Pentecost afternoon, the Holy Spirit brought many parts of the diocese together to sing, to pray – to have our ministries blessed – and to be fed and freed by the Spirit.

[The Jersey Journal] The Jubilee Center of Hoboken began its 10-year anniversary celebration Friday morning with the unveiling of new bricks for the commemorative walkway around the building at Jackson and Sixth streets.

The event was one of several that will take place this year to celebrate 10 years of success for the center. The Jubilee Center is a project of All Saints Community Service and Development Corporation [which was created in 1995 by All Saints' Episcopal Parish in Hoboken - ed. note].

[Episcopal News Service] The Holy Spirit comes, for some, as a comforting presence. For others, it’s a disturbing upsetter. And still, for others, it is mysterious, even scary.

But don’t confuse it just with Pentecost – the 50th day after Easter – which the church observes this Sunday (May 19) and which “challenges us to focus at least one day on the Spirit’s activity in our life,” according to the Rev. Janet Broderick, rector of St. Peter’s Church, in Morristown, New Jersey.

The feast of Pentecost commemorates the release of the Holy Spirit. It is long thought of as the birthday of the church. Scripture records the first Pentecost as happening when people were gathered in one place (Acts 2:1). My guess is that they gathered outside, partly because there were far too many people to be contained indoors and partly because the Spirit, which in Hebrew is Ruah (or breath or wind of God), is most manifest outside.

On Saturday, April 20, the girls connected with the Afghan School Project of St. Luke’s Church in Hope held a community spaghetti dinner to raise money to buy 50 tables and chairs for the Yakawlang Central Girls High School in Afghanistan. The dinner, which raised $643 of the $3550 needed, took place at St. Luke’s sister church, St. Mary’s in Belvidere.

On April 27, a brilliant, sunny Saturday, the Sisters of St. John Baptist, a religious order for women in the Episcopal Church, celebrated one hundred years of ministry at their historic convent building in Mendham Township. About 180 friends, Associates and local residents joined the Sisters for a service of thanksgiving, followed by a joyous procession to the cornerstone itself where prayers of thanksgiving were offered.

[The Star-Ledger] Through the Hetrick-Martin Institute, LGBT youth receive support with after-school programs that range from counseling and crisis management to health and wellness education as well as academic enrichment and career preparation.

On Sunday, Grace Church in Newark will honor the program with a benefit concert celebrating the achievements of gay composers. HMI, which started more than 30 years ago in Manhattan, began offering services in Newark in 2011.

I have never owned a gun. I last fired one when I was about twelve years old, at a rifle range while at summer camp. I am not part of the gun culture, and know very little about it - except for the flood of resistance released by a portion of that culture toward any legislation that intends to reduce gun violence.

[Patch.com] With the failure of proposed gun control measures to pass the U.S. Senate this week, gun control proponents turned their focus to the state level in a rally on Sunday.

“Stand Up for Gun Sanity,” sponsored by the Bergen County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence and held at Ridgewood’s Christ Episcopal Church, featured Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-9), Joseph Chuman, leader of the Teaneck-based Ethical Culture Society, State Senators Loretta Weinberg (D-37) and Robert Gordon (D-38), as well as several speakers from around the county.

[MorristownGreen.com] On the eve of the introduction of a federal immigration reform bill, supporters marched across Morristown from St. Margaret's Roman Catholic Church to St. Peter's Episcopal Church to pray for its passage.

The violence continues.

On Monday afternoon, three people were killed and scores were injured in Boston. Details are still emerging, but it has unleashed a level of fear – and brought our psyches immediately back to the tragedy of 9/11. We talked with our children last night; and they said that all their friends who had run on Monday reported that they were all right. A priest friend of mine from Massachusetts told me this morning that both of his sons had been at the finish line cheering on friends, but they left before the explosions.

Speaking to more than 200 members of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh congregations from around northern New Jersey, Bishop Mark Beckwith said, "...never in my 34 years [of ordained ministry] have I seen an issue that's surfaced so quickly and so urgently, ...that's galvanized people in such a powerful way," as the issue of gun violence.

The interfaith group assembled at Christ Church in East Orange on Sunday, April 14 to support a national effort to negotiate a multi-party covenant to reduce gun violence in America.

[Northern Valley Suburbanite] Religious leaders and community members attended an interfaith forum on Sunday to discuss women's role in religion.

The program at the Church of Atonement in Tenafly was the first such event the Interfaith Women's Initiative has organized in Bergen County. The group plans to hold similar events in the future.

As a member of Friends of Canterbury Cathedral in the United States (FOCCUS), the Rev. Matthew Corkern, Rector of Calvary Church in Summit, was one of just a few Americans privileged to attend the enthronement of Justin Welby as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. Here is his eyewitness account:

While of national and international importance, with a panoply of pageantry riding upon a crest of exultant enthusiasm, this occasion was marked by an underlying simple dignity, ushering in a new decade of hope and personal relationships. For this Anglo-American witness thrilled to be present, a sense of anticipation pervaded the liturgical and cultural ethos.

I prefer to put an H at the front of the word “Alleluia,” because then it requires more energy to say it – or shout it or sing it. Hallelujah. Halleluia, Hamdalilah (the Arabic translation which Muslims use), Alleluia – however you say it or spell it; it is an expression of deep joy. We Christians reintroduce Hallelujah at Easter, because of the joy that is released in the Resurrection – “Alleluia: Christ is Risen!” Because Jesus rose from the tomb, Hallelujah erupts from the depth of the soul.

I am humbled to stand here. Our shared history is rich with memories and accomplishments of your doing. My journey reflects the stories and paths taken by congregations and their lay members and clergy. I have been privileged and blessed to witness your ministries, sometimes as a participant but more often as an observer awed by the passion and depth of commitment to do the right thing.

There have been many signs of God’s grace; God is alive. And with certainty I tell you that you are God’s people. We have been challenged, changed, charged and made stronger.

Let me begin….

[Daily Record] Several Parsippany churches on Friday met at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church to commemorate Good Friday with an Ecumenical Good Friday Liturgy and walk.

[The Record] Anyone passing St. Peter’s Episcopal Church will see photos of victims of the Connecticut elementary school massacre, their smiling faces with their names and ages producing a mournful memorial that, the pastor says, is also a call for stricter gun control.

I believe that we Episcopalians tell our story through our liturgy – and that's what we did yesterday in our nation's capital.

[Episcopal News Service] Rain, snow, and temperatures that were barely above freezing did not deter a group of about 400 Episcopalians from taking to the streets of the nation’s capital March 25 to transform the traditional re-enactment of Jesus’ journey to Calvary and the tomb into a prayer procession meant to challenge what they called a culture of violence.

During the pre-dawn hours of Monday, March 25 – the Monday in Holy Week – some 60 people from the Diocese of Newark will head to Washington, D.C., where they will join hundreds of Episcopalians from across the country in challenging the epidemic of gun violence that claims so many thousands of American lives each year.

Much of my time at our recently concluded House of Bishops meeting was spent dealing with responding to gun violence. A group of us met by conference call before our gathering, met several times during our time together in North Carolina, and have committed to continuing to work together beyond our meeting. We organized an entire afternoon and evening on the subject. We produced a "Word to the Church," which I commend for your reading: Godly Leadership in the Face of Violence.

Laura Russell, a lawyer from the Diocese of Newark who has worked with trafficking victims for more than 10 years, was a member of this panel. Russell served as a lay deputy to the 2012 General Convention, and is a member of the diocesan Justice Board.

[Episcopal News Service] There are more human beings in bondage today, twice as many as at the height of the slave trade, working in conditions of forced labor and sexual servitude in what is a $32 billion a year business, second only to the illicit drug trade, said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in her opening remarks during an hour-long, churchwide conversation on human trafficking March 6.

I watched a TV show last night in which, in the course of an hour, at least eight people were shot dead. The violence was glorified, in that the “good” guys prevailed. And the violence was trivialized, in that the” bad” guys were nameless and clearly anti-social; no blood was seen and no tears were shed. Everybody on the show, including me watching it, moved on without any reflection that lives were taken.

[Episcopal News Service] Emancipation “is in our DNA” at Church of the Redeemer in Morristown, New Jersey, says the Rev. Cynthia Black, rector. “We talk about liberation. We live liberation.”

So when it came time to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the church that calls itself “a Christian liberation community in the Episcopal tradition” planned far more than a one-day or Black History Month event.

"'Ashes to Go?' No way!" exclaimed one commuter with delight, upon exiting Newark Penn Station to see Bishop Mark Beckwith and the Rev. Laurie Wurm distributing ashes just outside. "My friend said you'd be here," said another as she got in line to receive. "I got ashes from you here last year," said a third, who after receiving ashes produced a pocket camera and asked to be photographed with Bishop Beckwith and Rev. Wurm.

A number of congregations engaged the world with Ashes to Go across our diocese. Following are some of their photos and stories.

[The Record] First the Englewood Public Library hosted a speaker who said the Bible really tells the history of blacks. That was followed by a concert by a Tenafly clarinet and saxophone soloist.

And in between, just blocks away on Engle Street, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church held its own concert, featuring Follow the Drinking Gourd, a trio who named themselves after a song used to steer slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad.

[FiOS1 News] All Saints' Episcopal Parish in Hoboken took Ash Wednesday to the Hoboken Path Station, where commuters received ashes during the morning rush hour in what the clergy called “Ashes to Go.” FiOS1 News’ Natalie Paterson has the story.

I wish you a blessed Lent.

Lent is the ancient season of preparation. Preparation for Baptism at the Easter Vigil and it's a season of solidarity with those who are being formed to be disciples of Jesus and missionaries in God's mission.

It is Shrove Tuesday. Mardi Gras. The day before the beginning of the Lenten season. The end of my/our sojourn through Anne Lamott’s book Help Thanks Wow.

One of my first wows was being taken to my first major league ballpark – Wrigley Field in Chicago. I was six. My dad took me. Everything about it was wow (and still is whenever I walk into a ballpark). I don’t remember what I said when I first walked in – if I said anything. “When we are stunned to the place beyond words, we’re finally starting to get somewhere.” (Page 73, Help Thanks Wow.)

What do you get when you combine a love of sports with a love of saints? Lent Madness, of course. A year after this unique online devotion went viral—with mentions in Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post, and many other media outlets, Lent Madness is back.

Based loosely on the wildly popular NCAA basketball tournament, Lent Madness pits 32 saints against one another in public voting as they compete for the coveted Golden Halo. But it is more than that: Lent Madness is really an online devotional tool designed to help people learn about saints. The competition begins on Thursday, February 14 and takes place at www.lentmadness.org.

It turns out that Epiphany is all about Wow. The wow of a star leading wise men to the wonder of the baby Jesus. The wow of Jesus being transfigured on top of the mountain, which means that he shone in glory. The wow of water becoming wine. Some of us may have some trouble with the chemistry of that one – but the effect is “wow,”

It’s called secondary gain – getting so wrapped up in negativity that you get something positive out of it. I have a friend who described this rather dramatically: “if I feel this good when I am feeling miserable, think of how much better I will be when things get worse.”

Photos documenting the 139th Annual Convention from beginning to end can be viewed here, courtesy of Steven Boston.

Anne Lamott writes: “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior.” (Page 56, Help Thanks Wow). I have certainly found that to be true, but so is its converse: the behavior of gratitude creates more gratitude in the heart. It is a cycle – a cycle of gratitude. Unlike a vicious cycle, which tends to circle us down to negativity and despair; the gratitude cycle spins us upward to joy and freedom. The more gratitude we feel, the more gratitude gets expressed in our lives; and the more gratitude we express generates more gratitude in the heart.

"I think that's how our liturgy can function. It should reflect our experience of a missional God, the one who sends the word made flesh to dwell among us -- and then in turn it should fire our hearts and send us into the world bearing the brand of God, the mark we receive in baptism. "This sending out is serious. It's why we're marked with the sign of the cross, and not a smiley face."

A feature of Annual Convention is the "Mission Minutes" videos, describing some of the mission work going on in our congregations. For the 2013 Convention, the Mission Minutes were framed by the question, "How is your congregation 'daring to be missional'?" Eleven churches responded.

As part of their Convention report on Friday, January 25, 2013, The Mission Strategy Committee presented a video about their "Introduction to Missional Conversations" Workshop held on January 5, 2013. (Time: 8:01)

We are well launched into 2013, but many of us are still living in the wake of 2012. Hurricane Sandy blew through our region in late October, cutting off power in parts of every community in the diocese, flooding much of Hoboken and Little Ferry – and devastating the coasts of New Jersey, and Staten and Long Islands. The third and most vicious storm in fifteen months brought a new wave of awareness that our climate is becoming more fierce – and we are more vulnerable in the face of it.

Michael Francaviglia was hired as Director of Administration & Secretary of Convention with the Episcopal Diocese of Newark by Bishop John Shelby Spong, starting on September 1, 1990. After more than 22 years of service to the diocese under Bishops Spong, John Palmer Croneberger and Mark M. Beckwith, he announced his planned retirement on April 5, 2013.

Several years ago a good friend sent me a poem by Rumi, a 12th century Sufi (Muslim) mystic. He sent it because he knew I was going through a rough spell. It is one of the best invitations to live in gratitude that I have ever read.

One of my professors always reminds me of how fond she is of my directness and clarity when it came to my future. While most people had a general idea of what they wanted to do, I had everything figured out. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, which individuals I wanted to work with and to what capacity, the city I wanted to work in and which employer I wanted to work for. Freshman year, I started volunteering at high schools in tutoring programs and by senior year of college, I felt that I had already begun my career. I was doing exactly what I wanted to do.

Bishop Mark Beckwith, Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz, and Imam W. Deen Shareef appeared on Ebru Today, a news and culture program on the cable channel Ebru TV, to talk about the Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace and their interfaith trip to Israel/Paslestine.
 

Lots of gratitude today. Gratitude for the inauguration, when we demonstrate to ourselves and to the world that democracy continues to be a worthwhile path. Gratitude for the ceremony, the music, the address – which was more homily than speech; and for the benediction offered by Luis Leon, an old friend and who was a priest and colleague in this diocese (as Rector of St. Paul’s Paterson from 1982-1988).

For me, Epiphany is looking beyond the membrane that separates the earth from heaven; looking beyond and seeing God’s glory. Sometimes that membrane is so thin that you can see heaven moving by – which is what the three Wise Men saw on their way to meet the baby Jesus (and which is the opening Gospel story for Epiphany). They probably verbally expressed their thanks as they left their gifts (which were the tangible thanks they gave).

Praying for help is not so much an exercise in going deeper into something, Anne Lamott suggests, but giving it over. "Praying 'help' means that we ask that Something give us the courage to stop in our tracks, right where we are, and turn our fixation away from the Gordian knot of our problems. We stop the toxic peering and instead turn our eyes to something else: to our feet on the sidewalk, to the middle distance, to the hills, whence our help comes – someplace else, anything else. Maybe this is a shift of only eight degrees, but it can be a miracle." (Page 40, Help Thanks Wow.)

The push for stiffer gun control measures has taken a front seat on the American consciousness after the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. last month. President Barack Obama unveiled a $500 million gun violence package today aimed at reducing violence nationwide. That was good news to members of the Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace, whose mission is to curb violence in New Jersey’s largest city.

Bishop Mark Beckwith said Obama’s proposal isn’t as much as he would want, but it’s a step in the right direction. He said aside from the Newtown shooting, there have been other acts of unspeakable violence with guns. The impetus for the interfaith coalition was the 2007 schoolyard shooting in Newark that left three teens dead and one wounded at the hands of gang members.

Bishop Beckwith will appear on NJ Today with Mike Schneider on Wednesday, January 16. He and some of his colleagues from the Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peace will talk about their work and current issues of violence in society.

Recycling receptacles for empty bottles and cans and copy paper will be located next to trash collection containers in areas where we gather for convention activities. 

Anne Lamott tells us that being generous is the ultimate healing (page 21 Help Thanks Wow). I have been thinking a lot about that. I may quibble over whether or not generosity is the ultimate healing; but that said, Ms. Lamott has helped me recognize that being generous goes a long way in furthering the healing process.

[Madison Patch] Jack Harter, a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Madison who loved animals and for whom the community rallied to raise money so he could have a service dog, died last week in his sleep.

“Imagination is from God,” Anne Lamott writes in Help Thanks Wow. (Page 21.) Imagination is of grace. “I think it is okay to imagine God and grace the best you can.” It is true, she says, that some imaginings cause us to shut down or tune out. We can choose that, if we want. We can also choose to imagine with hope and love and peace – which allows for the very best of us to come out.

Anne Lamott invites us into the depth of human experience. And sometimes, she indicates, it is not hard to get there, especially when all hell breaks loose. And we hit bottom.

[Episcopal News Service] What does a new beginning look like?

For many the New Year is for planning positive changes and forging new paths for wellness: heart-healthy diets, cardio regimens or new gym memberships. But what about the other “heart” health? How often do you need to be reminded to nourish and exercise the spirit?

Workshops at the annual diocesan convention will be offered on Friday morning, Friday later afternoon and Saturday lunch time. The topics will include:

This year we will be organizing a “pick-up” choir for the Friday Eucharist at Convention. Mr. Dent Davidson, Associate of Arts and Liturgy with the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago will be preaching AND leading the music. Admired by many for his musical ministry in the Episcopal Church, Dent is well-known for the joyous music and song at the House of Bishops meetings. His enthusiasm is infectious as is his ability to create community while making music. There will be a brief rehearsal on Friday morning (January 25) at 11 a.m.

On December 12, 2012, Diocesan Council ratified a total of $68,000 in grants recommended by the ACTS/VIM Board for their fall 2012 granting cycle.

The offering from the 139th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark will be divided equally between the Good Shepherd Academy of the Good Shepherd Home for Children in Cameroon and Cross Roads Camp & Retreat Center.

On December 12, 2012, Diocesan Council ratified a total of $69,432 in grants recommended by the Ward J. Herbert Fund Board for its third granting cycle.

Today, the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorates the gifts given to the infant king by the Three Wise Men. They came a long way to leave their gifts – and they returned with a gift they hadn’t expected, and probably didn’t want – at least not at first. The gift they took away was contained in what they saw. Seeing a baby was not all that remarkable, but what they saw within the baby changed their lives. As described in the poem Journey of the Magi by T. S. Eliot, they went home – but everything was different: “we returned to our places, these kingdoms, but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, with an alien people clutching their gods.”

Last month, I asked fellow clergy if they exercise regularly, and if so what difference it made in their spiritual, congregational, personal, and/or family lives. The responses were amazing – but first, I want to tell you a little about how science has been catching up with the age-old wisdom of people of prayer regarding the healing power of the mind-body-spirit connection.

[The Star-Ledger] There are those battered by Hurricane Sandy, others saddened by the tragedy in Connecticut, questioning life and, perhaps, faith.

But the weary are called to rejoice, as the Rev. Canon Sandye A. Wilson puts it. Christians are called to celebrate — to find peace — in a seemingly broken world. Her followers see it around them.

More than 40 years ago, someone who worked at Macy’s donated a Santa Claus suit to the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in West Orange.

Bob Gray tried it on, and it fit.

Gray, now 80, has been playing Santa every year since then, and he says he has no intention of stopping.

On MSNBC's Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough, Bishop Mark Beckwith, Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz and Imam Deen Shareef discuss the lessons that should be taken away from the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Time: 8:44.

Sometimes darkness arrives at 9:30 in the morning. A huge, horrific darkness that has covered the whole country, if not the world. Twenty-six innocent lives lost. Scores of grieving families who are in shock, grief and fear.

This piece was published as an op-ed in the Star-Ledger on December 12, 2012.

The world’s attention recently has been drawn to violence in Syria, Gaza, Iraq — and supportive, and increasingly threatening, language from Iran and Israel. In October, an interfaith group of 35 Christians, Muslims and Jews from Newark and surrounding communities journeyed to Israel and the Palestinian territories to explore together the roots of our respective faiths and learn about creative responses to violence.

Jairo Barreto perched on a chair in the parish hall at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown getting his hair trimmed – a fresh cut and, he hopes, part of a fresh start.

As we're continuing the season of Advent and all the preparations for Christmas, I invite you to look ahead with me to next year to the Epiphany Season, which in this diocese we're going to claim as the Gratitude Season.

I will be blogging regularly in Epiphany (as opposed to Advent), and to help us live into this season of gratitude I'm inviting you to join with me in reading a book by Anne Lamott, a well-known author who is a Christian. She's written several novels and several books of non-fiction. Her latest book is called Help Thanks Wow. She's written it and titled it that way because she says the three basic prayers boil down to "Help!" "Thanks!" and "Wow!"

“Your gift allows us to continue to shelter working homeless families and to help them change the trajectory of their lives from one of despair to one of hope.” – Kate Duggan, Executive Director, Family Promise of Bergen County

Family Promise of Bergen County helps working families with children who have temporarily hit rough times and lost a place to live. By pulling together a network of volunteers of all ages, Family Promise of Bergen County works to reduce homelessness and transform lives.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have announced the 24 members of the special Task Force for Church Structural Reform.

Members of the Peace Islands Institute provided authentic Turkish dishes as part of a special coffee house held at St. Paul Episcopal Church on Sunday, Nov. 11.

Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu leaders pressed for more affordable housing at a rally in Trenton on Wednesday, arguing the state has a moral obligation to ensure its citizens can find affordable places to live.

“We know for a fact that people cannot address their basic needs without stable housing,” said the Rev. Deacon Christine McCloud, of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. “At the end of the day, we are all responsible for helping our neighbor.”

Nowhere is God’s grace more visible in our diocese than in the ministries and programs strengthened through the Alleluia Fund. Since its inception, the Diocese of Newark’s Alleluia Fund has awarded more than $360,000 to ministries and outreach programs in Northern New Jersey and internationally. In 2012, more than $145,000 was awarded to 25 organizations through the Alleluia Fund. (For a complete list of 2012 grants, click here.)

If you give between today and December 31, your gift will be matched by the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund – up to $15,000.

Here’s how one organization, the Jubilee Center in Hoboken, benefited from your support.

Fairbairn Powers, priest in charge of St. Agnes Episcopal Church, has been an athlete for a long time.

In her 40s she competed in marathons and cross-country skied. In her 50s, she backpacked. Then her doctor told her should she should bicycle, swim and "do other things" to diversify her workouts.

Today, we celebrated Thanksgiving at work. I work at an alternative school of sorts, through YCS. We currently have 9 kids in the program, so that grants us a lot of flexibility with what we do. For Thanksgiving, the staff made food and brought it in, and we had a giant feast with the kids. We only asked them to dress up and act appropriately. I walked in to work today, and saw all my adorable kids in their best clothes! I loved it! They were so excited! All of them had their hair done, nice clothes on, and they were (for the most part) in awesome moods.

The words surfaced again and again as Episcopalians described how their churches became distribution centers for relief supplies and sanctuaries of warmth and food in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which slammed the Northeast on Oct. 29. The storm swept away or flooded homes along the coasts of New Jersey and New York, disrupted transportation and telephone services across the region and left millions of households without electricity and heat, and in some cases water, throughout multiple dioceses.

Churches responded by opening their doors as warming, charging and feeding stations; collecting and distributing emergency supplies and meals; and dispatching volunteers to visit and inventory the needs of those most affected by the storm. In the process, their clergy reported, the churches offered new opportunities for service and built community within and beyond their walls.

One day after two beloved members of their parish died in a house fire, dozens gathered Sunday at St. James Episcopal Church to grieve and pray for a woman who was active within the church, and her “sweet” young son.

For the Jews, Muslims, and Christians on a New Jersey interfaith mission to Israel, the low point of their weeklong trip was perhaps a visit to the Aida refugee camp on the outskirts of Bethlehem. The towering security wall, the anti-Israel graffiti, and the unsmiling children were grim reminders of the ongoing enmity between the children of Abraham.

The high point was — well, take your pick: a tearful group prayer as many of the participants got their first glimpse of Jerusalem; a Friday evening synagogue service in which a rabbi, an imam, and an Episcopal bishop all offered words from the bima; or perhaps a raucous ceremony, held at Jerusalem’s YMCA, where they were invited to join in welcoming Arab volunteers into an Orthodox-run emergency medical corps.

So the last few weeks have been challenging. I think the most difficult part is that really I haven't lost anything while so many have lost everything. The struggle came for me in the balance. At work we lost some, enough for a weeks worth of cleanup, but honestly nothing in comparison to so many. But being in that space that was so new clean and fresh just two weeks ago that is now showing the effects of water damage, sorting through gifts that people all over the country have made for us to give and at first not knowing if we could save it (we did) made my mood dim and and my outlook gloomy.

Reports are coming in from our churches of the work they are doing to help their neighbors after Hurricane Sandy.

On Friday, November 9, we boarded the Ibrahim Dede with eighteen crew berthed at APM Terminal in Port Elizabeth — a visit that will forever be indelibly imprinted in our minds and souls.

Damage-wise, Sandy wreaked less havoc on our diocesan church properties than Irene did a year ago. Yet as we have seen and heard, Sandy produced gaping wounds on Staten and Long Islands -- and in South Jersey; that may take months, if not years, to heal.

Although Sandy didn’t produce much visible damage across our diocese, the storm has left its mark. Most of us were without power for a time. Many still haven’t had power restored. It was – and is, incredibly frustrating.

If you ask any NEWARK ACTS Intern which word they hear the most from our program directors, I think we'd all say it's, "community." As participants of this program we agreed to live in a community with our fellow interns, meaning we share common spaces, house dinners and worships, and participate in other activities with the individuals in our house. I must say our house has been doing a tremendous job of getting together for various activities (dinners, worship, recreational, community service etc).

Hurricane Sandy, Superstorm, Frankenstorm. So many names, so many problems.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

It’s been almost a week since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the New Jersey/New York coastline wreaking havoc and leaving devastation in her wake. Clean up efforts and power restoration are well underway in many areas, but many of our brothers and sisters both within our congregations and in our communities are nonetheless experiencing frustration, anger, and grief as continued outages, gasoline and food shortages, and delays and difficulties in reaching workplaces  and essential destinations become harder to deal with.

[Episcopal News Service] “Ship ahoy!,” shouted a costumed boy racing up the stairs while trick-or-treating in the parish hall at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, New Jersey.

Halloween arrived on All Souls Day, Nov. 2, this year for Morristown youngsters when the church hosted children for trick-or-treating on its campus after the holiday was postponed in New Jersey due to dangerous conditions caused by Hurricane Sandy, which roared through the region and caused widespread power outages with downed trees and wires in the Morristown area.

So... Hurricane Sandy rolled into town. 

My house was wonderfully unaffected. We lost power for possibly 30 seconds total, and only lost cable and internet (and phone service) for two days. We had 3 people staying with us, Richard, who was in the program last year and a couple friends we know that live(d) in Weehawken. During the storm, we played games and watched a ton of movies. We sat around and talked for hours, and finally walked around town, once it was safe. It was actually a nice week of bonding for my roommates and I. We bonded with our other friends as well, but unfortunately, the reason they stayed with us is because their house was destroyed.

Food stamps have always been something of a mystery for me. I saw Food Stamped in college a couple of times and politics seems to keep circling around the matter of "free handouts," but food stamps were never a real thing until this year.

Since NEWARK ACTS pays us a small monthly stipend, we were encouraged to apply for food stamps, and the seven week process was tedious and frustrating. Here's what happened.

Tomorrow, All Saints Sunday, our churches will honor the cloud of witnesses -- the saints who have gone before us; the ones we love but see no longer. Today, on the fifth day after the storm, I want to honor and thank the cloud of witnesses that we ARE seeing across the diocese -- who are so freely sharing the grace of God. So many of our churches that have light and heat have become community centers -- sharing power outlets and food -- and levels of hospitality that is having enormous impact on frayed nerves and storm weary souls. Many churches without power have made plans to worship tomorrow with another church in their community -- deepening the ecumenical partnerships we have with Lutherans and Methodists.

Random acts of kindness really do have a ripple effect.

Take St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, for example.  On Thursday morning, a line of cars snaked in front of the church, inching its way to a distant gas station for precious fill-ups in the stressful aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Dioceses throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut continued to assess the damage and havoc caused by Hurricane Sandy as the region made slow progress toward recovery on Nov. 1.

The following churches in the Diocese of Newark have reported that they have power and Wi-Fi and are open to members of the community who wish to recharge and reconnect, either spiritually or electronically (alphabetical by town):

Our state has sustained enormous devastation through the violence of Hurricane Sandy. As of 2 pm on October 31, we have heard of no injuries to any of our members. So many of our churches and homes are without power – but not one of our churches has experienced significant damage. There are reports of fallen limbs, shingles blown off the roof – and several broken windows. The tree in the center of the memorial garden at St. Mary’s Sparta was uprooted. All Saints Hoboken has experienced no damage, but their Jubilee Center, a three story building located in the west side of the city, was at one point under five feet of water. The Jersey City and Bayonne churches all seem to have weathered the storm.

Not long after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the Eastern Seaboard on Oct. 29. – claiming at least 55 lives, displacing thousands and causing blizzards, widespread flooding and power outages in America’s most densely populated region – affected Episcopal dioceses were starting to mobilize and assess the storm’s impact.

O God, in you we find safety. As we prepare for the arrival of the storm, may we be gathered in the safety of your loving embrace. As we face the possibility of danger through lost power, damaged homes and churches, keep us and our dear ones safe. May your love for us unite us -- and support us; and enable us to support those for whom danger breaches their hope. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

NEWARK ACTS Interns Blog

The first five words in the Bible say that, “In the beginning God created…” God must have had a lot of fun painting autumn into beautiful landscapes.

The autumn leaves of deep red and vibrant hues of orange hang glistening in the sun and crisp air. Ducks huddle silently near the edge of the water and the fountain hums in the center of the pond. I am strolling through West Hudson Park in Harrison, NJ and fall has arrived.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chatham recently completed a three-week series exploring the connection between disability and faith, culminating in a Walk Now for Autism event on Saturday, Oct. 6. More than 40 people from St. Paul’s gathered at Morris Plains’ Central Park to walk together in support of ministry to those families wrestling with the issues of autism. The Rev. Mary Davis, rector of St. Paul’s, noted, “We raised over $2,300 for the cause and became a missional presence in the community.”

Yesterday was Kameron's birthday - the first  of the intern's birthdays to be celebrated this year - and his first birthday as my husband! Because he had to work on his birthday, I decided to start the day of with his present. I ordered a candle online from a couple who handmade beeswax candles as they live in their Winnebago. Because the candle is so unique, one of the first things Kam said was "I am never going to light this!" -- so much for a practical gift! 

A few months ago I applied to Newark Acts without knowing what to expect. To be honest I was afraid of many things especially with the idea of living with total strangers. I can say that I am truly bless and glad I decided to join. My housemates are truly amazing people. Their willingness to serve others and their passion for people has inspired me.They aren't just my housemates but also my friends.  I am glad I was given the opportunity to be part of their lives. They are a blessing in my life. It has been a wonderful two months and I look forward to the next nine months with them.

One of my worksites is in a group home with 4 DDD (Dept. of Developmental Disabilities) boys. They are in their upper teens, and I've grown to adore them. Two of them are quite verbal, while the other two aren't so much. Today, we had a new staff member who was there for the first time. One of our less verbal boys was singing, one was repeating the same phrase over and over, and the other two were watching a movie and talking. I was looking at the house through the new staff's eyes. He just looked at me wide-eyed and said, "Is it always this chaotic?" I laughed and admitted that no, it wasn't, but it's always fun. I just love going to work, and I have so much fun with the kids and staff, even if they are repeating the same phrase 400 times.

Two days ago we arrived in the city of Jeruslaem. We prayed together -- using prayers from the three Abrahamic faiths -- Jewish, Muslim and Christian. We then proceeded to visit the holy sites -- Al Aqsa mosque on the temple mount, the wailing wall -- and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. As we went together to each site, we not only honored each unique religious tradition, but most of us expressed that the religious diversity invited each of us deeper into our particularity of our respective faiths.

From worksheets to sheet music, notes of several forms can be found marked across the lines of wide-ruled and staff paper. For many North Jersey boys and girls an after-school program is available that couples classroom studies with choral practice. For many years, one of the hallmarks at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Englewood has been its professional music program, said Mark Trautman, 52, music director of the church.

When they were written in the 1940s and early 1950s, the postcards and letters that landed in Jutta Sturdevant’s care a few years back told of a kind of helplessness, of people forced from their homes by the Nazi terror.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, at a small white Episcopal church in West Orange, their struggle was remembered, and honored with a commitment to oppose such evil wherever it arises.

This is my third trip to the Holy Land, and my first as part of an interfaith group. Which means that the holiness is appreciated and absorbed differently depending on which of the three Abrahamic faiths is receiving it. There are 32 of us, in almost equal numbers of Christians, Muslims and Jews -- everyone somehow connected to the Newark Interfaith Coalition for Hope and Peqce. The diversity of faith perspectives is a real gift, and we have been very intent on giving that diversity space and voice. The political realities of this part of the world inevitably intrude, which happened immediately on our arrival at the airport in Tel Aviv: two African American Muslim women in our group were pulled out of passport control, and detained for three hours.

Bishop Beckwith is quoted in this article by New Jersey Monthly.

Last Saturday at Vestry University, I learned from The Rev. Canon Timothy Dombek, keynote speaker at our Vestry University, that people in the United States spend more money on trash bags than people in 90 countries spend on everything. That suggests Americans have an awful lot of stuff to throw away. That also suggests that people in 90 countries (and I presume they are from the 90 poorest countries) don’t have the financial resources to buy much of anything. This is a stark, if not tragic, picture of the growing economic chasm between those who are rich and those who are poor.

New Jersey clergy representing the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths are joining together to lead an interfaith trip to Israel and the West Bank — Roots of Faith — this October.

Leading the trip are The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark; Rev. Bob Morris, Executive Director of Interweave; Rabbi Matthew D. Gewirtz Senior Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills; and Imam Wahy-ud Deen Shareef of the Waris Cultural Research and Development Center, Convener of the Council of Imams in NJ and a Senior Advisor to Mayor Cory Booker (Newark).

Sometimes I don't like Newark, sometimes I do. Maybe it's because the church I'm working at is already discussing serving Thanksgiving meals, but last week I realized there are plenty of things to be grateful for in Newark -- it just takes some searching. I've been challenged to see where God is working, and I think God is working in the people, places, songs, and things that make me smile. Here's a short list of what I've been thankful for lately.

The summer of 2011 brought sunshine and warmth to residents of Hudson County. But for St. John’s church in Union City, summer cranked up the financial heat. The dwindling congregation and pressures of bill-paying threatened to shut down the Episcopal church built in 1901.

Fast-forward to Oct. 6, 2012, and a whole new tune (or, more literally, tunes) played on the corner of Palisade Avenue and 15th Street. Locals flocked to the venue that was dressed in yellow theatrical curtains and covered in colored lights, with the pulpit disguised as a 1920s cabaret-style stage.

Tonight, my housemates and I had dinner together. We do this several times a week, but this time was a little different. We had smooth jazz playing in the backround and ate dinner in the candlelight. We talked about restaurants we wanted to go to and laughed about how we had made our own restaurant. The meal was simple, hamburgers, fries, salad and grapes, but we all made a piece of it, and we all helped clean up (another first). It was so nice and relaxing.

Recently the five of us from the Newark House were asked to assist at Turning Point's 10th Anniversary Celebration. We showed up early to help set up, then we were taught how to bar-tend. Water, soda, wine. What an experience. Now, I am a pretty novice wine drinker, so when I was asked which of the wines goes best with fruit, I was lost. Luckily the guests were not offended at our lack of knowledge.

The Reverend Canon Denise G. Haines, in the vanguard of women ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church, former Archdeacon of the Diocese of Newark and developer of innovative clinical pastoral care programs died on October 8th in Summit, NJ. She was 73. The cause was cancer, said her daughter, Elizabeth L. Haines. She was a resident of Summit from 1967 to 1986 and then again from 2007 until the time of her death.

PROLOGUE: We all know I didn't grow up with a religious backgroud and I've made it known that I didn't. I make it known because that is part of my journey here. I mean no disrespect to anyone when I say I'm not religious and when I question religion it's because I'm trying to gain a better understanding of it not because I'm against it in any way. With that said, if I offend anyone with my statements or questions apologies now, before hand.

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Joy! God’s presence is celebrated and embraced by the congregation.

Theology is Indigenous. Congregation knows the God-given mission to which it is called. Practices the Archeology of Hope (God is at work and has planted seeds of hope in the community).

Adaptive and responsive. The congregation’s mission and ministry are always being discerned and are open to change and transformation that is occurring both inside and outside in the community.

After switching worksites and finally completing orientation, I am starting to get settled into my job. And I love it! I am interning at the Therapeutic Nursery with preschool kids with behavioral issues. They are the cutest - and scariest - kids I have ever met. The TN is part of the bigger organization called the Youth Consultation Service (YCS) which provides services for youth from babies to young adults who are in economic need, with behavioral and mental health issues.

Diocese of Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith, Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz of Temple B’Nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey, and Imam W. Deen Shareef of Masjid Waarith ud Deen in nearby Irvington have worked together to serve the people in the sometimes violence-ridden city of Newark, New Jersey, for the last five years. Each says their relationship has helped them grow in faith.

Hoboken is where I learned my first word in English. Where I made my first friend. I have many wonderful memories. As I pondered about where was my next journey in life, I thought about a place that had a very special place in my heart. I love Hoboken and I never forgot where I came from. It changed in many ways but my love for this place stayed the same. The truth is I never thought about coming back unless I going to work in a workplace that had community involvement. I wanted to give back to my community because they gave so much to me.

This was originally published in The Star-Ledger on Sunday, September 30, 2012 as an op-ed under the headline Recognize real threats to flourishing families.

On Friday night, September 21, over 30 teenagers from Grace Church in Madison, St. Paul’s Church in Chatham, Grace Church in Newark, and St. Stephen’s Church in Milburn gathered to “keep watch.” The overnight, hosted by the Revs. Tom Murphy, Brent Bates, Megan Sanders and Mary Davis at Grace, Madison, was the first in a series of events planned for District 4 Youth.

The Diocese of Newark Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians held its second Clara Horsley Leadership Award Breakfast Saturday September 22, 2012 at the Chandelier in Belleville.

This year’s recipient of the award was Robert Simmons, who was nominated by the Rev. Joseph A Harmon and Christ Church in East Orange. Simmons currently serves as the Warden of Christ Church and has served on the several committees on the diocesan level including the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Newark.

The Union City House, our "Giraffe House" (named for a rainbow giraffe sculpture in the front garden) out-did themselves with a wonderful dinner last Thursday evening. The meal was simple and quite delicious. The conversation was lively and spirit-filled, focused on the first book our interns are reading this year, Forgiven and Forgiving by Louis William Countryman.  

In August 2011, flooding from Hurricane Irene put downtown Millburn in the national news – and badly damaged both St. Stephen’s Church and its freshly renovated rectory. On September 9, 2012, St. Stephen’s congregation joined with Bishop Mark Beckwith and Millburn Mayor Sandra Haimoff to celebrate the completion of a year of flood repairs by dedicating the restored rectory, which will be used to house parish offices and various ministries, including The Tinning Center for Diaconal Ministries.

Every Sunday during a visitation to a congregation I host a forum. Among other things, I talk about signs of God’s grace. I indicate why I think it is an important spiritual discipline to take note of God’s presence; and then I mention signs of God’s grace that I have seen in the congregation. I then invite people to share their own experiences of God’s grace. The responses have been passionate, personal and powerful – and a couple of stories have brought me nearly to tears. This exercise – which is relatively new, tells me three things:

The Teen Group of Grace Church in Nutley spent an exciting week in Massachusetts at Overlook Farm of Heifer International. The group spent four days working on an organic farm, developing a better understanding of global hunger and poverty.

On Sunday, August 5, Christ Church in Budd Lake had its first annual "Preach on the Beach" summer worship event at Budd Lake Beach.

The day began with a casual worship and communion service with a children's sermon, facing the lake. Parishioners brought friends and family, and remained at the beach for a private party until noon, sharing food, fellowship and swim time with their kids. Brave members of the main 10:15 a.m. service even had an Olympic competition on the slide. And those were the adults!

On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, at the same time Bishop Mark Beckwith was standing with a rabbi and an imam outside Newark Penn Station, greeting morning commuters with songs and prayers for peace (covered by The Star-Ledger, New Jersey Jewish News and Episcopal News Service), clergy and lay people from several congregations were also "taking the altar into the world" by sharing prayers for peace at their local train stations and bus stops.

Sales have been brisk for Jack's Homemade Dog Biscuits.

Children at Grace Episcopal Church made hundreds of the dog biscuits and are selling them at $5 a bag to raise money to get a service dog for Jack Harter, a 6-year-old Madison boy who has a disease that leaves him with little mobility and no way to consistently communicate.

I work in Harrison, NJ. A 45 minute bus ride from home. Harrison is a small town, but diverse the whole way through. My position as Community Outreach Director allows me to wander the neighborhoods to get a feel of the people and community in general. Other parts of my day are spent reading thoughts on a welcoming, missional church.

As you may know, my husband Kameron & I are the first married couple in the program. It may be difficult to adjust to living with three other people in our house, and it may be difficult for them to adjust to having us living in the house with them too. But so far we have not run into any problems! Since we moved into a house with 3 other people, started an intense intern program, and began working during the days, we barely have time to have one-on-one time, let alone a single conversation. Thus, Date Night was started.

The Rev. Mary Davis of St. Paul's Church in Chatham gave the opening convocation at Chatham Borough's annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony (starting at 0:25).

Last evening I had dinner with the Newark House Interns as part of my regular schedule.  This night was the first night they were preparing the meal and hosting me.  

I arrived to find two Erin and Jania busy in the kitchen and fragrances of a medley of wonderful foods prepared for the night's dinner.  We gathered in dinning room and I was asked to sit at the head of the table which has been custom in the past two years.  Kam lead in prayer and we then began to share the bounty before us.  

I'm glad that my housemates wanted to do a reflection on today...its something that just 11 yrs ago today was the worst day for America..now as we look to today and as I see the new freedom tower from my home, it's good to know that God is still blessing America! Recently speaking with a coworker at my work site she explained to me where she was that day in Jersey City and the stressful experience of her family being near midtown New York.

So the new year of NEWARK ACTS has officially begun. I cannot believe it is here already.

I consider myself a community activist for social change and justice. For the past few years I've been working with underserved, urban youth. I've worked with youths from the ages of 14-24, many of which are involved in the legal system. I've worked with youth struggling in highschool and trying to enroll in college. I've worked with the average kid just trying to make it through and kids with behavorial issues. I'm used to the chaos, negativity, and fighting.

If you're not aware, Newark has a bad reputation. I've heard New Jersey called the armpit of America. When I told people back home I was moving to Newark for a year, they would say "Why in the world would you move there," or "I'll be praying for you." We were told that the people here would be unfriendly, hardened faced.

Maybe it's because I come from a small South Dakotan town, where big cities are something of a mystery to most people. But needless to say, my wife Erin and I were a little nervous as we rolled into town. 

An imam, a rabbi, and an Episcopal bishop joined in morning prayers for peace in front of Newark Penn Station on Sept. 11 on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Standing in front of a sign reading “Interfaith Prayers for Peace, Shalom, Salaam,” the three Essex County clergymen interspersed prayer and social reflection.

As commuters raced for their morning trains, the Right Reverend Mark Beckwith, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, led off the sidewalk service.

The message was of peace.

At Newark Penn Station this morning, the Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, Bishop of Newark; Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz of Temple B’Nai Jeshurun in Short Hills; and Imam W. Deen Shareef of Masjid Waarith ud Deen in Irvington commemorated the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks with songs and prayer, and although they appealed to commuters to remember that clear, tragic morning, they also bid them to look forward.

I would like to start out by introducing myself. I am Courtney, a second year intern in NEWARK ACTS.

We started this year off on Aug. 24th, with a meeting between Erik, our program director and the three returning members of NEWARK ACTS to kick off the year. Erin and I went to orientation for YCS (Youth Consultation Services) which we are both assigned to this year. I'm working with kids at a school and teenagers with autism and other disabilities at a group home. I absolutely love the staff and kids so far. Everyone has been very welcoming and helpful. 

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, comes from above – these words comprised the opening phrase of this past Sunday's Epistle from James's letter to the early Christians, and sets the theme of what our NEWARK ACTS Interns are doing in our diocese for the next eleven months.

Grace happens. All the time. Grace is God's gift to us. The signs of God's grace are abundant. Some are dramatic. Many at first glance seem mundane. All are potentially life transforming.

The signs of God's grace are often obscured by other signs that claim importance and demand our attention: signs in the economy and the political landscape; signs from the flock of electronic devices that we keep at the ready; signs from various medical devices and treatments which provide benchmarks on our relative state of health.

For the third year of the NEWARK ACTS Young Adult Urban Internship Program, three returning second-year interns are joined by six new interns -- including our first married couple! -- who hail from South Dakota, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts and upstate New York.

In addition, two-time intern Richard Hogue is returning for a third year, this time to serve as part-time Program Assistant while also working for All Saints' CDC in Hoboken.

To learn more about the individuals who make up our third class of NEWARK ACTS interns, read more.

August 2012 and we have begun our third program year for NEWARK ACTS.  

Many things appear to be familiar however most are new and we have welcomed six new interns to join three from last year to complete our third class for NEWARK ACTS.  Last week Jania, Jamarr and Courtney returned to NJ to take up their roles as Peer Interns for the next eleven months.  They have worked with me in designing the program year offering from their collective wisdom ideas that promise to build on principles we started in August 2010.  

Would you withhold food from a hungry child?

Chances are, you wouldn’t. But with the number of families living in poverty increasing in alarming numbers, being hungry has become the norm for many of these children. In New Jersey alone, more than 800,000 people fell within the poverty level. It is estimated that one in eight, roughly 13 percent of that number, are children.

The Rev. Dr. Cathy Deats, Rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church noted “Throughout the school year, many of these children are fed through various breakfast and lunch programs. The true crisis begins when school is out for the summer, leaving many of these families struggling to survive.”

Enter the Summer Back Pack Program.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

At our Special Convention in June, Bishop Mark and the Mission Strategy Committee distributed copies of Introducing the Missional Church by Alan Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren. Several clergy and vestries are reading it and are planning deep listening conversations (outlined on pages 147 - 155) with their congregations on what God might be up to in their churches and surrounding neighborhoods. Look for a summary outline of the book on our Mission Strategy Committee page.  Our congregtional consultants can assist any congregation interested in holding such conversations.

A room within St. Agnes Episcopal Church is stocked with canned soups, meats, fruits, and vegetables alongside cereals, pasta and pet food. It is the church's newly expanded food pantry and is open to anyone in need.

After receiving the Parochial Report Page 5s for 2011, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote the following letter to Bishop Beckwith:

Irreparable harm to dozens of lives was caused by the sexual abuse committed by Jerry Sandusky, a former football coach at Penn State. His method, which has been followed by sexual predators for generations, was to develop trust with young and vulnerable children – and then to exploit it. This egregious method works if the victims keep silent – which the perpetrators threaten them to keep – AND if the institution in which the abuse takes place looks the other way for fear of having its reputation tarnished. That happened at Penn State. For years. And the university is now paying a heavy penalty for its silence; but nowhere the psychic and spiritual cost that is still being paid by the victims because of stolen innocence and the betrayal of trust.

The Rev. Diane Riley, a deacon in the Diocese of Newark as well as director for advocacy of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, is quoted in this article in The Star-Ledger.

The rich really did get richer in New Jersey over the past 10 years, and the gulf between the wealthiest and poorest residents is the widest it’s been since the Great Depression, a new study has found.

Re: “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?,” by Ross Douthat (column, July 15).

To the Editor:

If liberal Christianity is defined as doing anything to adapt to the culture, I’d be glad to pray over its grave. But that’s neither the church I serve nor the diocese I lead.

Our lives as Christians are shaped by stories – stories of Jesus, personal journeys of faith, traditions that shape each liturgical season. This year the Diocese of Newark invited congregations to share their stories of living into Christ’s mission to transform the world. To do so, the diocese added a page to the Parochial Report entitled, “Sharing Our Stories of Transformation through Mission,” also referred to as “Page 5.”

[Episcopal News Service – Indianapolis] General Convention has called on the Episcopal Church to re-imagine its structure, taken historic steps towards full inclusion, endorsed positive investment in the Palestinian Territories, and reaffirmed its commitment to building Anglican Communion relationships while saying it is unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant.

“Five ‘Marks’ of Mission” serenaded the House of Bishops at the start of the July 12 morning session. Beckwith (Newark); Hollingsworth (Ohio); Lattime (Alaska) and Sisk (New York) were four of the Marks. Despite the spelling of his name, Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California rounded out the quintet.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

It has been humbling and exhilarating to be the chaplain to the young adults from the Diocese of Newark who attended General Convention. As I posted earlier, they have given me much hope for the future of the church and the world. This was my first General Convention (and I hope not my last), and while the schedule was exhausting, my spirit was filled.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

Hello Everyone!

These young adults from our diocese have been engaged in so much these past several days. Their intelligence, keen insight, enthusiasm, and love brings me hope for the future of the church and the world.  Take a look at their final blog postings...

[Episcopal News Service -- Indianapolis] Same-gender couples soon can have their lifelong relationships blessed using a rite approved by General Convention July 10.

Lay deputy Caroline Christie testifies before the House of Deputies supporting Resolution A049, which authorizes provisional use of liturgical resources for same sex blessings.

[Episcopal News Service -- Indianapolis] On the day when General Convention affirmed a policy of nondiscrimination against transgender people and the House of Bishops approved provisional use of a liturgy for same-gender blessings, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop told the LGBT communit

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Yesterday the House of Bishops voted 111 to 41 in favor of authorizing provisional use of liturgical resources for same sex blessings. It now goes to the House of Deputies for their consideration.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

I attended a celebration on Monday night hosted by Integrity, the leading public voice in the Episcopal Church for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. The celebration was a profound "thank you" to Louie Crew who in 1974 founded the organization based on the simple premise that the Church must be true to God's desire that all God's children are safe, welcomed, and affirmed regardless of sexual orientation. Louie accepted the accolades with the same humility that has marked his ministry from the very beginning.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

Last night, Bishop Mark Beckwith hosted a dinner for all those participating in General Convention from the diocese, including our young adults and our youth.  The room was filled with good food, good friends, and loads of laughter.  While the picture is a bit dark, the smiles lit up everyone's hearts. 

And now we continue the rest of our General Convention journey today!

Blessings,
Chaplain Diana

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

These young adults have been so busy these past two days, and are a living example of hope for the future of our church....

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

Buildings, budgets, boilers and boards. These killer B's, which always seem to bring their own sense of urgency, have the capacity to take over an organization's focus, and distract it from its mission.

A unique strain of killer B's has infiltrated this General Convention.

A Victoria Foundation grant to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra teaches 600 Newark elementary students how to play the violin. Funds given to Integrity train former prisoners to re-enter the job market. Money donated to Aspira prevents at-risk middle- and high-school students from dropping out of school.

For decades, the Victoria Foundation has championed Newark by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to improve its schools, help its families and revitalize its neighborhoods.

Now, like the groups it supports, the independent foundation is calling Newark home.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

After this morning's Eucharist Caroline Christie & Gibson Oakley, our teen deputies, were gracious enough to sit with the youth & young adults and share what their experiences have been so far.  While they were candid about the frantic pace, they were also clearly excited about the experience they're having.  They enjoy the legislative process and are proud of our church for addressing such topics as bullying, human trafficking, poverty and marriage equality.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

Hello everyone!

So much went on today, and our Young Adults were right in the mix.  From hearings to diocesan meetings to legislative sessions, they were engaged, and a blog with their thoughts on the day's experiences will be posted soon.  But for now, here is a short clip showing our participants getting a behind the scenes tour of the House of Deputies podium by the Rev. Willie Smith before all of the young adults being recognized in the House by President Bonnie Anderson.  Take a look, and stay tuned to hear more!

The youth group from St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown has just completed a week in Topsail, N.C., on its annual mission trip. Here are reflections from the young volunteers, compiled by chaperone Alan Chorun.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

Conventions include a lot of walking from room to room; building to building.  It seems like convention participants are always on a journey.  This one is no different.  But I've noticed today that our young people seem to be walking a little taller, despite the fact that they're trying to process all this convention has to offer.  They're more sure of themselves.  They're asking great questions and attending hearings on their own.  They've made a few new friends and are getting to know the adults from our diocese on a more personal level.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

The final count was 85. That's how many resolutions the Committee on Structures has been sifting through since the beginning of General Convention. No matter who you talk to -- young, old, white, person of color, well-to-do, not-so-well-off, gay, straight, "conservative," "liberal," lay, clergy, old-timer, or newcomer -- nearly everyone agrees that the present system, whether you call it the National Church, "815," or the Episcopal Church Center, is broken. From the very first day, General Convention has been hit with an avalanche of structure reform resolutions demanding everything from drastically reducing staff, to radically changing the size and scope of General Convention itself, to the Presiding Bishop's alternative budget based on the Five Marks of Mission. And yesterday, the House of Deputies passed a no-nonsense resolution calling for the sale of the Episcopal Church Center building. Restructure. Restructure. Restructure. But is it enough?

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, took a moment out of her busy schedule today for a photo with the Diocese of Newark's two youngest deputies, Caroline Christie and Gibson Oakley.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

Our Young Adults had a full day, as they tell you below. They participated in the daily legislative briefing of the diocese, and then went off to legislative sessions. They also attended a briefing on the structure of the Episcopal Church, and finished the day with the youth of the diocese, who arrived from Newark. All of this while the temp was over 100 degrees by 9 am!  But, don’t take my word for it, listen to them...

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

Well, we've been at General Convention for 25 hours now and the youth are warming up.  Two of the diocesan nine youth I brought to observe General Convention also attended the last one, so they knew what to expect.  The other 7, not so much.  And I think we all underestimated how much energy the travel would take out of us.  But I tell ya, it did my heart good late yesterday afternoon when the youth jumped at the chance to take a nap and I actually didn't need one.

Lay deputy Gibson Oakley testifies before the House of Deputies at General Convention 2012 in support of resolution C100, which calls for funding the Episcopal Youth Event and earmarking $300,000 for it.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

Last night our young adults, Ashlee, AJ, Amasi, and Janelle attended the Opening Reception of the Young Adult Festival (YAF).  There they met up with their peers from all over The Episcopal Church (TEC), heard from the YAF leadership team, and picked up schedules, buttons, and anything else they would need for the week.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

I arrived this afternoon in downtown Indianapolis, site of our 77th General Convention with things well underway. Some legislative committees have already met and concluded their business, having only a few resolutions to consider before handing them off to the houses for their deliberations.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

And....WE’RE OFF!!!  The young adults of our diocese are off to General Convention.  They are a great group, and I am blessed to be their chaplain on this journey.  Let them introduce themselves to you...

[Episcopal New Service — Indianapolis] When Caroline Christie attended the 2009 General Convention with a group of other high school students from the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, she didn’t know what to expect.

“I was just going because my friends were going,” she said. “I didn’t know that the Episcopal Church was so big, and everything that they did. It was a really eye-opening experience.”

And it whetted her appetite for more. Christie is back for the 77th General Convention, a lay deputy elected at age 17 to represent the Newark diocese along with Gibson Oakley, who was 16 when he was elected in January 2011.

Bishop Beckwith's Blog

The General Convention has started, but it hasn't yet officially begun. That happens this morning in the opening Eucharist. But the committees have been meeting for two days now -- sorting out the legislation that is coming before them, scheduling hearings and then making recommendations to the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. It is an ecclesiastical version of the Houses of Congress.

Editor's note: This article quotes Laura Russell, Esq., a lay deputy from the Diocese of Newark to General Convention.

[Episcopal News Service] In South Florida, a known hotbed for sex trafficking, Sheila Acevedo has spent 17 years as a volunteer on the front lines assisting victims. Her vigilance helped rescue two girls, aged 3 and 5, who were living in a car with their father. The girls, who didn’t know how to use silverware and who were not wearing underwear, would offer to give massages, she said.

Gibson Oakley made no bones about what will be on his mind as he heads to General Convention this week.  One of two teenagers who will be part of the lay deputation representing the Diocese of Newark, Gibson told those who would be voting for him that the church needs to be a welcoming haven for LGBT youth who encounter hostility on a daily basis.

GC2012 Contingent's Blog

Heading out to Indianapolis next week will be a whole host of folks from the Diocese of Newark including eight youth with two chaperones, and four young adults for whom I will serve as Chaplain.  The young adults, some of whom are General Convention veterans, will represent the diocese in the Young Adult Festival, which has been an important part of General Convention since 2003.

Canon Jacobs' Blog

Dear Friends:

On Saturday, June 16, 2012, the Diocese of Newark held its first multi-county Habitat build day.

At a wedding last week at Church of the Atonement in Tenafly, the bride and groom were not the only couple at the altar.

As the Rev. Lynne Weber celebrated the rite, she was assisted by the rector from All Saints Episcopal Church in Leonia — her husband, the Rev. Dean Weber.

The Reverend Rose Cohen Hassan of Trinity Church, who serves as manager of Services at HIGHWAYS (Helping Individuals Gain Hope Will Always Yield Success), has seen a lot of hardship in her life, both in Bayonne where she helps feed and clothe some of the neediest families in the city as well as in her previous assignment in Kearny. But it took overhearing some of her clients one day for her to realize that hardship reaches every level.

It was an eye-opening experience. Hackettstown High School student Justin Simmons was delivering a bag of food to a family enrolled in the United Way Summer Backpack Program last summer. When the family invited the then-16 year-old volunteer in their kitchen, Simmons was stunned to see the nearly empty cupboards.

At Grace Church in Madison, social outreach is a defining aspect of our parish identity as a community of faith. So it is not surprising that for a number of years, a common topic of conversation at our annual men's retreats was how we might complement our "fellowship retreats" (where we explore our own spiritual journeys) with "mission trips" like our youth groups take every other year. But in contemplating a traditional mission trip, the recurring challenge we faced centered on the basic logistics of when and where we could engage a broad group of men from our parish for such an endeavor.

The solution we devised to our logistical challenge was that instead of trying to organize a mission "trip" we would instead organize a two-day mission "retreat," focusing on a variety of social needs closer to home.

The OASIS, the LGBT ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, honored Dr. Louie Crew for a lifetime of justice ministry at a reception Friday, June 1, and presented its first annual scholarship and grant awards.

Many people were outraged when Dharun Ravi, who was convicted of bias intimidation for spying on a roommate who later committed suicide, was sentenced to only 30 days in jail. Some went so far as accusing Ravi of “murdering” Tyler Clementi, who was gay. But a gay rights activist speaking at my church in Maplewood Sunday had a different take.

“Ravi’s not a murderer, he’s a bully – one of many bullies that Tyler Clementi faced in his life,” said Joan Garry, former executive director of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination). “Those bullies were not just the ones standing by his locker – many of them were standing in pulpits.”

The church is in the midst of a new reformation, and the stakes couldn’t be higher, a prominent progressive speaker told a Morristown audience.

“Religion must stop being what it has been until now, which has been an essential source of intolerance, contempt for the other and even mad apocalyptic violence,” James Carroll  said recently at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. “Survival of religions is not the issue. Neither therefore is survival of the church.”

What matters, he said, is survival of humankind.

On Mother's Day more than 300 runners, including children and parents pushing strollers, participated in the "Mother of All Races," a waterfront-route race in Hoboken. Organized jointly by the Hoboken Harriers running club and All Saints Community Development Corporation, the runner registration fees will go to All Saints' Jubilee Center, an after-school program for under-served children who live in public housing.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown became an artists’ colony on Saturday. Make that a young artists’ colony.

Some 55 kids ages 6-13 participated in a Children’s Day of Art, rotating through workshops in cartooning, drama, eco-sculpture, music, poetry and pottery–with a lunchtime break to create “food art.”

Local performers organize an arts initiative to breathe new life into St. John's Church and the community of Union City.

Responding to President Obama's statement yesterday that "Same-sex couples should be able to get married," the Rev. Bernard "Bernie" Poppe of St. George's Church in Maplewood tells columnist Bob Braun of The Star-Ledger, "...I don’t think love ever destroyed anything."

Writing for The Steward’s Well, an e-newsletter from the Office of Stewardship of The Episcopal Church, Bishop Beckwith reflects on the discipline needed to live into the gift of Easter -- and how developing the holy habits of worship, prayer, study, and giving of self and treasure can prepare us to fully receive the abundance of the Easter blessing.

Thirty years ago Geoff Curtiss was a young, recently ordained Episcopal reverend and eager to minister to an urban congregation. He found one in Hoboken.

Soon after, he also found himself in a fight raging along several battle lines—about politics, poverty, development, progress, gentrification, class warfare and the role of religion in the community—which resulted in the founding of the Hoboken Homeless Shelter, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary on Thursday.

He had been labeled. And bullied. So the young man’s mother told me in an email after one of our confirmation services. She thanked me because I talked in my sermon how we all learn to label one another -- usually in junior high school, if not before. And that the labeling leads to discrimination, which can then lead to victimization – often followed by violence. Which is what happened to her son. She thanked me for raising the issue, and for making the claim that Jesus refused to limit people by labeling them. Instead he embraced people with love. Everybody. No exceptions. And I said that Jesus expects us to do the same.

Helen Paktor was not going to miss the 35th annual Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service on April 22.

As a survivor of Auschwitz and two other concentration camps, she sat with nine other survivors who served as living reminders of the Holocaust.

The wooden pews of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Maplewood were filled with a crowd of about 230 people, some wearing yarmulkes, the traditional Jewish head coverings.

When the raging Rahway River flooded much of Millburn [during Hurricane Irene], Patch reported that St. Stephen’s Church “was one of the first hit as water rushed through, filling the pre-school with four to five feet of water....”

Anthony Briggs is originally from North Carolina. He has worked professionally in youth and outdoor ministries for 26 years. Before coming to New Jersey, he served as Executive Director of Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center in Western New York and as Executive Director of Lutheran Retreats, Camps, and Conferences of Southern California. Travel, reading, history, and pottery are a few things he loves. Writing bios about himself, not so much.

As part of my Lenten discipline this year, I chose to intentionally keep Sunday as the Sabbath. Initially I wasn’t certain what that would really mean. Prior to this experience, I had always thought of keeping the Sabbath as attending worship services but not much more than that. Even being fully present at Sunday worship was becoming difficult for me. Over the last year, I had allowed my work to creep into my Sundays. As a psychologist, often working six days a week, my work week can be emotionally and sometimes spiritually taxing.

The Essex County Freeholders recently recognized three women during its annual Women’s History Month Celebration at the Hall of Records in Newark.

Local sculptors, jewelers and artists from All Saints Episcopal Church in Glen Rock on Easter Sunday will premiere the first parishioner art show.

On Good Friday, the day Christians commemorate Jesus’ crucifixion, the Rev. Melissa Hall, assistant rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, led an interactive children’s Stations of the Cross service for about 50 people. Children read short Scripture verses and played various biblical characters as they walked to different locations throughout the church, re-enacting Jesus journey from judgement by Roman governor Pontius Pilate to his death on the cros