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NEWS and EVENTS

June 2014

•Announcing Our New Canon for Congregational Development and Mission

We are pleased to announce our new Canon for Congregational Development and Mission, The Rev. Dr. Robert Droste.

He is a graduate of Porter-Gaud (Episcopal) School and the College of Charleston (both in South Carolina). The Rev. Dr. Robert Droste has lived in England, the Carolinas, Eugene, Oregon, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Ordained a priest in 2000, he earned his M.Div. from The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA and, in 2010, his D.Min. in Congregational Development from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

"In a national search for this position, we identified and interviewed several strong candidates," said Bishop Stokes. "Rob's earnestness, experience, creativity, foresight and passion quickly identified him as the clear choice as our new Canon for Congregational Development and Mission. We're blessed to have him join us, and are excited to work with him beginning this summer."

Over the past 14 years, Rob has developed his passion for church growth, mission and discipleship at both Trinity Church San Francisco and All Saints Parish San Leandro (a San Francisco suburb).

Some of Rob's favorite accomplishments in ministry include:

  • 14 years of parish work "on the ground," helping a small parish grow in numbers, spirit and service.
  • Creation of the All Saints Food Pantry, a monthly program that feeds more than 300 people every month.
  • In 2009, he led a youth trip that worked at an AIDS orphanage, then went on safari, in Uganda.
  • In collaboration with another parish, he created a year-long "Youth Arts Academy" program (otherwise known as YAA!) combining art with the Millennium Development Goals.
  • His congregation raised $150,000 for badly-needed deferred maintenance and mission-oriented upgrades.
  • With his parish musician, he co-wrote extensive service music, descants for brass and celebration hymns.
  • With his wife Karla and another priest from a nearby parish, they formed the praise band "Triduum," performing at various parish and interfaith events.
"I'm really energized by Bishop Stokes' vision of mission and discipleship and can't wait to help make that a reality," Rob said. "I'm looking forward to traveling all over the southern two-thirds of New Jersey, and getting to know what's most important to clergy and lay leaders. And of course, I'm eager to work with the team of professionals on diocesan staff."

He and his wife Karla will move to the Trenton area in July; his first day on the job will be July 31. We look forward to collaborating with him to grow our churches and equip them for mission as we continue to do the Lord's work in the Diocese of New Jersey.



May 2014

•Reflection on the Supreme Court's Recent Decision to Allow States to Ban Affirmative Action

As those called to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being, we, the Anti-Racism Commission, Black Clergy Caucus, Union of Black Episcopalians, and Hispanic Commission, find the Supreme Court's recent decision allowing states to ban affirmative action deeply regrettable. While the justices in the majority had a wide variety of rationales for their opinions, the outcome is the same: permission to systematically perpetuate present inequities in educational opportunities and, subsequently, in job opportunities, earning potential and quality of life for persons of color.

You might think we would be supportive of a policy that refuses to use race as a factor in considering college admissions – and we might if we lived in a society where race was inconsequential. But we don't. On this point we find ourselves in agreement with the dissenting opinion of Justice Sonia Sotomayor: “This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination."

We take small comfort in the recognition that affirmative action is still legal for those states who decide to continue its use. For if our aim as a people is to encourage greater equity among all, such a policy seems counter-intuitive. Those states who are in the greatest need of racial reform are those most likely to reject affirmative action and view the court's ruling as an opportunity to continue the exercise of racist attitudes and actions.

For our part, this decision only stiffens our resolve to do all in our power to bring the sin of systemic, institutional racism to light and to work together for the establishment of God's beloved community in our midst. It is to these ends that we dedicate ourselves and bid your continued prayers.

In the Liberating Love of the Risen Christ,

The Anti-Racism Commission- Diocese of New Jersey

The Black Clergy Caucus – Diocese of New Jersey
The Earl B. Scott Chapter of the U.B.E. –Diocese of New Jersey
The Hispanic Commission- Diocese of New Jersey


•Death of The Rev. Dudley D. Pendleton

We are sad to announce that The Reverend Dudley D. Pendleton died on April 26, 2014 in Birmingham, Alabama.

A private Memorial Service will be celebrated in West Virginia at the convenience of the family in August 2014.

Father Pendleton served in the Diocese of New Jersey as Vicar at St. Mark's in Hammonton from 1963 to 1971; and at St. Mark's at the Crossing in Williamstown from 1975 to 1979; He was an Associate at St. Bartholomew's in Cherry Hill from 1984 until his retirement.




April 2014

•Bishop Stokes, others, meet to discuss Chuch and its place in Trenton 

On Monday, April 28, Bishop Stokes met for lunch at Freddie's Tavern in Ewing with the Trenton Symposium, a collective of Trenton-area business owners and concerned citizens who meet monthly to discuss issues and solutions to problems in our capital city. Bishop Stokes was the guest speaker at the April lunch, and participated in lively and honest conversation about the Church's place in spiritual, personal and economic revitalization.

"Churches and other faith communities are an integral part of the wider communities in which they are set, a vital component of community health and an essential part of the fabric of the common good. I believe that if the church were to disappear from our communities and our nation, we would be much the worse for it.

I am committed to the churches of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey reaching out to the wider communities of which we are a part – and finding ways to partner and collaborate for the health and well-being of those communities and for the common good of our towns, cities, villages, of our state, of our nation and of the global community."

Bishop Stokes also highlighted the many programs of Trinity Cathedral in Trenton, including programs dedicate to ending gun violence, the farmer's market, food pantry, Cathedral Arts series, Blue Mountain Day Camp, Cathedral Academy, and more. Bishop Stokes reaffirmed the Diocese's efforts in Trenton with information on Christo Rey, Historic St. Michael's Church, and St. Peter's Church, an Igbo congregation. Bishop Stokes looks toward the future of good works in Trenton via collaborations with other organizations, and cited the successful partnership between the Diocese and Urban Promise International.


•General Seminary to Award Three Honorary Degrees at its 2014 Commencement Ceremonies

NEW YORK, NEW YORK 

The General Theological Seminary has announced the next recipients of its Doctor of Divinity degree, honoris causa, to be conferred at the 192st Commencement ceremonies on May 14, 2014. Three distinguished leaders of The Episcopal Church will receive the honorary degree: the Rt. Rev. Douglas Hahn ’96, the Rt. Rev. Chip Stokes ’90, and the Rev. Canon C. K. Robertson, Ph.D.

The Rt. Rev. Douglas Hahn, former rector of St. Thomas Church in Columbus, Georgia, was consecrated Seventh Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington on August 18, 2012. Raised in Georgia, Bishop Hahn says, “My roots run deep in central Kentucky. I come from generations of Kentucky teachers and farmers, spent summers in a community in Mercer County, and went to graduate school in Louisville.”

He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Georgia (1974); the Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky (1977); a diploma in Anglican Studies from The General Theological Seminary (1996); and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Sewanee: the University of the South (2010). He received a Sabbatical Grant for Pastoral Leaders from The Louisville Institute in 2007 for “Refreshing the Roots of Ministry,” and received a Pastoral Care Specialist certificate, Congregational Care and Development from the Pastoral Institute of Leadership in Columbus 2001-02.

As convocation dean in the Diocese of Atlanta, Hahn supervised five towns, seven parishes, 12 priests and shared outreach ministry. He worked in his diocese in Christian Formation, youth outreach and parishes in transition, chaired the Standing Committee and was an alternate deputy to General Convention.

The Rt. Rev. Chip Stokes was consecrated Twelfth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey, on November 12, 2013. Bishop Stokes, who had been rector of St. Paul’s Church in Delray Beach, Florida, succeeded the Rt. Rev. George Edward Councell who served as the diocese’s Eleventh Bishop since 2003, and also currently serves on General’s Board of Trustees.

A Diocese of New Jersey press release noted that by electing Stokes, the diocese has secured “a prophetic figure…who is willing to take the lead in speaking and taking action on behalf of marginalized peoples, the poor and immigrants especially…” and is “someone who is deeply concerned about young people and has taken innovative steps to help young people and their families grow in faith.”

Stokes said in a statement, “I am humbled beyond expression and deeply honored to have been elected as the Twelfth Bishop of New Jersey. I am grateful to the people of the Diocese for their confidence, support and prayers.” Stokes holds a B.A. from Manhattan College, and graduated with an M.Div. in 1990 from General Seminary.


The Rev. Canon C. K. Robertson is Canon to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, having previously served as priest-in-charge in the Diocese of Central Florida, priest-in-residence and consultant in the Church of England, rector in the Diocese of Atlanta, and Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Arizona.

Robertson holds a B.A. cum laude from Virginia Tech, a M.Div. cum laude from Virginia Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Durham University, studying under James D. G. Dunn. A Fellow of the Episcopal Church Foundation, he has taught courses in various seminaries, as well as at Georgia College & State University, where he was named the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Professor in 2000. A Distinguished Visiting Professor at The General Theological Seminary since 2008, he continues to teach one course each semester.

He has served on several boards and committees, including the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches, and is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars, the Center for Biblical Studies, and American Mensa. Recently he was nominated for membership in the Council of Foreign Relations, and for his work on Film Clips for Character Education was a White House “Helping America’s Youth” honoree. Traveling extensively, he represents the Church in ongoing conversations within the Anglican Communion, as well as with ecumenical, interreligious, and diplomatic partners.

Robertson has also written, edited, and contributed to many books and journals, and is General Editor of the “Studies in Episcopal and Anglican Theology” series through Peter Lang Publishing. His own most recent books include: The Book of Common Prayer: A Spiritual Treasure Chest (SkyLight Paths), recently nominated for an American Academy of Religion award, Episcopal Questions, Episcopal Answers (Church Publishing), co-authored with VTS Dean Ian Markham, and the forthcoming Barnabas vs. Paul: Moving Beyond the Stereotypes (Abingdon Press).

General Seminary conferred its first honorary degree in 1885.

See the Offical Press Release. The General Theological Seminary, located in New York City, educates and forms transformational leaders for the Church and the world. Founded in 1817 as the first theological seminary of The Episcopal Church, General embodies the belief that rigorous academics, vibrant worship and beloved life in community are inseparable aspects of formation for all ministries of Christ's church. The Seminary offers graduate degrees including the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts and opens courses to students seeking ministerial development and spiritual growth. Media Contact: Chad Rancourt Director of Communcations The General Theological Seminary 440 West 21st Street New York, NY 10011 646.717.9765 gtscommoffice@gts.edu


• Bishop's Easter Message

Dear Friends in Christ:

Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?
Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him,
"Lord, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him, "Rabbouni!" (which in Hebrew means Teacher). (John 20:15-16)

As Easter approaches, "spring is busting out all over!" Flowers--crocuses and dahlias and many other varieties--are emerging from the earth. Forsythia, Dogwoods and Cherry Blossoms are flowering.

It's been a cold winter, but that is almost past. The clear signs of new life are all around.

It is difficult to express how literally wonder-full it is for Susan and me to witness the eruption of spring in New Jersey. We have spent the past 18 springs in South Florida. It is always green in South Florida and flowers abound year round. It is easy to take it all for granted. While Floridians will tell you there are seasons in South Florida, and there are, their presence is very subtle.

For us to witness the dramatic transformation from the stark death and bareness of winter to the abundant, color of spring is a great delight. More than this, it is a spiritual experience. The Christian pattern of death and resurrection is evident in the natural seasonal cycles of New Jersey in a way that is profound and powerful. We are thankful.

As flowers and trees bloom, I can't help thinking of the garden where Mary Magdalene discovered the tomb empty on Easter morning. In a famous Easter sermon, the great preacher and Anglican Divine, Lancelot Andrewes offers a wonderful reflection on John 20 and Mary's "mistaking" Jesus for the gardener.

Andrewes writes:

He comes unknown, stands by her, and she little thought it had been He ... Not only not knew Him, but mis-knew Him, took Him for the gardener ...

She did not mistake in taking Him for a gardener; though she might seem to err in some sense, yet in some other she was in the right. For in a sense, and a good sense, Christ may well be said to be a gardener, and indeed is one ... A gardener He is then. The first, the fairest garden that ever was, Paradise. He was the gardener, it was of His planting...

We, each one of us, is a plant of Christ's own garden. He calls us this and every Easter to blossom anew into color and life in his resurrection power. I pray that the glory and wonder of Christ's resurrection will blossom anew in you.

Susan joins me in wishing you and yours a blessed and joyful Easter.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Faithfully yours in Christ,

+Chip Stokes
Bishop of New Jersey


•Diocese Awarded $600,000 from the American Red Cross for Sandy Recovery

NEW JERSEY (STATEWIDE) – The American Red Cross today awarded a $600,000 grant to the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey for Superstorm Sandy recovery work in Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland and Camden Counties. The Diocese is entrusted to use these funds to aid residents of these counties who still have unmet needs as a direct result of the storm.

The Greater Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey will work closely with the Long Term Recovery Groups (LTRGs) in these counties to provide direct financial assistance to families and individuals for basic household goods and appliances, furniture, temporary housing and home repairs. The Red Cross grant will be distributed among the four counties as follows: $200,000 for Salem County, $150,000 for Gloucester County, $150,000 for Cumberland County, and $100,000 for Camden County.

“We are grateful to the Red Cross for providing assistance to these communities who are still struggling with their recovery and have not had the access to state and federal funding resources that has been allocated to other counties,” said the Right Reverend William H. Stokes, Bishop Diocesan of New Jersey. “This Red Cross grant will allow the Recovery Groups of Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland and Camden Counties to create a sense of hope and enable residents to finally reach resolution.”

“We hold in high regard the trust the Red Cross has placed in us in distribution of these much-needed funds,” said Keith Adams, Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. “Since autumn 2012, the Diocese of New Jersey has taken part in efforts to ease the pain, shock and heartache in the wake of Sandy, and to restore vibrancy and normalcy to New Jersey residents hit the hardest. The work of recovery and restoration remains long and difficult, and we remain committed to seeing these efforts through.”

“As the Red Cross Sandy recovery work in New Jersey progresses, we are able to identify the evolving needs of our residents and communities,” said Nancy Orlando, regional CEO, American Red Cross South Jersey Region. “Although the magnitude of Sandy affected residents in these counties is less than the numbers we’ve seen in the nine most impacted, we understand that individual households have nonetheless also experienced catastrophic losses that this partnership with the Episcopal Diocese will begin to address.”
In addition to the grant announced today, the Red Cross has partnered with numerous organizations to support the recovery of New Jersey families and communities affected by Sandy. The Sandy recovery efforts include housing assistance, case management, mental health services, volunteer coordination and construction services. The Red Cross has received $311.5 million in donations for its Sandy emergency relief and recovery efforts, and has spent or committed $291 million—over 93 percent of the donated funds – as of February 28.

More information on the Red Cross Sandy relief and recovery efforts, including other New Jersey grants, can be found at www.redcross.org/sandy-response.

About the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey:
Founded in 1785, the Diocese of New Jersey, a diocese of the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, ranks sixth in size out of 100 domestic dioceses in the United States, with 150 congregations within its borders. Currently four retired bishops, 281 priests, and 73 deacons serve in the Diocese, along with 47 clergy licensed to act. The Right Reverend William H. (Chip) Stokes, the current diocesan bishop and twelfth bishop of the Diocese, was elected in May 2013 and consecrated in November 2013. Through Episcopal Relief & Development, an international relief and development agency and compassionate response to human suffering, the Diocese of New Jersey continues to work diligently to heal survivors of Sandy by rebuilding lives and homes. For more information, please visit DioceseofNJ.org and EpiscopalRelief.org.


About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or on Twitter at @RedCross.


March 2014

•Spring 2014 Clericus Meeting Schedule

DATE TIME CONVOCATION LOCATION
Tuesday, May 6 12:00 noon Woodbury TBD
Thursday, May 15 12:00 noon-1:30 p.m. Trenton St. Luke's, Ewing
Thursday, May 22 12:00 noon Watchung TBD
Wednesday, May 28 12:00 noon Monmouth Christ Church,
Toms River
Thursday, June 5 8:00 a.m. Burlington TBD
Tuesday, June 10 12:00 noon Northern TBD
Wednesday, June 11 12:30 p.m.-2:00 p.m. Camden TBD
Thursday, June 12 10:00 a.m. or 12:00 noon Atlantic TBD



• Highlights from the 230th Diocesan Convention

We're grateful to all of you who joined us at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill on February 28 and March 1. The 230th Diocesan Convention--Bishop Stokes' first--was a hopeful, faithful gathering and exchange of ideas. Click here for a gallery of photographs from both days

We extend our deepest thanks to the administrative and technical staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly before and during to make the DiocesanConvention a success. 

We'd like to share with you several of the exciting developments across these two days:
  • Bishop Stokes opened his first Diocesan Convention with a stirring and memorable address, excerpted above. "I think it is important that we gather, share time together, enjoy fellowship and do some of the necessary work of organizing ourselves as a body," said Bishop Stokes. "We need to continue to examine, re-imagine and simplify the structures of the Dioceseof New Jersey, as the larger Episcopal Church is seeking to examine, re-imagine and simplify its own structures." Click here to view the full address on YouTube, or here for the full text.   
  • We congratulate those who were elected to positions at DiocesanConvention. Please click here for a full list of election results.   
  • The Rev. Dwight J. Zscheile, Ph.D delivered the Convention's keynote address. Zscheile, author of People of the Way: Renewing Episcopal Identity, spoke on the national state of the Episcopal faith, and challenges and changes to come in the future: "You assume that people know what church is, and where to find it, and what kind of church is the appropriate church to find. And you can hang out a sign in your neighborhood and assume it's intelligible to people. Now, I'm all for being welcoming-the alternative is much worse-and yet, we wait in our churches to welcome people...we invite people into the established life of our congregations, rather than something that is deep in our traditions-the vernacular idea. That the life of the church should be in the culture and language of the people. That's what the Pentecost is about...the Book of Common Prayer is one of the greatest examples of this idea. One of the greatest questions today is-are we inviting people to church, and thereby forcing them to leave their native culture?" Click here for the full keynote address.  
  • At Convention, we premiered a documentary film about congregations that have undergone or are currently undergoing merger processes or a sharing of resources. Better Together: Congregations in Collaboration Look Towards the Future, is available to view online, and DVD copies to share with your congregations are available on request by emailing Jonathan Elliott.  
  • Two resolutions passed at Convention: an extension of the time allotted for incorporated Missions to comply with the requirement of Canon 60, Section 2, subsection (d)(iv); and the establishment of a DiocesanHIV/AIDS Commission. Click here to read these resolutions.  
  • Several breakout sessions and seminars were held, including a breakfast hosted by Episcopal Church Women (ECW), a morning session about The Re-Imagining of the Episcopal Faith (TREC), and three Saturday morning workshops:Strengthening Faith at Home, a panel presentation sponsored by ECW;Communications in Your Congregations 101, an overview of best practices presented by Diocesan communications director Jonathan Elliott; and Innovating into a Faithful Future, presented by the Rev. Dwight J. Zscheile, Ph.D. Click here to view Innovating into a Faithful Future.   
  • Bishop Stokes recognized several guests at Convention, including the Rt. Rev. Victor Scantlebury, Acting Bishop of Ecuador Central, our Companion Diocese; Bishop M. Blair Couch, who brought greetings from the Moravian Church; and Pastor Wayne Zschech, who brought greetings from the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.   
  • Bishop Stokes also announced the development of a new position, the Canon for Congregational Development and Mission. A search for candidates for this position is currently underway.   
  • Young people from throughout thediocese provided essential support throughout convention, acting as pages during the voting process and registration assistants. We extend our heartfelt thanks to our diocesan youth for their dedication, passion and hard work.   
  • Bishop Stokes appointed Fr. Skip Vilas as the Chair of the Environmental Commission. Fr. Vilas is actively working to grow and mobilize the Commission, and talks have been held with GreenFaith, an organization that educates and inspires people of diverse religious backgrounds towards more environmentally sound practices. Look for more information from the Environmental Commission in the near future.   
  • Neva Rae Fox and Patricia Holly extended greetings from The Episcopal Church, and shared several videos with the congregation. The Episcopal Church's website provides dozens of helpful resources for congregations. For videos and multimedia from The Episcopal Church, please click here

 

 



• Ashes to Go

TRENTON(Statewide): Congregations within the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey will participate in “Ashes to Go” this year on Ash Wednesday, March 5, at locations around the state. The Right Reverend William H. (Chip) Stokes will be offering ashes and blessings from 6 am to 8 am at the Trenton Transit Center in Trenton, located at 72 South Clinton Avenue Trenton, NJ 08609. Clergy from throughout the diocese will be offering ashes at over 18 sites throughout the state. A list of locations is available below.

“The world in which we live is so rushed, alienating and dehumanizing that we often lose sight of God and of our own humanity,” said Bishop Stokes. “Ash Wednesday begins Lent, a time for taking stock of ourselves and our lives and, by God’s grace, reclaiming the sanctity and gift of the lives we have been given. Receive these ashes as a sign of your mortality, but also as a sign that you are loved by God and that God wants to be in relationship with you.”

The diocese’s participation in Ashes to Go is part of a new nationwide movement that has clergy and lay people visiting transit stops, street corners, coffee shops, and college campuses to mark the foreheads of interested passers-by with ashes and invite them to repent of past wrongdoing and seek forgiveness and renewal.

In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday marks the start of the holy season of Lent, a time for reflection and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Easter. For centuries, Christians have received a cross of ashes on the face at the beginning of that season as a reminder of mortal failings and an invitation to receive God’s forgiveness. Ashes to Go provides the opportunity to participate in that tradition for people who have lost their connection to a church, or have never participated before.

A list of locations, times (where available) and sponsoring churches for that location are as follows:


• Death of The Rev. Mary Ann Jensen, Deacon

We are sad to announce that, after extended illness, The Reverend Mary Ann Jensen, Deacon died today at Princeton Care Center in Princeton, New Jersey. Deacon Jensen served the Diocese of New Jersey with compassion, service, and the deep love of Christ since being ordained to the Deaconate in 2001, with her most recent assignment for All Saints Church in Princeton. She was Associate Archivist at Diocesan House and a member of the Recovery Ministries of the Diocese of New Jersey. 

Deacon Jensen's Funeral and Celebration of Life will be at All Saints Episcopal Church in Princeton, New Jersey on Thursday, March 13th at 11:00 AM, with the Right Reverend William "Chip" Stokes as Officiant and Celebrant. 

Deacon Jensen's Interment and Committal in the Trinity/All Saints Cemetery will directly following the Funeral service. 

All are welcome to attend. Clergy - White stoles


• Bishop's Address to Diocesan Convention

Bishop's Address

The Diocese of New Jersey – 230th Diocesan Convention
Crowne Plaza Conference Hotel, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
February 28/March 1, 2014
Exodus 24:112-18; Ps. 99; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Luke 9:28-36

Bishop’s Address to Convention
“Master, it is good for us to be here….”

Welcome to all clergy and lay delegates, to all volunteers and staff, to our guests….Welcome to the 230th Convention of the Diocese of New Jersey. A special welcome to Bishop Victor Scantlebury Interim Bishop of the Diocese of Ecuador Central; to Bishop Blair Couch of the Moravian Church and to Pastor Wayne Zscheck of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is great to have you here. Our youngest son, Richard, visited us last week. He’s 27. This past Monday, he and I decided to go play. We drove up early Monday morning to Shawnee Mountain to go skiing. Actually, I went to ski, he went to snowboard. (It’s a generational thing.) Watching a lot of the Winter Olympics gave us both the urge to hit the slopes.

Monday was a gorgeous day. I hadn’t skied in more than 14 years, nor had he. We took a couple of test runs on the “bunny slope” just to get our ski legs. The conditions were icy, so it took a lot of work, but we did all right. We decided to take the chair lift to the top and try a more ambitious run.

The ride up was crisp and clear and wonderful. I enjoyed the view and the gleaming, white slopes beneath me. We exited the lift. I skied down a bit to clear the lift and position myself toward the beginning of an easy trail, to wait as Richard clipped his boots to his snowboard. He was concentrating on what he was doing. I caught myself just looking at him, remembering the little boy he had been, proud of the man he has become, deeply thankful for this moment, this rare moment, when we could both take time out from our otherwise busy lives and be together. I wanted it to last. I wanted it to last forever.

“Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings; one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Luke 9:33).

I get Peter’s desire to hang on to the moment, to memorialize the experience on Transfiguration Mount. I’ll bet we all do. I’ll bet many of us have preached that sermon. I have…I just did…It’s become a cliché. Still, it does resonate with us and with our life experiences.

Of course, Peter’s situation is different. It’s a lot different. After all, Peter, James and John were with Jesus, the Messiah, God’s Son. That makes a difference. The context of the Transfiguration within the biblical narrative makes a difference. I’ll come back to that, I promise, but for now, indulge me…Let me think of Richard andwallow in the sentimentality of Peter wanting to preserve the moment, to freeze it in time….

“Master, it is good for us to be here…”

Yes, and it is good for us to be here now….I can’t tell you how great a joy it is for me to be with you in this place for my first Convention as your bishop. A year ago when you gathered, the nominees for bishop had just been announced. That announcement was the culmination of more than a year’s work by the Episcopal Election Committee Co-chaired by Deborah Schmidt and Fr. Ron Pollock.They labored diligently, along with consultant Ron Clingenpeel, to develop a process to discern what God was doing in the Diocese of New Jersey; to discern what God was up to in the neighborhoods of New Jersey, to anticipate the theme of this year’s Convention key-note speaker Dwight Zscheile. You all worked together to try to a call a bishop that would be a good fit for what you felt the Lord was calling the Diocese of New Jersey to…And here we are, in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), all of us, hoping you have chosen wisely, that I have discerned faithfully and that we have all been under guidance the Holy Spirit…

“Master, it is good for us to be here…”

Susan and I have felt tremendously welcome and supported from the moment we quite literally landed in Cape May back in July. We have had wonderful adventures across the diocese: Spirit-filled worship at Cristo Rey and St. Peter’s Igbo Church in Trenton; a joyous, joint celebration of the Eucharist with the people of St. Mary’s Point Pleasant Beach and All Saints, Bay Head this summer before All Saints returned to their beautifully rebuilt sanctuary this past December. I had the great honor and delight of being present for that as well. We joined in for a Vestry Barbecue at St. Francis, Dunellen and an energetic, faith-filled conversation with their Vestry. We’ve shared lots of other worship and fellowship experiences with different churches and church leaders.

We’ve joined with the youth of the Diocese on a couple of occasions. Wow! Are we blessed with outstanding youth and outstanding youth leaders headed up by our Diocesan Youth Leader Debi Clark with Julia Nemec and Arlis Astudillo, Co-Chairs of Youth Council.

Of course there was the magnificent Consecration at Trinity Cathedral on November 2. I am most grateful to the Greg Bezilla and the entire Transition Committee, to Dean Rene John and to the people of Trinity Cathedral, to the outstanding Liturgical Commission, to the Diocesan staff who worked so hard to make that a glorious occasion for us all.

Since then I’ve had my first ordinations, celebrations of new ministry; first Christmas at the Cathedral as well as my first Bishop’s Ball, Acolyte Festival and Absalom Jones Festival. (By the way, a very special Cathedral Day is planned for Sunday, June 1 when we are all encouraged to celebrate the important place the Cathedral has in our common life. More information will be coming. I encourage you to support it).

Susan and I have shared fellowship, or worship, or both, with about 50 of the congregations of the Diocese or their representatives since I started on August 1st. I can assure you, wonderful things are going on in the Diocese of New Jersey. The living presence of Jesus Christ, the transfiguring light of Christ, is present, vibrant and vital throughout the Diocese of New Jersey from Sandy Relief efforts being led up by our own Disaster Recovery Coordinator Keith Adams, to feeding ministries at St. Paul’s, Camden and so many other churches in our downtowns and rural communities, to the rich and various ways God’s praises and love are celebrated in the parishes and missions of this diocese every day and every week….

“Master, it is good for us to be here…”

I want to take a moment to acknowledge the 11th Bishop of New Jersey, The Right Reverend George Edward Councell. It was a great blessing and privilege to work with him in those first three months of the transition. Bishop Councell’s grace-filled ministry of care and healing was a tremendous gift of God to us all. For his faithfulness, love of the Lord Jesus Christ and his ministry among you I am deeply thankful, as I believe we all are.

I am also deeply thankful for the staff that Bishop Councell put in place at Diocesan House. They are superior in every way. This was evident to me during the Walk-Abouts. They have only confirmed my feelings since I started working with them. To a person, they are each a treasure. We all understand that our primary reason for being is to serve and strengthen you to engage in God’s mission in the communities of this Diocese.  

Read it all.



February 2014

• Obituary for Cynthia McFarland

Cynthia 2013Cynthia McFarland, 1952-2014 Cynthia Marie Wilson McFarland, 61, of Burlington, New Jersey, died on 13 February 2014, after a fierce years-long battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

She was born on 30 August 1952 to the late Frederick A. Wilson and Lorraine B. Wilson in Arlington, Virginia. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wells College in 1976 with a BA in Greek and Latin, then spent several years working towards a PhD in classics at the University of Virginia. She married the late Frederic W. McFarland in 1981, and they lived together in Auburn, NY and Lansing, NY, before moving to Burlington in 2004.

Cynthia had a profound fear of airplanes and took a year off during college to work as a stewardess for Eastern Airlines to conquer that fear. That was the way she did things: fighting head-on against all obstacles.

She found employment in the field of graphic design and communications, working at Cornell University and then starting her own successful communications business, which specialized in publicity for colleges and universities.

Cynthia felt drawn to New Jersey; she closed her business and moved to Burlington to become Communications Director, Historiographer and Archivist for the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. She loved church history. She published a definitive biography of one of the earliest clergymen in America, and was halfway through writing a biography of the second bishop of New Jersey.

Cynthia was a founding director of the Society of Archbishop Justus and was until her death the managing editor of Anglicans Online.

One of her doctors remarked, “Cynthia moved through life with astounding grace and light. Her passing leaves a huge hole in the lives of so many people.” One of her associates often noted, “Everyone who meets Cynthia falls in love with her.”

Cynthia is survived by her mother, Lorraine Wilson of Fairfax VA; sister Jennifer Wilson Mai of Vienna, VA; brothers Timothy Wilson of Greensboro, NC and Matthew Wilson of Las Vegas; and two Abyssinian cats, Mariel and Ariel.

In lieu of flowers, any donations on Cynthia’s behalf should be made to Doane Academy, 350 Riverbank, Burlington NJ 08016, of which she was a Trustee and fervent advocate.

A viewing will be held Friday, February 21 from 6-8 pm at Page Funeral Home, 302 East Union Street, Burlington. A Choral Requiem Mass will be celebrated at 11:30 am on Saturday, February 22 at St Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1625 Locust St, Philadelphia. A graveside service of Committal will be later that day at 3:00 pm at St Mary’s Episcopal Church, 145 West Broad St, Burlington, New Jersey where she will be interred alongside her late husband.


• Death of Cynthia McFarland

I am sad to announce that, after extended illness, Canon Cynthia McFarland, longtime Communications Director, Historiographer and Archivist of the Diocese of New Jersey, and active leader in the wider Episcopal Church died today at Virtua Hospital in Mount Holly, New Jersey.

There will be a Requiem mass at 11:30am on Saturday, 22 February, 2014 at St. Mark's Church, Philadelphia, with 3:00pm Graveside service of committal at St. Mary's, Burlington NJ.

Into your hands. O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Cynthia. Acknowledge we humbly beseech you a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive her into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.

May her soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen


January 2014

• An Epiphany Message

Dear Beloved of the Diocese of New Jersey:

We have entered the season often referred to as "Epiphany." (Technically, it's the season "after the Epiphany" or "Ordinary Time" - but let's not quibble over semantics.)

The word "epiphany" comes from the Greek word epiphaniea which literally means "appearance" or "showing." As a religious/biblical technical term it means "a visible manifestation of a hidden divinity, either in the form of a personal appearance, or by some deed of power by which its presence is made known" (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: Bauer - Gingrich & Arndt - Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1979).

The season begins (and brings Christmas to a close) with the story of the visit of the Magi to the Christ child. The Magi represent the world beyond Judaism. In that child, the story underscores, God was showing, manifesting, God's own self to the world. The power of that story has been captured by great artists through the centuries. Among my favorites is that of the Dutch master, Rembrandt. The use of light is always critical in Rembrandt's paintings. This holds true for his portrayal of The Adoration of the Magi. In Rembrandt's painting, the Christ child is the primary source of light for the entire painting. There is no other light source on the canvas. The light of the Christ child illuminates all the other figures in the painting.

That's not a bad image for us in this season after the Epiphany. May the light of Christ be your source, shine upon you and through you throughout this ordinary, extraordinary time.

Blessings to all.

In Christ,


• Death of The Rev. Frank K. Jagohttp://www.legacy.com/obituaries/courierpostonline/obituary.aspx?n=frank-k-jago&pid=168996685&fhid=8153

The Rev. Frank K. Jago, born December 10, 1937, died peacefully on January 8, 2014. Ordained in 1963 by Bishop Banyard, Jago served at a number of parishes around the diocese, most recently as Priest-in-charge at Trinity Episcopal Church in Delran beginning in 1999 until his death. Jago is survived by four children and six grandchildren.

The viewing will be on January 12, 2014 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Perinchief Chapels and the funeral will take place on January 13, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 121 High Street, Mt. Holly, NJ.

A full obituary may be found here.


• Death of The Rev. Richard Edward Trask

In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our brother The Rev. Richard Edward Trask
(June 23, 1924 to November 24, 2013). Reverend Trask died in San Diego, California.
An obituary may be found here.


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Last updated: 5 June 2014
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