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 fourth BCEF call of 2016 is for exterior stanchions and access ramps for St. Gabriel's, Milton/Oak Ridge. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to BCEF with Call #4 in the memo line to: BCEF, c/o Diocese of Newark, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.
St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church in the Milton section of Oak Ridge began as a mission of St. Mary’s Church, Sparta. Located in Morris County (District 2 of the diocese), Oak Ridge has a population of around 11,000. The congregation was established in 1968 and a modern, A-frame church was erected three years later. A unique outdoor chapel was added in 1984.
With an average Sunday attendance of about 25, members know each other well and willingly serve in multiple capacities as lay readers, acolytes, Eucharistic ministers, and as members of the congregation’s executive committee. Over the years retired clergy have served the self-supporting congregation on a part-time basis. St. Gabriel’s current priest is the Rev. Mark Waldon.
While an automated synthesizer may provide the accompaniment to hymns on Sunday, the singing is no less enthusiastic, says Naomi Horsky, one of the congregation’s most committed lay leaders. A member of St. Gabriel’s for 43 years, Ms. Horsky describes a tightly knit congregation that faithfully strives to balance a concern for the well being of each member with a strong desire to serve as a force for good in its community and the wider world.
During the summer the Eucharist takes place under a canopy of trees in St. Gabriel’s outdoor chapel. The sound of rushing water from a nearby tributary further enhances the chance to experience God’s creation during worship. In service to its community, the congregation also makes the chapel available to the town of Oak Ridge for local events. Other outreach programs include active participation in the local food pantry, for which the congregation has single-handedly conducted food drives. St. Gabriel’s is also an active participant in the North Porch, a diocesan ministry that assists needy mothers.
Over the years St. Gabriel’s has exercised careful stewardship of its physical plant. A capital campaign raised the funds for a much-needed roof replacement and the congregation also replaced gutters and an electrical panel, largely on its own. Most recently however, they have had to replace the facings on the exterior stanchions that support the building. They have also added two ramps to the church to provide increased access. Completing these two projects has been a significant financial challenge. The Bishop’s Call #4 of 2016 seeks your generous support to help defray the costs of these worthy projects and to better enable this faithful congregation to continue its vital ministry in Christ’s name.
The Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith
Bishop of Newark