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 2016 is for an emergency sewer line replacement for St. Agnes & St. Paul’s, East Orange. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to BCEF with Call #3 in the memo line to: BCEF, c/o Diocese of Newark, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.
St. Agnes and St. Paul’s Church in East Orange is a lively congregation with fifteen ongoing parish organizations, five Bible study groups, and outreach ministries that serve critical needs in the surrounding community. The church is the product of a highly successful 1992 agreement that brought St. Agnes’ Church (founded 1904) and St. Paul’s Church (founded 1869) under one roof with the Rev. Esar Budhu as Rector. Until then both churches were in decline due to social and economic changes in the surrounding community. From 1971 to 1979 St. Agnes had been reduced to mission status, as had St. Paul’s in 1977. With the unification of the churches, the St. Agnes property was sold to East Orange General Hospital. Owing to a deeply committed congregation and innovative leadership by Budhu, the unified church joyously celebrated having achieved parish status at the 1995 Diocesan Convention.
Today St. Agnes and St. Paul’s bustles with activity. Bible study groups meet each Sunday and Wednesday with Sunday attendance averaging about 70 and an active membership of about 130. The large parish hall is put to great use for dinners and other social events. Budhu estimates a large majority of members have their roots in countries of the Caribbean and that most live in the surrounding community with which the church is actively engaged. The Administration of the City of East Orange meets in the parish hall. Budhu was a founding member of the homeless shelter, Isaiah House for which parishioners provide food on a regular basis. Cricket is a passion of many members and the parish hosts many events for the Garden State League.
Like all our congregations, St. Agnes and St. Paul’s faces the daunting challenges of maintaining their aging properties. With typical self-reliance they have replaced both their roof and furnace, recently paying back all the loans they had taken. They have also remodeled the rectory kitchen and completed structural improvements in the nave. However, they now face a plumbing emergency requiring the immediate replacement of a sewer line on the property. Call #3 of 2016 asks for your financial support of this project. Your generous help will help reduce this burden significantly and better enable this very amazing congregation to continue to thrive.
The Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith
Bishop of Newark