Each Lent for more than two decades, 12 congregations in northeast Bergen County have worked together to collect a Lenten Offering to support a designated ministry.
Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, their 2020 Lenten Offering collected a record-setting of $8,010 that will go to support an unexpected need: diapers and other baby supplies.
An Epiphany service held at St. Paul’s, Englewood kicked off this year’s Lenten Offering at the end of February – just before the pandemic took hold in the U.S. Then the unemployment caused by this public health crisis dramatically increased the need for baby supplies from North Porch, as well as other organizations across our diocese.
According to the Rev. Margaret Otterburn, currently North Porch is serving 100 infants and toddlers a week in Dover and another 50 to 60 a week in Jersey City. If these numbers continue, North Porch is on track to serve over 6000 children this year – double their average for the past three years.
North Porch welcomed the additional support from the Lenten Offering, which enabled it to share supplies, particularly diapers, with other ministries serving infants, toddlers, and their families.
An ad hoc Outreach sub-committee of three or four people from different churches is formed to brainstorm and recommend that year’s recipient. This year the committee consisted of Ann Hirsch (St. Paul’s, Montvale), the Rev. Archie Palmer (Annunciation, Oradell), and the Rev. Jim Petroccione (Holy Communion, Norwood).
The Lenten Offering began over two decades ago as a project of the congregations in District 9, joined by All Saints’, Leonia in neighboring District 8. It has been the most consistent means by which District 9 has worked together, and provided opportunities for joint worship, social gatherings, and Confirmation education in addition to regular District meetings.
Every year, the goal is to raise at least $5,000, and every year, that goal has been met, with the proceeds supporting both international and local organizations.
Previous Lenten Offerings included over $7K for the re-opening of the Episcopal school in Monrovia, Liberia; $5K for a well to provide water for a community through Episcopal Relief & Development; nearly $7K to provide new supplies for Episcopal schools in the U.S. Virgin Islands damaged by hurricanes; and last year, over $6K to assist with transportation costs for the Center for Food Action. For several years in the mid-2000s, District 9 collected and delivered toiletries, phone cards and magazines for Seamen’s Church Institute.
It’s been inspiring for everyone to realize how much more we can do in Christ’s name together than we can do separately. These congregations are now distributed among two of the new Regional Ministry Networks, where we hope to continue joint parish efforts.
Following are the congregations involved in the Lenten Offering.
In the Regional Ministry Network Augustine of Hippo (East):
All Saints' Episcopal Korean, Bergenfield; St. Paul's, Englewood; St. Luke's, Haworth; All Saints', Leonia; Atonement, Tenafly.
In the Regional Ministry Network Benedict of Nursia (North East):
St. Andrew's, Harrington Park; Holy Trinity, Hillsdale; St. Paul's, Montvale; Holy Communion, Norwood; Annunciation, Oradell; St. Matthew's, Paramus; Grace Church, Westwood.
For those who would like to support North Porch, the most needed items are large-size diapers and baby wipes, which you can purchase and have shipped to them through their Amazon Charity List.