You are here

Congregations work in partnership across town, state lines to aid hurricane victims

The Rev. Diana Wilcox and Wardens and Vestry members of Christ Church, Bloomfield & Glen Ridge with hurricane relief check
Kirk Petersen
The Rev. Diana Wilcox and Wardens and Vestry members of Christ Church, Bloomfield & Glen Ridge pose on Sunday, October 1, 2017 with a "check" representing the $11,000 they had collected for Episcopal Relief & Development. Before the church could cut their actual check to ER&D, donations rose to more than $12,000. PHOTO COURTESY CHRIST CHURCH, BLOOMFIELD & GLEN RIDGE

Two churches in the diocese have followed different paths to a similar destination, raising thousands of dollars in aid for the victims of the recent hurricanes.

At Christ Church, Bloomfield & Glen Ridge, the vestry voted at its September meeting to devote the entire outreach budget to provide matching gifts for hurricane relief – which prompted an unanticipated response from congregations and individuals across the diocese.

Meanwhile, St. John’s, Passaic started a spiritually rewarding relationship with an Episcopal Church in hard-hit Angleton, Texas.

The Rev. Diana Wilcox, rector of Christ Church, said that after initial efforts fulfilled only part of the goal, “the call went out into our neighborhoods and the diocese, trying to fully meet the $5,200 we offered in match. The response was unbelievable! Parents of our Nursery School, people in our neighborhoods of Bloomfield & Glen Ridge who have never stepped foot inside this church, parishes and people from across our diocese – they all responded!”

The campaign was oversubscribed, and Christ Church is sending a check for more than $12,000 to ER&D. Wilcox said several churches and groups played key roles in the effort:

  • All Saints, Leonia
  • House of Prayer, Newark
  • St. James’, Hackettstown
  • St. James’, Upper Montclair
  • St. Peter’s, Essex Fells
  • The parents & staff of the nursery school of Christ Church
  • Neighbors in Bloomfield & Glen Ridge
  • Brothers & sisters in Christ in the Diocese of Newark

The Rev. Bill Thiele, St. John’s rector, said that “as an inner city parish with limited means, we thought that if our small gifts could be more personal, then they might mean more.” They decided to devote their efforts to a single parish, and selected Holy Comforter Episcopal Church in Angleton, in part because Thiele had a casual relationship with the town from a previous career.

“After collections and prayers, the next thing was a check for $1,431, which was sent on September 2nd, accompanied by a letter signed by about 60 of us (below). About three weeks later, we had raised another $1,266 dollars and had sent boxes of needed clothing,” Thiele said. They received a thank-you letter with many signatures from the Texas church.

Letter from St. John's Passaic signed by about 60 members.

“But then something especially great happened,” Thiele said. “Holy Comforter, while still dealing with its own distress, searched out St. Ambrose's Episcopal Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, which had been affected more severely, from Irma. They imitated what we had done, and sacrificially collected a gift for them, which was transmitted over a letter that had a lot of their own signatures on it. I'm sure we'll hear more about their new relationship with St. Ambrose’s.”

St. John’s is separately raising funds for ER&D’s disaster relief work in Puerto Rico. ER&D has worked with church partners for more than 75 years to provide much-needed assistance around the world. It has an “A” rating from Charity Watch, and earns four stars (out of four) from Charity Navigator. Donations to ER&D’s Hurricane Relief Fund can be made at