During Lent, the 11 congregations in District 9 (northeast Bergen County) raised $5,038 for Center for Food Action (CFA), a local organization with which many of the congregations have partnered for years, donating food and money to help their neighbors in need. The funds were designated for purchase of a much-needed new van this fall. The van is used to pick up donations from supermarkets and restaurants and make deliveries to its several locations.
CFA has been providing emergency food packages and homelessness prevention assistance to local low-income individuals and families since it was founded in 1976.
An ad hoc committee is formed each year to choose the recipient and organize the drive. This year’s committee members were Claudia Smith of St. Luke’s, Haworth; Paul Shackford of St. Andrew’s, Harrington Park; and the Rev. Archie Palmer of Annunciation, Oradell.
Each congregation chooses its own way of raising funds – some use change jars or mite boxes, some send money from an Outreach fund, or hold a fundraiser. Some simply ask for donations. The churches are asked to raise approximately $500, understanding that some churches will raise more than others. This year the congregations’ donations ranged from $119 to $960.
In past years, District 9 churches have raised $5,000 or more for Episcopal schools in Liberia after the Ebola outbreak; a well for a drought-stricken town through Episcopal Relief & Development; and last year, for Episcopal schools in the hurricane-damaged U.S. Virgin Islands.
Going back to the early 2000s, District 9 cooperated for several years in a Lenten drive collecting toiletries and phone cards for The Seamen’s Church Institute in Port Newark. “We’ve worked together since the districts were formed, albeit with our ups and downs,” reports District 9 Convener Lynne Bleich Weber, “but we’ve found that folks feel encouraged by the things the churches can do together in Christ’s name, that they couldn’t accomplish on their own. It helps that ordained and lay leaders of congregations of all sizes are willing to pitch in and stand on equal ground.”
District 9 deputies meet approximately every two months to plan one social event each year, along with the Lenten drive, and of course, for district elections. This year the district is also beginning to plan a joint music event for the larger community during the holiday season. The event will bring together choirs and other musicians from participating congregations to support a common cause.
The 11 congregations in District 9 are: All Saints' Episcopal Korean Church, Bergenfield; Annunciation, Oradell; Atonement, Tenafly; Grace, Westwood; Holy Communion, Norwood; Holy Trinity, Hillsdale; St. Andrew's, Harrington Park; St. Luke's, Haworth; St. Matthew's, Paramus; St. Paul's, Englewood; and St. Paul's, Montvale.