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First BCEF Call of 2019: Grace, Westwood

Grace, Westwood

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 first BCEF call of 2019 is for rectory slate roof leak repairs at Grace Church in Westwood. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to BCEF with Call #1 in the memo line to: BCEF, c/o Diocese of Newark, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.

The lovely town of Westwood along our diocese’s northern border became an independent borough in 1894 and has long been known as the “Hub of Pascack Valley.” During the first decade of Westwood’s independence, Episcopalians gathered to plan what would become Grace Church at the corner of Kinderkamack Road, a major county highway, and Westwood Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare. The first annual meeting of Grace Church was in 1906, status as a parish came in 1925, and the dedication of the present church building was in 1939.

The Rev. Anthony Puca, Jr. became Grace’s current rector in 2017. He explained that although most members come from Westwood and surrounding communities, the church’s tradition of Anglo-Catholic worship has also drawn worshippers from surprising distances. Sunday attendance averages about 50. In addition to a sung Eucharist at 11 am, there is an 8 am said service, and a Children’s Mass at 9 am. Each Wednesday morning there is a Eucharist with anointing and prayers for healing. Worship at Grace embodies the richness of the Book of Common Prayer, traditional liturgy, and an impressive commitment to church music.  Members of the parish are intimately involved in every aspect of worship, serving as acolytes, ushers, lay readers, members of the altar guild, and singers in the parish’s large and active choir.

Father Anthony believes that the worship life at Grace, besides enriching the spiritual lives of members, also empowers and sustains the church’s strong commitment to community outreach. Many members are active in contributing and preparing food for a regular walk-in dinner sponsored by Family Promise in Hackensack. At Christmas there is a highly coordinated program to provide gifts to inner city children in the diocese and at Easter baskets of food are created for those in need.  In addition to these vital parish ministries, the church also supports several 12-step programs each week by providing meeting space.

Grace’s church building and adjoining parish hall have no maintenance issues that constitute a real emergency but the nearby rectory is another matter. Serious leaks in the rectory’s 84-year-old slate roof have resulted in significant water damage to the walls and ceilings of the kitchen and bedrooms. Worse yet, newly discovered mold problems, if not addressed quickly, could even threaten the rectory’s habitability. The cost of a new roof made of durable shingles approaches $10,000 and the need is urgent. Grace Church’s finances reflect a highly responsible approach to stewardship, including the way it has managed its modest endowment. The congregation needs your help with this costly project so I hope you will prayerfully consider its vital ministries and that your contribution to this, our first BCEF Call for 2019, will be especially generous.

God's peace,

+Carlye J. Hughes

The Rt. Rev. Carlye J. Hughes
Bishop of Newark