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First BCEF Call of 2021: St. Luke's, Phillipsburg

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 2021 is for security system upgrades at St. Luke's, Phillipsburg. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to Diocese of Newark with BCEF Call #1 in the memo line to: Diocese of Newark, Attn: BCEF, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.

St. Luke’s Church in Phillipsburg is a 165-year-old parish along the Delaware River in the southwestern corner of our diocese. The attractive brick building was dedicated in 1955 and enjoys a park-like setting with lovely trees and spacious lawns. The parish’s website proclaims, “We are a Christian church in the Episcopal tradition and a community of faithful people, striving to support one another with love, kindness, and compassion.”

Like so many of our congregations, members of St. Luke’s are delighted to have recently returned to worship in their church building. Yet they are also bringing with them a few new skills learned during their months of online worship. “We had members who had never heard of PowerPoint or Zoom,” said St. Luke’s rector, Mother Anne E. Kitch. “Yet going forward, our Sunday services will be a hybrid experience combining both in-person and online worship.” Having just entered her third year as rector of St. Luke’s, Mother Anne also serves as a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council and is the author of several noteworthy books including The Anglican Family Prayer Book.

There are many opportunities for children and teens to become involved at St. Luke’s and a Zoom version of the Godly Play curriculum for children follows the worship service each Sunday. Beginning in the fall, the parish will undertake Sacred Ground, a 10-part, film-based series aimed at racial reconciliation and justice. Episcopal Church Women (ECW) offers opportunities for women to grow spiritually and is especially active in supporting the parish’s outreach ministries.

St. Luke’s is very connected to its surrounding community. As their website says, “we know we’re at our best when we’re opening our doors.” One parish ministry, Luke’s Pantry, has been providing groceries to those in need for more than a decade. The bagged food is distributed twice each month and throughout the pandemic not a single distribution was missed. Three AA groups also use the church facility.

The parish’s campus includes the church, a Christian education building, and a rectory. Recent renovations were completed with the labor and materials contributed by members themselves. But the church’s modest building fund is now being challenged by the urgent need for increased security. Doors on the church and Christian education building need to be replaced. Ring security cameras must be installed in several locations and doors throughout the property need repair and re-keying. As it has with other churches, the diocese commends St. Luke’s proactive approach to security issues. I ask that you be as generous as you can so that this important congregation can continue to have as its first priority funding the many vital ministries it undertakes.

God's peace,

+Carlye J. Hughes

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