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First BCEF Call of 2022: St. Peter's, Clifton

St. Peter's, Clifton after Hurricane Ida

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 2022 is for Hurricane Ida recovery at St. Peter's, Clifton. 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.

In 2021 St. Peter’s Church in Clifton celebrated the 125th anniversary of its founding. An 1896 newspaper article at the time derided the founding members as “little strugglers” and said there were too few Episcopalians in Clifton for the church to succeed. The Rev. Canon Dr. Kevin Moroney, who serves as Priest in Residence at St. Peter’s, wrote last year, “I would say we can take that denunciation and wear it as a badge. For in the 125 years, we little strugglers have built two churches, a hall, purchased three homes (two of which are used for the homeless), performed the sacraments on countless people, and currently help to feed 1,600 souls each month.”

A central ministry of the parish, Saint Peter’s Haven (SPH) is a non-sectarian 501 (c) (3) charitable organization that feeds the hungry and helps the homeless. Pam Fueshko serves as Warden of the church and Acting Executive Director of SPH. “We place great emphasis on keeping families together,” she explained. “Shelters typically house men and women separately. We make every effort to keep homeless families together.” Using two homes owned by the parish, SPH can assist several families at a time with shelter, food, and social services. Up to 18 persons can be accommodated, typically for up to 90 days. SPH is also part of the New Jersey Food Bank and operates its extensive food pantry for the City of Clifton. SPH is a major social service provider with several full-time employees and dozens of volunteer workers.

The congregation’s website says St. Peter’s “celebrates the wonder of God’s love in a community that embraces all who enter our doors.” This claim is certainly embodied by the amazing ministry of Saint Peter’s Haven. Making this all possible, St. Peter’s Church is located in a beautiful residential section of Clifton, a city of over 80,000 residents in Passaic County. Pam Fueshko explained, “Before the pandemic we averaged 30-40 worshippers on an average Sunday. When we started streaming services, this number went down. But one Sunday when we streamed a baptism, we had 140 people join us online!”

Like so many churches in our diocese, St. Peter’s and SPH suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Ida at the end of August 2021. Six feet of water poured into the sub-basement of the church and rose to four feet in the basement itself where the offices of both the church and SPH were located. Computers, copy machines, records, furniture, and all supplies for SPH were totally destroyed. Heat exchangers were damaged, as was a blower for the pipe organ. The cost of the damage is likely to reach $500,000. The parish had flood insurance but its deductible still leaves them with $38,000 to pay. This is a big challenge for the parishioners once called the “little strugglers.” Given their remarkable contributions to helping those in need, in this our first BCEF call for 2022, please be as generous as you can in assisting them rise to the occasion once again.

God's peace,

+Carlye J. Hughes

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