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 fourth BCEF call of 2018 is for piping repairs and asbestos remediation at St. Paul's Church in Bergen, Jersey City. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to BCEF with Call #4 in the memo line to: BCEF, c/o Diocese of Newark, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.
Founded in 1860, St. Paul’s in Bergen takes its name from the Jersey City district that until 1870 was an independent community called Bergen City, a name dating back to when the area was part of New Netherlands. Racially, economically, religiously, and even architecturally the neighborhood is incredibly diverse. St. Paul’s wood frame Gothic-style church is surrounded by Victorian mansions, Art Deco apartment buildings, and 19th century row houses. Its 1860 rectory, adjacent to the church, actually predates the present church building by several years.
Soon entering his fifth year as rector, the Rev. Tom Murphy describes the congregation as equally diverse with large representations from the African American, Caribbean American, and Hispanic communities. There are three services each Sunday, including a 6 pm service which St. Paul’s playfully calls its “Last Chance Mass.” Total Sunday attendance averages around 115. “Our 10 am service features a great variety of music from classical works to gospel,” says Fr. Tom.
Given its central location and a congregation that is highly committed to outreach, St. Paul’s is a busy place during the week. There are three weekday services in addition to several 12-step and Al Anon meetings, a Girl Scout troop, and a craft group that meets on Mondays. The congregation periodically provides shelter to eleven homeless families in cooperation with the nationwide Family Promise program. They also work closely with the Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GSECDC), an organization that provides a variety of services, including meals and housing. The last Friday of each month the congregation cooks a meal in the church’s kitchen and delivers and serves it at a nearby location. Fr. Tom is also a GSECDC board member.
Like many urban churches, St. Paul’s faces ongoing challenges with their aging property. Sexton Vanessa Foster recalls the 2008 roofing project that cost more than $40,000. “More recently we had to replace slate steps at a cost of $16,000,” she explains. Both projects were accomplished without St. Paul’s taking on debt or depleting its modest endowment. Today, the church faces two serious problems in its basement: a cracked cast iron drain pipe that floods the room during heavy rains and also a serious asbestos abatement issue around the boiler. Your donation to this, our final BCEF call for 2018, will enable St. Paul’s to address these challenges in a timely fashion without encumbering their existing resources. The congregation does so very much for the people of Jersey City. I ask you to please be generous so St. Paul’s can stay focused on the vital ministries they undertake in Christ’s name.
+Carlye J. Hughes
The Rt. Rev. Carlye J. Hughes
Bishop of Newark