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 2020 is for lead paint abatement at St. Thomas', Lyndhurst. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to Diocese of Newark with BCEF Call #4 in the memo line to: Diocese of Newark, Attn: BCEF, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.
St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church is a prominent landmark in Lyndhurst. Residing at the corner of Stuyvesant and Forest Avenues, it was founded in 1888 as a mission outreach of Grace Church in Rutherford, making it one of the largest and oldest Protestant churches in town. Under the leadership of the Rev. C. Wesley Shike, church grounds underwent a transformation, and the present structure was erected and dedicated on September 7, 1958. There are three facilities that house the church’s daily affairs, with each building being aptly labeled old, main, and new. The former church building, now called Packard Hall, has dual functions, serving as the primary location for parish offices and schools. Meanwhile, the main church is a multipurpose unit, consisting of a meeting room, kitchen, and sanctuary.
The Lyndhurst-based church has a small congregation comprised of senior citizens, with an average attendance of 25-30 people. St. Thomas remains active in hosting their Sunday worship services at 10 am, and Bible study on Wednesdays at 6 pm. Acceptance and compassion are representational qualities that the St. Thomas congregation chooses to uplift and uphold. Their famous motto, “a church where everyone is welcome,” means that they strive to be accommodating towards people from all backgrounds, living into Jesus’ teachings.
As a small self-sustaining parish whose community ties date back more than 100 years, St. Thomas is actively involved in the Lyndhurst township. Some of their endeavors include donating items to food banks, sponsoring rummage sales, facilitating tricky trays, and participating in the annual Fourth of July parade. During Advent, St. Thomas and Grace Church partner to arrange Christmas services. One of the church’s community pillars is Pumpkin Patch, a preschool that’s nestled in the old church. Aside from operating as a financial source, the nursery has been a vital resource in providing childcare assistance for working-class families. Pumpkin Patch continues to be a neighborhood-staple, treating each child with love, compassion, and care. Parents can drop off their kids knowing they’re in safe and capable hands. As of today, the daycare is responsible for around 20 children who are all under the age of six.
Like many churches with aging structures, St. Thomas has experienced their fair share of maintenance issues. They’re required to perform lead paint abatement work and retesting to the building that houses the preschool. Once the school gains state approval, they can reopen by their January target date. This has been an ongoing problem since July. After factoring in all the materials, time, and labor required for the project, the total cost of repairs is $14,000, an unexpected expense that the church needs to deduct from their operating budget. Concentrated fundraising efforts from past and present parishioners helped some, but ultimately the church paid approximately $8,000 out-of-pocket. Our fourth BCEF call of 2020 can alleviate the hefty costs that the St. Thomas’ ministry and preschool currently faces. Please consider this congregation’s urgent circumstances by supporting them with financial gifts and your prayers.
+Carlye J. Hughes
The Rt. Rev. Carlye J. Hughes
Bishop of Newark