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 second BCEF call of 2022 is for Hurricane Ida recovery at St. Peter's, Essex Fells. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to Diocese of Newark with BCEF Call #2 in the memo line to: Diocese of Newark, Attn: BCEF, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.
St. Peter’s Church, a beautiful Gothic-style building, has an ideal location on Roseland Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the small borough of Essex Fells. With a population of just 2000, Essex Fells may be one of the smallest communities in the state but St. Peter’s draws its members from many nearby towns, especially Roseland and West Caldwell.
As stated on its website, St. Peter’s believes worship is the “wellspring of our life of service.” There are three services each Sunday morning and a fourth service is about to be added on Sunday afternoon. The combined attendance is about 90, down slightly from before the pandemic. The congregation began in-person worship before Christmas. After a brief return to exclusively on-line services because of the Omicron variant, they now worship in the church building once again. As with many congregations, the 8 am service is meditative and without music. The 9 am Eucharist is largely attended by families with children who have their own group known as the “Wee Believers.” The 10 am service is a traditional choral Eucharist.
In-reach ministries, as they are called at St. Peter’s, include lay pastoral callers, Eucharistic ministers, a prayer chain group, a knitting ministry, service as liturgical ministers, and even a chance for parishioners to serve as videographers. The parish supports a strong music program including two choirs and a two-octave hand bell ensemble that is a part of the service at least once a month.
Among its outreach ministries, St. Peter’s Op Shop is a non-profit thrift shop, which has served the local community for close to 80 years! Proceeds from the shop are used to support other local charities as well as the church’s operating budget. The shop also helps to fund the David St. George Outreach Endowment Fund, which provides financial support for local and diocesan charities.
Although the Rev. Nathaniel Darville officially began his ministry as Rector of St. Peter’s on September 20, 2020, Hurricane Ida’s arrival at the end of the month quickly set aside most of the activities that would have celebrated the arrival of Fr. Nate, his wife, Rheagen, and their two children. “I will never forget the phone call I received from our property manager advising me of the damage caused by Hurricane Ida,” Fr. Nate recalled. “I was getting our kids ready for school when the phone rang and I was told the kitchen, undercroft, choir room, and class rooms were all covered in water. Roseland Avenue was like a river.” When the water receded and was pumped out, Ida was found to have done a quarter million dollars in damage.
St. Peter’s joins other congregations in our diocese who, even with insurance, are facing serious financial challenges from Hurricane Ida. Please be as generous as you can in aiding this remarkable church through this, our second BCEF call for 2022.
+Carlye J. Hughes
The Rt. Rev. Carlye J. Hughes
Bishop of Newark