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Third BCEF Call of 2017: St. Peter's, Mountain Lakes

St. Peter's, Mountain Lakes

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 third BCEF call of 2017 is for a new fire alarm system at St. Peter's, Mountain Lakes. You can donate online, or mail a check payable to BCEF with Call #3 in the memo line to: BCEF, c/o Diocese of Newark, 31 Mulberry St., Newark, NJ 07102.

St. Peter’s Church in Mountain Lakes is often called “the church on the hill” because it is in the center of this North Jersey community of 4,000 and overlooks the idyllic lake from which the borough took its name. Founded in 1923, the lovely stone church was built just as the first 600 stucco homes of this planned community were completed in the style of the then-popular Arts and Crafts Movement.

Today St. Peter’s draws about half its membership from within Mountain Lakes and the rest from the surrounding towns, explained Don MacGowan, senior warden. It is a vibrant congregation with an average of 100 worshippers each Sunday and 35 young people in the church school. The church has a wonderful choir and organ and St. Peter’s co-rectors, the Rev. Chuck Hatfield and the Rev. Adele Hatfield, have instilled a strong tradition of welcoming newcomers.

Another tradition at St. Peter’s is its commitment to outreach. The congregation regularly hosts functions for clients of the Mental Health Association of Morris County, many of whom are lonely and in need of friendship. Further from home, the congregation has provided significant funding to students in Mozambique, enabling a number of them to complete college, including one who has become a successful journalist.

St. Peter’s buildings include the church, a parish hall added in 1956, and a rectory. Owing to the congregation’s faithful stewardship, all are in good repair. Restoration of the stained glass was completed in 1978 with the cost raised entirely within the congregation. More recently, the congregation applied for and received an outside grant to replace a steeply pitched slate roof, and then funded the balance of the project through their own funds and the Ward J. Herbert Fund.

As proactive as leadership has been, new state requirements for the Academy for Children, a preschool in the church’s undercroft, have resulted in unexpected capital expenditures. John Garrison, a member for 32 years and former senior warden, explained the Department of Youth and Family Services determined that a new fire alarm system for the facility needed to be installed immediately if the preschool was to continue. The work was done and new pull boxes installed, ensuring the survival of the preschool as well as enhancing the safety of the entire property. But the project was costly, having a decidedly negative impact on the church’s budget and causing them to seek outside assistance. In responding to this, our third BCEF call for 2017, I hope you will prayerfully consider the vital ministries of this wonderful congregation and contribute generously.


The Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith
Bishop of Newark