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 2018 is for critical sidewalk repair at St. Paul's Church, Paterson. 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.
This year historic St. Paul’s Church in Paterson entered its third century of service. Their first service was held in 1818 but the congregation grew rapidly and by 1833 there were 150 families. The present church building at Broadway and 18th Street in Paterson dates from 1897. Constructed of pink granite quarried in New Jersey, its design was patterned after Durham Cathedral in England. From the air, the church looks almost cathedral-like in size but none of its space is underutilized. St. Paul’s is active 24 hours a day offering vital ministries to their surrounding community.
The Rev. Deacon Erik Soldwedel, who serves as clergy-in-residence at St. Paul’s, describes a congregation that is whole-heartedly committed to Christian outreach. Founded by the church, St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation became a separate nonprofit more than five years ago. Among many other services, it operates a food pantry which is open four days a week. St. Paul’s itself runs a shelter that hosts 30 homeless men each night. It also hosts nine weekly 12 step programs, a meeting space for Americorp volunteers, the local block association, a counseling program for ex-offenders, and programs for tenant advocacy and safer streets. They have started the Souper Café, a monthly luncheon for neighborhood families. The worship life at St. Paul’s is just as active. Attendance at Sunday services (both in English and Spanish) averages about 120. The highly diverse congregation draws many members from the Afro-Caribbean, Hispanic, and African American communities.
St. Paul’s aging property, however, presents significant challenges. “We recently completed a comprehensive eight-month-long facilities study,” says Deacon Soldwedel. “While the total cost was well into seven figures, we completed some initial work for less than half the projected amount, owing to careful negotiations with contractors and sweat equity contributed by members.” Rotting trim was replaced, lighting improved, painting accomplished, repairs made to the furnace, and a new sound system installed—all without incurring debt or making withdrawals from St. Paul’s modest endowment.
With this, our third BCEF call for 2018 goes to St. Paul’s for critical sidewalk repairs. St. Paul’s is a vibrant congregation that makes enormous contributions to its neighborhood. Your generous donation today will help St. Paul’s to continue to maintain its financial focus on their vital ministries.
+Carlye J. Hughes
The Rt. Rev. Carlye J. Hughes
Bishop of Newark