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Diocesan Resolution 2011-03: A Resolution Recognizing Church of the Incarnation's New Ministry and Mission in Jersey City

RESOLVED, that this one hundred thirty-seventh Convention of the Diocese of Newark affirm the vision of the Jersey City Strategy adopted at the 123rd Diocesan Convention in 1997 that, among other things, called for the development of "three strong congregations in Jersey City," one of which would be a new ministry and mission in Jersey City arising from the merged lives of the people of St. Matthew's Church in Jersey City, St. Stephen's Church in Jersey City and Church of the Incarnation in Jersey City; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that this one hundred thirty-seventh Convention of the Diocese of Newark acknowledge Church of the Incarnation in Jersey City to be the rightful inheritors of that part of the vision and plan for mission and ministry in Jersey City originally established by action of the 123rd Convention, including the funds set aside for the new ministry and mission in Jersey City; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that this one hundred thirty-seventh Convention of the Diocese of Newark hereby authorize the release of the designated funds for the new ministry and mission in Jersey City conditioned upon a plan submitted by Church of the Incarnation and endorsed by the Jersey City Area Ministry and the Bishop's Office no later than the 140thConvention of the Diocese of Newark which will be held in January 2014.


The vision of a unified mission strategy in Jersey City dates back at least to the 1980s.  Under the leadership of Suffragan Bishop Jack M. McKelvey a new strategy began in 1995.  In 1995 Diocesan Council adopted a resolution proposed by Bishop McKelvey that stated in relevant part that "the Diocesan Council accept the principle that funds received from the sale of church properties in Jersey City will be used for the development of ministry and mission in Jersey City."  See Diocesan Council Minutes (DCM) of December 13, 1995. 

Diocesan Council appointed the Jersey City Strategy Committee (the JCSC) in October 1995 with Bishop McKelvey as its chair.  In 1996 Diocesan Convention reaffirmed that "funds associated with the former Church of the Ascension in Jersey City be used for the development of ministry within that city, and that such funds be expended for appropriate uses to such ends as soon as a strategy and projects are approved."  See 122nd Diocesan Convention Journal (DCJ) at p. 40.  In January 1997 Diocesan Convention adopted the JCSC's three mission principles for Jersey City:

             1.         that there will be a minimum of three strong Jersey City congregations (Grace Van Vorst, St. Paul's and a new entity arising from the merger of St. Mathew's Church and St. Stephen's Church with Church of the Incarnation);

            2.         that a Jersey City Area Ministry (JCAM) would be created to work for approximately one year, with the JCAM eventually to replace the JCSC;

             3.         that a Jersey City community development corporation be established.

The 1997 Diocesan Convention resolution specifically stated that "the proceeds of sales of all church assets including those from the former Ascension, St. John's and Grace, Greenville in Jersey City be designated to fund this [Jersey City Area Ministry] strategy."  See 123rd DCJ at p. 61 (emphasis added) (clarification added).

The JCSC formed the JCAM on September 10, 1997 and it was initially called the Jersey City Area Council (JSAC).  In April 1998 Diocesan Council adopted a resolution that provided:

1.   Recommendations from JCAC/JCAM[1] and the JCSC shall govern the allocation of funds collected and held from the sale of all things Jersey City;

2.   Two-thirds of the money is for the benefit of the "new church" in Jersey City, at the time called "St. Augustine";

3.   One-third of the money is for ministries recommended by JCAM;

4.   All requests for funds must be approved by Diocesan Council. 

See Diocesan Council Minutes (DCM) of April 1998.

The vision for the creation of a community development corporation was realized in the incorporation of the Jersey City Episcopal Community Development Corporation (JCECDC) in June 1997.[2]  Today, the JCECDC is one of the most vibrant and industrious aspects of the Jersey City strategy through its aggressive housing construction and human resources divisions providing outreach, housing and case management for homeless men and women and those living with HIV/AIDS throughout Jersey City and beyond.

The vision of three strong congregations continues in the work of Grace Church Van Vorst, St. Paul's Church in Bergen and the new congregation consisting of members of St. John's Church, St. Matthew's Church, St. Stephen's Church and Church of the Incarnation, all worshipping as one merged congregation now known as Church of the Incarnation.

It is understood that the JCAM and Bishop's Office endorsement of a plan to be submitted by Church of the Incarnation constitutes tacit approval of the plan.  It is also understood that the release of funds and approval of the plan contemplated by this resolution is conditioned upon the submission and approval of a financially sound and viable plan.  Existing JCAM procedures provide a system of checks and balances in which the JCAM initially reviews proposed Jersey City ministry and mission plans before they are forwarded for further review and approval by a working group of Diocesan Council.  Diocesan Council then votes on the mission/ministry plans based upon the recommendation of its working group.

This resolution is sponsored by, and has the support of the Bishop’s Office, Diocesan Council (November 10, 2010), the Standing Committee (endorsed unanimously October 6, 2010), and the Trustees of the Episcopal Fund and Diocesan Properties (December 8, 2010).

[1]              The JCAM is composed of the clergy-in-charge and the wardens of the three Jersey City congregations.

[2]              The JCECDC was originally known as Jersey City Episcopal Housing, Inc., organized in the late 1980s.


Resource Date: 
Feb 2, 2011