In This Edition
Upcoming Congregational Events
Jan 23rd-May 15th 
Sacred Spaces
Art Exhibit
St. Luke's
January 29th
Line Dance Social
St. Francis'
Click Here for More
January 30th
Spaghetti Dinner
Laurel Springs
Click Here for More
January 31st
Rowan University Concert Choir
St. Mary's
Haddon Heights
Click Here for More
January 31st
Retirement Celebration for Peter Manzo
St. Bartholomew's
Cherry Hilly
Click Here for More
February 6th 
Sarah Vaughn Tribute
Christ Church
New Brunswick 
February 9th
Pancake Dinner
St. Francis'
February 13th
Cook Pray Love
All Saints'
Scotch Plains
Click Here for More
February 21st
Make a Joyful Noise
All Saints'
March 12th
Crab Cake Dinner
St. Peter's
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Episcopal Links of the Week
9 Reasons Every Church Needs to Sing Hymns

From teaching theology to being expressions of emotion, hymns are a big part of Episcopal worship. This listicle also notes that most hymns were written for congregational singing and their uniting the modern to  generations of Christians before us - while allowing for new contributions. 
Ramps vs. Signs: Saying 'Yes' to Unexpected Ministry Opportunities

Is your parish on the defense or the offense? Are you protecting who you are or looking out for who you can be?

Do your signs say "No" or do your ramps
(or skate parks) yes "Welcome."

"No one scores goals on defense.
And ramps are more fun than signs."
Creative Ideas for Children's Ash Wednesday and Holy Week Services

Ash Wednesday and Holy Week services are some of the most moving times of year for many teens and adults but can seem inaccessible for many children. The Rev. Elizabeth Rees writes for The Center for the Ministry of Teaching with a few of the many ideas for how to bring this holy time of year to children. Her suggestions range from ideas to concrete activities. 
Flint Water: How You Can Help

The Diocese of Eastern Michigan has put together a resources guide for how individuals and parishes can help the water crisis facing those in Flint, Michigan. From fundraisers and advocacy to working directly with similar problems closer to home, this guide helps make the far away personal and practical.
Have a compelling story to share? Click here to e -mail Jonathan Elliott and let us know!
January 29, 2016
From the Bishop:
Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Luke 2:29-32

February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation, also known as Candlemas. It is understood by some as a closing feast of Christmas. Many people keep their crèches in place until this feast. Some even keep their Christmas trees up and decorated (ours would never have lasted - there were more pine needles on the floor than on the tree by January 6 th!). Traditionally, churches have processions with candles, symbolic of the one who is "a light to lighten the gentiles."

The gospel reading appointed for the day is from Luke 2:22-40, an acco unt of the Mary and Joseph bringing the infant Jesus to the Temple where they are encountered by the elderly pair - Simeon and the prophet, Anna. This encounter has always captivated me.

Luke - himself likely a gentile, a non-Jew - appears a little confused about Jewish customs and practices of the time, conflating the purification of the mother after childbirth with the redemption of the first born and offering the child's service to God. No matter, these are details. It is the encounter with the two elders that provide the power and drama of the story.

Simeon, described by Luke as "righteous and devout," is looking for the "consolation of Israel." Luke tells us, "the Holy Spirit rested upon him." The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. I wonder how long he had been waiting, yearning for that promise to be fulfilled. Then it came. Luke writes, "Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God..." and prayed his treasured words, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace...." Can you imagine? Can you imagine how his heart stirred, how his heart sang?

But the moment is not all joy and singing. Simeon blesses the parents, saying to them, "This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed." What, I wonder, did Mary and Joseph make of this?

They didn't have much time to think about it. Simeon turned to Mary and said, "and a sword will pierce your own soul too." It is a foreshadowing of Good Friday. What did she make of those words then? What did she make of them as Jesus grew and became an adult? Did those words echo in her heart and soul when she stood on Calvary?

Anna comes on the scene. Luke tells us she is a prophet. She, too, sees the child, and not only sees the child, but sees in the child, God's revelation. Luke writes, "At that moment, she came and began to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Israel." She knew. She just knew.

It is striking to me that the very last words faithful Episcopalians who recite Compline, the closing office of each day, say are a variation of the words uttered by Simeon in the temple so long ago:
          Lord, you now have set your servant free
to go in peace according to your word
          For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior,
                   whom you have prepared for all the world to see:
          A light to enlighten the nations,
                   and the glory of your people Israel. (BCP, p. 135)
As God's faithful, "righteous and devout," we should be able to take our rest each night, confident that, at some point during the day, we have seen the Lord's Messiah. In the midst of all we do, in the people we meet and the love we show, Christ is present. We can rest, be set free, and go in peace according to God's word.

Where have you seen the Lord's Messiah this day? Give praise and thanks with Simeon and Anna. Speak with them about the child to all whom you meet. Know your story, live it boldly!

Happy Candlemas!

Blessings and peace,  

The Right Reverend William H. (Chip) Stokes, D.D.
XII Bishop of New Jersey  
Good News Stories and More

16th Annual
Diocesan Acolyte Festival
  February 13, 201 6  
Trinity Cathedral

Join acolytes from across the diocese for a day of
workshops, fellowship, and worship on the theme of
Experiencing Holy Week and Easter  

Learn more and register!

Singers Wanted!

A Celebration of the Life of Absalom Jones

All are invited to sing two anthems               
Rehearsal is at 1:30 PM on Feb. 14 in the Cathedral
Service at 3pm
Reception Following

Please RSVP to Canon Deborah Ford
with voice part and participants' names:  
609-392-3805 ext 102 
Please bring Choir Vestments if possible
Please practice music ahead of time
Looking forward to making a joyful noise unto the Lord!

Ministry Institute

A full, detailed listing of Ministry Institute events will be available soon.
A listing of all the events is available here.

Below are the events for February and March. 

February 13
Trinity Cathedral

February 14
Trinity Cathedral

February 17
Diocesan House, Trenton

March 4-6
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill

March 18 - Youth Adults
Theo's Cafe: Young Adults Dinner
Location TBA

March 19
  Telling Our Stories: Creating Meaningful Audio Interviews
as Oral Histories of Our Congregations
Grace, Pemberton

March 22
Trinity Cathedral

March 30
Diocesan House, Trenton

The Diocese of New Jersey
(609) 394-5281
808 West State St, Trenton, NJ 08618