In This Edition
Upcoming Congregational Events
May 16th  
Chansons and Madrigals
Christ Church
New Brunswick
Click Here for More
May 17th  
Finding God Over Coffee (recurring)
St. James
Click Here for More
May 17th  
Choral and Organ Festival
St. Mary's
Haddon Heights
Click Here for More
May 18th 
Parenting Classes (recurring)
Click Here for More
May 24th
Caribbean Breakfast
St. Mark's
Click Here for More
May 30th
Choral Music of Britain and America
Click Here for More
May 31st
Recovery Service
Christ Church
New Brunswick
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June 6th  
Art Auction
St. Mark's & All Saints'
Click Here for More
June 6th  
Yard Sale
Laurel Springs
Click Here for More
June 7th  
Choral Evensong
St. John's
Click Here for More
June 13th  
Paper Shredding and Car Wash
St. Martin's
Click Here for More
June 20th
Juneteeth Celebration of the End of Slavery
St. Stephen's
Click Here for More
June 28th
Victorian Tea
Church of the Advent
Cape May
Click Here for More
List Your Congregation's Events Here!
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Episcopal Links of the Week
Presiding Bishop Election: Ask the Nominees

The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop invites you to submit a question for the nominees. You may submit multiple questions by returning to this same link for each question. They will choose questions from the submissions received to be asked during the presentation at General Convention on June 24.
The Episcopal Church Among 188 Organizations Signing a Call to End Family Detention

"Since the expansion of family detention a year ago, growing evidence continues to demonstrate that mothers and children in family detention facilities are largely seeking protection in the United States. Detention has had a traumatic impact on the mental health and well-being of these families, and on children in particular, especially given the trauma they have already faced in Central America. These mental health effects are compounded where families have suffered detention that is prolonged and indefinite in nature."

The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Network for Economic Justice are just two of 188 organizations   authoring a letter to Washington in hopes of ending family detention.
When Church is a Choice (and what that says to kids)

Pastor and blogger Rev Shelley Wood writes of the importance of God and Church and the importance of having that conversation with children:  


"When kids are told that church is a choice and that religion is a buffet of entrees in which they can pick the one's they like the best and ignore the ones they don't, kids hear this:  

Religion doesn't matter. God is there if you want Him, or not. Take Him or leave Him. He's around, if you want to give Him a call. Otherwise, don't worry about it. Live a good life. Be a good person. You will be fine.  

If I told my kids that bathing was a choice and that they were free to decide whether or not they wanted to bathe or brush their teeth... my kids would opt out of the practice and ritual of good hygiene. Gross, I know. But true."

The Women of Why Christian?

"Why, in the wake of centuries of corruption, hypocrisy, crusades and televangelists, do we continue to follow Jesus?"

Rachel Held Evans and the Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber posed this to several women for a conference in in Minneapolis, September 18-2.

Among these women are The Rev Winnie Varghese, rector of St. Mark's in-the-Bowery and soon to be Director of Community Outreach at Trinity, Wall Street, and
The Rev. Kerlin Richter, founder of founding priest of Bushwick Abbey.
Have a compelling story to share? Click here to e -mail Jonathan Elliott and let us know!
May 14, 2015
From the Bishop

Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey:


Happy Feast of the Ascension!

A Principal Feast of the Church, the Feast of the Ascension is always on the 40th day after Easter and, so, always falls on a Thursday. Many churches carry over the observance to the Sunday following - the 7th Sunday of Easter.

The Ascension, which has been observed since at least the 4th  century, appears to present us with a paradox. On the one hand, Jesus appears to make a final exit. The author of Luke-Acts (the same person wrote both the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles), tells the story twice. In the Gospel of Luke, the author tells of Jesus gathering the disciples on Easter Day. He gives them his final words and teaching, saying to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you-that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled." Luke writes, "He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 'You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.'" There seems to be urgency in this final teaching.

Following this urgent final teaching, Luke writes, "Then [Jesus] led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God." Jesus clearly leaves the scene (See Luke 24: 44-53).


Similarly, in Acts, the author writes, "So when they had come together, they asked him, 'Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?' He replied, 'It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.' When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight." Again, Jesus clearly leaves the scene (See Acts 1:6-9).


Contrast this with Jesus' appearance to the disciples in Mathew 28. Matthew writes, "Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'" (Matthew 28:16-20).


That's it. No Ascension. No departure of Jesus. Just those final, reassuring words: "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." With that, Matthew's Gospel comes to an end.


So, which is it? Does Jesus stay or does he go?




We are caught in a paradox.


The Ascension of Jesus marks the end of Jesus' own personal and physical earthly ministry, but it neither marks the end of Jesus nor the end of his ministry. The Church receives Jesus' power and presence at Pentecost, with the gift of the Holy Spirit. As Acts of the Apostles makes clear, Jesus continues to act and work powerfully through his disciples. St. Paul captures this in his reference to the Church as "the body of Christ" (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12:27).


The Ascension marks a transition more than a departure. As Troy Trotgruben of Wartburg Seminary observes, "What the ascension of Jesus in Luke-Acts signifies has far less to do with geography (Where Jesus is) than with his exaltation (Who Jesus is). Jesus' ascension firmly establishes him as the Lord and Messiah, exalted at God's right hand in ways not merely physical...In short, the ascension of Jesus speaks volumes about who Jesus is, without without confining him to house arrest until he returns again. [i] 


Jesus is exalted to the Father's right hand in heaven. Nonetheless, his Spirit and power remain present in and through his Church on earth. He is, as Matthew makes clear, with us always, "even to the end of the age."


May you feel the presence of the living Christ with you even as you adore him exalted in heaven this Ascension Day.


Faithfully yours in Christ,



The Right Reverend William H. (Chip) Stokes, D.D.
Bishop of New Jersey

[i] See Troftgruben, Troy "Commentary on Luke 24:44-53" - May 14, 2014 - on Working Preacher website found at 

Formation Corner

Every week, we'll be sharing resources and information here for you to put into practice in your congregations and community.

Seven Ways to Welcome Young People to the Mainline

Rachel Held Evans made waves earlier this month with her Washington Post piece on authenticity and the dangers of making church "cool." Here, she goes further, and discusses what young people want out of church, from the basis of their own perspectives on Christian formation. 

Looking for resources from the Bishop's Spring Conference?  Click here for the new Formation Resource Page , featuring presentations, print resources, and more.
Good News Stories

Come to the Table: 
A Celebration of our Various Abilities


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Trinity Cathedral, Trenton, NJ

 11:00 a.m.


 Click here for a video about this service.



Preacher and Celebrant:
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes,
Bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey

Welcoming and celebrating the differing gifts and abilities of members of parishes and congregations of the Diocese of New Jersey, this Eucharist is for all of us, beloved of God, in all our various shapes and forms. Each of us, made in the image of a gracious God, hold high our dignity and joy in service to our Church and our Lord. This will be a time to support and uphold the many ways we may be called to serve, be it as ushers, singers, deacons, acolytes, etc. utilizing our many different abilities and gifts. Reception to follow.

Sponsored by the Commission on Ministry with the Disabled.

Baccalaureate Service


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Trinity Cathedral, Trenton, NJ

 4:00 p.m.

For Diocesan Wide Graduating Seniors and their Family, Friends and
Church Members


Our Mark of Mission focus will be on #'s 1 & 2 & 3


This will be our 4th Annual Celebration of our
Graduating Seniors  

Baccalaureate Service is a celebration which honors a graduating senior class from high school. Join the entire Diocese in recognizing our graduating seniors.

There will be a reception after the service for all in Synod Hall.

The offering collection will go to the
Van Duzer Scholarship Fund.   


Episcopal Relief & Development
Campaign Update

to get more information and ideas about how to make our campaign come alive!


Re-Imagining Church for the 21st Century

A 2-Day Foundational Workshop 

With John Roberto and Rollie Martinson

June 26-27, 2015

Synod Hall, Trinity Cathedral, Trenton

Registration Deadline - June 1

This workshop is the required starting point for all congregations that have committed to The Way of St. Paul congregational development program. It is also open to all others.
An inspiring continuation
of the themes and ideas presented at

The Bishop's Spring Conference



On Friday, June 26 and Saturday, June 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Vibrant Faith's John Roberto and Rollie Martinson will lead a two-day workshop that will equip attendees to conduct community research and assess their congregation's life and ministries.  


Topics to be covered will include:

  • The Challenges Facing Faith Formation in the 21st Century
  • A 21st Century Vision of Faith-Forming Congregations
  • Innovative Approaches for Developing a New Faith Forming Ecosystem
  • Preparation for Community Research: Processes and Tools

Ministry Institute Events




Looking ahead to the 2015-16 year we wish to ensure that the Ministry Institute meets the needs of the parishioners and clergy in the Diocese.

Whether you've attended many events in the past or are interested in attending your first program, we would appreciate your insights. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey at the link below.


Every week, we'll be listing upcoming Ministry Institute events here; click here for the full listing.   

Abuse Awareness Workshop 
May 23
St. Mark, Keansburg  

Senior Baccalaureate Service
May 31
Trinity Cathedral, Trenton

Come to the Table: A Celebration of Our Various Abilities
June 20th
Trinity Cathedral, Trenton

Diocesan Choir Camp
June 26-30
Cape May, NJ

Youth Mission Trip
July 26-August 1
The Diocese of New Jersey
(609) 394-5281
808 West State St, Trenton, NJ 08618