Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
I will, with God's help.
Baptismal Covenant - BCP, p. 305
"I believe we need to be inspirational, aspirational, and inclusive," Speaker of the House Paul Ryan recently stated. He was expressing what his hopes for his party in the current campaign season. His words -
inspirational, aspirational, and inclusive - extend beyond party boundaries. These are things we should all want from both parties and every candidate this election season.
As Christians, and as Episcopalians, we are called to be engaged and active in civic life. Our participation in the election process is a means by which we strive to bring about justice and peace in our nation and our communities. In March of this past year, our Presiding Bishop stated the matter well: "If we who are Christians participate in the political process and in the public discourse as we are called to do - the New Testament tells us that we are to participate in the life of the polis, in the life of our society - the principle on which Christians must vote is the principle: Does this look like love of neighbor?"
Along with many others, I am concerned about the tone and tenor of this election cycle. It is incumbent upon us all to demand civility and civil discourse even as we debate issues that are vitally important to our common life.
The Episcopal Church has produced both an
Election Engagement website
as well as a
2016 Election Toolkit
that provide useful information and suggestions about how we as individual Christians and as congregations can participate in the election process in meaningful and non-partisan ways. Among the suggestions are participating in voter registration efforts, holding issue forums, and inviting local candidates to speak. The guidelines also provide information to clergy and congregational leaders about lines that divide voter education from partisan activities which violate the rules and laws required of non-profit organizations. Crossing these lines could jeopardize the tax-exempt status of a congregation.
I especially appreciate the link to a video that is included in the Election Toolkit on "Civil Discourse." It is the webcast of a forum
"Civil Discourse: Finding Common Ground for the Greater Good"
held at Christ Church, Philadelphia in October 2015. Given the current climate of political debate and argument in our country today, this video can serve as a resource for Adult Education Forums to help church members find healthy ways to engage in critical discussions about matters that are important to us all.
As the Election Engagement website states, the Episcopal Church considers voting "an act of Christian Stewardship." I pray we will all be involved during this election campaign. As we involve ourselves, I hope we will remember that our primary allegiance isn't to any party or campaign; it is to Jesus Christ who has commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Blessings and peace,
The Right Reverend William H. (Chip) Stokes, D.D.
XII Bishop of New Jersey
Good News Stories and More
Congratulations to the
2016 Van Duzer Scholarship recipients!
Briyanna Alford * Kimberlee Bongard
Chloe Colyar * Alexander D'Onofrio
Jillian Floyd *
Mac-Andrew Nelson *
Did you LOVE the Convention Workshop?
Or did you MISS the Convention Workshop?
from 9am - Noon on ONE of the following dates:
June 25th - St. Peter's, Medford
July 23rd - St. David's, Cranbury
July 30th - Location TBD
Having adequate financial resources is critical in order to live boldly into the charge we are given!
Join the 14 Innovator Congregations already signed up and learn more about Project Resource and how the materials may be used specifically to address your congregation's financial needs.
Diocesan Choir Camp
Professional voice training, music skills, building through games and practice are all part of this week together that will end with the service of Evensong at the beautiful Church of the Advent. Great food, lots of games and fun, and of course, the wonderful beach!
Sunday July 24th-Thursday July 28th
Lodging will be at Holiday House with rehearsals at Church of the Advent.
For information and registration visit their
Heroic Women in Civil Rights
5th Annual Juneteenth Celebration
In the name of freedom and rights, many women worked bravely, faced great adversity and risked their jobs, and their lives. When asked how they did it, one replied, "I was standing on my sisters' shoulders."
Come watch the documentary
Standing on my Sister's Shoulders inspired by the book
Pieces from the Past: Voices of Heroic Women in Civil Rights and stay for conversation with the films directors.
June 19th, 1:00pm
St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
158 Warren St. Beverly NJ
Cosponsored by The Riverfront Historical Society.
JOIN THE 2015 BATTLE FOR JUSTICE!
Saturday, July 16, 2016 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Trinity Church, Asbury Park
The 2015 Battle for Justice offered congregations and Jubilee Centers the opportunity to raise funds, raise awareness and build relationships to help fight hunger and its causes in their communities. Congregations and Jubilee Centers participated by sponsoring riders and forming walking groups.
The Battle for Justice is an exciting
partnership between the Diocesan Jubilee Office and
The Battle Against Hunger Organization.
To RSVP or for more information contact
Giant Church Picnic
August 21st, 2016 at Crossroads Retreat Center, Camp Murry
Arrive: 2 pm; Closing worship at 7 pm
Cost: $12 per person, $35 maximum per family
This annual end-of-season bash brings out the kid in everyone! Experience camp fun with great activities: canoeing, swimming, high ropes, and more, plus great fellowship and walks in the woods. Church groups, families, and individuals are welcome.
Join the Diocesan Environmental
Commission at the Summit for a Clean Energy Revolution in Philadelphia, PA on Saturday, July 23rd - the day before the March for a Clean Energy Revolution!
Work with professionals and activists through educational workshops, organizing skills trainings, and strategy development sessions.