Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
—2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Many in our state and in our diocese were impacted by the remnants of Hurricane Ida that brought deadly weather to our area this past Thursday. According to NJ.com, the current death toll in New Jersey from the storm stands at 25, making it among the deadliest storms for the state on record.
Many of our churches experienced flooding. Many of our church people also experienced flooding in their homes. The Bishop’s Residence, our home in Trenton, had more than an inch of water in a portion of the basement. Chancellor Paul Ambos and his wife Catherine had to leave their home in New Brunswick because of flooding and shelter in a motel. The water has receded and they are, thankfully, back in their home.
St. John the Baptist in Linden had two feet of water in their basement. In Elizabeth, where the highest number of state deaths occurred, many had to seek shelter from the flooding. Fr. Andy Moore, Fr. Robin Pierre, and the people of St. Elizabeth’s are responding with their usual compassion and care. Fr. Andy texted me and Canon Phyllis Jones yesterday that they were trying to gather towels and toiletries for the shelters.
Fr. Pierre, our Regional Haitian Missioner, who also serves as a chaplain at the Seaman’s Church Institute at the port in Elizabeth, was transporting seamen from the mall back to the port when their vehicle was overrun by flash-flooding. He and the other passengers had to be rescued by the Coast Guard. Thanks be to God they are all okay. Fr. Pierre got home from that harrowing experience to discover that his apartment was flooded and that everything was lost. We will work with him to get him back on his feet and give thanks, once again, that he came through this. I am grateful to Fr. Greg Bezilla, Dean of the Northern Convocation, who has already been galvanizing the clergy there to assist Fr. Pierre.
The Reverend Sharon Patterson, Priest-in-Charge of St. Stephen’s, Mullica was not far from the tornado that struck Mullica Hill, destroying nearby homes. She, too, checked into the emergency shelter that had been set up in the wake of that traumatic event. I am grateful for her concern and ministry.
I am deeply thankful that there does not seem to have been any significant injuries or deaths within our diocesan community, or that any of our buildings experienced catastrophic damage. Nonetheless, this storm caused suffering across the state and our neighbors may be in need of our compassion, care and help. Please look around and see if there is anything you need to respond to near you. For more information on efforts to help locally and nationally, see our article here.
And also, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
God bless and keep you all in safety and mercy.
The Right Reverend William H. Stokes
12th Bishop of New Jersey
Please note: Bible Study with the Bishop, on hiatus for the summer, will not return in the fall. Instead, the bishop recommends the NJ School for Ministry’s Morning Prayer at 10:00 daily and Evening Prayer at 7:30 daily. Every service includes group discussion on the daily readings.