May 26—Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


We must always give thanks to God for you, siblings, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing…
Thessalonians 1:3

Dear People and Friends of the Diocese of New Jersey,

Susan and I are still filled with a profound sense of gratitude and thanksgiving for the blessings and love we experienced at Sunday night’s Farewell Gala. I am confident I can speak for Canons Mary Ann Rhoads and Ann Notte, as well as for Mary Ann Clisham, in saying that they feel the same way. It was an extraordinary evening highlighted by a Spirit-filled, high-energy keynote address by our Presiding Bishop. The Most Reverend Michael Curry hit a “homerun” with his core theme, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.” How thankful I am to him, and to his Executive Coordinator, Ms. Sharon Jones, for their presence. More than 700 attended in person and more than 100 attended online. The event raised more than $51,000 for Episcopal Community Services of the Diocese of New Jersey. Wow!

Organizing the Farewell Gala required an incredible amount of work. This was accomplished by a small, dedicated group of highly committed people who comprised The Farewell Gala Steering Committee: The Reverend Dr. David L. Snyder, ECS-NJ’s Development Officer served as Chair of the Steering Committee. Fr. Snyder has been a champion of ECS-NJ from this ministry’s inception. He was supported by Steering Committee members: Robert Conte, Mary Ann Clisham, Jack Daugherty, Canon Clara Gregory, Canon Phyllis Jones, Rebecca Karcher of CCS Fundraising, Georgia Koenig, The Reverend Jeffrey Roy, and ECS Executive Director the Reverend Deacon Trisha Thorme. Of particular note, Canon Ann Notte was also a member of The Steering Committee and put in an enormous amount of work in this event at which she was an honoree! Well, that’s who Ann Notte is. What a blessing she and Mary Ann Rhoads have been to the Diocese of New Jersey over all these years. They will be sorely missed as they take their well-earned retirements.

The Farewell Gala took place under the auspices of the Episcopal Transition Committee, ably Chaired by the Reverend Canon Valerie Balling, Canon Ronald L. Pollock, and Canon Valaida Guerrero. My sincerest thanks to them and all the members of their committee. Thanks to Canon Steve Welch for all the work he did to coordinate communications on-site and online.

Thanks to Gold Sponsors: Glen Meade Trust and Dr. Nina Dixon; Silver Sponsors: CCS Fundraising; St. Luke’s Church, Gladstone; St. Thomas Church, Glassboro; Trinity Cathedral, Trenton; and Trinity Church, Princeton. Thanks to the many churches and individuals who were Bronze level sponsors and to those who took out ads and offered greetings and gracious words of support and care. Susan and I will treasure rereading these in years to come.

In my address to the Diocesan Convention this past March, I cited the work of Roman Catholic priest, theologian, and writer on spiritual matters Ronald Rolheiser who, quoting author Morris West observed, “at a certain age our lives simplify and we need have only three phrases left in our spiritual vocabulary—Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”[1] Yes, these words are all that is in my heart and on my lips this day. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I pray you and yours have a joyous and Spirit-filled Pentecost and a reverent Memorial Day. May we all be thankful for the ultimate sacrifice made by so many who have served this nation in times of peace and in times of war.

God bless you. Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

In Christ,
Bishop Stokes's SignatureThe Right Rev. William H. Stokes
Bishop of New Jersey


[1] Rolheiser, Ronald Ronald Rolheiser Essential Spiritual Writings (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2021) 23

Gala Highlight Photos

Click a photo to see it full size

ECS Farewell Gala Video Highlights

Bishop Stokes’ closing remarks

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Keynote Address

Retrospective photo slide show and tributes from congregations and partners

Stokes Endowment Fund

More than $50,000 has been donated so far to establish the Stokes Endowment Fund for ECS-NJ. Add your donation below.