Week of May 31, 2020

Welcome to 
The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City

May 29, 2020

"In a Time of Trouble, the Church is Reborn!"

Dear Friends,

This Sunday we will celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost. In church we will hear the story of the first Pentecost, when the Spirit-filled followers of Jesus finally leave their room, head out to the streets of Jerusalem, and begin sharing the best news of all time - love defeats hate and life conquers death:

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Thanks to the Holy Spirit, people from all over the place were able to hear this best news ever, and slowly the Good News about Jesus and God's Love began to spread beyond the holy city that was under the brutal hammer of Roman occupation, and out into every corner of the world.

Pentecost is rightly remembered and celebrated as the birth of the Church. But, Pentecost is not just history. Pentecost happens all the time. God gives us the Holy Spirit every day, especially in times of trouble. Jesus continues to be with us, no matter what. And, the Church was not just born once two thousand years ago on a noisy day in Jerusalem. No, the Church is reborn in every age. The Church is reborn in the water of Baptism. The Church is reborn each time we share the Good News with our neighbors. The Church is reborn each time a person hears the call and chooses to follow the Way of Jesus. The Church is reborn each time we work together to meet a need in our community or beyond. The Church is reborn each time we confess our sins and ask forgiveness, and each time we offer forgiveness. And, the Church is reborn each time it faces challenges and renews its trust in God, and its dedication to God's mission.

Our own church has been reborn so many times, hasn't it? We have been reborn in all the ways I just listed and more and, most of all, we were reborn in a spectacular way just a few years ago when two neighboring Episcopal congregations, separated by about five blocks and decades of not-so-great history, heard God's call to join together and create something new and even more beautiful than what had been before.

So, in fact, we're experts at rebirth. And, I'm convinced that, in this moment of suffering and fear, this time of big trouble, our own church, and the whole Church, are once again being reborn.

If you're like me, you haven't yet wrapped your mind around the fact that we will not be able to go back to exactly the way things were before the pandemic. Because there is still so much unknown about the virus - and because none of us can see the future - we don't know what our worship and other gatherings will be like the next time we are able to be together in person, but they will be different in ways that may be hard for us to accept.

But, the good news is our church is already transformed in ways that are wonderful and a blessing to so many. It's Pentecost again! We have left our room! We have been reborn!

Just look around at the work of the Holy Spirit! Many more people are now worshiping with us during the week and on Sundays. Even if we can't see them, we can hear them - we can read their comments - and we can surely feel their presence, praying alongside us. Parishioners are checking in with each other more regularly and more deeply than before, taking the time for long conversations. We've been given the resources to offer some pretty big help to our friends at Garden State Episcopal CDC. Family Promise is providing shelter on Storms Avenue. The Triangle Park Community Center is busier than ever, helping to feed and clothe our neighbors. And Deacon Jill has started a brand-new ministry in Hoboken, gathering goods from those who have and giving them away to those who have not, and we're looking to expand this amazing service to Jersey City.

It's Pentecost again! We have been reborn!

And, it’s not a moment too soon. This past week, we've been once again painfully reminded that the old demons of racism, hatred, violence, and ignorance are on the loose. Although we had made some progress over the course of the last century, it seems that all the ugly fears, resentments, and prejudices have risen to the surface - or, perhaps, have been raised by some for their own cynical purposes. Or, some suggest, maybe progress was always an illusion and now the only difference is that we have cellphones readily available to record at least some of the evil. In any event, there don't really seem to be words to adequately describe what it's like watching a police officer crush the life out of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street, with bystanders begging for the brutality to stop, and the dying Mr. Floyd gasping the heartbreaking and haunting (and familiar) words, "I can't breathe..." And, closer to home, in Central Park, we all saw a white woman quick to use her privilege - and the ever-present racist presumption of black male menace - to escalate a conflict about an unleashed dog into yet another potentially tragic incident.

The killing of George Floyd has set off storms of protest in Minneapolis and elsewhere, as people understandably release long-suppressed grief, frustration and rage, accelerated by some who always enjoy adding fuel to the flames. This sure would be a good time to have leaders of wisdom and compassion. Unfortunately, at the moment, those with the most power obviously have other values and priorities. On the other hand, it wasn’t that long ago that our leaders with the most power sometimes at least aspired to wisdom and compassion. And, if that didn’t make much difference, maybe it’s because our chronic social and economic illnesses are at root a destructive and deadly spiritual disease. We have refused to learn the lessons that God has been trying to get through our hard hearts and thick skulls from the beginning: we are sisters and brothers, created to love God and to love one another.

The Church has been reborn, but the world is still what it is. So, as always, the Holy Spirit must work in and through us, and with all people of goodwill.

I've told you before that I believe with all my heart that, because we are a church of many different kinds of people who love each other, we have been given a special vocation - a call from God to show the world that it is possible for us to recognize and even celebrate differences but to live together in harmony as brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, before our recent rebirth, people usually had to work pretty hard to somehow find us, tucked away on a side street, hidden behind our old walls and stained glass. But now, look, it's Pentecost again! Physical distancing has been tough but, ironically enough, it means we have left our beautiful room and gone out into the world! And, just like those first disciples on that long-ago noisy day in sorely oppressed Jerusalem, just like Christians throughout the centuries, the Holy Spirit will continue to be with us, no matter what.

So, since we have been reborn, let us go forth into our beautiful but troubled world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Your brother in Christ,


P.S. As I hope you know, on Sunday at noon we are having a parish Pentecost party on Zoom. The log-in information is below. I hope you'll join us. I'm hoping that while we catch up we can also spend some time talking about the important reflection questions that Bishop Hughes has shared with us. The wardens and vestry have already begun thinking about them but it's important for all of us to give them attention.

a.     What do you miss from the church we were before and why is that important?

b.     What have you learned or experienced during this time that you would like to take with you as we journey forward?

c.     Who do we need to be in order to be a fluid and flexible church in the next 18 - 24 months as pandemic continues?

d.     What do you need to feel safe when we gather again?

P.P.S. Presiding Bishop Curry has called for Monday, June 1 to be a National Day of Mourning for the over 100,000 victims od COVID-19 in our country and many more around the world. We will mark this day during our three daily "Church By Phone" Services. Read more here:


Please pray for all those on our parish prayer list, especially Jean, Andy, and Angelo.

Please also remember in your prayers these sisters and brothers who have died, and those who grieve their loss:
George Floyd
Elizabeth Fulop, grandmother of Mayor Steven Fulop
The brother of Pastor Jonathan Olavarria

All of those who have died as a result of COVID-19.

Supporting Our Church:

We are aware that, unfortunately, some parishioners have been laid off or furloughed and others are in danger of losing their jobs. Please know that you are in our prayers and we are here to help any way we can. In these extremely challenging economic times, we are especially grateful to those of you who have been able to keep up with your pledges. You can still mail checks to the church or you can use online giving. Visit stpaulsjc.org and click on "Online Giving." We also have a Venmo account. Call the office or email me for more information.

Worship Schedule:

Monday through Friday: "Church By Phone"

Morning Prayer, 7:30
Noonday Prayer, 12:00
Evening Prayer, 5:30

Call the office at 201-433-4922 for call-in information.

Sunday at 10:00am

Join us on Facebook Live for a celebration of Holy Eucharist

Pentecost Party

Unfortunately, we can't have our annual parish picnic this year but you are all invited to a Pentecost Party (THIS SUNDAY) on Zoom! We'll gather (virtually) at noon for a chance to see one another and catch up and discuss the questions from Bishop Hughes!

Contact Fr. Tom for log-in information.
Calling All Graduates!
 LAST CALL! Please email graduation information to Susan Den Herder: susan@stpaulsjc.org.

From the Diocese:

Be sure to read this week's edition of "The Voice Online" for the Bishop's weekly video and other important information:

Also, remember that Bishop Hughes will host a Zoom conversation with those of us in this part of the diocese on June 2 at 6:00pm. Contact Fr. Tom for log-in information.

Help for Renters and Homeowners:

There is help available for renters and homeowners suffering because of the pandemic. One is the website for the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency: www.njhousing.gov. You can also call 1-800-NJ-HOUSE (1-800-654-6873).

Helpful Resources:

State of New Jersey Covid-19 Information Hub:

The Diocese of Newark posts Covid-19 resources here:

You can subscribe to diocesan newsletters here:

The Episcopal Church has collected Covid-19 resources here:

"Habits of Grace," weekly reflections from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry:

The Church of England has some wonderful prayers and other materials here:

Fr. Tom's sermons can be found here: