Week of July 12, 2020

Welcome to 
The Church of St. Paul and Incarnation!

An Episcopal / Anglican Parish
in the Heart of Jersey City

“Remediating the Soil”

Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

(Matthew 13:1-9)

I grew up in Country Village, a housing development built in the early 1960s at the southern end of Jersey City. Back then it was sort of a little slice of suburbia in the city, its curving streets teeming with kids riding bikes, playing ball, and the outdoor activities that were popular before the advent of video games, cellphones, and all of the other gadgets that capture our attention. The homes had small backyards, and most of the residents took great pride in their little patches of lawn and flowers. Of course, as with all with neighborhoods, there were some problems, but for the most part it was a very safe and nurturing place to grow up.

Country Village was and still is somewhat isolated from the rest of the city. When I was growing up, a rail line that we all called “The Tracks” marked the eastern edge of the development, while on the west there was busy Route 440. Today the highway looks about the same as it did back then but the scenery around it sure has changed! Roosevelt Stadium stood where Society Hill is today. By the 1970’s the decrepit stadium was long past its glory days but still hosted rock concerts (with the sound easily reaching our house), an ice skating rink, and for a few years, a minor league baseball team. All around the stadium there were factories, some shuttered and decaying and others still in use. It was a gritty industrial area, not easy on the eyes or the nose. But, worst of all was what we usually couldn’t see or smell: the soil was poisoned.

And, by the 1990s, it was discovered that these poisons (especially chromium) had spread far and were making many residents terribly sick. In response, a determined group of local lay people (including our own Diane Maxon) and clergy created the ICO (Interfaith Community Organization) to force the responsible (and stubbornly resistant) corporations to clean up their mess. It wasn’t easy, but like David long ago, these persistent people knocked down Goliath. It took many years of protests and a drawn-out and complicated court case, but at last that land along the highway has been transformed. It is now good soil, ready for new life.

The Bible opens with the insistence that God’s creation is good, very good. We are good, very good. The fundamental human problem is that sin pollutes our goodness. And, our sinfulness – our greed, selfishness, and deceit – ends up polluting God’s good creation as we spread poison into the ground and into the air, polluting the earth and polluting other people.

Back in the 1990s, people around here uncovered the poisons that were just beneath the surface of daily life. And, now, for the past few months many of us white people have been in the midst of a much more widespread and challenging uncovering as we discover the pollution of racism and white privilege that is in our own hearts and lives, as we finally see that all of our our systems, including law enforcement, education, the economy, the church, politics, all of them are contaminated and in desperate need of remediation.

A few decades back, the good people of the ICO faced a herculean battle against powerful corporations and pollution that had seeped into the ground. May their courage and persistence inspire us as we face a greater challenge of uncovering and remediating what’s even worse than chromium, the pollution that is killing our society.   

As always, Jersey City Together (part of the expanding New Jersey Together) has been hard at work researching, learning, planning, and uncovering some startling facts about just how deeply the poison has seeped into our life in this state. For example, we have the worst racial disparities in our prisons. African-Americans are twelve times more likely as whites to be incarcerated in state prison. Hispanics are twice as likely to be incarcerated as whites. And, here’s the statistic that really shocked me: median wealth (the value of all assets) for white families in New Jersey is $352,000 (the highest in the nation) while the median wealth for African-American families and Latino families is $6,100 and $7,300, respectively. Just look at those numbers and realize what that vast disparity means for people all across the state, for us and our parishioners and neighbors.

Just as in the past, the only way to remediate these deep inequities is to work together. So, I hope that you will join us on Monday, July 27, 7:30pm to 8:30pm on Zoom, when we begin to prepare for a statewide action in August. Please register here: njtogether.org/july27.

On Sunday we will hear one of Jesus’ best-known parables. Although commonly called the “Parable of the Sower,” the focus of the parable is not so much on the sower but on the seeds and the soil. From the very beginning, God has been spreading the good seeds of love and health and justice but, unfortunately, our soil has been poisoned for so long, and many of those seeds have died. But, God is still at work and still offers us the chance to remediate the soil of our hearts and the soil of our society. With God’s help, we have the chance to finally be good soil, ready for new life.


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

Please also remember in your prayers those who have died, and those who grieve their loss:

Tyeah Garner, 17, shot and killed on Rutgers Ave.

Pamela Aloo, sister of Josephine Odhiambo

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 201-433-4922 for more information.

Sunday at 10:00am

Join us on Facebook Live for a celebration of Holy Eucharist


From the Diocese:

Read The Voice Online for all the latest news, including a message from Bishop Hughes about “training to be the church that God needs us to be,” Cross Roads Camp Sunday (this Sunday!), a check-in with the Bishop on Tuesday, July 21, Summer Regional Zoom calls focusing on our mental health (our region meets on Thursday, July 30, at 6:00pm.

BIG NEWS from New Jersey Together:

Over the last few months, faith and non-profit leaders from across New Jersey, working with New Jersey Together, have been meeting to talk about this current moment and the deep racial inequities we see across our state.  New Jersey has some of the worst racial disparities in the country…around wealth, prison population, and more.

On July 27th, we’ll lay the groundwork for action as 300+ people from across the state come together virtually to ratify a non-partisan agenda focused on racial equity and criminal justice. We’ll lay the groundwork for a virtual action in August with 1000+ across the state.

We’re asking at least FIVE of you from our congregation to be part of our team on July 27. All you need to do is let Fr. Tom know and register at www.njtogether.org/july27.

North Porch at Triangle Park Community Center

As many of you know, North Porch offers diapers, formula, and other assistance to families with infants and young children. Since the need continues to grow, North Porch is asking for financial donations through a GoFundMe campaign. Please consider supporting this beautiful ministry:


DJ’s Free Market

Subscribe to the DJ’s Newsletter to stay informed about this exciting new ministry led by Deacon Jill:

On July 15th, DJ's will host "Freewheeling Wednesday" at Triangle Park Community Center - a bicycle giveaway for the neighborhood children of Greenville, Jersey City. So far we have over 50 children who've signed up - and we hope to give each child who attends their own set of wheels! For some, it will be the first set of wheels they get to call their own. We will also be teaching a mini-workshop on bike safety at this fun event. Please let Fr. Tom know if you would like to donate a bike!

Free Covid-19 Testing

Jersey City Together is co-sponsoring free Covid-19 testing. Pre-registration is requested: njtogether.org/testing

Saturday, July 12, 9am-1pm (St. John’s Lutheran Church, 155 North Street)

Thursday & Friday, July 16 & 17, 12pm-7pm (Heavenly Temple Church, 15 MLK Drive)

Saturday, July 18, 11am-4pm, (Heavenly Temple Church, 15 MLK Drive)

Tuesday – Thursday, July 21-23, 1pm-7pm (St. Aedan’s RC Church, in Tuers Ave. parking lot behind church)

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: