A Statement from The Right Reverend William H. Stokes

A Statement from The Right Reverend William H. Stokes on the Shootings at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Weep with those who weep…”

Romans 12:15

The heinous shootings and resulting deaths that occurred yesterday at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina as people gathered for Bible study and prayer are an abomination – an offense against humanity and God – that must be condemned by all persons without hesitation or equivocation.

I call all people of the Diocese of New Jersey to pray for the repose of the soul of Pastor Clementa Pinckney and the eight others who were killed, to pray for the people of Emanuel A.M.E. Church and all of our brothers and sisters of the A.M.E. Church, to pray for the city of Charleston and, indeed, to pray for our nation.

Sadly, this shooting appears to represent a confluence of evils that have plagued, and continue to plague, life in the United States: endemic racism, an “original sin” in our nation’s origins which has never been adequately addressed or resolved; a cultural propensity to violence combined with easy access to guns resulting in frequent mass shootings and too many Americans accepting this as somewhat normative and to be expected; a pattern of deranged behavior by young men who are clearly mentally ill and who live in a country with a broken mental health system.

This morning, on behalf of the people of the Diocese of New Jersey, I phoned Bishop Gregory G.M. Ingram of the First District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which includes the A.M.E. Churches in New Jersey, to offer him and his church our deepest condolences, to assure him of our prayers as well as our commitment to strive for justice and peace among all people as our Baptismal Covenant calls us to do.

In the wake of the massacre at Emanuel Church in Charleston, some will be inclined to withdraw in fear; to close and lock the doors of our church buildings and to shut out the stranger. This is not the response Jesus Christ or his gospel calls us to. Fear is contrary to faith. As scripture tells us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). As people of faith, our response should not be to withdraw and hide, but rather to step forward and reach out in love; to be bold in our witness to the gospel and to our Lord, who is the Prince of Peace.

Next week, on Sunday morning, June 28, beginning at 7:15 AM in Salt Lake City, Bishops United Against Gun Violence – a coalition of more than 60 bishops of the Episcopal Church, a coalition of which I am a part, is sponsoring an event, “Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence.” This will be a prayerful procession through the streets of Salt Lake City during the church’s General Convention. The gathering is intended to urge people of faith to seek common ground in efforts to curtail gun violence across the nation.

It is my hope and my request that the people of the Diocese of New Jersey who will not be in Salt Lake City will join us in spirit by praying with us during the time of the walk, perhaps keeping vigil, and remembering to pray during Sunday services over the next two weeks for peace and an end to gun violence which is a scourge in our nation, and to pray especially for those killed in Charleston yesterday.

Moreover, in the wake of the Charleston shootings, which all evidence strongly indicates is a hate crime, as well as in light of all of the incidents of racial injustice and violence which have confronted us in the past and which continue to confront us in the present, I call upon the people of the Diocese of New Jersey to recommit ourselves to anti-racism training and to the hard work of meaningful and concrete racial justice and reconciliation. I pledge myself to this work.

Faithfully Yours in Christ,

The Right Reverend William H. (Chip) Stokes, D.D.

Bishop of New Jersey

June 2015 Discernment Committee Update

This is a very exciting time for Good Shepherd! We are currently “Receiving Names” for new rector, which means that our Office of Transition Ministry at the Diocese of New Jersey is gathering the documents of prospective rectors who have inquired about our parish. Meanwhile, we have been busy preparing to review candidate portfolios and interview the candidates. In May we met with our Diocesan Transition Ministry Officer, Canon Cecilia Alvarez, for an orientation about the interviewing process. We also attended a Diocesan Anti-Racism Workshop at St. Peter’s Church in Clarksboro. Father Dave, Canon Alvarez, and many  of our Vestry members attended this valuable workshop as well. We are grateful to the parishioners of St. Peter’s who opened their doors as hosts and welcomed us for the workshop.

This week we will meet with Canon Alvarez to receive the candidate portfolios gathered so far. We are ready! We are still in “Receiving Names” status, so if any parishioner or friend is aware of a priest who is in search of a new parish home, please promptly contact Mark Nicolle to get them into the diocesan process: markbnicolle@mindspring.com or forward their contact info directly to Canon Cecilia Alvarez: calvarez@dioceseofnj.org

Our Parish Profile and OTM Portfolio are on bulletin board display in the parish hall. By now you must know that our Parish Profile is here on our website in several places. Take a look if you haven’t already! Our Portfolio is posted on the national search database of the OTM, and an abbreviated version appears on the regional recruiting database of the Transition Ministry Conference network.

Through the past months of creating our Profile and Portfolio, we have been building a strong team based on respect and prayer. This has prepared us well for this next phase: the work of discerning God’s will. Keep praying for us, for all the candidates, and for the next Rector of Good Shepherd!

Mark Nicolle, Chairman
Roger Baker, Aimee Burgin, Pat Braidwood, Len Clark, Becky Goff, Stuart Lynd, Elizabeth Nelson, Deb Prieto, Chelsea Richmond, Tom Rigg, Chris Southwick, Jeff Snodgrass, Wayne Szalma, Diane Wall, Jim Wynkoop