ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Salem, New Jersey
In our baptismal covenant we are asked
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?
Our response is
I will, with God's help.
St. John’s is blessed to have the financial resources to make annual contributions to other organizations who provide much needed services to the community for example the Fire and Rescue Companies, Meals on Wheels, and the Needlework Guild. In addition, we will help local residents, with proper vetting, to address immediate financial crises.
In addition to ongoing annual contributions, St John’s has numerous outreach projects sustained over many years. Below is list of some of our ongoing projects:
Quilters: A group of devoted women, led by our own Gail Boyd, faithfully meet on Tuesdays and create the most wonderful, colorful children’s quilts. Approximately 50 quilts have been created every year and are delivered to the Ronald McDonald House in Camden next to Cooper Hospital. These quilts are displayed every year at St. John’s Annual Meeting. In addition, one of the ladies creates imaginative stuffed animals which are also given for the needs of children staying at Ronald McDonald House. The quilters have a dedicated workroom complete with all the necessities to produce these fine quilts.
Food Pantry: St. John’s is in a very visible and approachable location in Salem. Many people stop and ask if the church can help them with food. A small, donation-based pantry is maintained for anyone who comes to St John’s in need.
Whenever you fed the hungry, clothed the naked, helped the poor, widows and orphans, you did so unto me’
Scarf, Glove, and Hat Hangout: St. John’s is in the perfect location with a wrought iron
fence on 2 sides of the Parish Hall. Donated hats, gloves, scarves and more are hung on the fence annually in late January. Items are generally removed by residents within a couple of hours. Many other people and organizations contribute to this event which helps provide many items for selection. Hangout is usually the day of the Annual Meeting and all youth and hardy adults participate in placing items on the fence.
Middle School BackPack Project: Just before school starts each year, there are a plethora of book bag giveaways. Many of these events focus on elementary school aged children. St John’s focuses on Middle School children with approximately 30 fully stocked backpacks, utilizing the supply list from the school. These backpacks are delivered to the school nurse who gives them out as children need them. Oftentimes they start school with supplies but lose or damage their backpacks during the school year. She then has a replacement to give them. All of the backpacks are packed at coffee hour by members of the church.
Secret Santa Shoppe: Some years ago, an idea was developed to host a free ‘shopping center’ for kids in the community. Donated items such as candles, Christmas decorations, small children’s toys, tape measures and small tools are collected throughout the year and arranged on tables for women, men and children. Elves help children shop for presents for family members, wrap the presents and then the children are invited to eat lunch.
Soles for Souls: St. John’s participates with the other two Episcopal Churches in Salem County to collect used shoes for distribution to places around the world in need. The collection Sunday is known as Barefoot Sunday and symbolically everyone removes their shoes and places them in the collection bin and continues to worship in their socks!
Interfaith Rise Refugee Resettlement: In August 2021 a huge airlift brought thousands of Afghans out of harms way to the United States. St. John's reached out to Interfaith Rise, the local organization authorized by the Federal Government to resettle all refugees in this area. St John’s has actively supported their efforts including a County wide collection of household goods (I-Rise sent a truck for all the stuff we collected), monetary support of their work and most recently a baby shower, attended by three refugee moms, all pregnant. This is an ongoing effort to support I-Rise in every way we can.
Vacation Bible School: For many years, St. John’s has offered a one-week VBS to the community. When the pandemic caused shutdowns of everything, we offered a ‘take-home’ VBS in a bag. Twenty-five bags were created for each day and children or responsible adults picked up these bags each day. This year we resumed our week-long in-person VBS, with the children putting on a puppet show about the story of John the Baptist. The script was written by our own Dr. George Neff for our 275th anniversary in 1997.
Trunk or Treat: St. John’s has been offering a trunk or treat with 5-7 vehicles every year on Halloween. Parents have told us that they are most grateful to be able to bring small children particularly to this event. The children are so proud of their costumes (and so are some of our adults). The parish is asked to donate candy for the event; participants decorate their own cars.