November 2017 – Remembering and Pressing On

November 6, 2017 | | GNJ News, Bishop's Relay Column

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Sunday, October 29 was the 5th Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, and I thank you, our pastors and laity, for your leadership in assisting the recovery ministry. We held a worship service at St. Andrew UMC in Toms River in which the Governor and his cabinet attended along with 14 mayors from across NJ.

Superstorm Sandy affected:

  • 2.7 million people who lost power
  • 253,000 households that sustained damage
  • 82,000 homes that sustained major damage
  • 161,000 people who were displaced

As United Methodists of Greater New Jersey, together we:

  • Rebuilt or built new 260 homes
  • Hosted 12,173 volunteers from 46 states representing a labor value of $8,095,413
  • Raised more than $17 million from United Methodist congregations, UMCOR, the American Red Cross, Hurricane Sandy NJ Relief Fund, Robin Hood Foundation and thousands of individual donors
  • Provided case management for 461 families

Your prayers, your support, and your leadership made the difference. I am also grateful for our bishops from across The United Methodist Church who championed our cause which led to donations and volunteers. Several bishops also came to volunteer in rebuilding homes. In addition to bishops there were volunteers from many different denominations who worked with us as well as people from other faiths.

In 2018 as planned, we will wind down our Sandy Recovery work. Being a people who have come through the storm, I pray and encourage each of you to support the efforts in the most recent disasters that impacted many lives in 2017. Already we have collected more than $250,000. Your leadership makes a difference. Here in GNJ, I am committed to raising at least $500,000 to support recovery from these recent disasters.

I also want you to know, our Future With Hope ministry and the nonprofit corporation GNJ started will continue as we transition from Sandy recovery to what is next for us missionally. The Future With Hope ministry will develop 100 Hope Centers around the state and re-purpose church buildings for community ministry, housing and church space that works for ministry in the 21st century. One project we are working on in Jersey City will re-purpose a church building to provide new worship and community space as well as more than 120 units of affordable and market-rate housing as we serve the community and create revenue streams for mission and ministry. Your leadership and encouragement in the midst of the disaster has led to A Future With Hope’s next steps in making disciples and transforming the world. Thank you.

The following are some of our learnings after coming through a tragedy:

  • We can do more together than working separately.
  • We have greater capacity than we imagined, especially in our smallest congregations (some of our smallest congregations gave the largest gifts and giving per worshiper to the recovery efforts).
  • God is ready to do more than we can imagine. During our recovery period we raised $7 million from our churches through the mission campaign and Shared Ministry giving went from 78% to an anticipated 88% this year.
  • Hope is stronger than tragedy.

You give me hope for what God is ready to do next through GNJ. Thank you for your continued service to God, the church, and the community.


Keep the faith!




Bishop John Schol

The United Methodist Church

of Greater New Jersey