Saint Bartholomew's Church was established on August 23, 1961, when residents of the Cherry Hill-Marlton areas met with the Reverend Albert W. Van Duzer, rector of Grace Church, Merchantville. A mission chapel was formed and was named in honor of Bartholomew the Apostle. Services were first held at the Barclay School, Cherry Hill, on September 10, 1961.
A gift of funds led to the purchase of five acres of land on Route 70. With the acquisition of property, the building of the Church, a large cruciform nave commenced. A four-bedroom rectory was later built on the property. The needs of a growing parish family necessitated the construction of the religious education-church office building, completed in September 1966.
The Reverend John R. Neilson served as the first Vicar until August of 1969. On October 5, 1969, the Reverend W. Perry Winterrowd was installed as second Vicar of the parish. Continuing growth spelled the end of chapel status, and in May 1972, the Diocesan Convention accepted the parish into full affiliation.
The ensuing years were ones of vigor and enthusiasm. St. Bartholomew's offered two services every Sunday. Lay ministry became an active part of St. Bartholomew's parish life with the formation of a core of lay readers and chalice bearers. In 1970, the parish established St. Bartholomew's Nursery School. The school today numbers over 200 children. Independently managed, it is one of the largest and most respected nursery schools in the area. The rector acts as an ex-officio member of the board. In 1981-1982, a new organ was required, the church roof was rebuilt at a cost of $43,000, and the parish pledged $72,000 to the diocesan venture in mission project.
A new phase of our parish life began in January 1983 when Father Winterrowd announced his resignation to become Deputy for Mission and Supply Officer of the Diocese. At this point, the task of searching for a new rector began. In time, The Reverend Wayne Smith of Janesville, Wisconsin, was called, and on November 20, 1983 was installed as the second Rector of St. Bartholomew's Church.
Renovation of the Church sanctuary was done with the installation of a "stepped" choir, the "raising" of the altar and changes in the altar furniture.
Expansion of the staff included the addition of retired priests as Associates-Father Myles Gill and Father Dudley Pendleton. Reverend Mary Jo Smith served as a deacon throughout this time until she stepped down in the spring of 2000. The Parish has also drawn on the services of Deacon Colleen Spaeth and two Deacon Candidates. A major venture and commitment for the parish was to undertake an extensive and long-term program of improvements in the physical plant and the outreach program of the parish. With the guidance of a professional fund-raising firm, a core of parishioners actively participated in a capital fund drive assisting the parish to raise approximately $450,000. This program has resulted in the rebuilding of the parish's Memorial Gardens, the landscaping of the eastern side of the church building, and the installing of a digital electronic organ. The transept walls will be rebuilt this summer. Future projects are anticipated as capital funds become available. For fifteen years Father Wayne Smith guided St. Bartholomew's Parish not only in its efforts to improve our church facility and to increase our membership, but more especially in its efforts to grow as a responsible community of faith, love and outreach. At the end of February 2000 Father Smith resigned.
To succeed Father Smith, the parish called the Reverend Peter Manzo. Father Manzo's ministry began formally on February 3, 2002. His coming marks the beginning of a new and exciting chapter in Saint Bartholomew's history, as we attempt to redefine our corporate and individual ministries.
St. Bartholomew's parish is made up of approximately 386 families. It draws its members from Cherry Hill as well as the surrounding towns. On an average Sunday, approximately 245 congregants fill the pews for either the 8:00 a.m. or the 10:00 a.m. service. The Church School, which consists of approximately 140 children, is conducted between the two Sunday services.
The St. Bartholomew's Vestry is made up of 12 parishioners who serve a 3-year term as members of the steering committee for the parish in addition to Senior & Junior Wardens. Each member of the Vestry serves as a chairman or co-chairman of one or more of the committees that help the parish function: outreach, fellowship, finance, stewardship, youth ministry, property, worship and Christian education.
In addition to the rector, the paid staff includes a secretary, a music director, and a sexton. Sunday Worship Services There are two Sunday services at St. Bartholomew's. The early service begins at 8:00 AM and there is no music at this service. Attendance is generally lighter at this service, but tends to be higher in the summer since the church is not air-conditioned. The second service is held at 9:30 AM. The majority of the parishioners attend this service. There is full service music with choir, and two lay chalice bearers, two lay readers and four to five acolytes assisting at this service.
Parish life at St. Bartholomew's is as diverse as its parishioners. The parish family has given abundantly of its time and abilities to ensure the continuing strength and growth of the Church, as well as to make a commitment to those in the community who are less fortunate. The following are some of the many groups and activities that are part of our parish life:
St. Bartholomew's has active senior and junior choirs. The senior choir participates in every 9:30 Sunday service from September through June, as well as at other special occasions during the year. The musical director is a paid staff member. The junior choir provides an opportunity for the young people of the parish to become involved in the music of the worship services. They periodically present special programs during services. St. Bartholomew's often incorporates the musical talents of parish members who play the flute, violin, or trumpet, particularly during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
There are two active Bible study groups that meet evenings at the Church. One is led by a lay person and the other by our Deacon, Colleen Spaeth. A study class is held after the 9:30 Sunday service for parishioners while the children are in Sunday school. The subject of the class is usually the Sunday readings from the service. In addition, there is an adult forum centered on social issues held after the Sunday service.
Circle of Prayer
The Circle of Prayer is a group of parishioners, both men and women, who pray daily for any requests they receive. This is not a structured group with scheduled meetings, yet is an effective mode of spiritual expression.
The members of the Altar Guild give of their time and talents each week to prepare the Lord's altar and house for worship. They are responsible for the beautiful flower arrangements that adorn the altar each week as well as being the caretakers of the silver and linens.
Through the Men's Club, the men of the parish share social, religious, and recreational experiences. Breakfast meetings are held one Saturday each month. In addition, each month the members get together in the parish hall to make casseroles for the area mission. The Men's Club also sponsors recreational and social events throughout the year which support various church property and outreach projects. Ladies' Appreciation Night, the Summer Steak/Chicken Barbeque, Oktoberfest, and spaghetti dinners are a few of the annual Men's Club sponsored social events.
One of the most distinguishing traits of the Church is the warmth and sociability of the membership. The Fellowship Committee enhances this social life and members help with the Sunday morning coffee hour which takes place after the services. They also sponsor a number of activities throughout the year. Although not sponsored by the Fellowship Committee, one of the highlights of the year is the annual Parish Picnic, which is held each May at a park in Mt. Laurel. Parishioners attend an outdoor service, share in a barbeque, and enjoy a day of fun and games.
St. Bartholomew's parishioners have always been committed to aiding those in the community who are in need. Today, those efforts are continued through programs that include housing the homeless at the Church each year; serving breakfast to the homeless and those in need at St. Paul's Church in Camden; hosting, with other area churches, Banana Split Sunday, which raises funds for the Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council; and preparing Christmas baskets for over 100 area families who would otherwise have no holiday meal. The Church also sponsors Boy Scout Troop 170. The troop, which numbers over 35 boys, meets every other week at the Church as it has done for over 15 years.
S.E.Y.C. and J.E.Y.C.
The S.E.Y.C. is made up of students in ninth through twelfth grade and has as its purpose the development of a social teenage group with a Christian outlook. The program has three main focuses: social activities, Christian outreach and Christian development. The social committee plans the group's social activities, such as group ski or rafting trips, and parties. The Christian outreach committee plans the use of the group's resources to help others through food collection for the hungry, collecting winter coats, hats and mittens for needy children and participation in community outreach functions. The Christian Development Committee plans the scheduling of the group's internal growth and development. This includes a Maundy Thursday Nightwatch and attendance at the Diocesan spring and fall conferences.
The J.E.Y.C., which consists primarily of seventh and eighth grade students, follows the same guidelines of the S.E.Y.C. but develops activities and events of their own. In the hope of expanding the youth program, the Vestry has authorized the hiring of a youth minister for St. Bartholomew's.
St. Bartholomew's parish holds a number of fund-raising events throughout the year with funds going to outreach programs. The two largest functions of the year are the antique show, held in January at the local armory, and the rummage sale, which is held each year on the weekend after Memorial Day. These events have become more popular each year with the participation of the parishioners and generosity of the community.
The Church is located on a five-acre site in Cherry Hill Township, Camden County, New Jersey. Built in 1963, it is contemporary in design. The exterior is brick and stucco; the interior is finished in natural woods, brick and stucco. The Church building consists of two floors totaling 15,000 square feet. It includes a freestanding altar, a narthex and sacristy. Seating capacity is approximately 500. A large parish hall with an adjoining, fully equipped kitchen exists in the undercroft. The parking lot has capacity for about 100 cars.
Attached to the Church is a brick building, which was completed in 1967. It consists of two floors totaling 7,700 square feet and houses the church offices, the rector's study, a chapel, several rooms for Church School on Sundays and separate rooms for nursery school use during the week. In the rear of the property is a two-story, 2,400 square foot, four-bedroom house with basement, which is currently used by the sexton and his family.
Our 1999 operating income was $300,000. Of this, $228,000 was pledged, $8,500 came from plate collections, $9,000 from fundraisers, $18,300 from building rental, and $30,000 from specially designated donations.
The operating disbursements amounted to $312,000. The major portion was used for salaries, benefits, operations, debt service and property expenses, including our fair share commitment of $37,000 to the Diocese. The operating deficit of $12,000 was made up from reserve accounts.
Account balances show net financial assets to be $276,000, including an outstanding property loan of $20,000.
A balanced budget has been approved by the Vestry for the year 2000. Projected income is $309,000 and authorized expenditures total $308,000.
Additionally, a capital fund was started in 1998. The purpose of this fund is to provide money for major repairs and special needs of the Church. The total pledged for a five-year period is $454,239. Improvements in 1999 totaled $100,000. An additional $130,000 is planned for 2000.
This statement of the goals, dreams and visions of St. Bartholomew's parish is based mainly on responses to the following question posed in our parish survey: What do you believe should be the key elements that define St. Bartholomew's mission, for us as a parish, and for our candidates for rector? Clearly, the question is general, yet the respondents emphasized repeatedly certain "key" elements from which some very specific goals, dreams and visions have been abstracted.
Our past rectors and our parishioners alike have fostered certain goals which are highly valued by our parish. These goals need to be addressed and sustained.
Among the most frequently mentioned goals is to maintain an atmosphere of openness, acceptance, and inclusiveness. We are a diverse parish, both ethnically and racially; furthermore, many parishioners who have been attracted to St. Bartholomew's have come from a wide range of Christian backgrounds. We desire to "make everyone feel welcome" and continuously to nurture, cherish, and delight in our diversity.
We are also diverse in our individual and personal gifts and talents which we wish to use to enhance our collective Christian lives at St. Bartholomew's. As St. Paul taught, the individual "members" must continuously learn to function as one body, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly, a second major goal and corollary to the first is our effort to promote unity, synthesis, and Christian love and caring. As is natural in all social and spiritual bodies, personal agendas, which at times come into conflict, do exist. Still, respondents emphasized their willingness to be open to traditional as well as to new ideas, individual needs, as well as to collective needs as we grow, experiment, and worship together.
A third goal which respondents valued highly is our extensive and vital outreach program. St. Bartholomew's is identified by parishioners and the community at large as a parish strongly committed to helping others. Our closest urban area is Camden, NJ, one of the poorest cities in the country. We are involved ecumenically with other suburban churches and synagogues in ministering to the basic needs of the homeless and the poor of that city. Numerous daily, weekly, and annual projects help to feed, clothe, and provide housing for those "Christs" who came to us hungry and in need. Some projects include Anna Sample House, Market Street Breakfast, Wednesday School, Cathedral Kitchen, and Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council. In addition, St. Bartholomew's reaches out to local people. Before both Thanksgiving and Christmas, hundreds of food boxes are prepared and delivered to needy families. Our past rector and a committed core of volunteers have attracted many parishioners into our outreach program. These people express the teaching of James, "faith without works is dead." To continue to pursue this goal of outreach is vital to the life of St. Bartholomew's.
As they look to the future, respondents emphasized some specific dreams and visions which they, working with a new rector, would like to see realized. Most of these dreams and visions have to do with the growth of the Church in a variety of ways.
We envision a social, educational, and spiritual program for our youth that will keep them enthused with their church life as they mature in their faith, their spiritual formation, and their identity as a social community of "Christian" youth committed to Christ and to the work He calls each of them to do. We are a parish with a significant number of young and middle-aged families; however, because of the number of respondents expressing this dream, it seems most of the members of the parish see the program as vital to the future of St. Bartholomew's and to the church at large. As is the case in many churches, St. Bartholomew's has many dedicated parishioners leading an active Sunday school, a thriving acolyte corps, and a JEYC and SEYC. Some of our children also participate in an excellent ecumenical summer Bible school. Acknowledging the difficulty of sustaining this Christian foundation in the face of our secular culture, our parish would like to help win the battle for children and young people by rooting them firmly in their faith and spirituality, thereby retaining their participation in church life throughout their lives.
Providing Christian education and spiritual growth for our youth does not overshadow the much-expressed goal of continuing a very strong adult education program as well. Many of St. Bartholomew's adult parishioners enjoy continuing their own Christian education, its stimulating give and take, and its revelations and enlightenment. Many respondents also expressed the dream of "increasing our spirituality as a family and faith community."
Finally, and not surprisingly, respondents expressed the dream of increasing our membership, not only to provide for the practical needs of monetary stewardship but also to bolster our pool of parishioners who can contribute their time and talents so that we can sustain the work of Christ within St. Bartholomew's parish and in the surrounding communities we serve.
The Diocese of New Jersey consists of the southern two-thirds of the state, with Diocesan headquarters located in the capitol city of Trenton. One of the American church's oldest dioceses, today it contains 162 congregations, as well as seasonal and collegiate chapels. In 1999 Our Diocesan Bishop, Joe Morris Doss, agreed to give up all Episcopal duties until he resigns in 2002, while retaining the title and salary of Diocesan. The Diocese has recently called the Rt. Rev. David Joslin, formerly Bishop of Central New York, to be the assisting bishop (effectively acting Diocesan) until a new bishop is elected. Under the Diocesan Canons, however, much authority rests in the hands of the standing committee and a variety of other elected bodies.