Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey,

Greetings! Grace and peace to you. Susan and I are delighted to be in New Jersey. As I begin my second week in the diocese, I wanted to write to you to let you know that our move went well and that we are in place. Although our new home in Trenton is a sea of boxes, we love it and are settling in comfortably.

During these first few months leading up to my consecration in November (God willing and with the consent of the people!), I have a lot to learn from the remarkable staff at Diocesan House and especially from Bishop Councell. I am fortunate and blessed that he will mentor me during these crucial months. Please keep him and Ruth in your prayers during this time of transition for them.

You also have a lot to teach me. My “watchwords” during these first few months are “listen and learn.” I am new to the Diocese of New Jersey. Yes, I have thoughts and ideas but, during this time, I want to focus especially on listening. This will happen through planned events – meetings of Clericus and Convocations – that are already on the calendar for late summer and throughout the fall. It will also happen as Susan and I travel around the Diocese worshipping in different churches each Sunday and visiting churches that have special events going on during the week, as we will this week, when we visit St. Bernard’s and their Splash! Interfaith Kids Day Camp in Bernardsville on Friday. (Clergy, please note, we will call ahead before coming to your church on a Sunday morning). If you have something you would like us to see, please let us know. Needless to say, we won’t be able to accept every invitation, but we like knowing what is going on in the different churches of the diocese.

So that I can share my experiences with you and let you know what I am up to, I will blog regularly and invite you to follow my blog. It can be found at http://chipstokesblog.blogspot.com/. I also welcome you to “Friend me” on Facebook (Chip Stokes) and to “follow me” on Twitter (ChipStokes@ChipStokesNJ). My diocesan e-mail address is wstokes@newjersey.anglican.org. If your church has a Facebook page, let me know so that I can “like it” and follow you on Facebook.

I look forward to being among you, to getting to know you and this diocese more deeply. I pray you and yours may enjoy the remaining days of summer. May God bless us all in our life in Christ together. Thank you for all you do in Christ’s service in this diocese, for your welcome, and for your continuing prayers for Susan and for me.

Faithfully yours,

The Rev. Canon William H. (Chip) Stokes, Bishop-elect