Regional Life

ABCNJ Executive Minister Search Process Progressing Well

The Search Committee to call the next Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor for the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey has met several times during the year and is making strong progress. Numerous applications from both inside and outside the region were submitted. These applications represented a number of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

As provided in the ABCNJ By-Laws and Constitution, the Personnel Committee serves as the search committee when there is a vacancy in the office of Executive Minister. Since two members of the Executive Committee already sit on the Personnel Committee, the ABCNJ Council provided that the members of the Executive Committee join the search committee. The members of the search committee are as follows:

  • Ms. Bobbi Daugherty - VP for Personnel and chair of the search committee
  • Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan - President, ABCNJ
  • Rev. Dr. John Grove - VP For Professional Ministries
  • Ms. Cheryl Allocco
  • Ms. Pat Dansberry
  • Rev. Dr. Danny Scotton
  • Ms. Judy Hart
  • Rev. Suleima Rosario-Diaz
  • Ms. Rosa Sierra
  • Ms. Kathleen Reeder
  • Rev. Older Azard
  • Rev. David Holwick

The goal of the committee is to present a consensus candidate to the region which we can support as our next Executive Minister without reservation. When the committee achieves its goal, the region will schedule meetings of the ABCNJ Council and a specially called session of the region and its pastors and delegates, adhering to requirements for notification and voting contained within the regional By-Laws and Constitution.

More updates will be shared as the search process makes further progress. During these important days in the life of our region, I would like to enjoin our entire regional family to lift up the entire discernment process, as well as and each member of the search committee in prayer. Pray that they will be open to the presence and leading of the Holy Spirit, and be attentive to the person God is already preparing to be the next Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor of ABCNJ!



ABCNJ Joins ABCUSA Emergency Disaster Relief Task Force

A damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan. Photo by Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Gerry Images

A damaged road in Toa Alta, west of San Juan. Photo by Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Gerry Images

On Thursday, September 28, 2017, Dr. Familiaran and ABCNJ Disaster Relief Coordinator, Denise Gratzel, joined in the first roundtable conference call of a national emergency disaster relief task force convened by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. ABCNJ is one of the ABC agencies that was invited to join this national task force which will spearhead the multi-year concerted effort of American Baptists to “Rebuild, Restore, and Renew” all of ABC of Puerto Rico's 114 churches and nine missions, all of which has been damaged - and some have been totally devastated - by Hurricane Maria. The hurricane's catastrophic destruction on the entire island of Puerto Rico is complete, far-reaching and cataclysmic in scope. 

Vicky Goff, ABHMS Associate Director for Passionary Movements and Coordinator of Disaster Relief, and known very well in ABCNJ by way of our partnership in the Hurricane Sandy relief work, has been appointed to lead this massive American Baptist relief effort. 

An on-site ABHMS assessment team composed of Vicky Goff, Salvador Orellana and Susan Gottshall left for Puerto Rico yesterday to meet with leaders of the ABC of Puerto Rico and conduct on-site inspections with them to guide us in prioritizing our relief efforts to make optimum impact in effecting succor to our fellow American Baptists there. 

While we continue to support the Relief work from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that damaged Texas and Florida respectively, ABCNJ encourages its churches to give to give over and above and sacrificially to the Puerto Rico Relief by sending their contributions to ABCNJ or ABHMS and indicate on your check's memo line, "OGHS - PUERTO RICO." 

In a very short while, ABCNJ will call for volunteers to join work teams that will be deployed in this long-term relief work with our sisters and brothers in Puerto Rico.  

(Main image of this article of Hurricane Maria overwhelming the island of Puerto Rico is from NASA )

Exciting Last Minute Retreat News – We're cutting our minimums by 50%


The holidays are an incredibly busy time, why not take a day or two to retreat from the hustle and bustle in order to deepen your faith? Camp Lebanon is even making it easier to step back for a time. If you book your retreat now for November or December they'll will reduce the minimum required numbers by 50%.  

Minimum Retreat Sizes for November & December 2016

  • 12 people for Clayton Hall
  • 10 people for Hoener Inn
  • 2 people for Harker Lodge

Per-Person Rates

  • 1 night with 3 meals = $80.00
  • 2 nights with 4 meals = $115.00
  • 2 nights with 5 meals = $125.00

Call to make Reservations

(908) 236 2638

Fair Schedules, Disaster Care and the Upcoming Elections


The church needs to rediscover its voice and respond to the pressing needs of our world! In support of that mandate, the ABCNJ Public Mission Committee is asking the region's pastors and churches to consider three important issues that affect the lives of the people in our congregations and the community at large.

Fair Schedules NJ

Do you have church members, friends or family that hold jobs that feature inconsistent schedules? Several ABCNJ pastors (James deBoer, Marsha Butler, Kathleen Roney, Osvaldo Jimenez and others) have invested energy in this issue and are wondering if other ABCNJ churches and pastors might wish to join in their efforts. Attached is a flyer in Spanish and English that explains the issues, and an email you can write to if you would like to become more involved or share your own experiences.

Red Cross Disaster Spiritual Care Providers

ABCNJ pastor Willard Ashley has been a nationally recognized leader in providing spiritual care in response to natural and humanity-caused disasters. The Red Cross is offering classes for clrgy who are interested in becoming Red Cross certified Disaster Spiritual care Providers. See the attached flyer for course information.

Responding Spiritually to the National Elections

The committee also had a lively conversation on the state of American politics and how the church needs to respond. The Committee is encouraging our churches to foster reconciliation, healing and unity in two ways.

First, we ask every church to include prayers for our country's unity and reconciliation during their Communion services on Sunday, November 6 - two days before the election.

Second, we are inviting the ABCNJ family to join in a region-wide time of prayer by group telephone on Monday evening, November 7 at 7:00 PM, hosted by Rev. Dr. Gloria and Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Newark.

Participant Instructions:

  1. Call the Dial-In Number – (515) 739-1285
  2. Enter your Access Code – 733193.

The ABCNJ Public Mission Committee seeks to foster dialogue and action as our region grows in spiritual health and mission faithfulness. Examples of issues covered in the past are immigration and the death penalty, missions supported in the past include ESL, Sacred Safe Spaces and Anti-Poverty. At its December 1 meeting, the Committee will focus on adoption.


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Disaster Care

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Fair Schedules

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ABCNJ Launched Christian Education Workshop: Leading Integrative and Engaging Bible Study at Calvary Baptist Church


Summer is over and yet the benefits of working with other churches to creatively think about and planFall Bible Studies is still paying off.  ABCNJ, lead by Elaine Cody and Rev. Jacobs-Strain, launched a Christian Education Bible Study Class this summer for pastors, teachers, facilitators and those interested  in teaching. Rev.  Dr. Joseph Oniyama, Sr. Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in East Orange hosted our first  L.I.B.S.TM workshop.  Assoc. Minister Robin Greene-Webb gathered many of Calvary's Christian Educators to lead the way. Several churches joined us from Asbury Park to Vaux Hall. Attendees included pastors, Sunday School Teachers, Youth leaders, and  Sunday School Superintendents. elaine-and-ginaOur primary tool was of course the Bible, but we also made use of accessible and low cost ways to augment our lessons so that all learners may participate. All attendees had the opportunity to prepare and share a mini Bible study and receive affirming feedback from their fellow Christian educators. If you missed the event please plan to join us at Drew Seminary on Saturday 10/22/16, 9:00 AM - 12:00 Noon. The seminary is located at 36 Madison Ave., Madison NJ. For more information available and to register please follow this link. For additional information you may also contact Rev. Jacobs-Strain, Assoc. Regional Pastor for Women in Ministry at

For Such a Time As This


On October 13th the Greater Delaware Valley Association of ABCNJ is hosting a evening of reflection, Discussion, and prayer. Entitled For Such A Time As This, the evening will focus on the current political climate surrounding the presidential election, and how Christians can be faithful witnesses to Christ and his Kingdom during these tumultuous times. Rev. Brent Miller, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Collingswood, describes what led to this call to be put out,

It is hard to miss the divisive rhetoric coming out of the world of politics at the moment, and sadly, many who identify as Christians have taken part. Such rhetoric misrepresents Jesus, and is both confusing and detrimental to the Church’s witness. We feel strongly that we cannot sit by and do nothing while the world gets the wrong idea about Jesus and his Kingdom.

The evening will include times of joyful expression through song, as well as moments of reflection and intercession through prayer. A paper, entitled For Such A Time as This, will also be presented and discussed by a panel of guests (click the thumbnail below to download a copy of this document).

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Location, Date, and Time

First Baptist Church of Collingswood 23 Frazer Ave, Collingswood, NJ 08108

Thursday, October 13 7PM [/column] [column size="1/2" last]


Download the "For Such a Time As This" paper in PDF format [/column] [/raw]

Don't miss ABCNJ Academy at Annual Session


Authentic Evangelism from a posture of listening

How should we, as American Baptists, relate to other world religions? How we are called by God to work with people of different faiths? How can we share Jesus’ good news in a religiously pluralistic world? Come and explore these questions alongside your colleagues in ministry.

This is an event every pastor should be strongly encouraged 1 to attend!

Registration includes access to all Academy panels, dinner, and evening bonfire on the beach. Early bird registration is $70 and ends on August 15. Register today! Retired pastors and their spouses can register for free, courtesy of MMBB and ABCNJ by calling the region office at (609) 587-8700.

The Academy at Annual Session will take place on September 23, beginning at 1PM.

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  1. Signing up one's pastor as a gift from the congregation is highly encouraged. All attending pastors will be offered voluntary "selfie" lessons in order to confirm attendance. 

Annual Session 2016 - what a setting!


This year's Annual Session will take place at the amazing Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch. This picturesque location is right on the beach, and offers easy access to parking and numerous shopping and dining spots.  Why not make plans with some friends and spend the evening after Annual Session enjoying the sights, tastes, and sounds of the Jersey Shore? Or why not gather your church group after session closes and spend some time relaxing together as family?

This is a locale worth spending some time to get lost in the experience!

Early Bird Deadline

The early bird deadline is August 15, so make sure to register soon. It's easy, just use the button below!

[button color="default" link="" size="default" target="_self" block="false"]Register Today[/button]


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Friday Events

This package includes all Academy Sessions, Dinner, & Bonfire

Early Bird

[label style="success"]Before August 15[/label] $70


[label style="warning"]Before September 15[/label] $80

Late Registration

[label style="danger"]After September 15 & Door[/label] $90

Retired Clergy & Spouses

[label style="success"]Before August 15[/label] FREE

Bonfire & S'mores

[label style="warning"]Individual Ticket[/label] $10 [label style="success"]10 Tickets[/label] $75 [/column] [column size="1/3"]

Saturday Only

Saturday package includes parking, pre-session breakfast, and banquet luncheon.

Early Bird

[label style="success"]Before August 15[/label] $89


[label style="warning"]Before September 15[/label] $109

Late Registration

[label style="danger"]After September 15 & Door[/label] $129


Ages 6-12 $20 [/column] [column size="1/3"]

Full Package

Includes full access to all Friday and Saturday events.

Early Bird

[label style="success"]Before August 15[/label] $149


[label style="warning"]Before September 15[/label] $169

Late Registration

[label style="danger"]After September 15 & Door[/label] $199


Ages 6-12 $25 [/column] [/raw]

Celebration Rate - Baptismal Candidates

Baptismal candidates, as well as up to four family members, can register for Saturday at a special rate. These registrations will be handled by the Region Office.

Before August 15 $69

2016 Asian Conference & Alliance of Asian American Baptist Churches Convocation June 21-24, 2016.


The Asian Conference & Alliance of Asian American Baptist Churches Convocation was held this year in New Jersey, hosted by First Baptist Church Haddonfield. There approximately 180 people in attendance, representing the Asian Churches throughout the United States, gathering under the theme “Let young eagles fly”.  Eleven workshops were presented, each allowing time for questions and discussion. Culturally diverse meals were prepared and shared by the different area Asian and local churches. A fantastic outdoor barbecue picnic gave all the opportunity to fellowship on a more personal level, and cultural differences were shared and embraced by all. The theme "Let young eagles fly" focused on encouraging our young people to be an integral part of the church – specifically to take on leadership roles, not only in the church, but also in their personal lives. FullSizeRender (1)We were very pleased and excited in the number of young people in attendance. The amount of involvement by our younger generations was the greatest we've ever had, making our theme wonderfully appropriate.  The interest and involvement of our youth is so important to the growth of the church and needs to be addressed and accepted by all.

I am very proud of ABCNJ regional team staff, GDVA, Asian Churches and local churches for coming together in a partnership to make the conference such a success. Thank you all for your selfless involvement and outward show of friendship, love and welcome to everyone in attendance.

Thank you ABHMS Asian Ministries and AABC/Asian Alliance for allowing us At ABCNJ to be in partnership with you and host the conference this year.

Get ready for Annual Session!

The 2016 ABCNJ Annual Session will be unforgettable! This year we are moving our venue to the beautiful Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch, NJ.

Don't forget! Early Bird registration ends on August 15. Why pay more than you have to? Register Today!

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Friday, September 23

  • ABCNJ Academy – Sharing Jesus in a Pluralistic World
  • MMBB Pastor's Fellowship Dinner – Honoring our retired pastors
  • Camp Lebanon Beach Bonfire – Special rates for church groups and youth

Saturday, September 24

  • Annual Meeting – "OPEN" to God's call

Featuring Rev. Marilyn Turner, Mr. Elie Haddad, and Rev. Darrel Armstrong

  • Friends of ABCNJ Luncheon
  • Ocean Baptisms

For more information about this incredible weekend, visit our 2016 Annual Session section on

Downloadable Brochure

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2016 Annual Session Spread - Color

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2016 Annual Session Spread - Greyscale

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Leading Engaging & Interactive Bible Studies


ABCNJ invites our family to come together for a day of engagement and discovery. Come and explore how you can leverage your personal learning style to both create and lead engaging lessons which manage to reach across multiple learning styles. Discover resources which will encourage group participation, and be supported by others who are on a similar journey. Don't miss out on this wonderful opportunity!


Cancelled July 30, 2016 (8:45 am – 12:30 pm)

ABCNJ Region Office  
3752 Nottingham Way, Suite 101  
Trenton, NJ 08690

August 6, 2016 (8:45 am – 12:30 pm)

Calvary Baptist Church  
66 South Grove Street  
East Orange, NJ 07018

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Workshop Cost

  • $25

Who is this for?

Anyone interested in the Bible being more accessible and applicable to your daily lives.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Ministers—Pastors
  • Associates
  • Christian Education
  • Youth
  • Anyone teaching the Bible in a class or small group context

What will be covered?

Come and be guided as you discover both your learning style and how to communicate beyond your learning style. Some activities will include:

  • Explore the best practices for team teaching, and making space for varied teaching gifts.
  • Examine teaching formats which facilitate both preparation and presentation.
  • Interact with special resources which can encourage class participation.
  • Prepare and share an actual lesson with your colleagues.

What materials are needed?

  • Bible
  • Notebook or laptop

Who is leading this?

We are blessed to have two excellent leaders for this workshop.

Rev. Gina Jacobs-Strain, Assoc. Regional Pastor for Women in Ministry, ABC-NJ

Rev. Gina-Jacobs-StrainRev. Gina C. Jacobs-Strain serves as ABCNJ’s Regional Pastor for Women in Ministry. Previously she has served as the Interim Pastor for St. Paul Baptist Church in Alantic Highland and as the Associate Minister for Christian Education, St. Paul Baptist Church in Montclair, NJ. She is currently serving as the Transitional Pastor, First Baptist Church-New Market, Piscataway, NJ. At Nyack College she is the Department Chair of Developmental Education. She especially enjoys facilitating and inspiring Christian Educators to share the Word of God in collaborative and interactive studies. Rev. Jacobs-Strain earned a BA in Psychology from Rutgers University and graduated from Drew University’s Theological School Magna Cum Laude with a Masters of Divinity. She is currently pursuing her D.Min. at Duke Divinity School.

Elaine Cody, Founder, Women at the Crossroads of Change

Elaine CodyElaine W. Cody fell in love with the Word of God from the time of her rebirth in 1984. She began studying the Word on her own but wanting to know more, she took classes to learn how to study the Bible being driven by a desire to share what she had learned with others. As the years passed, Elaine added to her repertoire retreat workshops for women, life coaching and writing Bible studies for all students. She considers herself a lifelong learner of the Scriptures whose wisdom for daily living is endless. Currently, she is pursuing a Certificate in Theology and Ministry from Princeton Theological Seminary. Having collaborated with Rev. Gina Jacobs-Strain on Bible studies for ten years, Elaine hopes to positively impact both leader and congregant for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

Rev. Estelle David Called as New Sacred Safe Spaces Coordinator


In 2012, ABCNJ introduced Sacred Safe Spaces, a pioneering ministry focusing on the ministry churches could offer to women and children who were victims of domestic violence. Created by Rev. Tamara R. Jackson, and initially funded by a generous grant from the American Baptist Women’s Ministries, Sacred Safe Spaces provides educational workshops and encourages churches to adopt the ABCNJ Congregation Covenant of Nonviolence. To date, some 20 churches have approved the covenant – and these churches will be recognized at a special ceremony at the 2016 Annual Session on Saturday, September 24, 2016. Rev. Jackson has served the region faithfully since the inception of Sacred Safe Spaces and our churches have been blessed by her inspirational leadership and creative advocacy on behalf of women and children. However, she has accepted the call as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Syracuse in New York. Of course, we all wish her well in her new ministry! She says, “Over the last three years it has been my pleasure serving as the Coordinator for ABCNJ’s Sacred Safe Spaces Initiative. Violence remains pervasive in our world, society and places of worship. Indeed there is still much work to be done.”

We agree, and therefore we are pleased to announce that at its May 14, 2016 meeting, the ABCNJ Council affirmed the appointment of Rev. Estelle V. David as the new ABCNJ OPEN Pastor for the Sacred Safe Spaces ministry.

Rev. David proclaims, “I am a friend of God.” She is an advocate of building the Beloved Community which is characterized by people who have mutual respect, truth, justice and harmony embracing their diversity for the greater good. The needs of the community have always been a passion of hers and she has worked as a community builder in many sectors - grassroots, public, private and faith-based community corporations. After 14 years as Prison Chaplain at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (EMCFW), December 31, 2015, she retired. Rev. David believes that the role of the church is to honor each of God’s creations so that we can use our gifts, strengths, perceptions and complexities to be our best, growing in peace and glorifying God!

Has your congregation endorsed the ABCNJ Congregation Covenant of Nonviolence? You can copy and personalize the covenant from our web-site. If your church endorses, this covenant, please send the region office a signed copy!

Concentración Latina 2016


Próximo Sábado 7 de Mayo de 2016, La Cuadragésima Concentración de Iglesias Bautistas Latinas de ABCNJ.  





100 Norwood Avenue, North Plainfield NJ 07060.


Desayuno: 8:00 AM

Sesión Principal: 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM (Almuerzo al final)


  • Mayores: $20.00
  • Niños (hasta 11 años): $15.00

¡Bienvenidos todos! Más información, escriba a:

6th Annual Camp Lebanon Golf Classic is a "Go"


This year the Camp Lebanon Golf Class moves to Gambler Ridge Golf Club! Gambler Ridge Golf Club prides itself in being a “must play” course in Central New Jersey. This par 71 course is a challenge for experienced players, but is laid out so beautifully even novice players will relax and enjoy playing it. Come join fellow golfers from all over ABCNJ and help support Camp Lebanon!

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Registration Types

  • Individual Golfer: $105
  • Foursome: $105 (per golfer)
  • Sponsorship and Foursome: $600

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  • Saturday, June 4


  • Registration – 11:30 AM
  • Start Time – 12:30 PM
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The cost of registration includes a cart on a full 18-hole championship course, and a delicious dinner. There are fun prizes, silent auctions and more! The friendly competitive format will award prizes to the top three foursomes!

Tournament play will be in the Best Ball format.

Come spend an evening in our story


Chained Personality - African American Baptists and Hitler's persecution of the JewsCome hear Dr. Spitzer's new presentation, based on his holocaust research, on how African-American Baptists opposed Hitler based on Baptist convictions. Christ Resurrection Missionary Baptist Church in East Orange is hosting the event on May 12, 2016 at 6:30 pm. Dr. Leora Liggins is the senior pastor of the church. [lead]Dr. Spitzer will speak on “Chained Personality: African-American Baptists and Hitler’s Persecution of the Jews.”[/lead] He will discuss how African-American Baptists related to American Jews, and responded to the Nazi oppression of the Jews and the Holocaust. He will share previously little known stories about the African-American reaction to Kristallnacht, the contribution of African-American Baptists to the collective Baptist response to Hitlerism, how the European Jewish plight impacted the African-American civil rights movement in unexpected ways, and how a very special friendship between an African-American Baptist pastor and a Jewish rabbi in Brooklyn brought two communities together.

The event is open to everyone. An offering will be taken in support of the Cedars of Lebanon scholarship endowment.

Philippians – Growing Spiritual Fruit


Philippians – Growing Spiritual Fruit [lead]How is the Bible able to help us with spiritual formation? Are these words, written thousands of years ago, still helpful for our growth as Christians in the 21st Century? How might the experiences of early believers inform our own walk with Christ?[/lead]

The ABCNJ Academy and Palmer Theological Seminary invite you to explore the book of Philippians with us on Mondays in April. This letter has been foundational to Christian spiritual growth for much of the Church's history. Through study and discussion, we hope to experience Scripture in new and powerful ways and renew our appreciation for God's word as we study alongside other believers.

Lunch is provided, so bring your appetites and come ready to grow!

Presenter Schedule

Date Presenter
Monday, April 4 Dr. Marsha Brown Woodard
Monday, April 11 Dr. George Hancock-Stefan
Monday, April 18 Dr. Willette Burgie-Bryant
Monday, April 25 Dr. Paul Alexander

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11 AM – 1 PM [/column] [column size="1/3" wpautop="true"]


ABCNJ Region Office [/column] [column size="1/3" wpautop="true" last]

Cost $25 (includes lunch and parking)

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Lunch and Learn – Cancer Companions

With Karen Tripp – MS LMFT, Author of God is Bigger Than Your Cancer and President of Cancer Companions

Churches are faced with the need to minister to cancer patients and their families in a meaningful and uplifting way with minimal resources. In addition, the length and complications of cancer treatments makes the needs of cancer families longer term and more complex than other health issues.

Join Karen Tripp MS, LMFT, as she discusses Cancer and the Church and offers strategies for using volunteers to develop successful cancer ministries to impact your church and community through the Cancer Companions Program.

For anyone interested in impacting cancer in their church and community (pastors, parish nurses, lay members, Chaplains, Hospice workers, Stephen Ministers, care teams, cancer survivors and caregivers).

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[label style="info" icon="car"]Location and Time[/label] ABCNJ Region Office
Noon – 1:15 PM

[label style="success" icon="money"]Cost[/label] $10

[label style="info" icon="calendar"]Dates[/label]

  • Monday, March 7
  • Friday, March 11

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Email Troubles


Yesterday we were made aware that the contact forms on our web-site were not actually sending emails to their destination. The problem apparently emerged when's web-host upgraded to a newer version of something we use to power the site. This new version is better able to prevent spam, but was was incompatible with some of our settings. As the site wasn't reporting any errors, and messages appeared to send normally, there was no way for us to know something was amiss until someone checked in, wondering why we'd not returned their message! We apologize for the confusion, we now have created out contact forms using a different system and each should now be fully functional. Email through is back open for business.