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‘An Amazing Legacy’ – Star of Hope Celebrates 110 Years of God’s Faithfulness  

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Matt Andersen speaks at Star of Hope’s 110th Anniversary Banquet (Rod Bolton Photography)

By Tom Campisi

Star of Hope’s annual Boxes of Love outreach has become a Thanksgiving tradition in New Jersey. In mid-November, the ministry partnered with churches from Paterson, Newark, and Willingboro to deliver a holiday meal to hundreds of families in those communities.   

“It’s a collective effort of churches and nonprofit organizations around North Jersey,” said Matt Andersen, executive director of Star of Hope Ministries in Paterson, NJ. “We call it a Box of Love because it’s a way for churches to build relationships, to deliver love.”

Two months earlier, Star of Hope celebrated its remarkable history of this kind of community impact at the organization’s 110th Anniversary Banquet at the Venetian in Garfield, NJ.

“What an amazing legacy,” Andersen said. “The longevity of our ministry is a testament to God’s faithfulness and to the power of unity, collaboration, and shared mission.”

Star of Hope was founded in 1913 by a Dutch immigrant and marketplace leader Peter Stam.

“Peter’s heart had been prompted and changed by God to serve the most vulnerable in a hurting Paterson community,” Andersen said. “The Stam family was heavily involved in Star of Hope for over 60 years.”

Star of Hope functioned in two significant ways in its first 75 years—as Star of Hope Mission, which predominately housed men struggling with addiction, homelessness, and hopelessness; and as a “preaching station.”

“All the way back into the ’20s and ’30s, anytime a well-known preacher came to town Star of Hope was the place to be,” Andersen said.

“From its earliest days, Star of Hope was about serving the needs of the community and bringing people together. It still holds true 110 years later.”

Andersen noted the shift in ministry model and design that occurred under the long-time leadership of former executive director Jay Sinclair.

“Star of Hope is forever indebted to Jay and his family for their investment in this ministry and in the city of Paterson,” he said. “In the early ’90s, Jay began to recognize that if we want to see transformation in our city and in our neighborhoods, it had to be done in partnership with the local church. And the Star of Hope member network was born.”

“The impact increased exponentially as churches began to work together in the city and outside the city to better serve the needs of the community…Today, we serve a network of 82 churches and organizations in three cities throughout New Jersey.”

“These network members are the heart and soul of all that we do. They are the boots on the ground, loving their neighbors, serving selflessly. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate them, and I am encouraged by them every day.”

Celebrating the member network and the power of unity was accentuated by keynote speaker Peter Greer, CEO of Hope International and author of the book Rooting for Rivals: How Collaboration and Generosity Increase the Impact of Leaders, Charities, and Churches.

Greer talked about how ministries can multiply impact by cooperating, rather than competing, and the danger of a scarcity mindset.

“Let’s spend some time getting to know each other,” Greer said. “Let’s start open sourcing information. Let’s use language that doesn’t end in E-R. Let’s not say (we are) bigger, better, greater, faster. Together, let’s change our language. Let’s be radically generous with our platforms, with our money, and with our prayers.”

“When we do that, we will see rivals radically transformed into friends. That is what Star of Hope is doing, and that is what is going to change this community to the glory of Jesus Christ.”

With its backpack distribution before the school year and its Boxes of Love outreach in November, Star of Hope continues to exemplify the power of collaboration and shared mission.

Every fall, Star of Hope collects food and donations in Boxes of Love from participating churches, businesses, schools, and individuals. Boxes are assembled by a team of volunteers and then distributed, along with a voucher for a turkey, to churches in Paterson, Newark, and Willingboro. Churches then deliver the boxes to needy families in their communities.

“One of our greatest strengths lies in the diversity of our network of supporters, partners, volunteers, nonprofits, pastors, and leaders. They all serve selflessly in a variety of ways,” Andersen said. “There is no power in a Box of Love alone…There is no power in a backpack alone. But when they are put in the hands of a pastor or a church leader who meets the needs of the community in the name of Jesus—I believe that’s what makes resources come alive. It’s neighbors loving neighbors in real tangible ways.”

For more information on Star of Hope initiatives, or to volunteer or donate, visit www.sohm.org.

PATERSON BOXES OF LOVE DISTRIBUTION: