St. John’s Episcopal Church is located on National Register Market Street in the City of Salem. Congregants hail from both the City and surrounding townships. All enjoy the small town feel of St. John’s set within the adjacent larger agricultural backdrop.
Just outside “Greater Salem” along the Delaware River is the large petrochemical and nuclear industries such as DuPont and PSEG reflected in the congregation’s dress from cowboy boots and jeans to suits and ties. Residents consider Salem County to be “The Garden Spot of the Garden State.” Salem County lies in the southwest corner of New Jersey. It is bounded by the Delaware River and Bay to the west and the Maurice River to the east. Oldmans Creek creates nearly half of Salem County’s northern border, while Stow Creek runs along a portion of its southern divide. Salem County’s natural features include six rivers, more than 34,000 acres of unique meadow and marshland, tidal and freshwater wetlands, 40 lakes and ponds, bay beaches, dunes, expansive woodlands, a critical underground aquifer, numerous streams and important headwaters. Salem County covers 338 square miles- with nearly half of the land actively farmed. Land development into housing projects has only nibbled at the northern border.
The County boasts a population of less than 65,000- the lowest population and the lowest density per square mile in New Jersey. While tremendously desirable to live in, many commute beyond county boundaries for work. There has been some recent business park development along the western side of the county along Interstate 295 providing additional employment.
Salem City is the County Seat being intersected by state highways 49 and 45 which serve as the main streets of the community. Down Market Street from St. John’s is the town’s largest employer: the County government and State court system, who provide much of the economic engine in the downtown area.
Salem City’s founding in 1675 has seen many boom and bust days as a shallow water port to the Delaware River. Post 1950’s inappropriate urban renewal, suburban building sprawl and malls hurt Salem City causing disinvestment in business/housing stock and middle class population loss. This loss collapsed small business ownership and associated unemployment. Pennrose, a Philadelphia housing corporation, has redeveloped three blocks of affordable housing. A senior apartment complex has been rehabbed and is taking applications now. Salem Main Street organization is leading an active small business downtown revitalization while volunteers fill the ranks of other civic groups dedicated to strengthening neighborhoods and supporting at risk populations. As County Seat, many non-profits provide outreach to residents, with many St. John’s parishioners volunteering their skills.
Numerous historical and arts events are the result of collaboration with the Salem County Historical Society, located within a block of St. John’s. Many parishioners volunteer at the Society with the church providing meeting space.
Salem City is a K-12 school district that serves as a receiving district for grades 9-12 from surrounding smaller townships.
Salem Community College has a branch on Broadway that provides remedial and continuing education.
The John B Campbell Community Center is a regional recreational center located on Walnut Street. The center offers daycare for children 0-6 years of age, HeadStart for school age after school care, and summer adventure day camp for school age children. The center has a senior wellness program and a state of the art fitness center. Other activities include basketball and volleyball leagues, parenting classes, and concerts. South Jersey Health Service provides an adult daycare center and a senior nutrition site in the city.