Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale

Category: Faith-Based Services
Nominator: Sadia Akhtar

What was their service?

 Rev. Seth is a pastor at the Reformed Church of Highland Park working to protect and serve the unfortunate in the community. In the past decade, Seth has created housing for women aging out of foster homes, homeless Veterans, reentering citizens, justice involved youth, chronically homeless mentally ill adults, refugees, and asylees through the RCHP-Affordable Housing Corp program which he created. He operates 17 buildings that support 91 tenants. Seth also helped create Who Is My Neighbor Inc. which brought Highland Park a fair trade store, an after school program, and an affordable summer camp.

What motivated them to serve/volunteer? 

 Rev. Seth strongly believes in supporting the less fortunate and advocating for those who do not have a voice. “Seth has always been passionate about the underdog,” said his father, Steve Dale. “He had a driving force to help people in need.” This is evident throughout his whole life, for example, Seth lived in Ecuador for a year in a children’s home when he was 21 years old. He clearly believes in helping everyone, as his service impacts immigrants, refugees, food insecure families, the environment, veterans, chronically homeless mentally ill adults, and adults with developmental disabilities.

What did they achieve/how did they make a difference? 

 Seth’s program RCHP now provides food for hungry families, employment for refugees, operates a farm and a farmer’s market, provides and manages affordable housing units, and advocates for their vulnerable neighbors. They are involved in refugee resettlement, working for racial justice, and caring for the environment. He founded and currently oversees Interfaith RISE, an official NJ State refugee resettlement agency and DIRE, a grassroots emergency response immigrant support team. He made a difference in the lives of Indonesian immigrants who were fleeing persecution, seeking religious freedom, and feared being arrested by ICE. Rev. Seth declared his church a sanctuary and opened its doors to protect the immigrants. Since then, he has held community events, repeatedly has spoken out against I.C.E, continues to focus attention on the plight of immigrants facing deportation, and developed a Congressional Bill, the Indonesian Family Protect Act, which did not pass but helped persuade I.C.E. to drop pursuit of Indonesian communities. His program, Who Is My Neighbor Inc. offers Better World Cafe, which employs refugees being resettled in New Jersey to cook meals from their home countries. The meals are served by volunteers and sold to the public. His service goes past helping the unfortunate- he also recruited 29 churches into GreenFaith environmental advocacy coalition in environmental efforts, supported the LGBT community by offering inclusive congregation and safe spaces in churches, and hosts interfaith activities with Protestant, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim communities to promote tolerance.