They land politely - in mailboxes, not driveways - and deliver their good news gently.

"Relics blessed in advance of tour."

"Young Israelis at Medford Camps."

"Our Lady of Pompeii Church Celebrates 100 Years."

"Local Concert Raises $2,600 for Mitzvah Food Project."

But with advertising revenues in decline, these are challenging times for some local religious newspapers - and perhaps the end times for one.

The Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey is warning that it might soon pull the plug on its 68-year-old newspaper, the Community Voice.

"What if the Voice stopped coming?" asked a headline atop a recent front page.

The biweekly tabloid is mailed to 12,500 households in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties that annually contribute at least $25 to the federation, a coalition of social-service agencies and volunteer programs.

The Jewish population in the three counties is estimated at 45,000 to 50,000, or about 17,000 households.

"We could cease to exist very soon," Benjamin Rosenblum, president of Jewish Federation Publications, wrote in an open letter in early July soliciting donations.

More than a month in, the campaign has been "somewhat disappointing," said editor David A. Portnoe, the only full-time editorial staffer. "We've raised about 60 percent of what we projected." He declined to say how much the paper was seeking.

Averaging 32 pages, the Voice favors news in micro.

The current issue, published Wednesday, features stories on South Jersey teens who competed in the World Maccabiah Games and a boy who used his bar mitzvah money to buy a gazebo for a senior center, a profile of a Haddonfield businessman, a Torah meditation by a local rabbi, and news that the cantor and choir of Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill will sing the national anthem at Thursday's Phillies game.

The back pages brim with births, marriages, and deaths.

"I'm not glued to it, but I usually find stuff of interest," said Jan Gordon, a reader from Cherry Hill.

Marla Wander, also of Cherry Hill, said she was unaware of the Voice's struggle but hopes "it survives. I think it's important."

Besides Portnoe, the Voice has a full-time production director, a part-time administrative assistant, and three independent ad solicitors. In a recent issue, advertisers included cemeteries and funeral homes (six), synagogues (five), nursing homes (four), jewelers (four), and builders (three), plus a stock brokerage, an auto dealer, a furniture store, a caterer, a dance school, and others.

A lot - but not enough to keep the paper in the black, said a former editor.

Harriet Kessler, who retired in May after 24 years at the helm, said that ads in the the Voice once generated upward of $100,000 in annual profits for the federation. But last year, ad revenues declined by 9 percent, she said, and they are down an additional 12 percent so far this year. Jewelers and home builders - pillars of its ad base - have been hard-hit by the recession.

"We built it from nothing," Kessler said of the paper, "and then saw it fall apart."

The situation is not so dire at the region's other Jewish newspaper, the Jewish Exponent in Philadelphia. Still, "we're feeling the heat," said editor Lisa Hostein.

Founded in 1887, the 40,000-circulation Exponent lost 20 percent of its readership in the last decade and was last profitable in 2007. It is now posting "modest losses," said Hostein, declining to give dollar figures.

Published by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the Exponent in February trimmed its page length by 11/2 inches. In the last year, it reduced staff by 8 percent, to 42 full-time positions, according to general manager David Alpher.

At the area's two Catholic diocesan newspapers, however, managers say they are faring relatively well.

The 46,000-circulation Catholic Standard & Times, published by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has seen ad revenue rise 5 percent since early 2008, due to "aggressive" solicitation, said Matthew Gambino, general manager.

"Some of our traditional advertisers scaled back" as the economy failed, he said. "But we hustled to get new ones," such as nursing homes and community colleges.

Created in 1895 by the merger of two independent Catholic newspapers, the weekly Standard & Times is neither subsidized by the 1.4-million-member archdiocese nor a source of revenue for it. With 14 full- and part-time staffers, it supports itself with ads and annual subscriptions of $30.

Circulation has been static for a number of years, Gambino said. So, with the blessing of Cardinal Justin Rigali, he is overhauling the paper's design and planning a subscription drive this fall in 16 parishes in high-growth areas of Bucks and Chester Counties.

In the Camden Diocese, the weekly Catholic Star Herald is "doing well," said Andrew Walton, associate publisher. Since 2007, ad revenues have gone up 40 percent and circulation has more than doubled, making the Star Herald one of the largest diocesan papers in the country.

Walton credits a new distribution formula.

The Star Herald used to be mailed to families that contributed to parishes, he said. But two years ago, the mailings were expanded to households with children attending Catholic schools or Catholic religious education, whether active in their parishes or not. Parishes pay the $26 annual subscription fee.

That decision took circulation to 70,000 in the 500,000-member diocese, and through the inclusion of young parents, it reduced the average age of its readers by a decade, to about 45. Its relatively large circulation and younger readership have made the Star Herald more attractive to advertisers, according to Walton.

No Protestant institutions in the area publish newspapers, instead relying on occasional newsletters with little or no advertising.

But on the national level, publications such as Christianity Today are being battered by an "unprecedentedly tough" economy, said Kevin Miller, executive vice president of the monthly magazine. Ad revenues are down 29 percent this year; circulation has dropped 9 percent, to 145,000.

Founded in 1956 by Billy Graham, Christianity Today has cut staff from 160 to 105. This year, it closed Ignite Your Faith, its 63-year-old magazine for teens.

In the Philadelphia area, religious newspapers have tried to cultivate flocks of Web readers. All four have online versions; the Standard & Times is a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Still, most people merely skim the online editions, said Gambino of the Standard & Times. The archdiocese remains committed to print, he said: "I can't think of a more cost-effective way to inform and inspire."

Mission does trump profit, said Walton of the Star Herald.

"Our hope is that families receiving the paper will develop a closer bond with the diocese and their faith," he said.

At the beleaguered Voice, editor Portnoe said the paper serves a more important role today than when it was founded in 1941.

"Back then, most of the Jewish population [in South Jersey] was concentrated in certain neighborhoods in Camden," he said.

With Jews now geographically dispersed, "the paper has become more of a communications tool . . . for holding that sense of community together."

Contact staff writer David O'Reilly at 215-854-5723 or doreilly@phillynews.com.