'We Can't Hide Our Faith': Town's Hurricane-Destroyed Pier Rebuilt as a Tribute to Jesus In the Face of Criticism
A cross-shaped pier will open Saturday — in spite of heavy criticism — in a New Jersey community that was devastated by 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.
The beach resort community of Ocean Grove on the Jersey Shore was founded in the 19th century by a group of Methodists who wanted to create a place where people could blend faith with the gifts of nature and recreation.
Ocean Grove was born and the area has stayed close to its roots.
The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association owns the unincorporated community’s land, which is located in Monmouth County and near Neptune Township.
While the community was founded as a summer camp for Christians, the OGCMA has always welcomed people from all backgrounds to experience its natural beauty.
When the community needed a new pier, the OGCMA stepped up, proposed one, and then began construction last year.
The pier is 500 feet long and 24 feet across from its arms.
When a rendering of the pier was unveiled last year, some in the area threw a collective fit when they saw the pier was in the shape of a cross.
In response to the controversy, OGCMA president Michael Badger said the group would make no apologies for its $2 million gift to a community in need of a place for people to walk and fish.
“We don’t mean to hurt anyone and we don’t mean to offend anyone,” Badger said, NJ.com reported. “We are Christians and we are going to continue to be Christians in the public square, on our private lands.”
Ironically, in an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Badger said the pier was not initially designed in the shape of a cross.
The pier’s shape was “organic” he said, explaining that a pier with more room than the previous one was desired.
“The more we thought about it [and] prayed about it, [the more] the inspiration came for the present design,” Badger said. “It’s functional… But it became obvious to us that it is in the shape of a cross — and how fitting it is for our Christian mission.”
The OGCM president continued, “So this is just a culminating of a design process that sought to create an optimal pier — and we do see the blessing of God’s hand in this.”
Since the pier was announced and its renderings were viewed by people who are hostile to the group’s mission, people have spoken out to express opposition.
Badger offered them no apology during his conversation with Fox.
“We can’t hide our faith,” he said. “It’s something we live out day to day, and I would be concerned if there ever came a day when that wasn’t allowed.”
He also commented on how fitting the new pier is, relative to the community and its longstanding mission to follow Jesus.
“It represents not only Ocean Grove’s history – it represents so much of a ministry that happens there,” he told Fox “More than just wood, this will point to the faith that’s helped shape this town for decades and decades.”
Badger concluded, ”This isn’t political; this is spiritual. And for Ocean Grove, it’s historical.”
There will be a ribbon-cutting event held on the pier at noon on Saturday, April 15.
After that, it will be open to all who wish to enjoy it.
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