Newark Church of Christ
This "Church Sunday" at Newark USA, I present some fotos of a church on Clinton Avenue (Newark Church of Christ, 894 South 14th Street, 07108; (973) 374-4563; fax: (973) 374-6704). Unlike many of the churches I fotograf, this one has a website, and has had for 10 years. There are a bunch of fotos, mostly interior and of key people in the organization, in a slideshow. To navigate to other pages of this substantial website than Home, click on the dropdown menu at upper right.
As shown here, the church produces multimedia presentations on radio, cable television (in Jersey City, oddly, and apparently not in Newark), and the Internet.
Forgiving, or at Least Releasing Bitterness. Centuries before scientific psychology and psychiatry, Jesus understood the importance of forgiving to the person forgiving. Holding grudges and holding onto bitterness is corrosive to the personality. But a lot of Newarkers and former Newarkers can't seem to let go of their bitterness about the city's lost past. I got an email yesterday from someone who is indignant about my having expressed admiration for what former Mayor Sharpe James did for Newark. He cited the Mayor's conviction on bribery charges and commented, "So much for "enormous admiration" of Sharp James." (I had used that phrase in this blog June 19th.) I replied:
The people who hate Sharpe James did so long before he was convicted of anything. At end, it doesn't matter if he lined his pockets with what is, in the grand scheme, petty amounts of booty. He is paying for that in criminal conviction and punishment. But had it not been for Sharpe James, there would not be the THOUSANDS of new houses in Newark that made Newark the fastest-growing major city in the Northeast from 2000-2005, and the Newark Arena/Prudential Center would not have been built. Nor would NJPAC have been built. Nor would 744 Broad Street have been renovated, nor 1180 Raymond Boulevard, empty for 20 years, have been created into splendid, market-rate apartments.He wasn't convinced. Let me just conclude like this: Sharpe James didn't get away with anything, and at least some of his ill-gotten gains can be, or already have been, reclaimed by the government. When the Nation is bailing out major thieves in huge corporations, who are still paying themselves astonishing bonuses — for failure — that make Sharpe James's haul from Newark — for success — look like chump change by comparison, I am not going to waste so much as two minutes or two cents resenting Sharpe James's excesses.
NJPAC and, even more, the Prudential Center have had a transformative effect so great and so positive that even Mayor Booker, who opposed the Arena throughout the campaign that resulted in his election over Mr. James, ended up PUBICLY THANKING Mayor James, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Prudential Center, for ramming the Arena thru, against all opposition. 13 months later, at least 1 1/2 million people who would not otherwise have come into Newark have attended events at PruCenter and gone away with a very different feeling about the city than they had before their trip in. NO ONE but Mayor James would have built the Arena with $200M of city money, taken mainly from the Port Authority. ALL the good things that the Arena has meant for Newark thus far and will continue to mean for the city -- such as the return of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus after 52 YEARS, and concerts by Hannah Montana, Celine Dion, Bon Jovi; performances of Cirque du Soleil; and bunches of NHL and MISL games — would have happened here had it not been for Sharpe James.
Let it go. James is out. Booker's in. But could Booker have become mayor if James had not preceded him? Sharpe James was a transformative figure, who took Newark from the edge of utter hopelessness and made it possible to think that Newark had a real chance to come back. Could anyone else have done that? We will never know. What we do know is that Sharpe James DID do it. And all those thousands of new houses ("Bayonne boxes" or otherwise makes little difference) that have popped up like mushrooms in a lawn after a nite's soaking rain, are a testament to Sharpe James's stewardship for 20 years, in which Newark went from a place no one would think of moving into, to a place that thousands of college students want to live in dorms within, and are thinking seriously of making their future in. Maybe you're not deeply grateful for that. I am.
Especially is that the case in that James's criminal defense cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars from his retirement funds, and he was still convicted. Long after Mayor James is dead, and he joins a long list of corrupt NJ officials who ended their public careers in prison, NJPAC, the Prudential Center, and thousands upon thousands of houses built because of him will continue to benefit this fine city.
The close view, below, of the top of the tower of the church shows that the belfry has been closed up with concrete blocks, and a surveillance camera keeps watch on the vicinity. I don't know if this is the church's camera or the city's, but it's probably a good thing to have that eye in the sky. Police cameras have played a major part in the Booker Administration's success in reducing crime. Sometimes it's not enuf to tell people that God is watching, and a surveillance camera is a better restraint on bad behavior. Let's hope it's high resolution, because fuzzy pix of criminal activity don't much help with apprehensions or prosecutions.