Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Jersey Shore - Part One

My nephew, Jack--who lives in Rutherford, New Jersey--was seven this July 30th and, as always, his birthday was celebrated on the Jersey Shore at Ocean Grove.

Ocean Grove is a "Mecca of Methodism." Indeed,

"In 1869 Osborn founded Ocean Grove on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean as a holiness camp meeting and Christian resort. That same year he and other leaders formed the "Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association," and secured a charter from the New Jersey State Legislature. The members elected Elwood H. Stokes as the first president of the new association. There is a sense in which the story of Ocean Grove is the story of Elwood Stokes, and the story of Elwood Stokes is the story of Ocean Grove. He gave his heart and soul to the place. He more than loved it; it was as if he instinctively knew that it was God's will for him to be there. And the years proved him right. Under his leadership Ocean Grove grew until it became what Delbert Rose has called the 'Mecca of Methodism,' or as others have put it, Ocean Grove was 'God's Square Mile.'

"The main reason for that was Dr. Elwood H. Stokes.

"The Reverend Doctor Elwood Haines Stokes served as a New Jersey Methodist minister for over fifty years, a time frame that covered almost the entire last half of the nineteenth century. Stokes rose to national prominence as a religious leader due to his twenty-seven year presidency of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. His aggressive leadership enabled that encampment to achieve meteoric growth, and it became the premier Methodist holiness camp meeting resort in the world."

If you're interested, more history of Stokes and Ocean Grove is available here.

Now, being the recovering Catholic that I am--(Jews think they've cornered the market on guilt!)--I'm not even really sure what Methodists believe ... Godwise. Ol' Elwood looks pretty stern, though, and I'm thinking his God is probably just as stern.

Every time we enter the Ocean Grove community, I actually get a little concerned that somebody--perhaps an elder in the church hierarchy or some young thing (in service to the Lawd)--will want to check my suitcase for, um, well gadgets or gizmos, substances or stashes of, oh, say, a bottle of Wild Turkey wrapped in underwear. (That's just an example. I would never actually do such a thing.)

Anyway, more to come. It was a good trip. Missed my blog. Missed David and Melissa.

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