Archive for the ‘Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association Activity’ Category

2017. Attending the Labor Day meeting in the Tabernacle.  . Paul Goldfinger photo. ©


This photograph in front of the Tabernacle represents the secular side of Ocean Grove. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Blogfinger.net

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net

Over the years I attended many of the annual Labor Day meetings sponsored by the OGCMA.  They usually consisted of reports by each of the departments involved with CMA functions.  Usually the reports were enthusiastic and optimistic, and for those involved with the CMA mission, it was a satisfying event, lasting about 90 minutes.

What was unique was the idea that this was a meeting for the public to attend if it so chose.  I usually took notes and posted the news for Blogfinger, and I would get to speak to some of the participants.  People from the community came out of interest or curiosity, but sometimes they came because they had an “axe to grind.”

At the end of the meeting there was an open mike, and anyone could go to the mike with a question for the  CMA President. Sometimes the question would be critical of CMA policies or would try to clarify some point of interest that was causing friction.  For some, the open mike was the best part of the Labor Day meeting because it was dramatic, interesting and sometimes startling.  Usually the CMA President was quite deft at deflecting criticisms.

Well, it seems that the CMA has decided to abandon that tradition.  This year there will be an event held on Sunday 5 pm in the Auditorium Pavilion. The public is not invited since the announcement says “for friends of the organization.”  I didn’t get an invitation nor would I want to go, but someone sent their copy to me  (below).



There will be a picnic  in the Pavilion followed by a hymn sing in the Tabernacle followed by a “praise report meeting that celebrates the blessings we have experienced this season.”

And there will be no open mike  (ie no surprises) during the part where questions are usually asked of the CMA.  Instead, those who received the email invitation can send in their questions in advance.

So it appears that the CMA is in no mood to be surprised by an open mike, and for those who submit questions, there is no promise that their questions would be answered.  In fact, it is unclear if the questioner can be present for the answer or if the questioner can ask his approved question or respond to the answer.

If any of you want to react to this change, feel free to comment below.

I always thought that it was generous of the CMA to let us all  (those interested) hear such transparent information.  And I thought that those asking embarrassing questions were out of line. I never asked a question.

Most OG citizens won’t care about this change, and those fair minded individuals who hear this news will understand that the CMA is in the midst of redefining itself, and that it is not our business to expect everything from this private organization to be transparent.

On the other hand, surely the CMA understands that some of what they do will generate skepticism because they are in the public arena and what they do may impact all of us who live in the Grove.

On Blogfinger, the religious beliefs of the CMA are not our concern.  But their public policies will continue to be discussed here and we do offer an open mike for those who have something wise, tolerant, fair,  and useful to say about our friends at the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN    “Jacob’s Ladder.”

We are climbing Jacob’s ladder
Yeah, we are climbing Jacob’s ladder
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder
We are brothers, and sisters, all


From  the album We Shall Overcome–the Seeger Sessions.

Read Full Post »

The Great Auditorium by a Blogfinger staff photographer. June, 2018.


Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger.net

It took almost as long to perform the Messiah (2 1/2 hours) as it did for George Frideric Handel to write it (24 days.)  But the large crowd present was enthralled, and the piece is so beautiful and well done, that the time was not an issue.   Of course, these days people stay standing for a 3 hour Springsteen concert, so 2 1/2 hours for this Handel event is quite acceptable.

Dr Jason Tramm created a masterpiece  as he put together this Messiah under difficult and complicated circumstances.  He was conducting choral rehearsals practically until the performance began.  Many singers in the Great Auditorium Choir were quite familiar with the work, having their scores all marked up like ancient sheet music from prior performances, but others came through despite not being so familiar with the difficult score.   The Choir was wonderful in their white uniforms.

All the participants were brilliant including the soloists and the marvelous MidAtlantic Symphony Orchestra. The instrumentation was interesting as there were hardly any brass except two trumpets  (one soloist and one with a long horn—anybody know about that?)   The trumpet soloist JoAnn Lamolino was fabulous for her part late in the piece.; her tone was gorgeous.  And there were several woodwinds: two oboes and one bassoon; no mention of a flute, and I didn’t see one.

I’m always interested in  the orchestra, and I couldn’t help but notice two of the main first chairs were occupied by women:   the concertmaster—-Susan Heerema)–violinist,  and the  principal cellist  Molly Aronson.   In fact, about half of the ensemble were women.

There were no tubas or euphoniums, but the bass line was thrilling as provided by two standup bass players.  One timpanist came on board in the second half of the concert.

And of course, Gordon Turk, on the Hope-Jones organ, was spectacular throughout the entire piece.  What an amazing instrument that is, especially in his hands  (and feet.)

The soloists were superb.  There was Mister Incredible–Ronald Naldi (tenor), Monica Ziglar whose soprano voice was just lovely,  Emily Geller with her mesmerizing low pitched  mezzo voice, and the baritone-bass Justin Beck who did the heavy lifting with those low notes.

And lets not forget the Great Auditorium with its world famous acoustics.  There was only one interruption, and that is when two brief fireworks displays happened due to a big rock and roll event at the Stone Pony–but Jason Tramm just kept going, even though his orchestra did not contain a single shrieking, ear busting electric guitar.   While the Handel continued, we could all see the display through the open doors.   Also we could hear a helicopter flying low overhead–probably doing aerial videos, but not of the GA.

And a round of applause for the Camp Meeting Association for providing such concerts.  Amazingly, this one was free—an unbelievable offering for the 150th anniversary of Ocean Grove. Where in America could one find an event like this, especially in a small town like ours?

After a standing ovation, the crowd filed out, crossing the street to the Pavilion where the Auxiliary offered soft drinks and cookies.  Hooray for them, providing a sugary reward to the audience which  just sat through the Messiah. 

And it’s good Blogfinger is ending this review, because we have emptied our bag of adjectives.



Refreshments in the Auditorium Pavilion. Blogfinger photo. Click to enlarge.

Read Full Post »

Plant Sale 2014. Ocean Grove Camp Town ladies at work. Paul Goldfinger photograph. ©  This post (2018) is from one year before the fountain was returned.


By Paul Goldfinger, Blogfinger.net July 2018.

The ladies in red have  been raising money for Ocean Grove since 1944. They donate thousands of dollars each year to a variety of projects. A few years ago they gave $20,000 to the Together Fund.  And recently they gave $10,000 to the Fountain Fund—Founders Park.

Their events include book sales, fish and chips dinners, plant sale, ice cream social and Christmas Boutique.

The OG Ladies Auxiliary is an arm of the Camp Meeting Association, so we can nickname  OG “Camp Town.”

The plant sale was this past May, but the fish and chips dinner in the Pavilion will be in July. Don’t miss it; it’s great.

Consult your CMA Summer Program Guide.


PETE SEEGER with Stephen Foster’s timeless song    “Camptown Races.”


Read Full Post »

July 6, 2019,  parade in OG for Independence Day and the 150th birthday of Ocean Grove. But read the banner, to see what the CMA is celebrating.    Click image to read it.     Paul Goldfinger photo.


img jpg117 (1)

This fine work of fictionalized history is by an Ocean Grove author.  It is about Victorian OG in 1905. It describes a life of over 100 years ago in the Grove  that had nothing to do with the Camp Meeting. The book is available on Amazon. Posted with permission.


By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@Blogfinger

At the concert on July 4 in the Great Auditorium, Gordon Turk, the host for the concert, said to the audience that we are celebrating “the birthday of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association.”  If you read the recent writings of the CMA, it is quite evident that their main goals for this 150th anniversary are based on their religious “mission.”  Just read the 2019 “Ocean Grove Summer  Program Guide” and you will see what they are doing in addition to what they are saying.

In other publicity ads, the wording  for the 150th seems to say that we are celebrating the birthday of the town of Ocean Grove.  And yes, there are many secular events scheduled as well, but it all happens without an effort to clearly define what this town is really about and, in particular, to recognize that there is another Ocean Grove besides the religious based community.

After the founding of Ocean Grove in 1869 by the Camp Meeting Association, the Town’s public taxpaying community and the private religious organization called the OGCMA were essentially one and the same.  But as time went by, considerable diversity evolved, and many residents were not affiliated with the CMA;  but they all had to follow the CMA rules (“blue laws”)  based on religious principles, and those rules were enforced by their own police force.

However, in 1980, Neptune Township took over governance, and the CMA was no longer in charge, although it subsequently brought to bear considerable influence— moral, practical,  and political.

The historical truth, looking back, is that there were groups of residents who got together to oppose the CMA governance as early as 1898 when a group of “lessees” in town sued to get the CMA to pay property taxes to the Township.  The lessees lost the suit at the NJ Supreme Court.

OG historian Gibbons said in 1939:   “Many times residents and land lessees of the town have voiced their objection to the local rules, to the tax situation, or to the form of government, especially from 1900-1925, and there have been many court fights.”

There were those who wanted secular public governance not private religious based rule. In 1920 there was a law passed  in Trenton called the “Ocean Grove Borough Bill.”  There actually was a public democratic town of Ocean Grove established, but for only one year; the law was reversed because the new Borough failed to rid itself of the blue laws.

This anniversary is about 150 years of history in this town, and there are many elements that the CMA had nothing to do with:  Presidential politics with visits by Teddy Roosevelt, McKinley, Garfield, Wilson, and US Grant among others, commercial district with historic businesses such as Days, historic organizations such as the Historical Society of OG, Ocean Grove United, and the Homeowners Assoc., suffrage  and feminist movements, architectural design and historic preservation, celebrities such as Caruso who visited Grovers here, businesses that started here such as Mrs. Wagner’s pies, giant events such as craft shows and flea markets, Town-wide Yard Sale, OG Film Festival, tax and zoning issues, land use issues, famous hotels, shipwrecks, Wesley Lake pollution, wildlife, restoration of homes around town including the famous Ocean Pathway, demographic evolution, residents’ issues with Neptune Township, parking challenges, relationship with Asbury Park, condoization, and more.

The point is that this 150th  anniversary is both that of the CMA and the Town of Ocean Grove as separate but related entities.  One is a private religious based group—the CMA, while the other is a public largely secular community with taxpaying residents often on a different wave length.   The situation, of course, is complicated by the  CMA’s ownership of the land.  This unique connection has yet to be ironed out.

Currently the CMA, which is promoting this 150th anniversary celebration,  is behaving as if it is all one and the same, and their writings confuse the distinctions.  If you read their summer program guide, there is no doubt that they are mostly celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Camp Meeting Association.

The idea of another historic  “Ocean Grove” is getting lost in the shuffle;  the “other Ocean Grove” is a historic 150 year old residential small town with much to celebrate besides religion.  And don’t expect the media to “get it” because most of the citizens don’t “get it” either.

So, regardless of these distinctions, we are in the midst of a festive sesquicentennial, and we can thank the Camp Meeting Association for organizing it and paying for it.  And they have every right to do this celebration in whatever way they choose, but at least let’s speak clearly about what is happening.

Let’s enjoy the events, but don’t lose sight of the strange admixture of three factions  that goes on here—perhaps the only such arrangement anywhere in the US.

Don’t depend on Neptune Township to help at all to understand these distinctions,  even though they have a sign on Corlies Avenue, near the Grove, that says that we are their “Historic District.”

But they really don’t care much about the Grove. Look at what they do, not what they say.     The Neptuners enjoy the apathy and the distinctions, because they get to milk the cash cow, exploiting whatever differences we have in our town.

JOHN LITHGOW  sings about knowing who we are and appreciating our differences:


How to refer to our town

Read Full Post »

After Sandy the CMA mobilized citizens and other volunteers to work together in the cleanup Oct 2012. Paul Goldfinger photo ©.

Paul Goldfinger,MD.  Editor @Blogfinger.net

This post first appeared last January regarding how the CMA affects the life styles of secular residents in town.  This past Sunday (June 2, 2019) a large religious event occurred that alarmed some residents who live near the Great Auditorium.

The Liquid Church brought a crowd of religious tourists here for a morning service in the Great Auditorium. Apparently it was noisy, then lunch on the Pathway with 7 food trucks, and then later with baptisms on the beach.  The usual quiet OG Sunday had changed.   The Liquid Church  will be returning every Saturday night   in July and August.

This change raises these questions:  Is Ocean Grove once again becoming a Christian town?    Does the CMA have the unlimited power to expand in ways that can impact the quality of life of all who live here?   Does owning all the land give it that power?

The article below gets into some of these issues:


The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association  used to run this town, but all that changed in 1980 when the NJ Supreme Court turned over our historic village to the municipality of Neptune Township.

None of the “blue laws” were left in effect, except for bans on selling tobacco, sales of alcohol, and closing of the beach on Sunday mornings.  There has been no coherent explanation for those bans and beach closure  as initiated by a private group in a public town.

The CMA retained control over the beachfront and they actually own the boardwalk; they and others worked together to press FEMA to help pay for the boardwalk restoration.  The Camp Meeting still owns most of the land in town as they pursue their religious “mission” which is growing year-round and has an effect on all who actually live in the Grove.

Interestingly, they have no membership list, so we don’t know how many residents in the Grove are committed to the CMA organization.  Most of their supporters seem to be religious tourists.

There is a group in town of private residents who are mostly secular and who probably number over 5,000 if second homers are included.  But, that group doesn’t seem to have much influence.

So how does the CMA maintain the reigns of power here, in  a democracy,  to influence the residents of this community?

Around 2011,  Blogfinger became interested in the role of the CMA as it relates to the “community ” of Ocean Grove—ie the residents of the town.  We interviewed the  President of the CMA.  He said that the group would focus on its “mission” and not on the community of residents. That’s when I first learned that the CMA actually had a policy regarding the rest of the Grove.

After Sandy hit, the CMA stood tall to deal with the beachfront damage, but they opened their arms to the OG community to help pay for it via the Together Fund.

Clearly the CMA is a sort of neighbor for all of us, but it is a peculiar sort.  They have power and influence in Neptune that enables them to strong arm certain issues in the Historic District such as congestion, parking, land use, North End Redevelopment, and life-styles for residents.

If we ask residents of OG the question: “What do you expect from the CMA,” we suspect that opinions will range from “nothing” to “a great deal.”

If you try to answer that question by thinking about the recent history of the CMA as neighbors in town, consider this summary below.  It is a short list of how they impact all who live here.

a.  They have lucrative large events through the year, especially during “prime time” which effects all of us who live here and which bring no money to help the OG  community.

b. They bring in thousands of tourists for their religious based events, but also for the town- wide clogging mega secular events on Ocean Pathway such as the Flea Market. They hope to extend their reach year-round.

c. They don’t seem to care much about the secular residents in town as evidenced by their seeming indifference to issues that effect all of us, such as when they threatened to sue over permit parking before the conversation ever got out of the starting gate.

And you would think that they would be concerned about the Master Plan, the Land Use abuses,  historic preservation, and other matters that involve them. But they never speak out about these topics.

d.  They were found to be guilty in 2007 of discrimination, and that stained the reputation of the entire town.

e.  They have been intimately involved with the worrisome plans for the project at the OG North End.

f.  Secular programming has been cut back at the GA.

Of course, there are many positive attributes for the entire town that stem from the CMA’s presence in the Grove such as: the 4th of July parade; Illumination Night;  Christmas events;  a clean and friendly beachfront; a wonderful summer music program; and activities for families, kids and teenagers.

So, what do you think?  Please comment below.

ELVIS:   “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”


Read Full Post »

Illumination Night 2017 celebration in OG. This year it will be part of the 150th birthday events. Paul Goldfinger © Blogfinger.net.

In 1969, Ocean Grove celebrated its centennial. This is the front page of the Ocean Grove Times on June 27, 1969.  The paper cost ten cents.

1869 — Ocean Grove — 1969

A Centennial Summer of Fun

This edition of The Times salutes Ocean Grove on its

Centennial. Founded in 1869, the world-famed/resort community

has entered a full summer of Activities, many of

them planned around the 100th birthday.

The pageant of history, “To These Shores,” will be presented

14 nights this summer, beginning July 2. A large

cast of residents and vacationists are now rehearsing.

The Centennial Parade is scheduled for July 26. It will

be the largest in Ocean Grove history. The traditional Memorial

Day parade, the season opener, was expanded this

year, as will be the Fourth of July parade next Friday.

More than 700 ladies have become Centennial Belles to date.

Men are joining their ladies as “Brothers of the Brush”

or “Smoothies.” Costumes are colorful, as evidenced at

public functions and promenades.

This is a great season for Ocean Grove. The basic

theme of the Centennial celebration is FUN – . .

The Camp Meeting Association is planning festivities this summer, 2019,  for Ocean Grove’s 150th birthday celebration.  The first big event will be on July 6 when there will be the Independence Day Parade from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

That Saturday’s parade will include a mummers string band, ragtime music, marching bands, floats and dancing in the streets.  There will be music everywhere.

Maybe Martha and the Vandellas will show up.

And, that afternoon a Town Celebration will happen with a D.J., food trucks, games, dancing for all, balloon animals, fireworks, and other activities.   “7-10 live bands” in the Boardwalk Pavilion  (one at a time we hope,) and bonfires on the beach, “appropriately sponsored by the three firehouses.”  And much more…

Stay tuned.

–Paul Goldfinger,  Editor Blogfinger.net

Read Full Post »

Michael Badger, CMA President, at the North End site. APP photo


In  a press release in April, the CMA mentioned the Ocean Grove North End Development LLC   (OGNED).   This entity was identified by the President of the OG Camp Meeting Association as the new “developer” for the “North End  oceanfront site.”  Pres. Badger put out a press release about this in April, and the link to that is:

CMA: OGNED press release

Badger said that OGNED “stepped forward with a sensible development plan.”   But he did not identify that entity.

We asked the Township Clerk to identify OGNED.   He sent us:   “The Stockholder Disclosure Certification submitted by OG North End Development, LLC which shows the stockholders who hold 10% or more of the issued and outstanding stock to be:”

William P. Gannon II

Paul R. Gannon

Joel  S. Brudner

Christopher T. McCallion

The certificate also revealed their addresses, which we did not include here.  It did not include signatures or a date.


For some time the identity of WAVE was requested at Committee meetings, but that information was never disclosed, so we don’t know if OGNED is the same as WAVE or not.

Since the North End Redevelopment Plan is a public project, this information should be disclosed publicly.

Badger’s press release did not mention the “negotiations” now ongoing with Neptune Township, but he did say that “more detailed planning and construction plans will be subject to township building regulations, when they are brought forward.”




Read Full Post »

Just before the start of the Summer Band concert at 8 pm, August 24, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Just before the start of the Summer Band concert at 8 pm, August 24, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Re-posted from summer 2016.


Scene:  The crowd was entering the great Auditorium prior to the Summer Band concert celebrating their 64th anniversary.  Among the visitors to the free concert were some out-of-towners.  We sat down on an aisle.


Man overheard speaking to his wife:   “Look Betty, they got an organ!”


Another out of towner behind us speaking to his wife:

She:  How many seats in this building?

He:  About 600

She:  Wow

Me:   (turning around) The Auditorium seats 6,500.

He:  Oh…I just left out a zero.


Another conversation:

We:  Let’s sit here on the aisle  (Behind us is a couple—they discuss our presence in muffled tones.)  Then they get up and move to different seats.

Another couple sits in those seats behind us:

She:  These are wonderful seats!


VINCE GIORDANO and  THE NIGHTHAWKS   from the movie The Aviator     “Stardust”




Read Full Post »


Paul Goldfinger ©. 2012. Ushers March in the Great Auditorium during Choir Festival.

Read Full Post »

Ground Rents  (Re:  Appeals Court ruling)

To the Editor:

Having now read the court decision, its not as interesting as I thought it might be.

Condos can’t avoid their ground lease payments.

Pathway Condos (30 Ocean Pathway) and Dardanelle Condos (40 Ocean Pathway) filed a lawsuit last year trying to avoid paying the annual ground lease to the OCGMA arguing that a provision of the NJ Condominium law did not allow condos to be on leased property.

Last year a trial court ruled against the condos. This week the NJ Appellate Court agreed and ruled that the condos have to pay the land lease to OCGMA.

Bernie the Attorney

The writer is a real attorney who writes under the name Bernie—- special to Blogfinger.


Editor’s Note:  So now we can stop kvetching over this, unless someone wants to take the issue of ground rents to the Supreme Court.

And the Home Groaners can stop spending the members’ money on useless lawyers.  Why don’t they make public that lawyer’s opinion about ground rents. I think it cost $7,000.00

The HOA members and the public have a right to see it, especially those who are directly concerned with this matter—eg the condo owners and the CMA.  Post it on the HOA’s useless web site  Muckandgibberish.com

Paul Goldfinger, MD, for the Blogfinger Editorial Board.

And here’s a link about ground rents by Kevin Chambers

ground rents issues


THE BEATLES  with a little known song, but I like it—having nothing at all to do with ground rents.

“Don’t Let Me Down”  from the Blue Album



Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: