Posts Tagged ‘Gay marriage in Ocean Grove’

RAlly on September 3, 2007. Tabernacle. Paul Goldfinger photo.©

Rally on September 3, 2007. Tabernacle. Paul Goldfinger photo.©



Sunday service in the Boardwalk Pavilion on Sept 2, 2007. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Sunday service in the Boardwalk Pavilion on Sept 2, 2007. Paul Goldfinger photo ©



Youth Temple: Community joins together to raise money after Sandy. c. 2014 Paul Goldfinger photo

Youth Temple: Community joins together to raise money after Sandy.
c. 2014 Paul Goldfinger photo


By Paul Goldfinger, MD,  Editor @Blogfinger  (April, 2015 ).  Update in 2020 and repost in 2021.

On January 13, 2013, about 300,000 marchers converged on Paris to oppose the idea of legalizing gay marriage in France.

Earlier that week, the Episcopal Diocese of the Washington, D.C. area announced that gay marriage ceremonies will be held in the National Cathedral, the 6th largest in the world. In 2013, the US Supreme Court  ruled in favor of gay marriage in two cases, the first such cases since they last looked at it 10 years before.

So far, 37 states and the District of Columbia allow gays and lesbians to marry including New Jersey which joined the group on October 21, 2013.

The issue has been contentious in those states where, so far, gay marriage has not been legalized, although there are civil union laws in some states.   Now, about 75% of the population lives in places where gay marriage is legal.

Gay marriage also is a cause for debate by many religions in the US and around the world. The Episcopal church has had a wrenching controversy about gay marriage, and their ruling, which allows such ceremonies in states where it is legal, has caused members and parishes to leave the church.

The United Methodist Church has been discussing changing its policies. Many Fortune 500 corporations have given support to the gay marriage movement. Public opinion has been changing rapidly in that direction as well, and President Obama has reversed himself on the subject. Now over 50% of citizens polled across the country support gay marriage.

Currently the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments regarding whether same sex marriage is a a right under the 14th amendment regarding equal protection under the laws. That ruling will be issued in June.*

Ocean Grove received state-wide and national attention over the 2007 Pavilion controversy. The Camp Meeting Association had refused to allow a lesbian couple have a civil union ceremony in the Boardwalk Pavilion, and later the State of New Jersey ruled the CMA guilty of discrimination. It resulted in the formation of a gay rights organization in the Grove (Ocean Grove United.)

But the brouhaha in the Grove  was not about civil unions per se, nor did it have anything to do with gay marriage.   It wasn’t even about the tenets of the Methodist Church to ban gay unions and marriages in their churches. Instead it was about discrimination in that one building.

The Boardwalk Pavilion was judged to be a public place, so turning the gay couple away on religious grounds was ruled discriminatory by the State.  And this event in Ocean Grove became part of the fabric of the gay rights movement in New Jersey.

Some wondered whether the Grove would get a reputation as being an anti-gay town and if our town would become a lightening rod for gay issues which might erupt with any local provocation such as the 2013 refusal of the Asbury Park Council to support the OG FEMA appeal.  That refusal was based on the views of some Asbury councilmen who connected the Pavilion matter to their decision to support The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association or not with the FEMA appeal, and they chose not.  (Subsequently they wisely changed their minds.)

In 2012, when Kirk Cameron came to speak about marriage in the Great Auditorium, there was a demonstration involving perhaps 200 people who protested his appearance because of anti-gay rhetoric which supposedly had expressed elsewhere. The event resulted in a great deal of publicity, even though no actual anti-gay rhetoric on his part occurred then in the Grove.

In July 2013, when Mike Huckabee came to preside at Sunday services in the Great Auditorium, a meeting was held to discuss free speech in the Grove. In attendance were officials of the Camp Meeting and of Ocean Grove United. Just the fact of such a meeting points up how sensitive these issues can be in this town.

Ocean Grove is a unique village, not only because of the significant presence of a religious-based group that follows the tenets of the Methodist Church, but also because of a relatively large gay community living here.

It is fundamentally a tolerant town, but because of past experiences as outlined above, we need to keep our eyes on LGBTQ issues and try to prevent any more brush fires from igniting the whole forest.

The recent initiative of working together for the good of the town sprang from a natural disaster—Superstorm Sandy (2012.)     It created a model for everyone in the Grove to continue this neighborly attitude where everyone works for the common good.

And besides, any issue which is important to a significant number of Grovers should attract the attention of the rest of us.


2020 Update:

On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that same sex marriage be legalized in all states.*

The United Methodist Church has 13 million members worldwide.  They have been struggling for over 50 years with concerns surrounding the issues of marriage equality and gay clergy.

Now, the Church is on the threshold of dividing into two branches over these controversies by forming a splinter group—a “traditionalist” Methodist denomination.

Evidently, the stage is set for the two-Church solution to become policy at a meeting in May to be attended by Church officials from all over the world including about 30% from Africa. About 55% are American.

We haven’t heard of any official notice from the OGCMA regarding which group it will associate with, but our sources tell us that the CMA will retain its past “traditional” approach in these matters.

The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association is not a church, but it has formed an affiliated  Ocean Grove Church which will be meeting at St. Paul’s in the off-season and at the beach in season.  We  understand that the new church will have a “brick and mortar” location on Embury Avenue, but no details have been announced.

We all remember the controversies which surfaced in 2007.  Those wounds could be easily reopened without vigilance in the Grove.

So this topic regarding the split is of interest to many of us who live here and those from out of town who also care.  After Sandy, Blogfinger received  25,000 visits in one day from all over the world, so we do know that there are many who care about Ocean Grove.

Here is a link to a very good update on this topic.  It seems to be a fair presentation by VOX an on-line news site, although VOX is generally a left leaning source.

As usual, comments are welcome here on Blogfinger.



2021 update:   The UMC has decided to delay a split in their church until 2022.  Meanwhile a conservative. “traditionalist”  group called “The Global Methodist Church” will leave the UMC regardless of the eventual decision of the General Conference.


Other churches will also not wait.  Many of those are “Progressive.”

The main issues have to due with ordination and marriage of LGBTQ people.




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A small crowd of OGU supporters gather by the Beersheba Well. Blogfinger photo 8/16/15 ©

A small crowd of OGU supporters gather by the Beersheba Well. Blogfinger photo 8/16/15 © click to make the small crowd bigger.

The shirt says,

The shirt says, ” Support Garden State Equality.” The sign says, “Thank you Rev. Dr. Campolo.” Blogfinger photo 8/16/15.  Police stand by in case someone wants to burn their Medicare cards.

Sunday, August 16, 2015, Ocean Grove, New Jersey.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger, reporting live from the Great Auditorium.

Today was the day that Ocean Grove United called for a demonstration outside the GA prior to the weekly Sunday morning service.

Each week there is a different guest speaker, and today it was Tony Campolo, a well-known Baptist pastor.  OGU previously announced that they wanted to welcome him. Couldn’t they just have sent him an email or a nice note?

OGU assembled a lively group of supporters, about 30 of them,  in Auditorium Square Park, outside the GA,  starting at 9:30 am.  They spoke among themselves, but their body language indicated that they did not want to interact with others.

Many in the group were wearing matching blue T shirts with a slogan that said “Support Garden State Equality.”  GSE is the state-wide gay advocacy group that showed up in the Grove at the time of the Pavilion problem and during the demonstration against Kirk Cameron.

I was there with my camera and my NJ Press Pass around my neck. I approached a small knot of demonstrators. One of them was a senior member of OGU who lives in OG  (let’s call her S.–for silent)   She refused to talk to me. Standing next to her was a young woman wearing one of those blue shirts clearly identifying her as a member of the demonstrators.

I asked her why she was there today. She began to speak, but S. demanded that she stop talking to me. The young woman was intimidated and she said, “I guess I can’t say anything.”

Then I approached Luisa Paster, Co-Chair of OGU. She would not say a single word to me—not even hello. She kept her lips tightly sealed as she looked at me. “So I guess you aren’t speaking to me?” said I. She shook her head to indicate “No,”

I told her that it was a shame.  I wanted to ask her to tell us exactly what OGU wants in this town.  Why have a demonstration if you won’t say what the message is?

Someone who did speak to me was Jen Giordano, at her table, promoting “Urban Promise” a Christian group that had been founded by Tony Campolo.  She said that she was well aware of the issues between the CMA and OGU.  Her reaction was , “God loves everyone.”  But she followed up by saying, “Tolerance goes both ways.”

Gen Giordano of Urban Promise. Blogfinger photo. © 8/16/15

Jen Giordano of Urban Promise. Blogfinger photo. © 8/16/15

Another person who tried to speak to the OGU demonstrators was Colleen Batchelder, an outgoing, cheerful woman who came today from Barnegat with her dad to hear this speaker.  She is the founder of “Recklessly Abandoned Ministries Inc.”  I was standing there when she approached a group of OGUniks.  She asked them what the demonstration was about.  No one would speak to her.  The same  OGU member (S for silent) who turned me down, turned Colleen down as well.  But Colleen is a determined person, and she asked S.  to say something because she likes to “hear all sides.”  No answer.  Then she asked S. if she could pray for her. “What would you like me to pray for?” Colleen asked.

S. said nothing, but Colleen is persuasive, so S. said “Pray for world peace.”

Two out of towners tried to speak to the OGUniks, but no answer. © 8/16/15 Blogfinger photo.

Two out-of-towners tried to speak to the OGUniks, but silence was the answer.  © 8/16/15 Blogfinger photo.

After that Colleen and I spoke to each other.  She said that we all should see each other not as groups but as individuals.  She said that all should be welcomed in the church.

You would think these OGUniks would like to explain to the people of Ocean Grove what they are about. But evidently they are so embarrassed by their message that they would prefer we all guess what they are thinking. Ironically they are a group which says they are about “neighborliness, inclusiveness, and mutual respect.”  (from their web site)  Really?

Of course, no one is required to talk to Blogfinger, but stifling the speech of that young lady is another matter altogether.

Ocean Grove United has a history of trying to stiff-arm speech in the Great Auditorium. They have tried, but not succeeded, in intimidating the CMA into applying a gay litmus test to all speakers who are being considered for summer Sunday services in the GA.

How ironic it is that a group that claims to be about equality and freedom would violate somebody else’s right to speak.

As for Blogfinger, I am not surprised by their behavior, because they have shown hostility towards us before. But yesterday we had 1,800 visits to our site and we will probably have higher numbers today.  We never get any commenters who identify themselves as being members of OGU, but that’s their loss.  Their behavior  seems childish.

And anytime someone Googles OGU, they will find our articles, but they won’t find OGU’s message as offered by themselves on our site because they are also silent on the BF site where their voice could be heard by many readers:  www.blogfinger.net.   (At the top of our home page is a search block where you can research our coverage of OGU-related issues in Ocean Grove.)

Golly….OGU really needs a PR person, because their recent activities, like bailing out on the Cupola dedication, have drawn predominantly negative reviews in the Blogfinger comments section.

Oh, by the way, Tony Campolo gave a fine and inspired sermon today to about 3,000 avid followers, but OGU’s favorite topic never came up.  He did, however, remind the congregation that, “This is a Methodist place.”

About 3,000 people attended the Sunday service today to hear Tony Campola. ©

About 3,000 people attended the Sunday service today to hear Tony Campolo. © Click to enlarge.  Paul Goldfinger photo.

JANE MONHEIT  with some good advice:

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OGU celebrates the USA at Ocean GRoes July 4th parade in 2009.  Blogfinger photo.

OGU celebrates the USA at Ocean Grove’s July 4th parade in 2009. Blogfinger photo.

This is what the Asbury Park Sun had to say (Oct. 18, 2013) about Ocean Grove, as the story of New Jersey’s new same sex-marriage law was developing:

“Neptune has a significant population of same-sex couples, particularly in its Ocean Grove section which saw high-profile litigation involving the prohibition of same-sex couples using the Ocean Grove boardwalk pavilion for civil union ceremonies.”

The link transfers the reader to a one-year-old article about the six-year-old charge of discrimination against the CMA.

So here we have a media report from Asbury Park that turns the spotlight on OG’s gay population and then immediately segues to the Pavilion controversy of 2007.

Why should the upbeat story of gay marriage in New Jersey be distorted locally by dredging up the Pavilion matter again?  Is the media going to crank up the heat regarding that Pavilion issue which was about a civil union ceremony and not about gay marriage?

We haven’t even had our first gay marriage in Neptune, and already the neighbors are stirring the pot.  Sure there is a distant historic link, but really the news now is about the just-born same-sex marriage law which many local gays are celebrating and even participating in.  So why emphasize the old news when the new news is so positive?

Ocean Grove United has been working hard this past year in solidarity with the OG Camp Meeting Association to build good relations on behalf of the entire town.  It is up to all  Grovers to resist any efforts to turn our town into a lightening rod regarding controversial gay rights issues. I, for one, will not be posting  Blogfinger comments from nasty bomb throwers regarding these subjects.  We certainly will post comments that are thoughtful and objective.

I would guess that Ocean Grove’s  “significant population of same-sex couples” would prefer to be like anybody else, and not be singled out by media troublemakers.

We invite Ocean Grove gay citizens to comment on this subject here.  And,  if any of our “significant [gay] population” would be willing, we would like to interview you for an article about gay marriage in Ocean Grove. And perhaps one couple who will be having a wedding ceremony in the Grove will invite us to come, take pictures and write about the event.

Contact us at Blogfinger@verizon.net.

–Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

AMY WINEHOUSE  (Back to Black. The B Sides)

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