Call to Prayer – Fire in Ocean Grove

March 3, 2017 | Messages from the Bishop

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34: 17-18

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This morning at 5:30 a.m. a fire broke out in a residential area of Ocean Grove, destroying seven homes and severely damaging a condominium complex displacing and devastating hundreds of people. I call all of us to be in prayer for the people who have lost their homes by this tragedy and for the emergency workers who responded to their aid from throughout the region.
I also call us to be in prayer for Rev. Dr. Richard Hendrickson and the people of St. Paul’s UMC in Ocean Grove who responded immediately providing aid and comfort to those in need. Rich is Chaplain to the Ocean Grove Fire Department and was one of the first people on the scene. He and members of his congregation opened the church to offer aid and comfort to those displaced as well as coffee and warmth to fire, police and emergency management personnel. Rich connected with a 91 year old man whose house was totally destroyed. This man could not reach his daughter and son-in-law and was in distress.  Rich helped the man to the warmth and shelter of St. Paul’s sanctuary and helped the man reconnect with his children who were in transit rushing to the scene.  As I write this a dozen others are seeking comfort at St. Paul’s and the Red Cross is setting up their emergency response in the church building.
When people hurt, United Methodists help.
Ocean Grove is a special place in the hearts of United Methodists from throughout Greater New Jersey and beyond. Many of us found our spiritual calling on the shores of their beaches and in the halls of the Great Auditorium. We pray for healing for their residents and offer thanksgiving to the eleven fire companies and hundreds of emergency responders who have come to the aid of the people of Ocean Grove. We give thanks to the United Methodists at St. Paul’s who came immediately to the aid of those in need. We lift up Rich Hendrickson for his leadership during crisis. He is evidence of a true apostolic leader integrated into his community.
Once the ashes are extinguished there will continue to be work to do to rebuild. I ask that our prayers continue for recovery and wholeness for those affected and the United Methodists who will be alongside them.
Keep the faith!


John Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
of Greater New Jersey