Members of St. Paul Centenary United Methodist Church in Newark, NJ, gathered with city officials on a cloudy, drizzly Saturday, October 21, to rename a street adjacent to the church in honor of former pastor the Rev. José R. Fernández.
Fernández, who attended with his family, was affirmed for his work in sowing the first seeds of St. Paul Centenary’s Hispanic Ministry 55 years ago, soon after his arrival from Cuba. He developed that ministry along with youth leadership, and also started a day care program that still is ranked as one of Newark’s best.
The Rev. José R. Fernández Way renaming resulted from a celebration of the Hispanic ministry’s 55th anniversary that city officials attended last summer. Councilman-at-Large Luis Quintana gave his testimony of Fernández’s impact on his young life, crediting the pastor for keeping many youth like him “safe and out of trouble.” He then surprised the congregation by committing to work with the Newark Assembly to rename a street on behalf of Rev. Fernández ministry.
“We give thanks to God for this time in history,” said church leaders, “as we are witness of the United Methodist Church ministry in this city.”