100 CCOP Clergy & Religious leaders meet with Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Christie

Rev. Anderson introduces Father Gerard

October 13, 2009

Late Monday evening, October 12th, 100 clergy and religious leaders from CCOP met with Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Christie at Sword of the Sprit Christian Center in the Gateway section of Camden. (photos here)

Being a non-partisan organization CCOP does not endorse or support any candidates for office, and so when the opportunity to meet with another gubernatorial candidate presented itself weeks ago, CCOP leaders took the opportunity to publicly lift-up the community's needs again. 

The meeting opened with a powerful prayer from Mary Hicks, parishioner of St. Bartholomew's church and CCOP Leader, where she echoed a "confidence in a mighty, magnificent God that is a God of promise, restoration, and possibilities."  A confidence that will one day see the city of Camden become, "a beacon on a hill shinning the light of God's love for all creation; a place where families are strengthened, city services are overflowing, the captive set free and restored to community..."

Following the prayer, Reverend Willie Anderson, Pastor of Sword of the Spirit and chair of CCOP then reflected on the scriptural reading Luke 10:25-37 the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Reflecting on this Reverend Anderson lifted up three key steps that the Good Samaritan took.  He was 1) Present; 2) Prepared; and 3) Participated.  He was present to the needs of the victim, he was moved by pity and used his own things to help, and he participated in the man's continued health but immediate needs and long term needs.  Rev. Anderson stressed that these three points are what compel CCOP to do its work and it is also what we ask of our public officials. 

Monsignor Robert McDermott then shared with Gubernatorial Candidate Christie an extended credential of CCOP reading the mission and vision statement created over two decades ago, and listing the many citywide and local victories CCOP's organizing has achieved. 

Leading up to Candidate Christie's address, three CCOP leaders, Gordon Johnson from Camden Bible Tabernacle, Rosa Ramirez from St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral, and Marian Jones from St. Bartholomew's shared the same core messages delivered both to Governor Corzine and the four Mayoral Candidates.  They ended by asking Candidate Christie the following question:

Lastly we want you and all other current and future public leaders to reflect and pray on this question: "If I were in the shoes of an average Camden Resident and if my family lived and worshiped here in the city, what kind of relationship would I want with my public officials, with regards to public safety, education, basic city services, and public accountability?

Gubernatorial Candidate Chris Christie was then given the opportunity to share his thoughts and reflections with the residents gathered.  He opened by acknowledging CCOP and the residents for attending the meeting and for laying out a clear expression of goals for the City of Camden. 

He then spoke on the topics of public safety, education, youth resources, economic development, and the state control of Camden.  Connected to each of these issues Candidate Christie made a clear statement that "now is the time to work together" explaining that "New Jersey will come back when all its cities come back."  He shared about his work experiences as an Attorney General and what it was like both growing up in Newark and what it was like working in Camden.  Above all else he echoed the desire to work with the community and his commitment to bring hope back to the city of Camden. 

CCOP Chair person Rev. Willie Anderson then turned the meeting focus back to the residents and voters in the church. Using a quote of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr from a speech he gave August 18, 1959 in front of 26,000 high school and college students. 

"By coming here you have showed yourselves to be highly alert, highly responsible citizens.  And very soon the area of your responsibility will increase, for you will begin to exercise your greatest privilege as an American - the right to vote."

With this message CCOP announced that between now and November 3rd both the citywide federation and their local organizing committees will be conducting a Non-Partisan get out the Vote Campaign, with an official Prayer Rally taking place Friday October 30th. 

To close the meeting Father Gerard Marable, pastor of St. Bartholomew's church, closed the meeting in prayer.