December 20, 2010


Camden Clergy and resident parishioners stood together at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception on Saturday to deliver an official faith-community statement in response to the citywide layoff crisis. For 25 years, the clergy and parishioners of Camden City have organized under the banner of Camden Churches Organized for People, to demonstrate a united faith-community front in the face of threats to the city. Camden city faces an unprecedented crisis with the approved layoff of nearly half of the city’s public officials, police officers, and fire fighters.

Thursday night, Dec. 2, 2010, CCOP co-chairs Marian Jones of St. Bartholomew’s Church and Gordon Johnson of Camden Bible Tabernacle led an emergency meeting of residents and clergy to discuss the city’s budget gap and proposed layoffs. Leaders came together from across the city to share widespread fears of increased violence and service cuts. In a city already over-burdened with managing more than its fair share of crime and poverty, a reduction in services and public employees will only make residents’ daily safety concerns more pronounced.

Rosa Ramirez, long-time CCOP leader from St. Joe’s Pro-Cathedral explains, “The stress our neighbors are living under is unbearable. Camden is not like other poor communities in the state. The worries our residents already face with public safety will only increase with these tremendous layoffs. ”

On Saturday, CCOP leaders called for assertive leadership from Governor Chris Christie to find a solution. Explains Monsignor Bob McDermott, “Governor Christie must weigh in on this crisis and take responsibility for the bodily safety of Camden residents. A reasonable solution will involve cooperation from the State, the City, and the Unions, and all parties must make decisions with residents’ safety as a priority. “

All parties must make resolving the crisis with the safety of Camden residents as a priority. Lives may be at stake, and simple budget cuts are not the solution to Camden’s historically complex financial situation, states CCOP Co-Chair Marian Jones. “Drastic deficit cuts and service reductions cannot be made at the expense of human safety in any city.”