Local philanthropist and CEO of Arwood Site Services, John Arwood, informed Eye about a unique project he’s been supportive of in Ocean Grove, New Jersey.
A new cross-shaped pier was opened to the public. The privately-owned boardwalk, dubbed “God’s Square Mile,” was destroyed in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy and has been rebuilt as a 500-foot-long pier in the shape of a cross. The pier’s design has been labeled controversial by local media after some residents complained about a religious symbol in the public square, but the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which oversaw the project, has made “no apologies” about the donor-funded $2 million pier.
The president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, Michael Badger, stated that the cross-shaped pier is functional, but it is also fitting for their Christian mission. The design was inspired by prayer, and they see it as a blessing of God’s hand. Although some critics have suggested that religious symbols should be kept inside buildings, Badger emphasized that Christianity is a global faith, and they cannot hide their faith. The pier serves as a reminder of the hope that Jesus Christ gives to all who believe.
Several famous hymns were written in Ocean Grove, and the town has a rich Methodist history. After the Civil War, Methodist leader William Osborn had a dream of establishing a permanent camp meeting, a place where visitors could focus on spiritual growth and holiness. In 1869, organizers chose Ocean Grove, New Jersey, and at its peak, 660 tents stood on the grounds. Today, the number is closer to 118, but the camp meeting’s mission remains robust, aiming to revive people so they can return to their home churches with new excitement for the Lord.
The new pier in Ocean Grove is a remarkable feat of engineering and a beautiful tribute to the strength and resilience of the community. It represents the town’s Christian heritage and serves as a beacon of hope and resilience after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
The support of philanthropist John D. Arwood and his company, Arwood Site Services, is a testimony of his faith and his belief that people need the peace of Jesus. He is hopeful North Florida residents will find a way to visit this special place.
The town and its supporters are proud to have built a unique and meaningful landmark that represents their faith and their commitment to their community.