As many residents in the Greater Red Bank area remain without power more than a week after Hurricane Sandy reached New Jersey, even as a nor’easter bringing cold temperatures and snow arrives today, members of Pilgrim Baptist Church’s congregation have issued prayers for restoration.
But it’s far more than just asking for the lights to come on. At a “restoration service,” a number of church leaders gathered at the Shrewsbury Avenue church with members of the congregation and public to pray for those who have suffered through Sandy and call for a restoration of community, of family and friends, of spirituality and life.
Led by Rev. Terrance Porter, the service was a reminder that in times of strife the best response is for a community to come together in unified support.
“This is not a service of hopelessness,” Porter told the congregation. “This is a service of hope. We must see the possibility of what good can do when the community is synergized with its leaders.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Jersey Central Power and Light was reporting that 1,556 customers in Red Bank were still without electricity. That number is expected to rise with the incoming nor’easter, which is already dusting the area in its first snow of the season. Several Red Bank properties had experienced new outages Wednesday, including the Two River Theater, which has been opening its lobby to cold residents who need a place to relax and recharge their electronic devices.
Other businesses reported losing power or seeing lights flicker early on.
Porter and the other pastors offered prayers for sparing of life, prayer for families who lost loved ones and personal possessions in the storm, and prayers for communities ravaged by Sandy, among others.
Community, Porter said, whether it’s the town you live in or the church you belong to, is something that’s greatly valued because of the stability it provides. The true devastation that Sandy brought to New Jersey was the destruction of community.
Those who can maintain that sense of community, despite the losses they’ve suffered, will surely come through this trying time, he said.
In addition to the restoration service, Pilgrim Baptist also hosted a community lunch. With food donations and volunteer help from Lunch Break and Soul Kitchen, Pilgrim Baptist was able to put on a feast for many in the community who have been without a decent meal over the last week or so.
Jane Simmons led the volunteers in the church basement as they buttered bread, baked chicken, and cleaned pots prior to their guests’ arrival
“Everyone wanted to do something, but many just don’t know what to do,” she said. “It’s just a good feeling to be able to come together and support and share.
“Everyone’s attitudes (after Sandy) could have been worse, but everyone has come together. Many of the volunteers here don’t have power, but they’re still here helping out.”