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Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018

Phone: 973-395-1068 h


lcrew@andromeda.rutgers.edu

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Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


12/21/1974
 
9/23/2009


Louie Crew's Natter [BLOG]

Louie Crew's Natter [BLOG]



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[HoB/D] Connecting with your community



In late January in his first convention address to the diocese, our bishop,
+Mark Beckwith, stressed how important it is to know the communities we
serve.  He pointed out that in Worcester where he had served before becoming
our bishop,  his congregation became very intentional about this and
actually walked the community with eyes focused to find ways to connect, to
collaborate with others in identifying and meeting community needs.

What experiences have deputies had in to connecting to the community?    I
am especially interested in the experiences of lay deputies.   How have you
connected your world of work to your parish?  What works?  What does not
work?

When I visited Brad Drell in Alexandria, Louisiana a few years ago, I was
impressed with a huge billboard his parish, St. James, had rented to
advertise their welcome.  Do you still use that billboard, Brad?   Has it
had a noticeable impact?

For several years we took out ads for special services in the Star-Ledger
(which has a daily circulation of 398,329 and 599,628 on Sunday -- Newark
itself has only 273,546).  The ads were prohibitively expensive and brought
at best under 10 people for the special service. Rarely did anyone come 
back.

Perhaps we would have more success advertising in small neighborhood papers
given away in stores.  Can others report on efforts to use those?

My parish sits at a strategic spot on Broad Street, one block from City
Hall, directly in front of the U.S. Post Office, directly opposite the
Federal Building (through which most immigration into the state is
processed), one block from the offices of the state's largest newspaper.....
There are several residential high rise buildings no more than a 10-minute
walk away.  Several members live in those, and most of us live no more 
than 5 miles away.

We are approximately 85% persons of color and draw extensively from the
city's vast range of cultures -- several Guyanese, Jamaicans, Nigerians,
Sierra Leoneans, Filipinos.....  A retired bishop of Gambia (himself a
Haitian) is a member, as are many in his family.  Most are Anglicans already
when they arrive, although we do frequently have inquirers classes and
confirmations.   I am a sponsor for a law student who will be confirmed in
the next group.  He had never been involved in church at all before coming
to us.  Recently the rector asked me to talk to the confirmation class about 
the Bible.  I was amazed at how much a Puerto Rican grandmother, mother, 
and 12-year old daughter already knew, and two recent confirmands asked 
to sit in, already hooked by scripture.

Some find us just by wandering in:  our Upjohn building (dedicated in 1848)
is so beautiful that many find it hard not to come back.  "America the
Beautiful" was composed by an earlier choir master, and you can see why when
you walk inside or stand in our courtyard.

Our clergy are good preachers.  The rector is very pastoral and has keen
spiritual insights.   I am much nurtured here.

When we were searching for the rector about a dozen years ago, we asked all
members to say what they liked the most about the parish. We did not give a
check list or name possibilities, as we wanted members to say what they
valued without the vestry's prompting.  Some items mentioned most frequently 
were predictable:  the power of the liturgy,  the beauty of the music,  
and the beauty of building.  Another of the things most frequently 
mentioned surprised me:  I thought it was my own secret favorite:  
"The silences."  We have many of them.   Lectors typically count to 
45 or 50 after the reading before leaving the lectern.

Grace Church is quite visible on the street, and several visitors find us
through our website, http://www.gracechurchinnewark.org/, likely because
they have Googled for Anglo-Catholic resources. (Be sure your audio is on
when you visit the site). Weekday masses draw a small but faithful group of
persons, some of whom are not members but work downtown and go to their own
parishes elsewhere on Sundays.  On big days like Ash Wednesday and Good
Friday, several of those attending are probably Roman Catholics, most of
whom probably know but do not care that we are Anglo-Catholics -- "no place
anywhere could be more beautiful, have more votive candles, ...... and how
much more tainted can ashes be, really?....."

Recently a group of four Filipino sailors blessed us by being with us for
almost a year.  They had reported their ship's captain for dumping oil off
the coast of Georgia, and the court kept them at the Airport Marriott so
they would be on hand to give testimony vital in the government's case
against the shipping company.  I have enormous respect for their integrity
and courage.  They lived with joy through the long ordeal, isolated from
their families. During their sojourn here tehy donated much of their time 
as volunteers at the Seamen's Institute in Port Newark.  Most
expected to lose their jobs when they returned home, as punishment for
taking on the powerful employer.  All made plans for new employment 
not as sailors when they returned.   All four were Roman Catholic.  Although
we were together for several meals and outings, I could never tell whether
they knew Grace is not Roman.  They did not care, so why should I?  Catholic
is catholic. They seemed to see nothing unusual when occasionally a woman 
was our only celebrant.  We all believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic 
church.

We have huge flag poles in the courtyard.  A few years ago some of us wanted
to add a different flag each week for each of the many cultures represented
in the parish, the flags to be donated by members of that culture. What joy
a person passing by might feel to see her country's flag billowing here, we
thought. However, enthusiasm for the project waned dramatically when one
vestry member was annoyed that someone wanted to donate a rainbow flag.
"They are already welcome here," she said; "why would we want to turn off
others?  Besides, that's not a country!"  I was not the donor, and as the
clerk I focused intently on my laptop as I typed the minutes, glad that
others could make the donor's case in the discussion, which grew heated.
The lone objector is one of the most loving, generous people I know.  When
Ernest was sick several years ago, she was at the hospital to visit him
every day.  On our flag poles still fly only the U.S. and Episcopal Church
flags.

Coffee hour is very competitive, and on most Sundays is a full meal.   I've
been here only 20 years and there are some tables so reserved that I dare
not sit at them, though I'm practiced at flitting among all the tables.
During the bishop's recent visitation, his wife and I sat together at what
appeared to be an empty table.  Five minutes later a woman complained
to the bishop's wife, "You have my seat."  She and I looked at each other
with faint smiles, then at the ceiling, and then moved to another table
farther at the fringe.

Most find us because a member mentions us.  How do we encourage more people
to be intentional about that?

I've occasionally passed small groups leaving the Federal Building across
from our south transept, with great smiles, one of them reciting part of the
Pledge of Allegiance.  How nice if our transept door could have a sign
saying, "Welcome new citizens!  Come in for 5 minutes and let us say a
prayer with you to celebrate this momentous occasion!"  That would take
committed volunteers to bring off well, and while volunteers work at the
parish on many projects, they are already stretched.

When I visited the Federal Building, the security was 10 times tighter
than at the Newark Airport.   I asked to watch new citizens sworn in.  The
guard asked me which new citizen.  He was visibly annoyed that I would want
to attend the ceremony for strangers.  He emphasized that the schedule is
rarely the same day to day. The schedule is given to each class of new
citizens, but not posted for anyone else to see.  He was busy and wanted me
out of the building as soon as possible.

A steady stream  of persons come for the parish pantry.  A local baker
donates a huge supply of very good day-old rolls.  As the recording
treasurer, my spouse Ernest walks to the bank a block away to make the
parish weekly deposits. For several years he spotted some of the rolls
discarded by thoes who wanted just the can goods and packaged food.  But
about 6 years ago he stopped seeing discards.  These are very hard times.

Before I retired in 2001, I sometimes walked from my campus to the parish,
not quite a mile.  How can I see what I see in ways that better help me
connect it to my parish or better connect my parish to the city?  I want to
find the bulletin boards that neighbors actually read and then read them
myself.  5 doors down from us a shop does a huge business making passport
photos.   2 doors down from us Wards does a major mail order business of
gourmet coffee; the store smells are an olfactory treat, adding barrels of
pecans, hazelnuts.......   Nextdoor a Korean dele serves at least 300 at its
buffet each noon.  Hundreds of restaurants and food carts in Newark open
only for lunch and are completely shut down by late afternoon.

House of Prayer, an Episcopal parish at the other end of Broad Street is
opposite the Broad Street Railway Station, and they serve coffee to
passersby in the morning rush hour.   They also give out an attractive
booklet of "Prayers for Newark."

Pray for us that we can be God's witnesses in this marvelous city.

Louie, L1 Newark 09

Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12d, East Orange, NJ 07018.  973-395-1068
http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew





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