Ocean Grove Residents Clash Amid Opening of Cross-Shaped Pier

Some are concerned that the pier’s Christian cross–shaped design represents a renewed effort toward religious coercion. 

The T-shaped pier in Ocean Grove
The T-shaped design of Ocean Grove's new pier has received mixed responses from local residents. Photo courtesy of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association/Fred Faulhaber

A new cross-shaped pier is set to open in Ocean Grove on Saturday, April 15—and it’s a heated topic among New Jerseyans. 

Ahead of the ribbon cutting, some residents have voiced concerns about the pier’s T-shaped design resembling a Christian cross. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist community that has been living in Ocean Grove for over 150 years, privately funded the reconstruction project.

“I am so deeply concerned,” Douglas Grote, a local retired Presbyterian pastor, told nj.com last year. ”And I am so concerned from my neighbors who are scared and bullied.”

Other New Jersey residents have said that they have no qualms about the cross shape. “Hallelujah !! Well done… I can’t WAIT !!,” one person recently commented on the Ocean Grove Meeting Camp Association’s Facebook page, while another wrote, “Beautiful design… even better views now. Cant wait to visit!”

Speculation about the intentionality of the cross shape began after the design was unveiled in July 2022. “We make no apology for that we love the fact that it looks like a cross,” Camp Meeting Association COO Jamie Jackson told News 12. “This is a religious town founded as such in Ocean Grove and most people are excited, we will be able to have this pier shaped this way for these purposes.”

The Camp Meeting Association originally settled in Ocean Grove for tent-revival meetings in the summer months on the Jersey Shore. Today, the Camp Meeting Association owns Ocean Grove’s land, beach and new boardwalk.

The Camp Meeting Association has been embroiled in legal trouble on several occasions, including a 2007 lawsuit for refusing to allow LGBTQ+ couples use of a pavilion for civil union ceremonies; though in the subsequent years, some members of both the Camp Meeting Association and the LGBTQ+ community have sought restoration and understanding.

Still, some New Jersey residents have expressed that the pier represents a renewed effort toward religious coercion. 

The ribbon-cutting ceremony marks the end of a 10-month-long reconstruction project to restore the Ocean Grove pier to its historic 500 feet, since it was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Despite its religious implications, many beachgoers are looking forward to a sunny season in Ocean Grove, viewing the finished pier as a symbol of perseverance and a blessing to the Jersey Shore.

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