A Statement from Trinity Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey on a Recent Incident Being Investigated as Possible Bias Attack
As reported in a statement released by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the “Asbury Park Police were advised of a possible bias incident that took place at the Trinity Episcopal Church, located on Asbury Avenue…sometime between 9 and 10:30 p.m. Friday night, January 27, during an anti-racism event.”
According to Trinity Church’s Rector, The Reverend Chase Danford, “an as-yet-unidentified person attempted to pepper-spray a group of people outside Trinity Church’s community building on Friday night following a concert being held to benefit a New Jersey-based anti-racist organization. The unknown person or persons also threw smoke bombs outside the venue. Thankfully, no one was injured. We are incredibly grateful for the support we have received from the Asbury Park Police Department, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, and our state senator, Vin Gopal.” An LGBTQ+ Pride flag was also vandalized on the same evening, something that has occurred twice previously in recent months. While the motivation for this assault is unknown, Asbury Park police are investigating it as a possible hate crime. The Right Reverend William Stokes, Bishop of New Jersey, has been made aware of the incident. The Diocese of New Jersey and the leadership of Trinity Episcopal Church, Asbury Park support this investigation and are cooperating fully with police and the Office of the Monmouth County Prosecutor.
We are also aware of a violent attack against Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, N.J., this weekend, as well as a significant uptick in acts of bias and hatred in New Jersey, especially those driven by antisemitism. The leadership of the Diocese of New Jersey and of Trinity Church affirm The Episcopal Church’s baptismal commitment to love one’s neighbors as one’s self and to respect the dignity of every human being. We condemn hatred and violence in all its forms. (See “A Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey to the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of New Jersey on the Commemoration of Kristallnacht in light of Current Threats Against the Jewish Community” issued in November.
Trinity Episcopal Church is committed to fulfilling God’s command “to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly” with God (Micah 6:8). Our active social justice ministries will continue to serve the under-represented in the Asbury Park community despite incidents such as this. We invite you to learn more and to support our ministries in:
- Racial Justice, dedicated to advancing racial equity through education and justice work
- Housing Justice, which recognizes that housing is a human right and that no person should be living on the streets
- Food Justice, striving to help meet the immediate needs of hunger in Asbury Park and to organize within our community to prevent hunger and injustice in the future.
- LGBTQ+ Community, Trinity welcomes you! Indeed, the whole Episcopal Church welcomes you!
This is not just social justice; it is Gospel justice.
We continually review our security procedures to help ensure that all members of the community can safely worship and gather at our historic facilities, and we will be evaluating if any changes in security are advisable in light of these incidents.
What will not change is our commitment to share God’s unconditional love in all that we do. We invite you to join in our commitment to Gospel justice by getting involved or through your financial support.