Community Service Award given to Caldwell and McEvily

Interfaith Neighbors builds community while helping those most in need within the community
By Michelle Gladden

The 130 year-old Second Baptist Church concluded its annual Men’s Day Celebration Sunday with Community Service tributes to civil rights activist Rev. Gil Caldwell and Interfaith Neighbors’ Paul McEvily.

The Men’s Day celebrations are a significant part of African American churches for a number of reasons, according to The African American Lectionary. “The day is a day in which to celebrate wholeness or to begin on a road to wholeness by emphasizing similar themes as the Million Man March did in 1995 – namely, redemption, reconciliation, and atonement.”

Caldwell [at right], a Greensboro NC native, is an A&T State University and Boston University School of Theology graduate. He pastored United Methodist churches in Boston, New Haven, Brooklyn, Harlem, Chester Pa., and Denver. He participated in the historic March on Washington, Mississippi Freedom Summer, Selma to Montgomery March, the Poor People’s Campaign, and in 1995 led a group of men to the Million Man March.

“He keeps us embraced with the history of our past,” said Daniel Harris, the Men’s Day Chairman. “Fifty years ago the Civil Rights Act was passed, we have come this far but we have a long way to go. He is a piece of history that we need to cling to…he can reflect on the struggle, he can keep us centered but he can remind us of how far we have to go.”

The author of five books and articles in various periodicals, Caldwell is an active participant of the local Dialogue Group, a diverse group area residents who meet twice a month to discuss national and local issues.

“Everybody in Asbury Park ought to spend [occasionally] some time in an African American Church,” Caldwell [at right] said. “There is something special about the worship experience in a tradition historic black church that everybody needs, no matter who you are and what your faith perspective is.”

Caldwell said the honor is one to be shared by all.

McEvily, Interfaith Neighbors’ Associate Executive Director, has helped lead the nonprofits senior meals program, its state Youth Corps workforce development, the creation of affordable housing and revitalization of distressed neighborhoods.

“…They help people get their credit straight, teaches them how to apply properly for a mortgage, finds a house for them or builds a house for them, and usually lets them have the house at the cost of what it takes for them to build the house,” Harris [at right] said. “They also allow people to apply for grants in Asbury for $5,000 which helps them with the down payment, and then they help them apply for grants [with Monmouth] County for an additional $10,000. Most people have no idea that this happens in Asbury Park.”

A former Federal Reserve Bank executive, McEvily helped design, construct and manage a 420,000 square foot round the clock facility that housed various tenants.

McEvily serves as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Monmouth County Homeless Systems Collaborative, which is charged with overseeing the implementation of the strategic plan to end homelessness in Monmouth County. He sits on the Springwood Avenue Advisory Committee, is a trustee of Second Life Bikes, Lunch Break of Red Bank, and the Mary Owen Borden Foundation.

In his acceptance, McEvily offered congratulations and what he called a “deep gratitude” to Caldwell for his “lifelong devotion to issues of social justice and for providing the morale underpinnings for our Dialogue group here in Asbury Park. [His] ever pressing encouragement to treat all within the community with respect and kindness is an inspiration to all of us.”

McEvily [at right] went on to thank Second Baptist for its 130 years of service to the Lord and to this community.

“…I accept the award on behalf of all of my colleagues at Interfaith Neighbors,” he said. “Please know that my efforts are a mere reflection of the much larger commitment of Interfaith Neighbors to build community while helping those most in need within the community.”

Also honored with the Man of the Year award was the church’s lead chef Joseph ‘Nick’ Williams, who also oversees their van usage and repair, and serves as President of the Men’s Usher Board.

“I love to cook,” said Williams, who has cooked meals for the congregation for the past 10 years. “It’s like cooking for your family.”

Second Baptist Church is located at 124 Atkins Avenue. As it celebrates its 130 year anniversary, the church will hold a weeklong Vacation Bible Study through Friday and launch its Inspire LIFE Fine Arts and Technology Summer Camp August 22 to 26. For more information, call 732-774-5347 for visit their Facebook page.

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