Service to mark anniversary of Christian’s death

IRVINGTON, NJ — The congregation of Christian Love Baptist Church will host a special memorial service on Sunday, Oct. 30, to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of its former pastor, the Rev. Ronald B. Christian, at the church on Lyons Avenue in Irvington.

It is expected to be a well-attended event. His father, Rev. Dr. William Christian, and other church officials said they are hoping for a good turnout to honor the man so many loved and respected.

Christian said he still misses his son.

“From my perspective, we join Irvington, Essex County and the state of New Jersey in mourning his loss,” he said on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

On Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray and then-Irvington police Director Tracey Bowers announced “Rev. Ron,” as he was colloquially known, had been found dead inside his office in the church. Word of his death spread quickly, and the preliminary investigation revealed no foul play.

A wake and public viewings took place for Christian on Thursday, Nov. 5, at Christian Love Baptist Church, then on Friday, Nov. 6, at his high school alma mater, Newark Tech, in Newark. His funeral was Saturday, Nov. 7, also at Newark Tech.

Since then, the street across from Newark Tech that intersects Market Street was renamed in his honor. Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo built a new football field, track and two softball fields in Weequahic Park, also in Newark, and dubbed it the Rev. Ronald B. Christian Sports and Recreation Complex in his memory.

“When someone called me at 7 a.m. Friday morning, I thought it was a joke: I couldn’t believe it,” People’s Organization for Progress Chairman Larry Hamm said Monday, Nov. 2, 2015. “I didn’t even know he was 51 years old. He looked younger than that, like he was in his late 30s, in the prime of health. If you ever saw him preach and the energy and the dynamism, I could not believe, I was left speechless.”

Hamm said Christian’s death was “a great loss, not just to Irvington, but to the entire community in Essex County and New Jersey.” He said the pastor was a dynamic and spiritual leader to so many who would feel his loss forever.

DiVincenzo agreed at the grand opening and dedication of the new sports complex in Weequahic Park on Wednesday, July 20.

“First of all, I loved Rev. Ron for the 15 years that I’ve known him,” said DiVincenzo on Wednesday, July 20. “I want to thank you, on behalf of my brother. He might not be here, but I talk to him every day. He was my conscience. When I did things that were crazy in Essex County, Rev. Ron was the first one to support me. … When he died, a part of me died with him. If you want his legacy to live on, you can’t be separate. We all have to come together.”

To learning more about the commemorative service, call the church at 973-375-5974.