Irvington NAN chapter founder hopes to see Rev. Al Sharpton at event

On Friday, Oct. 12, the Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network founder and television talk show host, will preach at Bethel Baptist Church, 229 Wallace St. in Orange, as part of the church’s installation of its new pastor, the Rev. Darren Ferguson.

IRVINGTON, NJ — Essex County Freeholder Lebby Jones, founder of the Irvington branch of the National Action Network, and her successor, Irvington NAN branch President and at large Councilwoman October Hudley, said they plan to be at Bethel Baptist Church, 229 Wallace St. in Orange, on Friday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m., when NAN founder Rev. Al Sharpton preaches as part of the church’s official celebration of the installation of its new pastor, the Rev. Darren Ferguson.

Ferguson is officially scheduled to be installed as the new pastor of Bethel Baptist Church on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 5 p.m., and the Rev. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Church in New York is scheduled to be the guest speaker that day; however, the church also celebrating its 101st anniversary and Sharpton’s appearance coincides with that.

“I’m going to do my best to be there,” said Hudley on Friday, Oct. 5, at the Irvington NAACP annual Freedom Fund Banquet at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark. “I didn’t know he was supposed to be coming, but now that I do know, I’m going to be there. I would never miss a chance to see the Rev. Sharpton in person or hear him speak.”

Jones said she she would definitely try to be present for Sharpton’s appearance at Bethel Baptist Church on Friday, Oct. 12.

“I didn’t know anything about that, but I’ll try my best to be there,” said Jones on Friday, Oct. 5. “Being a freeholder, I have a lot of things to do and there might be a scheduling conflict, but I would like to be there on Oct. 12 to see the Rev. Sharpton and hear him speak. I would like to hear Calvin Butts speak, too, but I have my own church that I attend on Sundays.”

Earlier this year, Jones announced she’d be stepping aside as the Irvington NAN chapter president at the local civil rights group’s Mother’s Day Breakfast on Saturday, May 12.

“Lebby C. Jones made an announcement that, next year, she would no longer be the president, that she felt that it was important to pass the torch over to someone who could carry out her legacy with the Irvington National Action Network,” said Hudley on Saturday, May 12. “Last month, we had elections and I was voted as the president of the Irvington National Action Network. And I’m telling you, I will have some big shoes to fill, because Freeholder Lebby C. Jones, I look at her as my mentor. She’s a retired educator, so am I. She was also once a councilwoman for the township of Irvington, so am I. She was the founder of the Irvington branch of the National Action Network, which is a civil rights organization based on the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network; and now I’m following in her footsteps as the president.”

Hudley said she has a heavy heart due to Jones’ departure from NAN, but is also looking forward to getting to work as the group’s new new president.

“I’m looking forward to working with my executive board, which is Vice President Pastor Jerry Smith of this fine church, Christian Pentecostal; also secretary and Councilwoman at large Renee Burgess; and the treasurer will be Roxanne Sayers, from the Clerk’s Office,” said Hudley. “I have a nice, strong board and I’m looking forward increasing the membership and also offering new programs. We’re looking for new members.”

According to members of Bethel Baptist Church, Jones and Hudley are very welcome to attend both the installation ceremony and Sharpton’s visit.

Nicole Williams-James, a member of the congregation who is serving on the church’s Pastoral Installation Committee, said “Sunday, Oct. 14, at 5 p.m. is the installation service, with the Rev. Calvin Butts as keynote speaker. The Rev. Ferguson won’t actually be preaching on Oct. 14.”

City Council President and East Ward Councilman Kerry Coley, a member of the church, said he’s excited about this weekend’s events at the church.

“Dr. Ferguson is a mighty man for God, a mighty man for Bethel Baptist Church and a mighty man for the community,” said Coley on Tuesday, Oct. 9. “Orange will never be the same again, in a good way.”

Coley said the best thing about Ferguson is the fact that he’s an inspirational preacher.

“His message is real and powerful,” Coley said. “When he speaks, it doesn’t matter if you’re young, old, rich, poor, drunk, sober … Everyone will be spiritually fed. Bethel Baptist Church and the Orange community have been blessed beyond what words can express with the installation of Dr. Darren Ferguson.”

For information about the Irvington National Action Network, call 973-420-3780.