Recently the Passaic Great Falls area of New Jersey was designated as a National Historic Park. Jeffrey Jones, mayor of Paterson, N.J., wanted to explore the river’s recreational prospects.
He spent an afternoon with John Algera, pastor of Madison Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Paterson, kayaking down the Passaic River. Algera, an experienced kayaker, helped Jones and a few others navigate the city from the water.
Before starting their six-mile trip, Algera led the small group of men in a meditation on Psalm 46: “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.”
“Paterson exists because of the river,” Algera explained. “It’s the oldest planned industrial city in the United States. We want people to see the river as a resource.”
As the men kayaked down the Passaic, they saw Great Blue Herons flying and large carp swimming in the river. One of those carp even tried to jump into the mayor’s boat. Algera is encouraged by the return of healthy fish and wildlife and wants to see the wildlife in Paterson continue to thrive.
In a blog post he wrote, “It is our responsibility to continue to care for it and not abuse it as our ancestors did. Many of the problems of the river today come from generations ago.”
The afternoon wasn’t just a chance to paddle down the river, Algera explained. In an article about the trip in the Paterson Press, Jones said, “This is a way to discover things you’ve never seen.”
Algera added, “God is in our midst.” The Passaic River is proof of that.
About the Author
Callie Feyen is a writer living in Ann Arbor, Mich. She attends First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. Callie writes news for The Banner and contributes to Coffee+Crumbs, and T.S. Poetry Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is the author of The Teacher Diaries: Romeo and Juliet, and Twirl: My Life in Stories, Writing, & Clothes.