Letters to God end up in ocean, unread
By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press Writer
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Some of the letters are comical (a man asking God to let him win the lottery, twice), others are heartbreaking (a distraught teen asking forgiveness for an abortion, an unwed mother pleading with God to make the baby's father marry her).Summarized by Copernic Summarizer
The letters --- about 300 in all, sent to a New Jersey minister --- ended up dumped in the ocean, most of them unopened. The minister died two years ago at 79.
How the letters, some dating to 1973, wound up bobbing in the surf is a mystery.
"There are hundreds of lives here, a lot of struggle, washed up on the beach," said Bill Lacovara, a Ventnor insurance adjuster who was fishing last month with his son when he spotted a flowered plastic shopping bag and waded out to retrieve it.
"This is just a hint of what really happens. How many letters like this all over the world aren't being opened or answered?"
Many of the letters were addressed to the Rev. Grady Cooper, though many more simply said "Altar." According to the text of several of them, they were intended to be placed on a church's altar and prayed over by the minister, the congregation or both.
Some were neatly written in script on white-lined paper, others in a feverish scrawl on tattered scraps of parchment or note cards. Many were crinkled from being in the water and then dried out after Lacovara fished them out of the sea.
A dog-eared business card inside one of the letters identified Cooper as associate pastor of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Jersey City. A woman who answered the phone at the church office confirmed Cooper once was a minister there, and had died nearly two years ago. The current pastor did not return several calls from The Associated Press over the past few days.
Other documents in the bag, including bank statements and canceled checks, also listed Cooper's name and an address for him in Jersey City. A death certificate issued in 2004 for a Grady Cooper lists the same address as those on the bank documents and some of the letters. His wife, Frances, whose name also showed up on some of the letters at the same address, died in 2000, according to Hudson County records.
No one answered the door last week at the address where Cooper once lived, and a neighbor said he did not recall anyone by that name. "I guess rather than just throw them in the garbage, maybe they thought they'd set them out to sea to bless these people," he said.
One woman complained that her husband always talks about sex, and another writer anonymously dropped a dime to God on someone cheating on his wife, complete with dates, times and locations. Many more were written by anguished spouses, children or widows, pouring out their hearts to God, asking for help with relatives who were using drugs, gambling or cheating on them.