HAVERHILL — Bishop Franklin Hobbs has given much to his community and beyond. In appreciation of his decades of service, the city is dedicating the Freeman Street Park in his name.
As of this Saturday, the little park at the corner of Freeman and Washington streets in the Mt. Washington neighborhood will be known as the "Bishop Hobbs of Rehoboth Lighthouse Full Gospel Church Park."
Mayor James Fiorentini and City Councilor Joseph Bevilacqua will host the dedication at noon on Saturday.
"I've known Rev. Hobbs for a number of years and I'm well aware of the good he has done in the Mount Washington area," Bevilacqua said. "He held together that neighborhood during some very tough times and invited residents to his church to address issues of the community. It didn't matter who you were, where you came from or what your issues were, he put out a helping hand to make the community better."
At the urging of Bevilacqua, the City Council voted unanimously in 2017 to dedicate the park to Bishop Hobbs, 84.
"I'm honored to have the park named after me," Hobbs said.
The ceremony will include the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the park in Hobbs’ name.
Hobbs came to Haverhill 45 years ago and spent two years pastoring at Calvary Baptist Church before becoming pastor at what was then the Full Gospel Church Inc. that had been founded by the Rev. Mary DeRenzo.
When Hobbs took over as pastor, he added "Rehoboth Lighthouse," which is taken from Genesis 26 verse 22, said his daughter, Katrina Everett.
"Rehoboth means the Lord has made room to flourish," she said.
A devout father and husband to his wife of 61 years, Carolyn Hobbs, who also serves as his co-pastor, Bishop Hobbs has been very active in the Haverhill community and in the local veteran community. He has been in ministry since he was married.
Hobbs served in the Air Force prior to becoming a pastor. He and his wife raised 13 children, 11 of whom are living.
"My father has always had a presence in the African American community in New England, participating in school visits on Martin Luther King Day to share his perspective on segregation and being involved in the New England chapter of the NAACP," Everett said. "When I think of service to the community, I think of his response to crisis situations in the community, where he has provided council to people — praying with families and consoling individuals in crisis, all from his heart and always free of charge.
"My father's service to the community has gone far beyond the pulpit," she added.
Hobbs said that from time to time, his church uses the little park being renamed in his honor.
"We have a special day each year called friends and family day, where we bring together children and adults in the neighborhood," he said. "We serve food and refreshments, we play games and give away gifts and sing songs and have a good time."
He said the next celebration takes place sometime in August, before children return to school.
Guests on Saturday are asked to begin gathering at 11:30 a.m., with a speaking program to begin at noon. All are welcome.