831 Kaighn Avenue

 This church was originally known as the Seventh Baptist Church and was located at 630 Kaighn Avenue from the 1860s through 1906, when its current building was erected and occupied.

Camden Courier-Post - June 22, 1933

Woman Evangelist Describes 'Fishers of Men' at Wiley
Mission Continues Indoor Camp Meetings at Old Post Office, 
With Chinese Choir Singing Today and Picnic Saturday

Fishermen are made, not born, and there are too many small fish- and fishermen- in the world, declared Mrs. Amy Unruhe, evangelist known as Amy of Chinatown," in an address last night at the "Indoor Camp Meeting" of Wiley Mission. 

"There are thousands of men fishers," she said in her talk in the old mailing room of the former federal building, at Third and Arch Streets, where the meetings are being held nightly. "Some think if they get a certain kind of hat, gum boots that reach to the hips, and something on their hip, they can catch fish. 

"If fishermen were born, and not made, Jesus would not have said to two experienced fishermen, 'I will make thee fishers of men.' 

"No two fish are landed the same way. There is but one kind of hook. That is why we find Rev. John S. Hackett such a good fisher of men. He uses 
the only kind of hook that will draw fish- the Cross of Calvary." 

At the all-day meeting today, starting at 10.30 a.m., Dr. Ko, pastor of the Chinese M. E. Church, Race Street, Philadelphia, will speak. He will be accompanied to Camden by a group of Chinese children who will sing Oriental and English hymns in their native and adopted languages. A 
portion of the program at 4 p. m., will be broadcast over WCAM. The children will sing at the afternoon and evening services. 

Two large choirs will participate in tomorrow night's meeting. Richard Quick will direct the Tabernacle Baptist Choir, and a colored choir from Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church also will sing. The services will start at 8 p. m., and be broadcast from 9.30 to 10 p. m., by WCAM direct from the old 
post office building.

All arrangements have been completed for the picnic and all day rally at Alcyon Park on Saturday. The children of the Sunday School, led by John 
Dalameter, superintendent, will leave the mission at 9 a. m. in the afternoon Rev. Hackett, the Wiley Broadcasters, the inter-church band of 75 pieces, 
directed by William Quemore, and a large choir, directed by Donald Redding, will participate in the rally services.

Rev. Hackett and "Amy of Chinatown" will be the speakers. Mrs. Wallace Lee, registered nurse, will look after the health of the children. Mrs. Emma. 
E. Messick will be in charge of social activities. Miss Edna Griffith, director of religious education, will be in charge of the Italian section. 

Camden Courier-Post - June 24, 1933

Wants More Laws

Bridgeton Ruler Hits Back at Critics Who Decry Modern Legislation


Critics of the present, regime of the United States, and those who declare they are governed by too many laws were answered last night by Mayor Linwood W. Erickson, of Bridgeton, at Wiley Mission, Third and Arch streets.

"We do not have laws enough," the mayor shouted. "All laws are founded upon reason. All laws are for the protection of the weak against the transgression of the strong.

"All laws have but one common aim- to give to us that right guaranteed by our forefathers-life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For that reason, I say to you, we do not have enough laws."

Mayor Erickson, before addressing the crowd at the "indoor camp meeting," spoke of his long friendship for Rev. John S. Hackett, pastor of Wiley M. E. Church, and founder and superintendent of the mission.

"He is a man who has the reverence of thousands," Mayor Erickson said. "The best evidence he is doing good is seen in the fact that he is being criticized and investigated. The man who never does anything is never criticized. But for the man who is doing something, who is doing some good, there is always someone to criticize and try to tear down. 

"When people stop criticizing me, I want them to count me out. 


Mayor of Bridgeton, who declared last night there are not enough laws in the United States, and said man alone is to blame for any need of laws, in an address at the "indoor camp meeting" of 'Wiley Mission.

"Law and order are subjects not in tune with discussions of the day, especially in Camden County, and most certainly not in New Jersey. Law and order is distinguished from law enforcement, for law enforcement contemplates violation of the law, while law and order contemplates observance "of the laws.

"We live in a world of laws. We cannot pass by the law without paying respects to the laws of God. Four of the Ten Commandments deal with the relationships that should exist between man and God, the other six deal with the relationships that should exist between man and his fellow men. Yet nine of the Ten Commandments are negative and only one positive."

The chief musical program which started at 9.30 p.m., when the mission program was broadcast over WCAM, featured the Bridgeton string band of 18 pieces, directed by Leon Chew; the Cohansey Male Quartet; the Tabernacle Baptist Church choir, directed by Richard Quick, and the Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church choir; directed by Philip Johnson.

Rev. Walter L. Hunt, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, Broadway below Spruce Street, offered prayer. Bernard Poland, associate of Henri Scott, internationally known star of the Metropolitan and Chicago opera companies, sang several tenor solos.

Rev. George E. Morris, pastor of Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church, also participated in the program.

The first bus for the all-day rally at Alcyon Park will leave at 9.30 a. m. today, and carry children of the Sunday school of Wiley M. E. Church for the annual picnic and outing. Other buses will leave during the day from the Mission.

During the afternoon and evening program Rev. Hackett and Mrs. Amy Unruhe, better known as "Amy of Chinatown," will be the speakers, and the Wiley Broadcasters will present a "mock" radio program. Music will be furnished by the interchurch band of 75 pieces, directed by William Quemore. Donald Redding, musical leader of Bethany Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, will have charge of the singing by a large choir.

Rev. Frank C. Maxwell, chaplain of the Camden County jail, and head of the Philadelphia Highway Mission and Jail Workers, will have charge of the program tonight at toe old post office building.

Morning services will be held to morrow at the church, and in the afternoon and evening at the old post office building. Part of the afternoon program will be broadcast over WCAM from 4 to 5 o'clock. 

Rev. Harry Magonigal and Hayden Evans, blind gospel singers, will be featured at the "indoor camp meetings" each night next week

Camden Courier-Post - June 28, 1933

State Lodge to Elect Today; . Ball at Convention Hall Tonight

More than 2000 members of the I.B.P.E., Colored Elks, participated last, night in a colorful parade here as climax to, the opening day of the tenth annual state convention of the order.

The marchers were reviewed from a stand at the courthouse by J. Finley Wilson, of Philadelphia, grand exalted ruler of the order and his staff.

Pride of Camden Lodge, No. 83, which is acting as host to the visiting members, was led by G. A. Gerran, exalted ruler. Thousands along the line of march applauded their fine appearance in blue and white uniforms.

Among lodges represented were Atlantic City, Orange, Plainfield, Quaker City and O. V. Catto of Philadelphia, Chester and Wilmington lodges and Manhattan Lodge of New York.

Music was provided by many bands, fife and drum corps and string organizations.

The convention was opened in the Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church, Ninth Street and Kaighn Avenue.

William C. Hueston, former assistant solicitor of the U. S. Post Office Department, and Elks' commissioner of education; addressed the meeting, reporting that the organization spends more than $9000 a year for scholarships for colored students.

The delegates were welcomed to Camden by, Assistant Solicitor Lewis Liberman.

Speakers also included William C. Russell of Atlantic City, second vice president of the state association; Ira Hall, past state president; and W. L. Carter, general chairman of the state association committee.

The business sessions are being held in the home of Pride of Camden Lodge, 711 Kaighn Avenue, while the temples are meeting in Wesley A. M., E. Church.

Elections will be held today and the convention will close tonight with a ball at Convention Hall.

Camden Courier-Post - March 15, 2006

Camden minister follows family tradition

Courier-Post Staff

While most boys were playing video games at the age of 13, the Rev. Britt A. Starghill was contemplating committing his life to preaching. During a baseball game with friends on a sunny day in Detroit, Starghill said the voice of God whispered in his ear.

"I was standing on first base and a voice said, 'Go preach,' " Starghill recalled. "I was the son of a preacher so the last thing I wanted to do was be a preacher."

But now the fourth-generation Baptist minister says he can't imagine being anything else.

At a time when church attendance is on the decline, Starghill's infectious enthusiasm and devotion to the growing congregation of Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church has attracted a younger generation of worshippers. Starghill, 38, will celebrate his 10th anniversary with the congregation next month.

The 150-year-old Baptist church, which sits on the corner of 9th Street and Kaighn Avenue, also boasts a strong tradition of keeping longtime church members like Camden resident Madelyn Bumbrey involved.

"I've been a part of this church since 1943 and I've loved it every year I've been here. I never thought of leaving," Bumbrey, 93, said.

Starghill said a rich history and willingness to embrace diversity fuels church members' unwavering dedication. Although the majority of his parishioners are African-American, Starghill said he focuses on the human condition rather than racial differences.

"It's much deeper than white or black," Starghill said. "Diversity is important to me because we must celebrate each others' gifts and traditions. I believe that the ideal of God is that the church be a multicultural potpourri of different people that would find similarities in their beliefs."

Starghill added that in recent years, a growing number of his church members are Hispanic, a reflection of the change in the area.

Between 750 and 850 worshippers from 9 to 90 years old crowd the sanctuary on a given Sunday. Between 70 and 80 percent are non-Camden residents, said Starghill, adding that the church is the oldest African-American Baptist church in the state.

The sanctuary has been like home for many prominent public figures such as outgoing NAACP President Bruce Gordon, a native of Camden. Gordon's father, the late Walter Gordon, who was one of the city's first African-American principals, was also a loyal church member, Starghill said.

When Starghill was asked to preach at the church in 1996 he was finalizing plans to pursue a doctoral degree at Columbia University in New York City. But a desire to empower residents of a city that is often misunderstood led him on a different journey, said Starghill, who added that he enjoys spending time with his wife and two-year-old son.

The congregation's goal of improving the city's infrastructure gave birth to the Kaighn Avenue Beacon Light CDC and the Nehemiah Development Corporation.

Beacon Light focuses on social services such as tutoring and programs for senior citizens and people who are struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. In the future, Starghill hopes to work with various community leaders through the newly-formed Nehemiah Development Corp. He hopes the project will become the catalyst to help spur new businesses, housing developments and a community center in South Camden.

Frances Murdock, 82, who has been a member of the church for almost eight decades, said she thinks future development ideas are a sure sign of more positive advances for the city.

"It's a wonderful church and we have the best pastor in the world," she said. "He always has a vision. Without a vision you're hopeless."

Camden Courier-Post - March 15, 2006

Photos by JOHN ZIOMEK/Courier-Post
The Rev. Britt A. Starghill serves as pastor of the Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church in Camden. He is a fourth-generation Baptist minister. He will celebrate his 10th anniversary as pastor of the church next month.

The Rev. Britt A. Starghill said diversity is a strength of his church.