CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

BETHANY
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
943 Cooper Street

 

The following is derived from
George Reeser Prowell's
History of Camden County, New Jersey
published in 1886

January 9, 1881, in response to a call, about twenty persons assembled in the basement of a one-story building situated on the south side of Federal Street, near the railroad, and organized as the "Third Street Mission." The first board of officers was composed of Lewis R. Wheaton, Asa R. Cox and Charles Wentzell.  The teachers appointed were Robert Miller and A. Busby. The accommodations at this place were very meager, a few wooden benches without backs, a small number of Bibles and reading-books, but the untiring efforts of the members of this mission were rewarded by the attendance of a large number of scholars and capable teachers. In 1882. the mission removed to a room on Ninth Street. It soon became necessary to remove to a larger room or hall. The committee secured the old store-house on Federal Street, near the railroad, at a rental of eight dollars per month, and fitted it up for services and Sunday school purposes. This change was beneficial and successful to the mission and also to the school, and gave assured indications of establishing a church. . On June 11, 1884, the members who had attended these services separated from the Third Street Church and were organized into a church by Rev. J. B. Graw, D.D., and took the name of Bethany, which was suggested by Mrs. S. Moslander, who had taken an active interest in the welfare of the mission, and is at present a prominent member of the church. The Rev. J. D. Sleeper had been assigned to the Camden mission, and it was believed that other missions would unite with them and make a fair charge, but this could not be done, and in consequence he devoted all his time to this new church. In 1885 Rev. E. C. Hults was sent to look after the interests of Bethany, and before the close of the year a season of religious revival added a large number to the membership of the church. In 1886 Rev. R. Harris was assigned to this charge. A lot, at the corner of Tenth Street and Cooper Street was secured and a neat one-story building erected in 1886. The church membership in one hundred and fifty and the Sunday school has one hundred and twenty-five scholars, under the care of E. Butler as superintendent.  

Additional Notes by Phillip Cohen

Bethany Methodist Episcopal Church was still active and opened as late as 1947.

The following is derived from
The Centennial History of Camden Methodism
published in 1909

HISTORY OF THE
Bethany Methodist Episcopal Church
OF CAMDEN, N. J. 

Bethany M. E. Church, Camden, is situate at the Northwest corner of Cooper and Tenth streets, and occupies an ideal site for a church, Cooper street being the principal and most beautiful residential street in the city.

The church had its origin in a small Sunday school organized in 1880, and which held its first meeting in the basement of the grocery store of Mr. Asa Cox, corner of Atlantic avenue and Federal street. The first scholars were obtained by the inducement that if they attended the Sunday school they would receive the large sum of one cent. Mr. Asa Cox took an active interest in the work, and was ably seconded by Mr. Louis Wheaton of the Third Street M. E B. Church (now the First M. E. Church), Mr. Wheaton acting as the first Superintendent of the Sunday school. Rev. Caleb Butterworth took an active interest in the school and was the only person who preached in the basement room. 

Shortly after it was organized the school moved to the home of Mr. John Miller, 217 North Ninth street, where it held sessions every Sunday afternoon. During the time it occupied the residence of Mr. Miller, the school was adopted as the Mission of the Third street (now First) M. E. Church, and Mr. Wheaton was approved by the Quarterly Conference of that church as superintendent.

While the school was meeting at the residence of Mr. Miller, Charles J. Butler, the well known evangelist, became interested in the school, and eventually succeeded Mr. Wheaton as superintendent. Mr. Butler, who is quite tall, tells the story of a neighbor who saw him going into the small Sunday school at this time, remarking that he was a big man for such a small school.

The school continued to grow, and about 1883 removed from the residence of Mr. Miller to larger quarters on Federal street near Tenth street where Mr. W. J. Patton was elected Superintendent of the school. Mr. Patton served only a short time, when Mr. Charles J. Butler was again elected Superintendent of the school.

Up to this time the Sunday school had been connected with the Third Street M. E. Church, but in June, 1884, it was transferred to the City Missions, and regularly organized as Bethany M. E. Church. The name was suggested by Mrs. Sarah Moslander, who has only recently died, quoting from the Scriptures, "And he led them out as far as to Bethany,"' which seemed to fit the circumstances, and the name was unanimously adopted. The Rev. T. D. Sleeper was appointed by the Presiding Elder of the District to be first Pastor.

The church continued to grow under the pastorate of Mr. Sleeper, and also under the pastorate of Rev. Edmund C. Hulse, who was appointed by the Conference in 1885.

In 1886 the Rev. Robert Harris (familiarly known as Father Harris) was appointed pastor of the church, and under his leadership it was decided to purchase a lot and build. A lot was finally purchased at the northwest corner of Cooper and Tenth streets, the present location of the church, for $2,900, and it was decided to build immediately. Ground was broken in April, 1886, and the building was finally completed at a cost of $1,100. It was dedicated July 18, 1886. Only a few hundred dollars had been paid on account of the lot and building, and the balance due was secured by a mortgage.

Bethany M. E. Church
18861909

 

Mr. Harris remained as Pastor of the Church until 1889 when he was succeeded by the Rev. George Illman, who remained as Pastor for two years, until 1891.

In 1891 Rev. Joseph F. Shaw was appointed as pastor and remained three years, until 1894. During the pastorate of Mr. Shaw it became necessary to build an addition to the church, which was done at an expense of $1500.00.

In 1894 the Rev. Sanford M. Nichols was appointed pastor and remained until 1899. During the pastorate of Mr. Nichols the debt on the church was reduced considerably, and the membership largely increased.

Rev. William Barnart succeeded Mr. Nichols as pastor, and did good work until he was succeeded in 1899 by Rev. DeWitt C. Cobb. Mr. Cobb was very active and left the church in 1900 in good condition both financially and spiritually.

In March 1900 the Rev. U. G. Hagaman was appointed pastor and remained for three years, until 1903. During the ministry of Mr. Hagaman the present parsonage on Cooper street was purchased at a cost of $2,500, the sum of $500.00 being paid on account thereof and the balance of $2,000 secured by a mortgage. Mr. Hagaman was very active in raising quite a sum towards the debt on the church property.

Upon the removal of Mr. Hagaman in 1903 to another charge after three years of successful work, the Rev. Daniel Johnson was appointed pastor and he labored very earnestly and successfully for two years, until 1905. In 1905 the conference sent the Rev. W. W. Ridgely as pastor, and during the pastorate of Mr. Ridgely the mortgage upon the church property was finally paid off, and the mortgage was burned amid great rejoicings among the congregation. Mr. Ridgely remained two years, until 1907.

Bethany M. E. Church - 1909

In 1907 the conference sent the present pastor. Rev. Alfonso Dare, under whose vigorous leadership the church building was completely remodeled and moved, and improvements made at a cost of $5,000, of which $4,200 has been raised and paid, and the balance of $800.00 provided for. The pastorate of Mr. Dare has been one of the most successful in the history of Bethany.

Rev. Alfonso Dare

 

The church property, including the parsonage, is valued at about $13,000, upon which there is a mortgage on the parsonage of $2000.00, and about $800 still due for improvements on the church, but which amount has been fully provided for and will be paid when due. The church is in better condition, both financially and spiritually, than at any other period in its existence. There are at present 230 members in good standing and about fifty probationers on the church rolls.

The Sunday School has a fine corps of teachers and officers. There are at present about 484 scholars enrolled in the whole school. The Sunday school has always been in the lead in raising money towards the indebtedness of the church. The Superintendents of the Sunday school since its organization have been as follows : Main school—Lewis Wheaton, Charles J. Butler, William J. Patton, Michael Fleetwood, Robert T. Lee, Everett Cobb, Walter Crane, J. H. Rowland, Harry Zane, John Luke, and the present superintendent, Alexander Shrader. The primary department—Miss Bessie Scout, Miss Anna Wells, Mrs. Sarah
Valentine, Mrs. Alice Bayliss, Miss Maggie Moore, Mrs. Rachel Eisenhardt, Mr. Harry Crowley.

A number of young men have entered the ministry from our church, prominent among whom is the Rev. Dr. Melville Snyder, one of the leading younger ministers of the New Jersey 'Conference. Rev. Harry Risley, now in the West, was also a young man connected with our church. Mr. Charles Risley from Bethany is now studying at Pennington Seminary, and we believe will make his mark in the ministry of the Gospel..

Official Board of Bethany Methodist Episcopal Church - 1909
Top: J. Simpson - A. Schraeder - T. Murphy - J. Prosser - G. Potter - a. Miller - C. Ziegler
C. Banks - E. Walz - G. Cameron - J. Kidd - M. Wallace - W. Crane
W. Packer - A. Brown - J.N. Eisenhardt - C Ridgeway - H. Crowley - H. Zane
F. Warner -  Mrs. C. Walz - Mrs. A.L. James - Rev. A. Dare - Mrs. F. Hellings - Mrs. J.H. Eisenhardt

Philadelphia Inquirer- June 22, 1896

Union M.E. Church - Wiley M.E. Church - First M.E. Church
Union American M.E. Church - Bethany M.E. Church
First Baptist Church - First Presbyterian Church

Philadelphia Inquirer- August 7, 1911

First M.E. Church - Bethany M.E. Church
Tabernacle Baptist Church - North Baptist Church

Philadelphia Inquirer- January 27, 1912

Charles H. Arpe

Camden Courier-Post * April 15, 1950


Bethany Methodist Episcopal Church
Centenary-Tabernacle Baptist Church
State Street Methodist Episcopal Church

RETURN TO DVRBS.COM HOME PAGE