CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

KAIGHN AVENUE
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

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

The congregation that worships in this church is the outgrowth of a Mission Sunday school started on Liberty Street, above Third, by members of the Union Methodist Episcopal Church. The membership of this mission school increased to three hundred, and it was deemed necessary to seek larger and more comfortable quarters. In 1879 a large blacksmith shop, on Front Street, below Kaighn Avenue, was procured and fitted up for Sunday school purposes. Under the supervision of the Rev. William C. Stockton, a church society was formed, under the name of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, with thirty communicants, and a Sunday school started with two hundred members, most of whom came from the mission school already mentioned. The religious services were held in the blacksmith-shop for seventeen months, and during the heated term in the summer of 1879 the congregation worshipped in a large tent on Kaighn Avenue, above Second Street. In 1880 Rev. John Boswell was appointed to the charge.  The membership of school and church had greatly increased. A building committee was appointed, and the same year the present church on Kaighn Avenue was commenced. The basement was built the same year, but the cold weather prevented the completion of the church, and a large frame pavilion, thirty by sixty feet, was put up within the walls and upon the lower joists for a foundation. In this the congregation worshipped until 1882, and in the mean time the work on the church progressed, the walls and roof covering the pavilion completely before it was taken down and removed. The congregation then worshipped in a large tent which was put up at Third Street and Sycamore.

On October 7, 1882, the church was dedicated by Bishop Hurst. The society had then two hundred and forty communicant members and about five hundred members in the Sunday school. The Rev. B. C. Lippincott was the next minister, and was followed by the Rev. Charles F. Downs. In 1885 the Rev. James E. Lake assumed the charge of the congregation, and the name of Kaighn Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church was adopted. At this time there was a large debt and they were unable to meet the payments. The church was threatened with dissolution, but Rev. James E. Lake determined to avert the calamity, and through his perseverance, by the large collections which he raised from contributions in other churches and by contributing largely from his own personal effects, he succeeded in liquidating the largest portion of the indebtedness, leaving only a small amount to be paid by the congregation. His earnest efforts in the behalf of his congregation have proved very successful.  

 

The Reverend William Grum, composer of the hymn "Victory Ahead" among others, pastored at Kaighn Avenue M.E. Church around 1910.

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

HISTORY OF THE
Kaighn Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church
OF CAMDEN, N. J. 

About the year 1875 under the direction of the Rev. A.K. Street, Brothers Wm. Noble and James W. Mulford, were directed to look around the lower section of Camden and find a suitable place to erect a Mission school. Upon inquiring of one, William Bums, he told them that they could have the corner store at Third and Mechanic streets as he had no tenant for it, and through the kindness of Mr. Burns, who was a Catholic by denomination, they secured the store gratis. During a revival Mr. Burns was converted and became an active worker.

The following Sabbath, Brothers William Noble and Mulford, with the assistance of a few others opened a school; seven scholars were the result of the first day's labor. Their number increased very rapidly, and in a little while the building was too small to accommodate the poor children of the neighborhood. The matter was brought before the official board of Union M. E. Church, and Brothers Noble and Mulford were instructed to secure a lot for the purpose of erecting a Mission Chapel.

A plot of ground was secured on Liberty street above Third, and a building erected, which is occupied at the present time by the Methodist Protestant church.

After the completion of the Chapel it was dedicated as the Liberty Street M. E. Mission, under the direction of the Union M. E. Quarterly conference, Brothers William Noble, Superintendent; J. W. Mulford, Assistant Superintendent; John Sharp, Treasurer; C. C. Thompson, Secretary; Joseph LeChord, Chorister; Miss Sallie Hand, Organist; William Burns and William Ottinger, Librarians. Teachers: Miss Mary Hand, Mrs. Fox, Dr. John D. Leckner, Daniel W. Saphore, William Bennett, Emma Bennett, Emma Furbe, Liddie Jefferies, Mrs. Barker, Mr. Hunter, Mrs. Ross and Mrs. Hamson. School numbering about 150 scholars.

During the winter months a glorious revival broke out and Brothers Mulford, Dally, and Thompson secured the services of dear old Brother Stockton to preach and take charge of the meetings. About one hundred precious souls found peace with God. Many who were saved had not been in a church for 30 or 40 years, and one old Brother, who has since died and gone home to Heaven said he had not been inside of a church for 40 years, and a large number of men and women were saved, also some of that number are making their mark in the world today.

During the spring of 1879, 31 active members of the Mission asked the Rev. James Moore, Pastor of Union M. E. Church for their letters for the purpose of starting an independent church so the Word of God might be preached every Sabbath in the Mission building, which was refused by the Union Church people.

Having a desire to do good, and have the Word of God preached among the poor of the lower section of Camden, the 31 faithful members persisted in having their letters, which was finally granted, hut they were denied the use of the Mission Chapel, a special meeting having been called by the Pastor of Union church to take action on the same.

The following day, Friday, a room was secured on Front street below Kaighn avenue over a blacksmith shop, and a dark, dingy place it was, but after considerable labor the room presented quite a tidy appearance. Brothers Mulford and Thompson wended their way to Philadelphia and secured two hundred chairs to make ready for the first Sabbath worship.

Rev. William Stockton volunteered to take charge and preach until such times as the Conference would appoint a Pastor. That was a glorious year also, as many precious ones were saved through the efforts of Brother Stockton and God's Power.

The school was conducted by Brother Mulford, Superintendent; C. C. Thompson, Assistant Superintendent; John Dally, Treasurer; James Lechard, Secretary; William Burns, and William Ottinger, Librarian; Rev. Stockton's daughter as organist. School numbering ahout 200 scholars. In March 1880. The conference appointed the Rev. J. H. Boswell, Pastor of Grace M. E. Church, which name was selected by Rev. William Stockton. Rev. Boswell had not been with us but a few months when he secured a lot
88x100 on the north side of Kaighn avenue below Third street and commenced to erect a church the site of the present Kaighn Avenue M. E. Church. The cellar was dug, the foundation laid, then the work stopped for the winter, so a frame building in rough form was put up to worship in during the winter. The following spring and summer the church was completed.

Grace M. E. Church - 1880
Now Kaighn Avenue M.E. Church

While building, the congregation worshipped in a tent on a lot at the corner of 3rd and Sycamore streets. While there Brother Boswell held revival meetings, and one of our noted preachers in the New Jersey Conference today was converted, the Rev. J. F. Shaw. Since that time other young men have started out from Kaighn Avenue M. E. Church to labor in the Master's Vineyard: Revs. Walter Shaw, William K. Fisher, J. Franklin Smith, and William Sidebottom. Brother Sidebottom was in poor health and did not live long to labor for the Master.

The following preachers served as pastor of Grace M. E. Church: Rev. John H. Boswell, March 1880 to 1883 ; Rev. B. C. Lippincott, Sr., 1883 to 1884 ; Rev. C. F. Downs, 1884 to 1885; Rev. James E. Lake, 1885 to 1888; (during Rev. James E. Lake's Pastorate, the name was changed to Kaighn Avenue M. E. Church) Rev. J. P. Heilenman, 1888 to 1889; Rev. David Steward, 1889 to 1890 ; Rev. E. L. Allen, 1890
to 1892 ; Rev. D. E. Lyon, 1892 to 1893 ; Rev. James E. Lake, 1893 to 1894; Brother Lake was sent to Kaighn Avenue Church the second time subject to the Broadway Quarterly Conference as City Missionary.

From March 1894 to October, the same year the church was without a pastor. The conference gave up all hopes for the success of the church with its heavy burden of debt, but a few of the faithful workers held a meeting and prayed to God for help in what seemed to he the darkest hours. We felt that God would he with us if we trusted Him and did our duty ; so we waited on the Official Board of Broadway M. E. Church, as we were under the direction of the Broadway M. E. Quarterly Conference. We asked permission to hold on to the Sabbath school, we were promised we could if we would keep the interest paid as it fell due, also would have to pay the back interest, which was one month overdue, two hundred dollars and twenty cents. We agreed to raise one half in one week if they would raise the other half. The following
Monday evening Brother Hopper turned over to Dr. Street $100.10.

The faithful few went forward trusting in the Lord, kept the Sabbath school together, and through the kindness of some local preachers, we had preaching every Sunday morning and evening. The Rev. J. L. Wilde, local preacher, connected at the time with Tabernacle M. E. Church volunteered to preach and take charge of the services, and many precious ones were saved.

In October through the efforts of Brother G. C. Baker and Broadway Quarterly Conference, Rev. J. L. Surtees was appointed. Brother Surtees labored hard from October 1894 to 1899. Tie made extensive improvements costing in round numbers about $600, and money raised as soon as the work was completed, also a parsonage costing about $4,000.00 was built.

Rev. J.E. Surtees Rev. S.K. Moore

Rev. J. R. Mason was appointed, March 1899 to March 1903, and labored hard for four years and many found peace in God under Brother Mason's pastorate. During Brother Mason's last year as pastor the church was set off independent of the City Mission. We extended a call to Rev. J. W. Lee to become pastor in March 1903 ; J. W. Lee was appointed and served for four years, and did much good in building up the church. In March 1907, Rev. S. K. Moore was appointed, and labored hard during his two years' pastorate. In March, 1909, Rev. William Disbrow was appointed pastor and is now very vigorously and effectually pushing the work of the Redeemer's Kingdom. Through many difficulties Kaighn Avenue M.
E. Church was established. In fact the whole period of her existence has been one of struggle, nevertheless, God has helped her and now it looks as if this daughter is coming out of the wilderness, leaning on the arm of her beloved.

With so many children attending the Sabbath school and souls being born into the Kingdom at her altar there seems a great need for this Zion in this location. Hence the prospect for her future is bright.

The names of superintendents serving Grace M. E. and Kaighn Avenue Sunday school are as follows:
Mr. Charles Thompson, 1880-1885; Mr. John Dolby, 1886-1887; Mr. Charles Thompson, 1888-1889 ; Mr. Joseph Large, Mr. Frank Wright, Mr. William Fisher, Mr. James Clark, 1892 ; Mr. William Sidebottom, 1893; Mr. George Cummings, 1894; Mr. Chas. H. Smith, 1895-1897; Mr. George Baker, 1898; Mr. Charles H. Smith, 1899-1906; Mr. Harris Coffin, 1907; Mr. Charles H. Smith, 1908-1909..

Official Board of Kaighn Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church - 1909
Top: James Carter -Samuel Gant - Dr. Henry S. Riddle - Frank O. Jackson - Charles Plum
Bottom: Charles Smith - Rev. S.K. Moore - A.L. King

Philadelphia Inquirer - August 12, 1891


Philadelphia Inquirer- October 23, 1903


Philadelphia Inquirer- February 19, 1906

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Philadelphia Inquirer - January 7, 1907

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Second Presbyterian Church - Rev. J.W. Lee - Rev. Robert W. Peach


Philadelphia Inquirer
March 18, 1917

Pine Street - Thomas Bundick 
Emma Knauff Bundick

Philp Knauff -
Elisha Gravenor
Harry Vliet - John Sheeran
Albert Cornog - Clarence Boyer
William Briant - David Hunt
Kaighn Avenue M.E. Church
Rev. William P. Valiant


Philadelphia Inquirer - December 10, 1917

Mrs. Elizabeth E. Davis - James L. Davis

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Camden Courier-Post
April 2, 1928

Kaighn Avenue
Methodist Episcopal Church

Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church

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