CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

BETHEL
AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

There have been two Methodist Episcopal Churches in Camden named Bethel. The first was written about by George Reeser Prowell in his History of Camden County, New Jersey, published in 1886. Prowell's writings refer to the church that catered to the black population in Centerville and has been known as Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church since the late 1880s. 

The other Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church, located on Westfield Avenue in what is now East Camden, predates the one mentioned below. At the time of Prowell's writing, East Camden was NOT a part of the City of Camden, as it and Cramer Hill were then the Town of Stockton. 

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

BETHEL METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH is situated on Maple Street, below Ferry Avenue. This congregation originated from a small Sunday school and series of prayer meetings which were held in the house of John Morris, on South Street, in 1863, and in a tent which was put up on the site where the present church has been built. In 1864 sufficient money was collected to enable the young congregation to purchase this small lot and build a one-story frame church. The builder, Adam Sparrow, completed it in 1864.  It was dedicated the same year, Bishop Campbell officiating at the dedicatory services. The Rev. John Boyer was the first pastor, and the congregation increased under his ministry, as also the Sunday school under the superintendence of James Dicks. The ministers who have served here in succession since the time of organization have been Rev. John Boyer, Elders Watson, Cooper, Sluby, Garrison, Turner, William, Sturgis and Mills, Rev. John Whitecar and Rev. Josiah Smith, the present pastor. The church now has eighty communicants; the Sunday school has forty-two members. Daniel Emmons is the superintendent..  

Additional Notes by Phil Cohen

Maple Avenue, where the church was located in when Prowell authored his book in the mid-1880s, was later renamed Mulford Street. The building mentioned above was still being used in 1885. By the time the 1890-1891 City Directory was published a new building, still in use in 2017, had been built on Philip Street, between Central Avenue and Ferry Avenue.

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