2623 Morgan Boulevard
Northeast corner of Morgan Boulevard & Hunter Street

The Ukrainian Baptist Church
by Michael Romach

In the 1930’s, there was a growing and very active Ukrainian Baptist community in Camden NJ. The Ukrainian Baptists were lead by a high-energy, charismatic minister named Wasyl Kolody.

Reverend Wasyl Kolody was born on November 7, 1886 in the village of Bronitsa, Drogobichenskiy region of Galicia (Ukraine). Reverend Kolody immigrated to America in 1907 and settled in Camden NJ. In 1909, he married Felicia Urban and they had 10 children. Two of the children died at a young age and were buried in the New Camden Cemetery. The family lived at 726 Tulip Street. Reverend Kolody worked at the New York Ship Yard during the day and during the evenings worked from his home as a barber. In spite of his unusually busy responsibilities, he found time many evenings to visit people throughout the various neighborhoods in Camden and preach to them about Jesus Christ and invite them to attend his church services. Reverend Kolody brought in many new Ukrainian immigrants as well as second generation Ukrainians into his burgeoning flock.

Reverend Kolody was a beloved, kind, caring, genuine, generous, charitable man, who opened his home to all people in need. 

Initially they held service at a neighboring Methodist church on Broadway and Emerald Streets. In 1937, the growing congregation bought a building that was the former 14th Ward Republican Club located on Morgan Boulevard in Camden’s Morgan Village section. The interior was converted from a political social club into a house of worship. “Where a bar once stood now stands the Lord’s pulpit”, Reverend Kolody preached in his first sermon during the first church service.

The church had morning and evening services and a Sunday school for adults and children. The church had an impressive orchestra and choir. The choir was well known within the Ukrainian Baptist community and would travel many times a month to other Ukrainian Baptist churches in Philadelphia, Chester and Crum Lynne Pennsylvania as well as Freehold, South River and Manville New Jersey to perform.

Every Sunday night, immediately after the 4:00pm evening service, Reverend Kolody and members of his congregation, including the choir, would travel to a Radio Station in Philadelphia where Reverend Kolody hosted a Ukrainian Baptist Religious Program in both English and Ukrainian. The weekly Sunday broadcast was heard throughout the Delaware Valley and became a very popular radio program within all religious denominations within the Ukrainian community.

Every Christmas eve, the church choir would go caroling to the homes of their church members, walking through the south Camden neighborhoods singing Christmas carols for all to enjoy.

The church had a very large and active young adult group. Every Friday night, the church would host a young adult’s service that would include visitors from other Ukrainian Baptist churches in the Delaware Valley.

In the summer, the church would sponsor family picnics at various lakes in South Jersey. 

From the late 1930’s until the late 1960’s, the church flourished. On any given Sunday service, the pews were always so full that folding chairs were required to handle the over flow of congregants and it was not an uncommon site to find men forced to stand in the back of the church during service. The church welcomed all nationalities. In the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s many of the Camden congregants began moving out of the city to the suburbs and the Church closed in the early 1980’s. 

Rev. Wasyl Kolody & Family at 726 Tulip Street - 1937

Many thanks to Mike Romach for his help in creating this web-page