CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
3rd Street between Bridge Avenue & Mickle Street
The members of Third Street Methodist Episcopal Church put up a building in the 1830s at Third Street and Bridge Avenue. Local builder Thomas Atkinson erected the building. This edifice was destroyed in an 1867 fire. A new church was then built on Third Street between Mickle Street and Bridge Avenue, which was dedicated in 1869. This church seated 1400 people. In June of 1893 the congregation moved to a new building at South 6th and Stevens Street, and took the name First Methodist Episcopal Church.
following is derived from
Exactly when Methodist preachers, local or itinerant, commenced preaching at Camden is unknown, but in 1797, Rev. Benjamin Fisler, M.D., of Port Elizabeth, N. J., preached here several times, and we find subsequently that local preachers from St. George's Church, in Philadelphia, made Camden one of their preaching-places. In 1808 the New Jersey District of the Philadelphia Conference was formed, with Joseph Totten presiding elder, and an appointment called "Gloucester Circuit" created, which included what is now Camden. Revs. Richard Sneath and William S. Fisher were appointed as preachers of the new circuit and the following year, 1809, Richard Sneath formed the first regular class in Camden, composed of James and Elizabeth Duer, Henry and Susannah Sawn, William and Martha Price and Phebe Peters, of which James Duer was appointed leader. Services by the circuit preachers were held once every two weeks, on Wednesday evening, in the academy which formerly stood on the corner of Market Street and Sixth. The same year, finding the academy insufficient for their wants, a regular church organization having been formed in the meantime, it was determined to erect a house of worship. A lot on the corner of Fourth Street and Federal was secured and a board of trustees elected, composed of James Duer, Jonathan Petherbridge, Henry Sawn and William Price, and the corporate name of " The Methodist Episcopal Church of Camden " given to the new organization. James Duer and Jonathan Petherbridge were made a building committee. Before the building was completed, Thomas Dunn, one of the preachers on the Gloucester Circuit, preached the first sermon in it from the text, " Who commanded you to build this house and to make up these walls?" The church was dedicated on the 25th of November, 1810, by Presiding Elder Joseph Totten. This was the first house of worship erected in the city of Camden and is still standing near the original site, corner of Fourth and Federal Streets.
In 1834, the congregation having so increased, it was determined to erect a new building more in keeping with the importance of the society and better adapted to its wants. During this time Camden was connected with Gloucester or Burlington Circuits, but it was then thought that it should become a station. Accordingly, a lot on Third Street, between Bridge Avenue and Federal Street, was purchased, and on the Fourth of July, 1834, the cornerstone of a new church was laid with appropriate services. December 14th, following, the church was dedicated by Rev. Charles Pitman, assisted by the pastor, Rev. William Granville. The new building cost about eight thousand dollars. In this new building the society did its work for over thirty years, increasing in numbers rapidly, especially during the great revival in 1837. The church building had been enlarged and improved to meet its increased wants, at considerable expense, and it was a crushing blow to the society when, on the 20th of November, 1867, the building was totally destroyed by fire, with but a slight insurance on it. But though for a moment paralyzed, the congregation soon recovered itself and, with commendable energy, immediately began the erection of a new building, and appointed Rev. Charles H. Whitecar, pastor, S. S. E. Cowperthwait, Thomas B. Atkinson, Morton Mills, E. S. Johnson and James M. Cassady a building committee to superintend the work. The lots on Third and Mickle Streets and Bridge Avenue were purchased, and the work was pushed forward with so much energy that the present beautiful house of worship, with a seating capacity of about fourteen hundred, and costing, with the lot, some sixty thousand dollars, was dedicated on September 1, 1869, in the presence of an immense concourse of people, by Bishop Simpson and the pastor, Rev. C. H. Whitecar.
In all its history this church has been firm in its adherence to the. polity of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in its support to the various religious work of the denomination.
in the history of this society, vigorous work in the Sunday school cause
was commenced and has been unflagging in it ever since. The present
Sunday school numbers over six hundred members, with sixty officers and
teachers. Dr. William Shafer is its present superintendent. The
church has had the following pastors:
its organization, in 1809, Third Street Church has sent out the
following church organizations, all of them at present nourishing
churches in Camden, which are Union
Church, Broadway Church,
Church and Centenary
Camden Daily Courier - May 30, 1908
1. Rev. Samuel Van Sant, pastor
- 2. Samuel H.
Morton, trustee, class leader - 3. Joseph De La Cour, steward
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