CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY

ZION WESLEY CHURCH
aka Zion Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Church
aka Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church 
753 Sycamore Street
Northeast corner of Maurice & Sycamore Street

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

zion wesley church is situated on the corner of Ann Street (later renamed Maurice Street-PMC) and Sycamore.  It was first known as the Wesley Church. The congregation is the outgrowth of a number of prayer meetings which were held in different houses in the vicinity of the church in 1851 and 1852. The first meeting was held in the house of William Christopher, on Kaighn Avenue. The ministers who officiated at the original meetings were Revs. George Johnson and Mrs. Mary Adams. The latter had been a missionary to Africa for five years, took a great interest in the endeavor to organize a church society and collected funds to purchase a lot as a site for a church building. In 1853 funds had been raised to build a one-story frame church, which was completed the same year and dedicated by Bishop Clinton, of Philadelphia. Thirty-five persons joined the church, and a Sunday school was started with forty members in attendance. The church was soon after rebuilt with greater dimensions, but as the church records are incomplete, the exact date of rebuilding is unknown. In 1880 the old church building was taken down and a large two-story brick one, forty by seventy feet, with vestry rooms and gallery, was built, and dedicated with the present name of Zion Wesley Church. The congregation was then under the pastoral care of Rev. Joseph P. Thompson. The ministers who have been assigned by Conference to this charge are Revs. Thomas Castor, George Johnson, Arthur J. Scott, William H. Blackston, George Hilton, George Bausley, J. B. Truster, Joseph P. Thompson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Anderson and John H. White. The congregation in 1886 has one hundred and thirty members. The Sunday school has eighty pupils.  

Additional Notes by Phillip Cohen

 The church hosted the meetings of A.M.E. Church New Jersey Conference in 1879, 1882, and 1891. By 1947 the congregation raised enough funds to build a fine annex on the west side of the church building, at 1130 Maurice Street. Wesley Zion A.M.E. was still located on Sycamore Street and part of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1967, when funeral services were conducted for Private First Class Joseph William Francis Jr., killed in action while serving in Vietnam. Shortly thereafter the church relocated to 7th and Division Streets. 

By 1970 a new congregation, the Mount Olive Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, had occupied the building. This group lasted apparently into the 1980s or early 1990s, when the building was abandoned. As of 2006 the Christian Methodist Episcopal  denomination does not have a presence in new Jersey. The nearest C.M.E. congregation is in Sharon Hill PA.


1946
Map of Camden

The church stands on Sycamore Street, just off of Maurice Street, in the lower left corner of this map.

Click on Image to Enlarge


1130 Maurice Street

Wesley A.M.E. Church Annex
by 1947 though 2006





















REV. J. P. THOMPSON
from the book

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH;
OR, THE CENTENNIAL OF AFRICAN METHODISM
BY
BISHOP J. W. HOOD, D.D., LL.D., AUTHOR OF The Two Characters and Two Destinies.
A. M. E. ZION BOOK CONCERN, 353 Bleecker Street, New York City - 1895
Copyright, 1895, by J. W. HOOD, FAIRFIELD, N. C.

        J. P. Thompson was converted March 18, 1868, in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Fair Haven, N. J., under the pastorate of Rev. J. S. Marshall. He joined the church the same night of his conversion, and three months from that night he was made assistant class leader.

Three months later he was given a trial sermon by Rev. Henry H. Dumson. One year later he joined the Annual Conference at Jersey City, Bishop J. J. Clinton presiding; he was presented for admission by Rev. Charles Robinson, and was admitted with eight others. He had a conversation with Bishop Clinton about Church work and the ministerial work and life. "Well," said he, "boy, the first thing is to know that you are converted; the second is to know your calling and live a Christian life. Study night and day, and the right kind of books. Exercise a humble spirit, and success will attend you." He also said, "You must do something for God and Zion. You must organize and bring in new societies, and also build churches, that Zion may spread her borders. Look after the general interest of the connection." His first station was at Harlem, N. Y.; he remained there one year and was quite successful, having a great revival and adding twenty to the church. He was then transferred to the New Jersey Conference and stationed at Paterson. There he found the church in a despairing condition, both temporally and spiritually, with twenty-four members. The second year he added twenty-five feet to the church, raised the ceiling, and handsomely seated it. God poured out his Spirit, and a great revival followed, about thirty-six being converted. He left a debt of $150 to go to Camden, N. J., where he found the church in a very precarious condition. The people supposed that they owned the ground, but he discovered that they possessed no title. In order to secure them a title he was in the Court of Chancery two years. The court decided in favor of the church. He then repaired it. In his third year he had a great revival, and ninety-three were converted. He also built them a handsome new brick church and left a debt of $2,000. While building this church he went to Atlantic City, N. J., and organized a society; three weeks after the organization he purchased a handsome church in Ohio Avenue, and put them in it and organized a fine Sunday school. This is now one of the finest churches in the Conference.

        Red Bank, N. J., was his next appointment, which was his spiritual home, where he was converted, licensed, recommended to the Annual Conference, and ordained elder by Bishop Clinton. He found the church property $600 more in debt than it was when dedicated. He paid $1,700, leaving only $600. He then built a fine parsonage. That year ninety-six were converted and added to the church.

        The Newark church, after a struggle of twelve years, was about to be stricken off the Conference roll. He asked Bishop Moore to place it under his supervision. He reorganized the church, consisting of five members (Brother Benjamin Richardson and family), built them a little chapel 24 by 40 feet, and presented it to the Conference with a membership of twenty-four. The second year of his pastorate at Red Bank he went to Reveytown and organized a society of twenty-five members, built them a frame church, and presented it to the Conference free of debt. During the third year at Red Bank he went to Asbury Park, N. J., and bought a lot for $600 for the Mission Board. He asked the board to send him $25, which they did, and he secured the lot. He then commenced to build. He went to all the lumber yards and begged lumber for the church, assisted by Rev. J. H. White. They succeeded in building the church for the Mission Board. He was then transferred to the Philadelphia and Baltimore Conference, and appointed to Philadelphia by Bishop Hood, who informed him that he desired him to get the church away from the location on Lombard Street, near Sixth, as he was satisfied it could not be built up at that place. The second year he sold the old church and bought the splendid edifice at the corner of Fifteenth and Lombard Streets, the church which Bishop Hood selected as the one he would like them to buy. It had not been offered for sale at the time he told them of it, but Providence favored them. This became the leading colored church. In the old church, when Thompson took charge, the morning congregation numbered about forty persons, evening about sixty, Sabbath school one hundred and fifty. In the new church on his fourth year he had a congregation of one thousand and a Sabbath school numbering more than five hundred.

        Under Elder Thompson's direction the sacred dead, including the body of Bishop J. J. Clinton, were removed from the old church ground to the cemetery at West Philadelphia. He was sent to John Wesley's Church, Washington, D. C. At his first rally he raised $400, which paid all the interest due on the church. Finding the church unable to meet its liabilities, he built six houses, including a parsonage, on the lot, which would bring a revenue sufficient to meet all expenses and eventually pay off the main debt. At this juncture he found the property was deeded to individuals and not to the

members of the church. By a great effort he succeeded in having the deed made according to the Discipline. They then had a glorious revival; sixty souls were converted, and the church and Sabbath school were built up. He was then sent to York, remained three months, and was then transferred to the Missouri Conference and stationed at Washington Chapel, St. Louis. He found it an inferior structure and somewhat in debt. He first paid off all indebtedness, and then made preparations to build, but found that the property was not secure. It was deeded to individuals outside of the church, who refused to give them a deed. It cost $700 to get a deed. They then erected a new church, stone front, with polished granite pillars 50 by 126 feet, a fine tower 156 feet high, in which there is a grand bell. The church is handsomely finished and valued at $30,000, on which there is now an indebtedness of about $15,000. The congregation is steadily increasing.

Camden Courier-Post - June 28, 1933

COLORED ELKS ON PARADE HERE AS CONVENTION OPENS
State Lodge to Elect Today; . Ball at Convention Hall Tonight
CHEERED BY THOUSANDS

More than 2000 members of the I.B.P.E., Colored Elks, participated last, night in a colorful parade here as climax to, the opening day of the tenth annual state convention of the order.

The marchers were reviewed from a stand at the courthouse by J. Finley Wilson, of Philadelphia, grand exalted ruler of the order and his staff.

Pride of Camden Lodge, No. 83, which is acting as host to the visiting members, was led by G. A. Gerran, exalted ruler. Thousands along the line of march applauded their fine appearance in blue and white uniforms.

Among lodges represented were Atlantic City, Orange, Plainfield, Quaker City and O. V. Catto of Philadelphia, Chester and Wilmington lodges and Manhattan Lodge of New York.

Music was provided by many bands, fife and drum corps and string organizations.

The convention was opened in the Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church, Ninth Street and Kaighn Avenue.

William C. Hueston, former assistant solicitor of the U. S. Post Office Department, and Elks' commissioner of education; addressed the meeting, reporting that the organization spends more than $9000 a year for scholarships for colored students.

The delegates were welcomed to Camden by, Assistant Solicitor Lewis Liberman.

Speakers also included William C. Russell of Atlantic City, second vice president of the state association; Ira Hall, past state president; and W. L. Carter, general chairman of the state association committee.

The business sessions are being held in the home of Pride of Camden Lodge, 711 Kaighn Avenue, while the temples are meeting in Wesley A. M., E. Church.

Elections will be held today and the convention will close tonight with a ball at Convention Hall.

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