100 Years Walking in Faith, and the Journey Continues…
Parkside United Methodist Church celebrates 100 years of service in the City of Camden, NJ. One hundred years of dedication to the Lord in ministry spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. Parkside United Methodist Church had its very humble beginning in July 1914. In response to the desire of Camden City’s Parkside area residents a Methodist Sunday School was formed in a rented room of the Community Athletic Association. Several months later, on the evening of November 15, 1914, the first church service of what is now called Parkside United Methodist Church was held. By March 1915, the church had outgrown its location and moved to a local movie house. In June 1915, Parkside United Methodist Church moved to its present location, 1420 Kaighns Avenue. Then a lot, the church constructed an edifice and a parsonage on the parcel.
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At its new location, church membership and ministries grew. During the next twenty years, evangelistic services and radio wired church services supported efforts of outreach to the community. In the late 1950’s, critical issues confronted the church. Financial needs and changing community demographics called for new methods in reaching people. In the 1960’s, the church became extremely involved with community, national and international issues, with a focus on housing, anti-racism and peace at home in a time when the nation was at war.
From 1914 through 1968, twenty-three dedicated, spirit-filled ministers strengthened Parkside United Methodist Church’s growth and service. In 1968, the Conference appointed Parkside’s first African-American pastor, Reverend Calvin R. Woods, who led the church until his retirement in 2011. In his 43 years of faithful service, he led the church in meeting broad-based community needs. He had a spiritual burden for youth discipleship, education, and God-centered marriages. The inception of both the food and the shepherds ministries are chronicled under his leadership.
Rev. Calvin R. Woods
Since its erection, the church facility has undergone numerous improvements which have served to advance ministry to church membership and the community. Today, this is reflected in growth from one twelve passenger van to three sixteen-passenger vans; central air conditioning; an electric chair lift; an outside message board; kitchen upgrades; a media room; and much more. These renovations have resulted in van ministry that supports all levels of church ministry and activity; community outreach; a progressive, multifaceted food ministry; street ministry; and media ministry, which includes recording of services and an ongoing weekly broadcast on WTMR-800 AM Radio for over twenty years.
Over the years, Parkside has continually pursued salvation opportunities for the lost, but also opportunities for discipleship. This has taken place through a litany of effective ministries, including but not limited to Men’s and Women’s ministries; Youth ministry; Young adult ministry; and Senior’s ministry. For the last several years, the food ministry serves many of the less fortunate and teaches Jesus Christ to them multiple times per week. The ministry has grown over the years and now many of those who were ministered to now minister to others. The church also expanded its outreach and began a “Praise and Worship” service that begins at 8:00 AM followed by breakfast fellowship at 9:00 AM each Sunday. This service has served as a catalyst for bringing many “who seek Him to those returning to Him into the body of believers.
From 2011-2015, Parkside United Methodist Church was under the leadership of Reverend James A. Keeton Jr. of Cairo, Georgia. Under his leadership, he continued to nurture and expand these ministries in the church. He also had a great passion for purpose-based ministry; cultivating a true relationship with Christ; and making disciples for God’s glory.
To God be the glory for the things He has done!