1500 South 8th Street

On July 18, 1917, a group of like-minded Christian people, led by the Spirit, met in the home of Mrs. Ella Jones (known to all as Mother Jones) at 320 Summit Street, in the North Camden section of the city. During this meeting it was decided that they would organize a new church. At the time of this organization there were only six (6) members. The Rev. W.P. Moore was the organizer and first pastor who set this new branch Zion on its way.

Mrs. Stella Mincey, the daughter of Mother Jones and now deceased, was among that early group of organizers and was the first candidate. In 1919, the church was officially chartered at Camden City Hall and therefore incorporated. Soon after this, under the leadership of Rev. Mr. Moore, the church moved to 960 Federal Street where the accommodations for carrying out the work of The Master were more adequate.

Like all organizations and movements that persist through the years, First Nazarene has had her toils and torments, but the sustaining power of God has been ever present to sustain and keep her to allow her to weather the storm. As The Lord continued to add to the church, the building on Federal Street was no longer sufficient to accommodate the burgeoning congregation. A committee headed by Deacon Lonnie C. Mincey, the first to be ordained by the church, was sent forth to secure larger quarters. Deacon Mincey was also the second preacher to be ordained by the church. Deacon Mincey proclaimed that Divine Guidance had led him to an edifice at 410 Line Street. First Nazarene worshiped for many years in that building.

During the years that the church was located on Line Street, it continued to be pastured by Rev. W. P. Moore until his passing. The church was then pastured by the Rev. C.D. Armstrong, followed by the Rev. N.G. Greene, Rev. Dudley, Rev. Wimberly, Rev. H.W. Watson and the Rev. Mark O. Thompson.

Reverend Thompson’s pastorate of First Nazarene is indeed a great page in the history of this church. There was a tremendous increase in the membership of the church during his ministry, and soon the build­ing on
Line Street was no longer sufficient for its many members. The Sheppard’s Hall at 438–40 Stevens Street was purchased and on the third Sunday in April of 1937, it became the new house of worship for our congregation. Thus for twenty-seven (27) years it was our home of spiritual training, guidance and fulfill­ment for our many parishioners.

In the latter years of Rev. Thompson’s ministry, the church suffered a split. The courageous efforts of the remaining officers and members kept the church moving forward. In July of that same year, a young man, The Rev. R.F. Devereaux, then pastor of the Evergreen Baptist Church of Palmyra, New Jersey, was called to fill the pulpit here at First Nazarene. Rev. Devereaux, a powerful and energetic preacher, was one of Camden’s greatest Gospel preachers. Those who were there and can remem­ber are wit­nesses that First Nazarene has been pastured by some of Camden’s most soul-stirring preachers.

Many accomplishments were achieved during Rev. Devereaux’s tenure. Among them were the burning of the mortgage on the church property in 1942, thereby clearing the church of all of its indebtedness, the complete renovation of the building, the purchase of a pipe organ which cost more than $2,000.00, and new pews costing nearly $1,400.00. Also, during this period, more than 200 new members were added to the church.

In September of 1949, Rev. Devereaux was called to pastor the New Thankful Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Again, the pulpit at First Nazarene was vacant, but not for long. On the first Sunday in Novem­ber of 1949, the Rev. Ethridge Williamson, Sr. preached his first sermon as the new pas­tor of the First Nazarene Bap­tist Church.

Calling Rev. Williamson as pastor was unique in many ways. First, he was a young and inexperienced minister and he had never served as a pastor prior to this calling. Besides this, he was a member of First Nazarene and had been since the early days of his youth. Rev. Williamson had been baptized by the Rev. Mark O. Thompson in May 1931. He received all of his early religious training and inspiration here, although during that period he had no thoughts of entering into the ministry. His father, Mr. Benjamin Williamson was a deacon at First Nazarene for forty (40) years. His mother, Mrs. Sarah Williamson was President of the Deaconess Club in its for­mation in 1956.

The youth and relative lack of experience of Rev. Williamson were no serious obstacles to him. He was natural and God gifted leader. The growth and progress of the church again necessitated the congregation to seek another larger building. The stamina and faith of the members working with Pastor Williamson led the church to take on the noble adventure to, for the first time, start the construction of the first brand new church home for First Nazarene.

In 1964, the Lord allowed First Nazarene to march into our new edifice located at 1476 South Eighth Street. One needed only to observe this beautiful new House of Worship erected at the corner of Eighth and Fairmont Streets that materialized during Reverend Williamson’s ministry to real­ize his leadership qualities and ability.

Under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Williamson, many souls were brought to Christ. During his ministry several groups were formed, including the Scholarship Club, the Young Adult Usher Board, Welcome Committee and the Deaconess Club. In 1974 we had the Burning of the Church Mortgage. The church purchased an electrically powered printing press, began our duplex offering system and purchased a Life Membership in the NAACP. Later in 1974, the Lord called home His servant, The Rev. E. Williamson, Sr. For two and one half years, Deacon Henry Sommerville, Chairman of the Fellowship of Deacons and other officers cared for this flock.

In November of 1976, The Rev. John A. Jones of Wash­ing­ton, D.C. was called as Pas­tor. Under the leadership of Pastor Jones First Nazarene operates its Spiritual Hospital. Under his Pastorate the First Nazarene Baptist Church has had continual spiritual growth and Christian Fellowship. We con­sider Nazarene not a church, but an experience, where the Word of God comes alive.

There were many improve­ments made to the phys­i­cal struc­ture of our House of Worship under the leadership of Pastor Jones. A new ceil­ing was installed and the Pul­pit area and choir loft were enlarged. A new air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem as well as a new audio and com­puter rooms were installed. The church also pur­chased the garages adja­cent to the church and land across the street in hopes of pro­vid­ing addi­tional park­ing facil­i­ties. First Nazarene pro­vides services to the com­mu­nity through Sun­day School, Wednes­day night Prayer Meet­ing and Bible classes, Sun­day wor­ship ser­vices and Vaca­tion Bible School.

For the advance­ment of our Out­reach Pro­gram, Pas­tor Jones can be heard preaching the Word of God on Sun­day morn­ing radio dur­ing the Nazarene Hour which airs on WTMR Radio 800 on the AM dial, in order to spread the Word to those who are sick, shut-in or incarcerated. This pro­gram runs from 9:00 am to 10:00 am. Cas­sette tapes, CD’s andDVD’s of all services are avail­able for purchase.

Pas­tor Jones has led First Nazarene to reach out to the youth of our com­mu­nity by “adopt­ing” and sup­port­ing our com­mu­ni­ties schools, including Camden High School, Woodrow Wilson High School, The Med­ical Arts High School, The Creative Arts High School, The Riletta T. Cream Fam­ily School and Sumner Elementary School. Pas­tor Jones also believes in sup­port­ing our community’s pro­tec­tors, the Cam­den City Police and Fire Depart­ments and EMT Ser­vices. He has also been named an hon­orary chap­lain to the New Jer­sey State Police.

As First Nazarene con­tin­ued to grow under the dynamic and prophetic lead­er­ship of Pas­tor Jones, the need to expand our facil­i­ties again became evi­dent to the church and an ambi­tious build­ing fund project was ini­ti­ated. A con­scious deci­sion was made by the enthu­si­as­tic con­gre­ga­tion to stay rooted within the com­mu­nity in order to con­tinue to uplift the com­mu­nity of Cam­den spir­i­tu­ally, as well as mate­ri­ally. In August of 2005 a ground break­ing cer­e­mony was held to start con­struc­tion of a new church building. 

Then on February 2007, after much prayer and supplica­tion, The Lord allowed First Nazarene Baptist Church to march from our old home at 1476 South Eighth Street into a beautiful new edifice and sanctuary located a block and a half away at 1500 South Eighth Street.

Giving, missions and community outreach continue to be hallmarks of First Nazarene under the leadership of Rev. J.A. Jones. Believing in the scriptures that says “faith without works is dead” the church initiated the Community Bread Basket Ministry which provides food and grocery items to local families in need, the Prison Ministry for those who are incarcerated, and Community Evangelism ministry to spread the Word of God and hope to those with­out hope.

As our 100th anniversary becomes visible on the horizon, First Nazarene continues to be a growing, vibrant and spiritually directed community of believers “Where the Word of God Comes Alive”, look­ing to make a significant and lasting impact in our community and our world through the advance­ment of the Gospel or Good News of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!.