St. Paul's Episcopal Church
The congregation at St Paul’s is small - about 160 baptized members. Approximately half of them, however, are under the age of twenty-one. This roughly reflects the population in the city of Camden. We are black and white, city residents and suburbanites. We are from many parts of the world - the Caribbean, West Africa, Britain and the USA. We are steeped in the love of Jesus Christ and committed to sharing that love in practical ways. Our fellowship reaches beyond our baptized membership and seeks to embrace a wider community of people who worship with us or otherwise find strength for living by coming to this place.
St Paul’s is all about worship. The Holy Eucharist (Communion) is at the heart of our life together. The Sacrament in which Christ gives himself to us also defines who we are. As he gave, so we strive to give. Our hearts and minds are fed by the Word of God - the Word found in Scripture. The Word is read and preached at the Eucharist and heard as we mark times and seasons. Each Sunday closes with the offering of prayer and praise through the psalms, readings and biblical songs of Evening Prayer.
We try to keep our faith practical and real. We try to be welcoming to all in our community and to make no one feel uncomfortable. We try to address the basic needs and hungers of the poor in our midst, not as solutions to their problems, but as signs of the kingdom of God. We believe that such giving and caring is a natural extension of our worship of the God who said, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:27
8 AM Holy Eucharist and Homily
11 AM Sung Mass and sermon
5 PM Evensong
12:30 PM Eucharist
Sunday Morning Breakfast - the “Pancake House”
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
Since the late 1980’s a community breakfast has been served at St Paul’s to all who come. On any given Sunday anywhere from 80 to 140 people are seated and served a hot breakfast consisting of pancakes and eggs, often augmented by meat, muffins or other treats provided by volunteers. This work was started by the teens at St Paul’s who soon received the enthusiastic support of a host of volunteers from various parishes in the region surrounding Camden. Breakfast is served each Sunday from 9.00 am until 10.00 am regardless of weather or season. On the streets, St Paul’s is affectionately known as the “Pancake House”.
Sunday Night Supper - “Soup & Song”
“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3
Breakfast guests have always been invited and welcomed to the Sunday morning Eucharist, but for many, the idea of “Eucharist” seemed a step too far - too fast. In response, the leadership at St Paul’s began the Sunday evening service and community supper. The service follows the Prayer Book order of Evening Prayer augmented with hymns and a simple teaching homily. The supper which follows provides a meal, but also an opportunity for people to share fellowship in a church setting. For many it has provided a place to pray, to recollect, and to begin to tackle some of the serious issues that each new week brings. Anywhere from 50 to 100 people attend each week.
St. Paul's Food Basket
“I was hungry and you gave me food …” Matthew 25:35
It is painfully obvious in Camden that some people lack very simple, basic necessities like food. Since the early 1980’s St Paul’s has provided a food pantry. Each Friday morning a supplemental food bag is given to all on a “first come, first served” basis. This usually happens between 8.00 and 9.00 a.m. Approximately 120 bags are given out each week. The program is currently managed by volunteers from Grace Church, Haddonfield. They buy the food - much of it from the Food Bank of Southern New Jersey - they prepare the bags, and they distribute it.
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
Despair has turned many lives in Camden to alcohol and drugs as a means of escape. It is prevalent in the community and easily accessible to the young and vulnerable. At the same time, many who have been there and done that are willing to share their stories of pain and recovery with those still caught in the web. Situated as it is in downtown Camden, St Paul’s provides an ideal place for men and women to gather to support one another in their efforts to raise themselves up. St Paul’s congregation is happy to host a variety of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups, which meet seven days a week and sometimes several times a day. Members of these groups - though not always worshiping members at St Paul’s - are nevertheless part of the St Paul’s family.
“Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”Mark 10:14
In a city where one half of the population is under the age of twenty-one, it is not surprising that children and young people should be very close to the heart of the church. From 1990 onwards, St Paul’s has sponsored a summer program for city children. Since 2000 the program has been known as Camp Faith. Approximately 75 children registered for Camp Faith 2010. Eleven city teens were hired as camp counselors and had the opportunity to learn some basic work skills. The adult staff were all young adults who had themselves once been campers and counselors. The goal is to provide a joy filled and safe environment where children can come to know Jesus. Singing, Bible stories, games, athletics, crafts, and trips out are what is done. The cultivation of caring friendships is what helps to bind it all together. Monies to underwrite the cost of Camp Faith have to be raised annually. They flow from a wide community of generous supporters in the region and the diocese. The daily breakfasts and lunches are provided through a program of the State of New Jersey. Camp Faith normally runs five days a week in the five weeks following the first Monday after the Fourth of July.
"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." Luke 10:2
In the year that the Sunday breakfast began as a work of St Paul’s young people, Canon Bruce Weatherly, the then Rector of Trinity Church, Moorestown, hosted a meeting of concerned Christians from the all the parishes surrounding Camden. From that meeting grew the organization known as Project Interaction, which has become a major support for all that the congregation of St Paul’s does. Each Sunday, core Interaction members recruit others to help serve breakfast or supper. They are committed to fundraising to support St Paul’s outreach ministries. In 2009 they raised $30,000 to buy the brand new church van which was so instrumental in the summer camp program. The result of year’s of working together - interaction - has been the very happy relationships which have developed between city and suburban Christians. Most who are involved feel that they have been blessed.
422 Market St
Camden, NJ 08102-1526