With a murder rate ten times higher than that of New York City, with drugs and crime pervading our streets, Camden, NJ, for the third time in five years, has been listed by numerous media outlets as the worst city in the nation. Homelessness, drug abuse, and prostitution have destroyed our communities and laid a blanket of darkness and cloud of hopelessness in this dilapidated city. So, what is God’s response to the decadence and despair that we find in the city of Camden? He has planted a church that will exalt his name and make his Son the most famous one in the city. Epiphany Fellowship of Camden, which was planted by former Tenth staff member and PCA Elder Doug Logan is a community of believers that exists to have gospel impact in one of the country’s poorest and most violent cities.
In Jeremiah 29 we find our example for how we should live out the gospel in the city of Camden. First, God says to “build houses and live in them.” Our team has followed this wisdom, recognizing that incarnational living is essential to evangelism. Hence, our staff have all bought houses in the city of Camden in order to live in the midst of the pain of our neighbors. Next, Jeremiah says to “take wives and multiply,” and every member of our team is now married and starting a family in the city. Following this, Jeremiah tells his audience to “multiply there, and do not decrease.” We have a multi-generational vision: Our children will marry others from this city, continuing the process of redemption, which the Lord has started and, we believe, will continue. The words of Jeremiah then encourage us to “seek the welfare of the city,” and we believe we are doing that on many different levels. First, we strive to meet the physical and spiritual needs of Camden, by making disciples, which thereby motivates social action. Also, we have seen prominent drug dealers and killers come to Christ and get baptized, and they are now using their positions of prestige in the city to share and live the gospel. Additionally, we have adopted a basketball court and hold an annual backpack drive in order to care for the children of Camden. We have a vision of being a ministry epicenter in the city, where people can have both their physical and spiritual needs met. Finally, through the words of Jeremiah, the Lord also tells us “it is a lie that they are prophesying to you,” and this passage has affected us in profound ways. Camden is saturated with false teaching/teachers, and the majority of churches are proponents of either the prosperity gospel or the social gospel. And many pastors are clearly unsaved, as they openly reject the great commission. Epiphany Camden is the only Reformed church in the city of Camden, and one of the only, if not the only, gospel-centered churches in the city. Epiphany Camden has acted as a beacon of light in a place that is spiritually dark. The citizens who have been to church have typically been abused by their pastors or have been taught false doctrine. It is our mission to confront false teaching and educate our disciples with biblical truth.
Over the past two years we have met at St. Joan of Arc Church (Catholic), which has been a blessing but has also presented many challenges. Since St. Joan of Arc still holds services, there is only a small window of time for us to set up and tear down our equipment. This has proven to be stressful and difficult at times. Additionally, since the building is only available on Sunday mornings, we don’t have a space to use throughout the week. By God’s grace we have found a permanent building to purchase in the Whitman Park section of Camden. The building of Fourth Presbyterian Church has been closed for several years and has recently been made available for sale. We have decided to purchase this property, and while it needs some significant work, we hope to be holding services there in 18 months or less. Additionally, in North Camden we have found a very nice rental space inside a warehouse, previously used as a large recording studio, to move to while we await the completion of our building. We hope to finish all renovations and be moved into this rental space by next Sunday!
With that said, please continue to pray for and support God’s mission and vision in this city. Also, please pray specifically for the many residents of Whitman Park and North Camden, as we are so excited to engage these neighborhoods with the gospel! Pray earnestly to the God of the harvest to provide co-laborers of the gospel and many more conversions.