Little Rock Baptist Church History 1915 - Present
The Early Years: 1915-1919
On August 16, 1915, Reverend Edward Thomas and a small but faithful group of believers gathered under a tent at Second and Walnut Streets in Camden, New Jersey and formed what is now Little Rock Baptist Church. At that first gathering, Reverend Thomas was joined by Deacon Phil Hill, Sister Pearl Hill, Sister Dolly Austin-Perry, Trustee Howard White, Sister Irene Cook, Brother Sam Brown, Deacon Charles Williams and Deacon John Casey. The group held worship services under that tent until October 20, 1915, when Reverend Thomas and the congregation - that had grown to 15 members - moved to a building located at 219 Pine Street.
The group quickly became properly organized and was accepted into the Bethany Baptist Association in December 1915. During the first decade of ministry, Little Rock was led by its founder, Reverend Thomas, who was succeeded by Reverend Freeman, Reverend Dean, and Reverend Dobbins. Under Reverend Dean’s pastorate, the growing congregation would purchase a building at Locust and Pine Streets on August 22, 1919.
A Season of Building & Growth: 1924 – 1970
Reverend Joseph Lawson would pastor the Little Rock congregation from 1924-1929, during which time the building was enlarged and paid off. Reverend C.L. Hall would become the church’s next pastor and during his pastorate from 1930-1938, deacons were added to the church and in March of 1937 the church would relocate to 3rd and Beckett Streets.
In 1938, Reverend Willie L. Shumake was called as Little Rock’s sixth pastor. Reverend Shumake served the congregation and community for 26 years during which time the church continued to grow and prosper. Because of planned development by the city of Camden, the church was forced to seek a new location. On the first Sunday in November 1961, Reverend Shumake and the Little Rock congregation marched from 3rd and Beckett Streets to its new home and current location at 1210 Kenwood Avenue in Camden.
Reaching the Community for the Cause of Christ: 1970-2014
Reverend James E. Fitten was called to pastor Little Rock in 1970 and during his decade of service the church celebrated the burning of its mortgage. Reverend Robert H. Gordon Sr. was installed as pastor on September 18, 1983, and provided 23 years of dedicated service. Under Reverend Gordon’s leadership, the church made great strides in their spiritual growth, renewed old fellowships and gained new ones. Rev. Benjamin Caldwell was installed as pastor in 2011 following the departure of Rev. Gordon.
The tangible evidence of Little Rock’s commitment to Christ can be seen in the countless ways it has and continues to meet the needs of the Camden community. From food distribution and holiday toy drives to prison and nursing home visitation and substance abuse counseling, God is using Little Rock to meet critical needs in the City of Camden. And a basketball and football league, Girl Scout troop, after-school tutoring program, teen mentoring program and partnership with Campbell Soup Company to provide a summer recreation program have made Little Rock a safe haven for the young people of Camden.
The Second Century of Ministry: 2015
In Little Rock’s 100th year in ministry, the church called its 12th pastor, Reverend Steven T. Mack. The Little Rock family is grateful to God for the vision and faithfulness of those nine persons who laid the foundation on a summer day in 1915. We celebrate all that He has done in the life of Little Rock and look forward with great anticipation to a second century of ministry.