History of St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church
The Reverend Edward Wortham founded the St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church in 1925. The Church operated as a mission in a small canvas tent during the summer months, and at the home of Reverend Wortham during the cold winter months. The mission assumed the name of Union A.M.E. Zion Church.
In 1927, a small frame building was started. Some of the materials were donated by local businesses. A charter was obtained from the A.M.E. Zion Conference in 1928 and the Church then became know as the St. Mark A.M.E. Church.
In 1938, a masonry building was started and work progressed slowly over the years. The 1940's witnessed the finishing of the exterior of the building coordinated with a small expansion of the vestibule.
The 1950's ushered in an improvement of the interior of the building. This was a compromise, for the ultimate goal the congregation had was a completely new building. During the 1950's the building fund originated. This fund grew slowly until 1965; when under the leadership of the late Reverend Pinder, the previous building was renovated.
This was accomplished by the use of funds accumulated in the building fund, and the acquisition of a small mortgage. Later two additional lots were acquired, and the church became incorporated, and the drive was on for a new and larger church building. The members put their trust in God for help in their endeavor to accomplish their goal.
In 1973, a mortgage committee was instituted under the presidency of Sister Rachael Gumbs to guide the membership in paying of the mortgage of the new St. Mark. Work, planning and sacrifice continued through the years until on March 31, 1974 the groundbreaking ceremony for the present building was held.
The old building was demolished to make room for the new building. During the construction of the new building, services were held in the basement of the parsonage next door. Many memorable services were held in those temporary quarters.
Work progressed rapidly under the direction of Mr. Edward C. Erdmann, the general contractor and on September 8,1974 the first service was held in the new building.
The members of the St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church worked hard to realize this new church building. The building fund drives were initiated by the resource-
Fullness of such members as Earle Gumbs, who was a good class leader and church steward; Ephraim Hughes, Philip Gumbs, and other members of the Trustee and Steward Boards who worked along with other members of the church.
The men and women worked in competition with each other on the rival drives of friendly battle. The woman would try to raise as much money as they could to surpass the goal of the men. The men would then try to raise more money to surpass the goal the women had set.
The women though are the backbone of the church; they kept pushing the men and through God's grace were able to raise large sums of money by working together. As· a result, we were able to construct a church building that our parents worked hard for, and dreamed of building in this community.
The church government is vested in the Boards and Trustees, Stewards, and Stewardess, who worked with the pastor and help shape the policies of the church and assist in carrying our the many programs. Other branches consist of Missionaries, Class Leaders, Usher Board, Sunday school, Choirs, Mortgage Committee, and Board of Christian Education.
Therefore, with the help of God and the cooperation of the people we succeeded with the motto for our endeavors that "With God All Things Are Possible."
With many goals to be attained, "The new St. Mark" building was dedicated on June 22, 1974 by Bishop William Milton Smith, the Presiding Bishop of the Second Episcopal District A.M.E. Zion Church, Presiding Elder William Allen Blackwell of the Camden District, and Reverend Benjamin H. Henderson II, Pastor.
A trip to Disney World, Florida was one of the outstanding events of the 1978 calendar year. This trip was funded in its entirety by the church membership for the Sunday School Department.
The Christian Board of Education established the Scholarship Fund. The Dependable Club of Cliffwood, New Jersey initiated in November 1976, a $1,000.00 donation to the Christian Board of Education for its Scholarship Fund. This fund was established to encourage our graduates of the membership of this church to continue their educational endeavors.
With our new facilities we were able to host the One Day Check-Up meeting in December 1976, and also to host the Camden District Meeting of the New Jersey Conference in September 1977.
The Pastor, Officers and members of St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church wish to extend their gratitude and appreciation to the Dependables of Cliffwood, New Jersey for their contributions in the amount of $30,000.00 over the years.
Some of the original members were:
Mrs. Lillian Page, Mrs. Zettie Wilma Johnson, Mrs. Louise Rogers, Mrs. Elizabeth Tullis, Mrs. King, Mrs. Margie Newton, Mr. Alfred Richardson. Some of the other members who served over the years and have passed on are Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Page, Mr. & Mrs. Henry Washington, Mr. & Mrs. Edgar Rogers, Mrs. Ivy Richardson, Mr. Nathan Gumbs, Mr. Montague Hughes, Mr. & Mrs. William Richardson, Mr. & Mrs. Esaw, Mr. Clifton James, Mrs. Sarah Rogers, Mrs. Elizabeth Tullis, Mrs. Ressie Garrett, Mr. Nathaniel Johnson, Laura Hodge and Mrs. Pope.
This new church building is a dream of these former members that now has become a reality. A place of comfort where you can give praises to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the blessings we have received.
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