The History of Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church


Camphor’s first church service took place as a prayer meeting at the home of the late Mr. and Mrs. Alfred McFarland and their children.  In spite of a severe storm that night, the following people weathered the inclement weather:  John P. Douglas, Sr., John P. Douglas, Jr. Mrs. Julia D. Lewis, Mrs. J. B. Crafton, Mrs. Louise Douglas Johnson, Mrs. Mabel Douglas Hardaway, Mrs. Inez Douglas Bruce, Mrs. Tennia Thomas, Miss Lucille Shannon, Bertrand Shannon (a baby) and Mr. J. B. Crafton.  Camphor Memorial was named for the Reverend Alexander Priestly Camphor, a Methodist Bishop.

                                                           OLD CAMPHOR CHURCH SANCTUARY

The church had services in various places such as afternoon services in Grace Church, in the Old Pilgrim Baptist Church –then located at 10th and Cedar Streets, then at Union Hall (now Martin Luther King Center,) the Y. W.C. A. Center on Central Ave near Dale St.  The first permanent home for the congregation was in the Danish Norwegian Methodist Church located at 13th and Broadway Streets, purchased at a cost of $13.500.00 which was paid for by the small congregation with the assistance of the ever generous and congenial Board of Missions and Church Extensions of the Methodist Church.


The building on Broadway was red brick with a huge organ.  It had a large kitchen and dining area; and even though there were two furnaces we are told that during the winter months the members did not take their coats off.  The parsonage was attached to the church, another big cold place to heat.  The downstairs had a big pot-bellied stove in the front of the house and a cookstove in the back. 


In August 1931, the congregation purchased the Messiah Episcopal Church building at 585 Fuller Avenue (our present location.)  In November 1970 this building was demolished.  The congregation then worshipped for 15 months in the Hallie Q. Brown Center.  Groundbreaking for the new Camphor Church was held May 7, 1972 and the congregation worshipped in that new church building for the first time on Sunday February 18, 1973.


Camphor Church has a wonderful, rich history. In 2004-2005 the present building was updated, and additional space was added to the existing building.   Dedication of the renovated church building was held September 11, 2005.


Camphor Memorial continues exploring new ways to have a solid presence in its community and new ways to take the Gospel of Jesus beyond its four walls and out into the world.