Every Sunday we have both traditional and casual worship services. At the traditional service, the adult choir sings weekly, the youth choir sings once a month, and the bell choir plays once a month. Communion takes place on the first Sunday, with the pastor officiating and the deacons serving the congregation. Lay people assist in the pulpit weekly, with youth participation on the fourth Sunday. There is a 'Moment with the Youth'. Lay leaders facilitate the casual service. Child care is available. Sunday School is held for all ages.
There is a time of greeting during each service, and a fellowship hour afterwards, hosted by various boards. Congregation members can fill out prayer request cards for specific concerns or praises. The staff addresses these needs at their weekly planning meeting, and concerns are listed in both the Sunday Bulletin and the monthly Messenger, along with other announcements. Pulpit flowers are delivered to homebound members.
A mid-week prayer and Bible study is hosted by lay leaders. Numerous women’s prayer groups and book study groups meet monthly at various venues and begin each Fall with a kick-off dinner. Needs-based small groups and counseling sessions are formed by the pastor as situations arise. Family night dinners are bi-monthly. We have a very active chartered Boy Scout troop, and our young people meet once a month with youth from other Baptist churches in the area. We also host a concert series which is open to the public.
Haddonfield has a very active Council of Churches and Council of Church Musicians. There are many ecumenical events: Ash Wednesday service, Good Friday service, Thanksgiving service, National Day of Prayer, weekly Lenten noontime services, Cathedral Kitchen, Feed My Starving Children, MLK Day of Service, Choir Festival, and monthly fellowship breakfasts. The Council of Churches also uses funds from each of the churches to employ a Social Worker who deals with special needs situations.
The church is very mission-oriented. Some of our local efforts include Cathedral Kitchen, Angel Tree, Christmas Child, Camden Food Bank, Camden bag lunches, Urban Promise, Camden Forward School, Ronald McDonald House, and IHOC (homeless outreach). We host weekly AA meetings. We have close ties to Riverview Estates (Baptist Home of South Jersey) and Baptist Camp Lebanon. The Deacons collect a Fellowship offering every month which is used to help those in need. Our foreign mission efforts include medical missions to Ukraine and India, educational support for Bethlehem Bible College and Hands Across the Nile, numerous projects in Rwanda, and cultural exchanges with Germany and China. We host the Asian Baptist Church, which was founded to serve Burmese religious refugees, and which is involved in several mission trips to South Korea. There is a special mission speaker at least once a year.
Elected Church Boards meet once a month. Business Meetings are scheduled quarterly, with the Annual Business Meeting in January. The Church Covenant is read in unison at the beginning of each Business Meeting. Members vote on Board members and Church Representatives, the Church and Mission budgets, and other items of importance.
We welcome more members and visitors, especially young people, to worship with us and to help in carrying out all of our programs, ministries, and missions.
The congregation of the First Baptist Church of Haddonfield consists of 213 members, plus about forty nonmember regular attendees.
The attendance at the traditional worship service is usually about eighty. About 75% of these people are members. Attendance at the non-traditional service is about twelve, approximately half members and half non-members. Some people attend both services.
We have some home-bound members who need pastoral care, and also some who have moved a distance away yet who remain active through prayer, support of missions and ministries, and contact with local members and staff.
Many in the congregation are long-term members : 15% have been members for over fifty years(up to 79 years!!!) Other terms of membership are approximately 35 % 1-9 years, 22% 10 – 19 years, 5% 20 -29 years, 15%30 – 39 years, and 8% 40 – 49 years .
The age range for members is teens through the nineties, with the majority being older persons. The breakdown is 3% teens, 5% twenties, 12% thirties, 10% forties, 14% fifties, 15% sixties, 19% seventies, 14% eighties, and 8% nineties. There are few young children, although happily the nursery population is increasing.
Of our members who live locally, about 25%, live in Haddonfield. Others live in nearby Cherry Hill, Westmont, Collingswood, Mount Laurel, Audubon, Merchantville, and various other small towns in the area. Of our non-member regular attendees, ten live in Cherry Hill and eight in Haddonfield. The remainder come from Westmont, Collingswood, Merchantville, Marlton, Voorhees ,and Pennsauken, with some from as far away as Somerdale (8 miles), Woodbury (11 miles), and Mickleton (19 miles). ( Note that a half dozen of these non-members are spouses of members who accompany their husbands or wives to church.)
It is important to note that, while there are many very long-term members, there are a number of people who have known only one pastor in their lives, as Reverend Dr. Feicht was here for twenty- seven years. It is a testament to the faithfulness of the congregation and to the excellence of our interim pastor, Reverend Nevin Werron, that no one has left the church since Pastor Feicht retired in November of 2018. Another excellent sign is the fact that we have recently welcomed six new members, something that is virtually unheard of during an interimship.
We have numerous members who were previously unchurched, and also persons with Catholic backgrounds. These are the people who, in general only, have a limited concept of how an American Baptist Church functions as an institution, even though membership classes attempt to provide insights into this subject.
We also have people who have addiction issues and are in recovery programs, so care must be taken to support them in their struggles.
The congregation has many ethnicities and nationalities, among them people from Canada, China, India, Puerto Rico, Saint Croix, and South Korea. (Many of these folks are first generation.) We also have close ties to people from Rwanda and the Ukraine. Several conclusions can be drawn from these demographics. We need a pastor who deals well with all age groups, including the elderly, and who will draw in young families. He or she should be considerate of the quite varied backgrounds of the members and strive to guide them to the Lord’s purpose, and also build upon the multi-cultural population of this cosmopolitan area.
The congregation has always been an extremely loving and welcoming one. Perhaps that is why, in the current climate, we are drawing the unchurched, those with physical and emotional challenges, and people with diverse backgrounds.
The graveyard at the rear of the first and second meeting houses on the eastern side of Haddonfield was established because custom was to inter as close to the place of worship as possible. About one half of the land purchased from Elizabeth West was laid out with two avenues and a range of lots to the left and the right. A pew holder had a choice of any lot and, if payment of a pew for a four year time was received, the person could choose the lot with no other payment needed. A person was also exempt from paying $4.00 for every adult and $2.00 for any child under the age of fourteen for the opening of a grave.
A fence was soon placed around the church and cemetery yard to keep the wandering cows and pigs out. The first lot owners were Philip Stoy, Zacharius Logan and Louisa Willis. In the beginning, no markers were placed in the cemetery, following the Quaker’s influence of not marking grave sites. The Quaker church was the only other church in Haddonfield. Also, the first interments were not recorded, but John Clement wrote in his diary the interments of prominent town people. Two burials in 1819 were for Elizabeth Logan, an eleven month child and Louisa Willis, a thirty seven year old woman. In the year 1891, written records of burials were started.
The cemetery was originally founded to provide a resting place for members of the congregation. However, people of the community liked the convenience of its location and natural attractions, so the cemetery was opened to all denominations. More land was bought and two houses were removed from the property. Reverend Sisty, the first minister, and his family are located in one of the older sections.
Back in 1977, there were approximately five hundred grave sites. At present, there are one hundred and fifty full burials with eighty five cremation sites. The cemetery may be older than two hundred years but it is still active. In the past ten years, there have been approximately twenty six interments yearly.
The cemetery has influence on the First Baptist Church of Haddonfield because baptisms were first completed in Evans Pond, located on the border of the cemetery. In 1836, steps were made to get a person from the grave yard to the water and in 1837; a baptistery was built in the second meeting house. The Social Circle erected the John Sisty Memorial Chapel in 1890 on site, where the first meeting house was located. This building houses the history of the cemetery. In 1948, the building was to be sold, fortunately with a change of minds and a slight problem with moving the building, this idea was canceled. The rural Gothic style chapel has a one hundred and twenty nine years impact on Haddonfield history.