A small group of Christians in Gloucester County, NJ who had been driving to churches in Burlington and Camden counties, as well as into Philadelphia, PA, decided it was time to start a local church. On November 1, 1959, the Pitman Church of Christ began meeting in a VFW hall in the small borough of Pitman. Within a year of the first meeting, the church hired its first full time minister, and within the next two years, land was purchased and construction began on the congregation’s first building, located on Holly Avenue, on the border of Pitman and Washington Township.
The congregation continued to thrive through the turbulent years of the 1960’s. Most significant was the effort by the congregation’s second long-term minister, Paul Cantrell, to make the Pitman church an inclusive church; encouraging and welcoming African Americans into the congregation. It was by no means a completely smooth transition. Today, Pitman Road continues to be unique in its racial diversity, with many of those earliest African American members still worshipping with us.
The 1970s through early 1980’s was marked by an active campus ministry at Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) and two church plants: the Vineland Church of Christ in 1972, and the Laurelwood Church of Christ in 1982. The campus ministry ended by the mid 1980’s and both of the planted churches closed their doors after several decades. Many of members from those church became active members of the Pitman congregation, and interestingly, one of our current shepherds was converted through the campus ministry, and another through the Laurelwood church.
In 1984, the Pitman church hired its fourth long-term minister, Dan Cooper. He and his wife Katherine continue their ministry at the congregation today. Dan’s emphasis on “friendship evangelism” impacted how this “freeway church” interacted with people in their own communities, helping people to meet Jesus in a broad 50 mile radius of the church building. Within these geographic pockets of members, the small group ministry, or LIFE Groups, emerged, and continues to be an integral part of congregational life.
In 1999, the Pitman church hired the first of two youth ministers, and since has had two other long-term associate ministers and two part time ministers, always maintaining a ministerial staff of 2 to 2 and “a half” ministers. There has been a strong and steady leadership of four to eight shepherds throughout the history of the congregation.
In the early 2000’s, the congregation was outgrowing its original building, and the shepherds led the church through a time of assessment and prayer. Several plans to expand at the original location did not succeed. In 2005, after a seven day intensive prayer effort, a plot of land within 2 miles of the original building became available on Pitman Road, on the opposite border of Pitman. The members of the church purchased and quickly paid off the property. In 2006 the congregation began a three year capital campaign, contributing funds to construct the building. The first worship service in the new (and current) building was held on February 27, 2011. The congregation changed its name to reflect its new location and is now known as the Pitman Road Church of Christ.
The Pitman Road church has transformed and connected to our members and community in relevant and timely ways. Currently, the congregation is making efforts to begin to reach more intentionally into the community to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.” It is our desire to continue to be led by the Holy Spirit to meet people where they are and together, be continually transformed into the image of Christ.
Want to know more about how to transform, connect, and grow at Pitman Road?