Epiphany Fellowship Church’s building sits inside a tall fence topped with barbed wire in downtown Camden, NJ, a city known for its high rates of poverty and crime. Because of Epiphany, the gospel is at work here in many ways, as a mission team from Exodus recently found out.
Since 2015, Exodus Church has provided financial support to Epiphany. In September, a small team headed to New Jersey for our first-ever mission trip to Camden. The hope was to the lay the groundwork for future visits, said Zack Williams, who organized the group and is in the process of becoming deacon of missions at Exodus. “It was a vision trip to see what God is doing there and how we can come alongside them,” he explained.
Epiphany describes itself as an “inner-city multi-ethnic church dedicated to seeing Jesus Christ’s gospel hit up every area of our lives.” The Exodus team saw this vision at work during their trip, as they were able to take part in Epiphany’s efforts to plant a new church, serve a nearby school, and participate in discussions about racial reconciliation and the gospel. “Jesus has them there for combating racial injustice and poverty with the gospel and with Christ,” Zack said.
His team included Kirk Brown, Emma Buresh, Scott Crabtree, Chris Diffley, Josh Eastburn, Matt Lunsford and Kyle McNamara.
The team helped with several projects during their stay, including renovating the teachers’ lounge at a local school. Epiphany installed a new TV and put in a new couch, tables and carpet. “It was encouraging to see how Epiphany is working to meet the needs of its community,” said Emma Buresh. “They were very intentional about wanting to see us serve in the community, not just the church body — to share the gospel tangibly where there aren’t resources,” she said.
Epiphany is in the process of planting a church in nearby Gloucester City, and is seeking to build relationships with the people there. The Exodus team helped them host a cookout and movie night for families in a local trailer park community. Gloucester City is mostly white, while Epiphany and its leadership are mostly black. This is one of many places where Epiphany and its pastors are seeking to engage racial issues with the gospel, and the Exodus team said they appreciated the opportunities for discussion.
Emma said she will remember what Pastor Ernie, Epiphany’s pastor, shared with them: “The gospel is what saved all of us, and it’s the same gospel,” he told them. “So many of the conversations are about ‘racial reconciliation’ — he said the goal is not racial reconciliation, the goal is the gospel. Racial reconciliation is a product of that happening.”
One other encouragement for the Exodus team was realizing what a difference our support makes, Emma said. Because Epiphany is in a low-income community, they can’t maintain financial self-sufficiency. Exodus’ support for Epiphany “is really important. It does really allow them to do all these projects,” Emma said. “We’ve been blessed with more than enough, so we’re able to pass that along.”
More missions trips to Epiphany will be planned for the future, Zack said, and the Exodus Church body will be invited to take part.
Please pray for Epiphany Fellowship as they:
-Work with the local schools and children.
-Plant a church in Gloucester City (Pastor Joe Marlin is leading this)
-Work to bring the gospel to bear on issues of racial injustice and racial reconciliation
-Connect with those in Camden who are unreached with the gospel