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 A Prayer for Camden
©Rev. James A. Keeton, Jr., M. Div.

Almighty God:

We express our gratitude for the significant position YOU have in our lives. Today we pause to pray for Camden, and we ask that YOU will bless our city in a special way. Lord, Camden is full of poverty, violence, and crime so we ask that YOU would bless this place. We ask, O God, that YOU would “prick the hearts” of those who have not invited YOU into their lives that they may be receptive to that still, small voice of YOUR Holy Spirit. We pray that YOU will encourage our hearts and enlighten our minds to know that YOU are much greater than drugs, alcohol, and prostitution. Lord, we realize that the needs of our city are greater than government, law enforcement and planning commissions can achieve on their own. Lord, Camden needs a touch from YOU. We need YOUR healing for our hurting… we need YOUR strength for our weakness… we need YOUR love for our hatred… We need YOUR compassion for all of the ways that we neglect the welfare of others. Please, Lord, revive a failed economy in our city that will bring employment opportunities and greater financial gain for our city. Please touch our hearts and minds to know that we can accomplish more with love than with disagreements and violence.

Lord we also pray for our mayor, Dana Redd and the other governmental officials who have influence over our community. Give them guidance and direction to lead YOUR people in a way that will be pleasing in YOUR sight. Lord, we also ask that YOU would give us obedient hearts to follow YOU in the ways that YOU will guide us. We pray for our school system: students, parents, faculty and administrators that YOU will instill in them a sense of cooperation and compassion to raise up a new generation that will be great citizens for our country and representatives for YOUR Kingdom. Lord we ask that YOU will once again make our schools safe environments that are conducive for learning and advancement. We pray, O God, that YOU will touch our young people and give them an insatiable thirst for knowledge and ambition that goes beyond making “a quick dollar.” Please continue to instill in our young people a love for each other and respect for their elders who have traveled the right paths before them. Give them a work ethic that lets them know that honest, hard work pays off. 

Finally, O God, continue to bless YOUR Church to seek out “the least, the lost, and the left out.” Give us a spiritual vision to see those who have been invisible. Lord give YOUR Church courage to stand for what is right, faith to trust YOU even in the difficult times, and the guidance of YOUR Holy Spirit to guide us in all areas of truth. Empower us to be YOUR vessels for change allowing our lights to brighten the darkest parts of our city. Let us spread a message of love and optimism even when the forecast seems bleak. Lord restore hope to our city. Give us a hope that tomorrow will be greater than today… Give us hope that YOU are much greater than the obstacles that confront us… Give us hope that the unity that we share in YOU is much more significant than the divisions that are among us… Lord give us hope that the best in Christ Jesus for Camden, New Jersey is yet to come. These things we ask in Christ Jesus our Lord who lives and reigns with YOU in the unity of the Holy Spirit—one God forever and ever. Amen. 

 James A. Keeton, Jr., M. Div.


The Reverend James A. Keeton, Jr. is the son of the late Mrs. Rosemary James Keeton and the Reverend James A. Keeton, Sr. He is the older brother of Miss Melody D. Keeton. Reared in Cairo, Georgia, he graduated in 1998 from Cairo High School. After graduating from Cairo High School, he matriculated at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia where he graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in history. Reverend Keeton graduated from the National University of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland in 2004 with a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Political Science. In May of 2008, he graduated with a Master of Divinity (M. Div.) degree from The Divinity School—Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. Currently Reverend Keeton is in the process of earning his Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas with a concentration in Parish Leadership.  

Reverend Keeton is an ordained Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Raised as a member of Bethlehem AME Church in Cairo, he has always been very active in the Church. Currently he is a member of the Macon Georgia Annual Conference. Being in ministry since 2004, he has been invited to many places as a preacher and speaker. He had the distinction in 2005 as serving as a supply pastor of Oak Grove AME Church in Camilla, Georgia and St. James AME Church in Thomasville, Georgia. In the summer of 2006 Reverend Keeton had the pleasure of serving as a ministerial intern at the historic Macedonia Baptist Church in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For the duration of the 2006-2007 school term he served as an intern for the Pastoral Excellence Program of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Missions Convention in Durham, North Carolina. During the summer of 2007 and the 2007-2008 academic year he served as a ministerial intern at Union Grove United Methodist Church in Hillsborough, North Carolina. For two and a half years he served on the ministerial staff of Emmanuel AME Church in Durham, North Carolina where the Rev. Shelton T. Miles, Sr. is the senior pastor. From 2008-2011, Reverend Keeton served as the pastor of the Mt. Zion Circuit (AME) in Forsyth, GA which consists of Williams Chapel and St. Paul AME Churches. Starting in July of 2011, Reverend Keeton has been appointed the 25th pastor of Parkside United Methodist Church in Camden, New Jersey.

Reverend Keeton is married to the former Leslie Gooch of Thomaston, Georgia and they share two sons: Tyson and Jeston. Being active in the community is very important to Reverend Keeton. He is a certified volunteer for Hospice of Southwest Georgia. He also is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Forsyth Lodge #425 (PHA), Stone and Square Chapter #25 (RAM), Pride of Forsyth Chapter #144 (OES), the Grady County Ministerial Alliance, and he is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. In his spare time, Reverend Keeton enjoys reading, traveling, and listening to jazz.  
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