Memorial Presbyterian names new senior pastor

By Karen Harvey



Interim Minister Craig Davies stood behind the lectern of Memorial Presbyterian Church May 7th and announced the affirmation of William Hunter Camp II as Senior Pastor.

“This is truly a historic moment,” Davies declared. This proclamation was followed by prolonged applause and a standing ovation of the membership.

Although the congregation was informed on Easter Sunday that Camp was the choice of the church Pastor Search Committee, it was with the caveat that one further step was necessary.

Paul Carter, head of the Pastor Nominating Committee explained.

“Because he (Camp) is serving as our associate pastor, the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) had one extra step in the process of calling him.”

That extra step was the groundbreaking action.

“The Presbytery of St. Augustine (a governing body consisting of pastors and elders representing churches throughout the region serving Memorial Presbyterian Church) was asked for a three-quarters vote to approve Dr. Camp as eligible to serve,” Carter said. “The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the committee’s motion that Dr. Camp be approved.”

Camp’s dream was fulfilled against heavy odds.

When Pastor Dudley Weaver retired in February 2016, Camp was technically ineligible to fill the slot vacated by Weaver.

“Not since the organization of the Presbyterian Church in the United States has this happened,” Camp said.

He believes the ruling goes back to the organization of the Synod of Philadelphia around 1782. Simply said, the statute has been in effect from the time the church was organized in the United States.

Camp was unanimously approved by the Pastor Nominating Committee, Committee of Ministry, the Examination Committee and the church congregation.

“I had reservations about the Examination Committee,” Camp admitted.

But all hurdles were cleared, and Camp’s dream will become a reality when he is officially installed June 25.

Carter said the Pastor Nominating Committee reviewed 154 candidates over 10 months.

“We had almost a thousand hits on the Web page advertising the Senior Pastor position,” he said.

With detailed methodology to review the candidates and written results of an opinion canvas taken from congregational members, Carter said, “Camp was the outstanding favorite.”

“In the end … it is ultimately a spiritual journey,” Carter said. “The heart takes you where you need to go. We feel we could not have selected a better candidate for the job and the Committee of Ministry, Examinations Committee, and ultimately, what counted the most – our congregation – all unanimously agreed.”

Camp graduated from Flagler College in 1991 with a degree in philosophy and religion.

He has always felt drawn to Memorial Presbyterian.

“This confirms a call I have felt since 1998,” Camp said. “It is a 19-year dream come true.”

When he was in seminary he felt, “One day I would serve as pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church.”

When he was accepted as an associate pastor, Camp knew that meant he could never be the senior pastor.

“I thought I had misconstrued (the meaning) of the call,” he said.

He felt perhaps his calling was to the lesser position and he accepted that.

Then, when policy changes were being made, he realized maybe he had a chance.

He thought, “Oh, my gosh. Maybe it is still possible.”

“God’s providence is mysterious and inscrutable,” Camp added.

Camp’s wife, the Rev. Amy Lehr Camp, will remain in the current position she holds as Parish Associate reporting to the session.

When asked if this would be a change for her, he shrugged and said, “She is a minister’s wife. I am a minister’s husband.”

The couple’s son, William, 13, has been growing up in the church.

Camp is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia. He received his Masters in Divinity and then a Doctor of Ministry.

In 2001, he married Amy Lehr. His ties to St. Augustine extend to his ancestry as a heritage native with both Solano and Dupont names is his background.

The Solano family is considered one of the oldest Spanish families to settle in St. Augustine; the Duponts arrived here from South Carolina in 1695.

Camp does not anticipate any immediate changes. He said he sees the church as a church of the arts.

Music is an important element and concerts on the Aeolian Skinner organ are always popular.

Also, the church functions as a museum dedicated to the memory of Henry Flagler’s daughter, Jennie Louise. Flagler, his first wife Mary, Jennie Louise and her baby are entombed in the mausoleum inside the church.

The church, designed by architects John Carrere and Thomas Hastings, is considered Venetian Renaissance and contains elements of Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, Italy.

The marble tiles, mahogany wood and kneelers, and the brass double-cruciform chandeliers are all unique for a Presbyterian Church.

The congregation numbers about 800 with new members’ classes filling the roles at a record rate.

The unique sanctuary of the church that Flagler built is open to visitors as a museum most weekdays. Visitors are always welcome to Sunday services.

Starting May 28th, combined services will be held at 10:30 a.m. during the summer months. For information, call 829-6451 or go to