Longtime pastor of Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church dies, suddenly at the age of 46. CAMDEN, N.J.
Shock and sadness can be felt throughout South Jersey this week as people learn about the sudden passing of Rev. Dr. Britt Armando Starghill, Senior Pastor of Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church in Camden, NJ, where he served for 19 years. Dr. Starghill died on Tuesday June 2, 2015, following a heart attack. He is being remembered as a visionary leader for the 21st century who practiced transformational ministry, where spirituality promoted holistic living.
Dr. Starghill was also known as a staunch advocate for social justice issues, especially education. He played a pivotal role in helping children attend college. "Dr. Starghill passionately believed that education was the great liberator for children living in impoverished communities," says Dana Redd, Mayor of Camden. "To this end, he ensured that children of our community and region had an opportunity to attend colleges across the State of New Jersey, as well as our nation."
Dr. Starghill's impact was also felt outside the pews of Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church. "Rev. Starghill adopted Whittier School and helped send Camden High School’s basketball team to Puerto Rico twice," says Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson. "Pastor Starghill regularly hosted different high school events, including the Baccalaureate Ceremony."
Dr. Starghill galvanized the church and community to believe in the vision of the Nehemiah Project, a 501(c)(3) community development corporation he created to address the blight that had consumed Camden's gateway neighborhood. The Nehemiah Project is a vision that comes from believing that Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church is a template church for equipping and liberating ministries of and for the people throughout the world. Pastor Starghill’s vision is to increase ministries that advance spiritual redemption and socio-economic salvation. "(Rev. Starghill) encouraged his members and the surrounding neighborhood to give back and take an active part in the City’s revitalization efforts," says Dana Redd, Mayor of Camden. Since its inception, the Nehemiah Project served as a catalyst for the revitalization of this Camden community.
Before his passing, Dr. Starghill was leading Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church's strategic plan, a three to five year program to ensure the church would remain relevant, and discipleship continued to grow as the demographics of the community changed over the next five to ten years.
A native of Detroit, MI, The Reverend Dr. Britt A. Starghill is a fourth generation pastor, who began preaching in 1983 at the age of 13. From 1987 to 1990, he was the Assistant Pastor and Youth minister at the historic First Baptist Church in Loretto, VA. He went on to serve as the Assistant Minister at the Pilgrim Journey Baptist Church in Richmond, VA, while teaching History and Geography in the Richmond School System. Dr. Starghill worked as the Congressional Aide to the Honorable Barbara Rose Collins (D-Michigan) while serving as an Associate Minister at Peace Baptist Church in Washington, DC. Over the next five years Dr. Starghill gained invaluable experience serving various denominations, including the United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Baptist churches.
In January 1997, while serving as the Co-Pastor of Samaritan Baptist Church of Detroit, MI, where his father is Pastor, he answered the “call” to move to Camden, NJ as the Pastor-Elect of the historic Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church (KABC). On April 17, 1997, Dr.Starghill was installed as KABC’s 14th Pastor.
"We recognize Dr. Starghill meant a lot to KABC and this is a tremendous loss for our church family, the city of Camden, and beyond," said the family in a written statement. "However, to us Britt was a devoted husband who adored his children. He was also revered by his parents, who are still living in Detroit, and he will be sorely missed by his sisters, brothers, and a host of other relatives, beloved colleagues in ministry, and very dear friends."
Dr. Starghill received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Religion from Virginia Union University, Richmond, VA; a Master of Divinity from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH; and a Doctorate in Ministry from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, Rochester, NY.
Dr. Starghill leaves to mourn his wife, the former Catherine Lynn Fruge’ of Detroit, MI. Mrs. Starghill is an attorney and Executive Director, Workforce Operations & Business Services at the New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development. They were married for 16 years and have two children Britt Andrew (10) and Brie Alexandra (6). Dr. Starghill is also survived by: his parents Rev. & Mrs. (Betty) Robert Starghill Sr. of Detroit, MI; sister Chantay Blankenship of Detroit, MI; sister Janet Smith (Mark) of Indianapolis, IN; sister Renee Starghill of Shreveport, LA; sister Karen Boozer of Statesboro, GA; Dinah Barnett (Charles) of Detroit, MI; April Starghill of Detroit, MI; and Robert Starghill, Jr. (Rhonda) of Cincinnati, OH.
There will be a public viewing on Friday, June 12, 2015 from Noon-8pm at Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church located at 831 Kaighn Avenue in Camden, NJ. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, June 13th at 11am also at Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church. Services are entrusted to The Carl Miller Funeral Home (http://www.carlmillerfuneralhomes.com). In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting monetary donations be submitted in Dr. Starghill's memory to
Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School
c/o Thomas McDade Clay
Director of Institutional Advancement
1100 S. Goodman Street, Rochester, NY 14620.
A memorial service is being planned in Detroit at Samaritan Missionary Baptist Church where Dr. Starghill's father is the pastor. Details of this memorial are forthcoming.