Taking root in humble beginnings in Pensacola, Florida, Carl’s soul was prepared early to accept the joys and challenges that come with vision. Reared by his late father, Willie Styles, Carl and his sister and brother were taught by their mother, Susie Styles, the value of hard work, personal responsibility and faith. (Carl has one sister, Gwen, and one brother, Marvin. Another sister, Sarah, has passed away). Early in life, Carl developed an attitude of service, whether in the labor field, the church, the community or the family, and has amassed an awesome record of service to all in need of encouragement, assistance and opportunity.
His family moved north to settle in Southern New Jersey, where he graduated from Woodstown High School (Sweat Orange Bleed Blue) in 1977. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University), Carl began his career with The Laborers International Union of North America. Currently, he is the Business Manager and President of the Local 77 and Dist. Council, headquartered in Ewing, New Jersey.
In addition to a commitment to support laborers and their families with fair wages and benefits and safe working conditions, Carl also cares for the souls of not only workers but also those of all people. This passion for fulfilling a vision of peace, continuously leads Carl to further develop the understanding of how his faith can lift the hearts of all. Thus, Carl continued his education at the Palmer Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, where he earned a Masters of Divinity degree in 2006.
While at Palmer, Carl was approached with the opportunity to pastor at a historic United Methodist Church in the City of Camden. As Carl tells it, he tried to run from this calling and to resist what clearly was God’s will, but he finally just had to give in and obey. During the last 22 years of obeying God at Bethel United Methodist Church, Carl has continued to demonstrate the work of the “heavenly vision” in his life. This vision moved him in 2002 to found the community ministry organization, Project Give-Back. With the motto “Never Give Up — Give Back,” this organization has helped those most precious and yet most vulnerable in the city — its youth. Project Give Back has tirelessly served young people in need of after school and summer programs that help them learn, grow and advance as future leaders. It is currently engaged in providing creative education options for students in danger of falling between the cracks of the school system.
Carl’s commitment to getting the job done has helped create a model for urban church leadership. His creative approaches that cross traditional institutional, political, cultural and economic boundaries have helped to create an agile, responsive and visionary church. As he leads a ministry that more and more equips itself to help transform the City of Camden, he continues to call committed Christians to join this work. Carl’s 28-year marriage to his wife, Denise, and his role of a loving and caring father to his daughter, Shaneea. speak to the fact that Carl Styles is a complete man who carefully and graciously balances the demands of family, vocation and calling. Carl’s service to his community also includes serving as president of Project Give Back; Past Chaplain at the Bridgeton Hospital in Bridgeton, New Jersey; Chaplain at Mt Moriah #3 Masonic Lodge PHA; and on the Board of Director of the South Jersey Port Corporation. Carl is a proud member and chapter president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Gloucester County Alumni Chapter. Also, is on the board at South Jersey Port and United Way. He also served in the Electoral College of the State of New Jersey for the 2008 presidential election.
Carl’s notable accomplishments notwithstanding, he remains a humble servant. His reputation is one of a man who continually gives. While others become jaded and cynical because of the abuses of extended grace, Carl continues to find joy in giving, serving and building up the walls of human spirit. This is the essence of the Rev. Carl E. Styles. He is a true servant/leader who tirelessly invites his sisters and brothers in the human family to feast at the marvelous table set in the midst of God’s Kingdom which has been prepared for all — from the least among us even to the greatest.