History


In 1926, a group of Christian workers began meeting at the home of Deacon Hezikiah Williams for a Prayer Meeting. Out of this spiritual meeting was born the idea of organizing a church.

In 1927, this same group, with a few others, again met at Deacon Williams to discuss organizing a church. It was unanimously approved that a church be organized with Deacon Williams as Moderator. The name “Bethany” was chosen because it was the scene of the Savior’s Ascension.

Rev. Frank Gunther was the first pastor of Bethany. He served the church for nine (9) months. In 1928 Rev. Willie Moses came to serve the church. He was called away, but having Bethany at heart, he sent his brother, Rev. James Moses to pastor Bethany. Rev. James Moses also served for nine (9) months. Rev. McFrye, was the next Minister and served until 1929. Rev. McFrye was succeeded by Rev. James Williams who served Bethany until 1931.

On May 7, 1933 Rev. Wesley L. Gregory was called to take on the Pulpit duties of Bethany Baptist Church.

In 1937, the church was enlarged to what is the building adjacent to our present church. In 1950, the lot on which our present church stands was purchased.

The turning point in Bethany’s history came under the leadership of Rev. Gregory. At last Bethany was on its way to claim its place in the world of churches. The membership increased greatly and the visitors were many. It was soon obvious that a larger church was needed. On Palm Sunday, 1955, the membership marched into our present building.

In February 1958, Rev. Gregory was called from labor to reward. Left to mourn his departure was more than 1,000 members. Despite some trials and tribulations, with God’s guidance, Bethany was able to successfully carry on under the very competent leadership of Deacon Warren Marshall, Chairman of the Board of Deacons. During Deacon Marshall’s stewardship Bethany paid off the last mortgage of $16,500.

In July 1958, Rev. Emory L. Johnson was called from Tarrytown, New York to pastor the Church. He was with us until April 28, 1959.

In 1959, Rev. A.B. Bingham was called to the Church from Portsmouth, VA. He pastored faithfully until January 1, 1963 when he too was called home to glory. Considering the brief period of his pastoral works at Bethany, Rev. Bingham directed and led the way with improving the front outside exit, the front inside stairs, enlargement of the kitchen, as well the organization of the Boy and Girl Scouts.

Bethany, as a flock was without a shepherd prayed and trusted in God, who knows and sees everything, to send us a leader and on December 10, 1963 the congregation voted to call Rev. W. Leo Hamilton, the pastor of the Messiah Baptist Church, Yonkers, New York. “Man called but God sent,” who accepted the invitation.

In 1965, Rev. Hamilton came to Bethany. Almost immediately Rev. Hamilton, saw that there was much work to be done. With prayerful meditation, his spiritual foresight was focused on organizing a Junior Church. On March 17, 1965, the Junior Church was officially organized. Rev. Hamilton’s leadership gave Bethany spiritual and physical growth. His preaching was superb and unsurpassed. He was well known throughout the state, city and national conventions for his ability to get over to his listeners his message of “Thus said the Lord”.

Under Rev. Hamilton’s leadership, the lower auditorium of the church was finished, in 1978 pews purchased and installed, new carpets and in 1979 Stain Glass Windows were installed. In the ‘80’s, the church was centrally Air-Conditioned and the Church House was purchased allowing for the extension of the Pastor’s study. The outside of the Church was also beautified. The original Church that was enlarged in 1937 now called “the Junior Church” was renovated to include Sunday School Classrooms and meeting rooms. With Rev. Hamilton as its Shepherd, Bethany’s financial system remained sound. All purchases and work done was paid by Checks upon completion. We incurred no outstanding debt. There were never any special rallies for the needs of Bethany.

Rev. Hamilton served well until 1992 (28 years).

The year 1992-1995 Bethany was again without a shepherd and the leadership was in the hands of Deacon Gaston Childers, Chairman of the Board of Deacons. Along with the Pulpit Committee, headed by Deacon Earnest Jefferson, they sought the opportunity to fill our pulpit with spiritual leaders, trusting that with God’s guidance we would soon have a pastor.

History was made in 1993 when for the first time women were elected to serve on the Board of Trustees. The five elected to serve were, Sisters Dorothy Ash, Carolyn Bowie, Evelyn Hickson, Dorothy Loney and Malissia Reid.

In 1994, Rev. Cleo LaRue was called to serve as Interim Pastor.

Through much prayer and meditation, on January 24, 1995, Rev. Theodore E. Clark, Jr. was called from The Harris Memorial Pentecostal Church of Bridgeport, CT to serve as pastor of the Bethany Baptist Church. Rev. Clark’s leadership saw the organization of the Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen under the auspices of Deacon Otis Thomas. The lower auditorium was completely renovated; a ramp was installed to accommodate the Handicap and the upgrading to a new sound system. Rev. Clark resigned in 1999.

Again the leadership of Bethany was in the hands of the Chairman of the Deacon Board, Deacon Lewis McCain. Along with the Pulpit Committee headed by Deacon Alton Williams, on February 12, 2001 the call of pastorship was extended to Rev. Craig Scott Brown, Sr. of The Mount Calvary Baptist Church of Chicago, IL. In March 2001, Rev. Brown with his wife, Sister Elaine Wendy Brown and their two sons (Scott & Wendell) joined the Bethany congregation.

Rev. Brown had no hesitation in laboring in the Lord’s vineyard to make sure that his temple of worship was in sound condition. The Junior Church was in dire need of repairs (walls were about to collapse) and Rev. Brown with his candid leadership stepped up to the plate and made sure that this work was completed in a very competent manner.

In 2002 Bethany celebrated its Platinum Anniversary, 75 years as a haven for lost souls. Rev. Brown’s vision was to bring Bethany together in unity through the Word of God. He titled this “The Year of Unity”. During this time Rev. Brown established the following ministries:
      • Cradle to Glory-which encompasses many areas of concern for our membership outside the church. 
      • Leadership Council-which includes all Deacons, Trustees, Presidents and Vice Presidents of all the ministries of the church.
      • Bible Study Class-where the “Word of God” is taught by our pastor.
In the latter part of 2002, Bethany purchased two (2) church vans. This enabled Bethany to assist in the transportation needs of our members, with special focus towards our seniors.

Each year the pastor has given the church a theme for the year. 2003 was “The Year of Increase”, John 3:30. 2004 was the “The Year of Release” II Chronicles 7:14. Also in 2004 Rev. Craig Scott Brown Sr. established a Building Fund for the purpose of purchasing a parking lot, as well as renovations of the main sanctuary and baptismal pool. A “Mother’s Board” was established with Sister Charlotte Alsop, Sister Pattie Ford and Sister Rosa M. Saunders as the first members.

2005 “The Year of Restoration and Renewal” Luke 15:18. Pastor Brown instituted a 7am Worship Service and the CARICOM Outreach Ministry was established. 2006 saw “The Year of Promise and Expectation” Jeremiah 29:11. This year the pulpit was refurbished and the Baptismal Pool was completely renovated. The Tuesdays’ 12 noon day Bible Class was instituted to accommodate the seniors and others who are unable come out at night. In 2007 we are celebrated our 80th Church Anniversary. Our theme was “The Year of Total Commitment” taken from Psalms 37:5. “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass”. We also supplemented our transportation, during the fourth quarter of 2007; two mini buses were purchased thereby enabling us to service additional members.

In continuing to fulfill the Great Commission, on November 18, 2007, Bethany rejoiced and welcomed Rev. Ojeda Hall-Phillips to our Pulpit and the congregation as the Youth Minister. Rev. Ojeda instituted the BET (Bethany Experiencing Truth) Wednesday night sessions for our Youth. As part of our outreach, along with a sister church we have now opened our hearts and sanctuary with community wide worship, fellowship and Thanksgiving.

2008 saw Bethany celebrating 81 years as a lighthouse for Christ with the theme “The Year of Discipleship” “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed”, taken from John 8:31b. Celebrating 82 years in kingdom building, 2009 was themed, “The Year of Harvest” taken from Luke 10:2. “The harvest is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth labourers into his harvest.”

The Theme for the year 2010 was “The Year of Empowering Labourers for a Greater Harvest” Luke 15:10 which reads “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth”. During this year of Empowerment, Pastor Brown instituted a “Marriage Ministry” under the direction of two of our three new ministers that joined the Ministerial Staff here at Bethany, Rev. Daryl and Rev. Winsome Ware. Also under Pastor’s direction, Rev. Daryl Ware was given the assignment of Developing a “Music and Arts” Department. Rev. Francine Hernandez, the third of the new ministerial staff was chosen to work with the New Members, to stop the revolving door.

In this year of Empowering Labourers for a Greater Harvest, the Women Ministry was established under the leadership of Sis. Gloria Jarvis and Rev. Winsome Ware. This Ministry meets every 4th Saturday for women’s fellowship and to study the word of God with a strong emphasis on prayer. Bethany, in adhering to our Covenant of bearing each other sorrow, have extended financial aid to the ravage torn orphans of the Haitian earthquake by sending funds to the organization “Love A Child” in this their time of great need.

The Theme for year 2011 was “The Year of Empowerment” John 1:12 reads, “But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” In this Year of Empowerment, the renowned preacher, Bishop M. Edward Reid became a member of the ministerial staff. Empowered by God not only as a preacher, teacher and talented musician, Bishop Reid has not hesitated to use his musical talent as well as his great tenor voice in service to the Glory of God.

Our 2012 Theme is “The Year of Beth-Quake” and saw the establishment of our Compassionate Ministry under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Francine Hernandez. The goal of this Ministry is to seeks and recognize mental and emotional distress within the Body of Christ. Ps. 147:3 “He also heals our broken-heart and binds up our wounds.”

Sponsored by “Level 7 Youth Ministry” and spearheaded by Minister Kevin Tolbert, 2012 also saw the institution of the “Heritage Award.” This “Award” is compiled of six categories with the names of the 2012 recipients (The “Living Legend”, Marie White, “Evelyn Hickson Educational Excellence” – Sis. Jenisha Thompson, “Bridge Builder” – Trustee Beatrice Thomas, “Torch Bearer” – Sis. Laticia Spears, “Unsung Hero” – Deacon Lewis McCain and the “Chairman’s Award” – Sis. Jac-Lyn Hayward), who were honored at a gala Award Ceremony on February 24, 2012. This Ceremony will now be an annual event.

Our 2013 Theme is “The Year of Beth-Quake –part 2”. Reaching the Masses for the Master. Acts 2: 40-47. Our Pastor through preaching and teaching has been guiding Bethany thorough the Book of Acts, encouraging us to “Catch the Fire” of Pentecost. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” In this year of Beth-Quake part 2 we must make ourselves the kind of people who attract others to Christ as we celebrate this journey.

Our 2014 Theme this year, “The Year of Beth-Quake – Part 3”, Reaching the Masses for the Master - proclaiming with Passion and Purpose; “and daily in the temple, and an in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ Acts 5:42. As with the year 2013, our Pastor continues to take us through the Book of Acts. The year also saw Deaconess Atoya Green-Gregory who has entered the Ministry, on April 6th preached her initial sermon, using the (TEXT) and the honoring of Trustee Julia Leonard and Deacon Everton Gardner as … respectively.

In November 2014 Bethany again honored four of their own with a formal banquet at Antun Catering Hall. Sis. Nancy Scott, Sis. Fannie Hamlet, Minister Atoya Green-Gregory and the Rev. Daryl Ware. . Our ministerial staff was increased with the addition of Minister Kinea Allen and the creation of the Evangelical Staff with the elevation of Deaconess Penny Gardner. 

Our 2015 Theme “The Year of Beth-Quake –Part 4” “The Year of the Shift” And he trembling and astonished said, Lord what wilt thou have me to do?  And the Lord said unto him, Arise and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do” – Act 9:6.  The School of Stephen was established in January of this year and later the installation of our handicapped chair lift, the pointing of the building and the repair, plastering and painting of the inside of the main sanctuary. Our Mother’s Board was increased with the additions of Deaconess Dorothy Davis, Sister Allean Merriwether, Sister Marie White, Sister Emma Budget, Sister Cressie Lenon, Sister Evelyn Hickson, Sister Emma Medlock, Sister Helen Coleman, Sister Sarah Williams and Sister Dorothy Loney.

Our 2016 Theme “The Year of the Shift” - Shifting from Membership to Discipleship.  A new commandment I give you that ye love one another; as I have loved you that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to the another - St. John 13:34-35.

We are proud to join the great chorus of glad thanksgiving for the goodness that the Lord has showered upon us and glory in the spiritual growth of our congregation. Our church today, with its outstanding leadership and its background of loyal followers, stands as a City that sitteth on a hill with its light shining through various ministries, shedding rays throughout the land. Through the grace of God those who have joined us are helping to ensure that light will continue burning through them until a new generation has caught the gleam and will go steadily marching on.

We pray to ever hold to those principles of faith and doctrine that we have been made useful and inspirational. May we ever keep our wicks trimmed for service to God and our fellowman: May the pilot light of truth, honesty and understanding keep burning so that even the unborn will be able to catch its glow.

As proud as we are of our church, we are constantly praying to keep humble enough to be of service, that the Master may be able to point with pride to us as those who’ve kept the faith; who’ve stayed in the fight for right and righteousness and, who one by one will answer to the higher call from our righteous Father.
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