On February 22, 1953, seventeen people met together in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Eastman at 17 Cornwall Terrace in Hampton, Virginia to organize a church. The new church was given the name Bethany Methodist Chapel, which had been the original name of the sponsoring church, Grace Methodist Church (now Noland Memorial United Methodist Church) when it was founded September 17, 1892. On April 3, 1953, nineteen charter members met for their first service and gave the name of their new church, Bethany Methodist Church.
Services continued to be held in the Eastman home for several months with Sunday school in Mrs. Frances Brockett’s home across the street.
Rev. John A. Rierson, Jr. was our first Pastor and Mr. Alfred served as our first Lay Leader. Alfred left Bethany in 1954 to study for the ministry and is presently still Bethany’s only member to enter the ordained ministry. Bethany then moved to a small building at the corner of Whealton Road and Mercury Boulevard. After a short time, Bethany moved to Parkview School and then to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Claud A. Smith on Big Bethel Road.
Bethany purchased 1.82 acres of land from Mrs. J.C. Roper on Todds Lane in the fall of 1953, and the first service was held on December 25th that year in the first building, now known as Wesley Hall. As Bethany grew, the need for additional space became obvious and 1.85 acres were purchased from Mr. L.W. Hall, Sr. in 1955. The Sunday school addition was officially opened on February 3, 1957, with Bishop Paul N. Garber officiating.
Bethany purchased their first parsonage on Lancaster Terrace on July 8, 1957. When the present parsonage became available in 1960, the first parsonage was sold and the present house, along with 1.31 acres adjacent to the church, was acquired.
On October 20, 1963, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for additional space. The present Sanctuary, Narthex, additional classrooms and offices were added. The first service was held in the new Sanctuary July 5, 1964 with William S. Ferguson as Pastor. In November 1973, thirty families joined together and purchased .33 acres east of Wesley Hall from Mr. Curtis L. Hall and gave it to the church for parking.
In 1990, Tyler United Methodist Church merged with Bethany led by Rev. H. Braxton Allport, Jr. and Rev. Joyce Johnson. The Tyler people brought a rich heritage of their own, as well as many dedicated people. Tyler’s history goes back to 1943, when it began as a Sunday school to Copeland Park. In 1996, with money from the sale of Tyler property and generous donations, Bethany began construction on a larger fellowship hall, expanded kitchen, new offices, a commons area, and renovations to part of our educational facilities.
Rev. William Davidson led our Congregation in this time of construction. Tyler Hall, along with other improvements, is now enjoyed daily and an important part of Bethany’s ministry for Christ.
Making candy Easter Eggs was one of the early ways of raising money for missions and continued for many years. In 1974, Bethany helped sponsor Ivy Farms Child Care Center. Then in 1975, Bethany began working with the Virginia United Methodist Agency for the Retarded and Sarah Bonwell Hudgins Regional Center in the Infant/Parent Stimulation program. This program rendered a needed service to parents of infants slow physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.
H.E.L.P. Care for the needy/homeless, Bag Lunches, Free Clinic, Salvation Army Sandwiches, Ethiopia, Sewing for Missions, Kits for Children, Henry Fork Center, Our current ministry outreach in the community involves the following: Heart Haven, Pumpkin Patch, Hilton Home, Fruit Baskets for Veterans. Our United Methodist Men sponsor a Boy Scout Troop and Bethany has a large AA group meeting on Tuesdays as well as hosting other community groups from time to time.
Bethany’s mission statement sums up our purpose yesterday, today and tomorrow: “Reaching out in love to all God’s Family.” “The Mission of Bethany United Methodist Church is to build a faithful community in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, through: Prayer, Worship and Fellowship, Bible Study and Christian Education, Service within our congregation, the local community and throughout the world.”
We rejoice in God’s goodness, our faithful members and our dedicated Pastors.
Rev William A. Edwards1944-1949
Rev Charles Bragg1949-1950
Rev Lance K. Knowles1950-1951
Rev Charles Bright1951-1953
Rev C. L. Stillwell1953-1957
Rev R. W. Buckingham1957-1961
Rev William M. Colton1961-1965
Rev Ott Davis1965-1967
Rev Ralph Sroute1967-1970
Rev William l. Vann1970-1972
Rev James L. Harrison1972-1979
Rev Robert E. Forrest1979-1981
Rev Fred Pawell1981-1983
Rev Mark C. Whipple1983-1985
Rev Lee G. Bowman1985-1988
Rev Joyce E. Johnson1988-1990
Rev John A. Rierson1953-1954
Rev Douglas M. Lawson1954-1957
Rev Donald E. Croll1957-1959
Rev Charles H. Walton1959-1962
Rev William S. Ferguson1962-1967
Rev William Parrish1967-1971
Rev William P. Watkins1971-1973
Rev R. Marvin White1973-1980
Rev Frederick Arndt1980-1984
Dr. A. F. McClung1984-1988
Rev H. Braxton Allport, Jr.1988-1995
Rev Joyce Johnson1990
Rev William G. Davidson1995-2000
Rev John C. Price2000-2004
Rev Arthur Rajanayakam2004-2015
Rev Suzanne Gibson2015-2017
Rev Esther Agbosu 2018 -