A BRIEF HISTORY OF BETHANY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
First services held at Jessup St. School on Saturday, Apr. 26. Dec. 22 the cornerstone was laid for a new building.
The North Berwick Evangelical Church was dedicated July 5 with Bishop Stanford present. The project cost $3,300.
The North Berwick church was named a Station separate from Columbia Circuit with Rev. Shaffer, pastor.
The educational unit, costing $37,000 was dedicated on Sept. 13 with Rev. Fleckenstine as pastor.
The name of North Berwick Evangelical Church was changed to Bethany Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Ground was broken on March 10 for a new Sanctuary. Rev. H. H. Jacobs laid the cornerstone on July 15.
Bishop Epp dedicated the Sanctuary on September 21.
Bethany hosted the Central Pennsylvania Conference Annual Session (a precedent of the Susquehanna Conference of The United Methodist Church).
The property at 116 Summerhill Ave. was purchased. It is now used as a Church office, library, and small group meeting area.
A new parsonage at 1700 Pine Street was dedicated.
A three manual Rodgers Organ was dedicated. A goal of $15,500 was reached within the next three months.
Plans were accepted to remodel the balcony of the Sunday School.
An experimental youth ministry with Bethany, Bower and First UM Churches was begun. Shaffer House became the residence for the Director.
A goal of $11,000 was set to erect a ramp leading to the Sanctuary level of the Church. The goal was reached in two months and the ramp constructed.
A Lay Witness Mission was held in February. The Sunday School hit a record of 335 in attendance in the Fall Rally Day.
Shaffer House is employed by the Church as a residence for the Custodian and family.
Extensive remodeling of classroom space, both the main floor and in the basement was completed.
Our debt, which stood at $42,000 in July of 1987, was paid in full. Bethany set a goal for the year 1989 of hiring a full-time Assistant Pastor. The Over The Hill Club was organized in January of 1988.
A new roof was installed on the church along with numerous other improvements. Three members celebrated 75 years as a member of Bethany, (Maude Pollock, Martha Collins & Lee Banghart).
We had several special events during the year, the highlight being the Mt. Zion Baptist Choir, Rally Day attendance hit 223. A van was purchased with a goal to secure a second. An Advent Devotional written by Bethany folks was published while a Nativity Scene came alive on December weekends! A Prison Ministry was started with about a dozen people participating in it.
New handicapped restroom on the main level. Sanctuary was air-conditioned. Pew Bibles were dedicated. $5,000 inheritance for missions & a 4th octave of bells was given. An educational trust was established. Two sets of Altar vases were donated. A Telex Video Projection unit was purchased. Holly trees were planted in memory and honor. In May a second van was purchased. We all smiled for the Pictorial Directory and sang from new hymnals.
Air-conditioning was added to the Kindergarten and Nursery rooms while a new furnace warmed Bethany House. The sound system was completely renovated, Sanctuary painted, new computer/printer purchased for the office while 8 members were renewed with a trip to the Holy Land. Bethany offered its first Holly Trail to raise funds for Missions and hosted Bishop May for a day in the District. A fifth octave of Bells was ordered and Highest Praise choral group organized.
Bethany was chosen by the Central Pennsylvania Conference to participate in Church Growth with Integrity. A building fund was established in February to begin an account for future development.
A devastating Winter cut programming and attendance for the first two months. The highlight came in August with the hiring of a full-time Assistant to the Pastor in the area of Youth and Children. A contemporary worship service at 11:15 a.m. was started in June.
History was made on Sunday, March 12 with a Church Conference voting to proceed with building a $1,300,000. addition. Bethany noted for ministry to youth & children was featured in the Conference newspaper. Additional ministry was given with Grief Support Groups.
On Pentecost Sunday (May 26) Groundbreaking services were conducted by the District Superintendent for the new addition which will contain 16 new classrooms, fellowship hall and stage, recreational area, kitchen and office. The old educational unit will experience remodeling for a new library, church office, nursery, classrooms. Every area will be accessible by elevator. Members came in droves to dismantle Bethany House (formerly parsonage, currently Church Office) to save $8,000 demolition fees. Properties at 135 Summerhill Ave ($79,900) and 1836 Jessup St. ($37,500) were purchased for a parking lot and garage. The home at 1836 Jessup was restored by volunteers as a residence for the Assistant to the Pastor.
The culminating event happened on Sunday, July 20 at the 9:00 a.m. worship service as the District Superintendent consecrated the new facility. Bethany had a $1.5 million addition/renovation. Land adjacent to the new parking lot (behind 1836/1840 Jessup St.) was purchased for a garage which was built by Bethany volunteers.
An auction held in the big room was both a social & financial success. In March the Administrative Board passed a proposal for a “Christian” Day Care/Preschool. Mrs. Cristie Bacher was hired as Director of Bethany Blessings.
This was an exciting year for Bethany as we celebrated 100 years as a church. The anniversary celebration was kicked off by Bishop Neil Irons on Sept.10, 2000. During the following months we had guest speakers, who had served our church or went out from our church to do Christian work.
September brought the beginning of our Praise and Worship Service on Sunday Mornings at 11 am.
A drama and puppet group for our youth was started called Psalms. December was filled with the live nativity at the Columbia Mall, our Christmas bell concert and Candlelight Christmas Eve service. We also started prayer squares for people needing prayer.
We purchased the property next to the church on Pine Street. The house has since been razed and the ground leveled. It has been made into a playground area for the children of the church and for Bethany Blessings day care, so they will no longer have to cross Summerhill Avenue to reach their play area.
In March COVID-19 started spreading throughout the world. Many of our ministries have had to change and be adapted to the needs of social distancing. The contemporary service was moved to our auditorium (the Big Room), so that the sanctuary being used for the traditional service could be properly cleaned according to CDC guidelines. Sunday School for our adults and children have been meeting at the discretion of the Sunday School teachers. Masks and social distancing have been required. Our media ministry has begun and we are reaching hundreds of people beyond our in-person worship services.