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  Church History


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.


                TYLER 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 Gibson2015-2018

Rev Esther Agbosu 2018 -2022

Rev. Jeff Cannon 2022 - 2024

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