Bethany Baptist Church
One Church in Two Locations

"Moving From Convenience to Commitment"

Church History

    In the year of 1882, The Bethany Baptist Church was started by the late Rev. Ruben Johnson and his wife in a room on Ridgely Street in Mt Winans.  Rev. Garner Waller organized the church in 1884.  The church was located at Harmon Ave. and Huron Street with the Rev. Reuben Johnson as pastor.  Bethany continued to grow and in 1892, the church moved adjacent to its present location and this was made possible by the gift of one lot by the late John J. Culvert and the purchase of one lot.

     In 1911, the old church moved and plans for the present site were begun.  The ground breaking ceremonies, and the laying of the cornerstone took place and the new structure was made possible by the mortgaging of the homes and all the possessions of the Pastor, Rev. Reuben Johnson and His wife Mary Ann.  The church was completed and incorporated in 1911.  The first mortgage burning services was held in 1919.  The church grew in prominence in the community and became a beacon of inspiration for the residence.


    The late Rev. Reuben Johnson pastored the church until his death in December 1935.  His son, the late Rev. Clinton D. Johnson was elected as pastor on January 1, 1937.  In 1944, under his pastorship, the outside of the building was remodeled and the inside was also beautified.   During the winter of 1947, the building was consumed by fire.  All seemed lost until stout-hearted Christians in the Sharp Street United Methodist Church opened their doors to the membership until they could rebuild.  Through hard work and dedication, the members were able to break ground in 1949 to rebuild Bethany.  In 1950 the first part of the new church was completed.  For eleven years, they worshipped in what is now known as the lower auditorium.


    The year of 1961 was the beginning of a new era in Bethany.  Work was started on the main auditorium of the church.  The upper chapel was completed in 1963 at a cost of $23,000 and the Pastor, Rev. Clinton Johnson, officers and members marched in.  Rev. Clinton Johnson died that same year.


            Rev. Richard Wallace served for over two years in the capacity of overseer of the church.  Rev. Roland Johnson was elected to pastor after this two-year period.  Under his leadership, a new kitchen was added, central air was installed and the new sanctuary was paid for ahead of time, and the mortgage was burned.  He pastored until his death in 1969.  Rev. Sarah Johnson, the wife of the late Rev. Roland Johnson served as overseer for approximately two years and the Rev. James H. Reynolds was elected pastor in 1971. 

During his years as pastor, the Sunday School was reorganized, Tithing was put into practice, two ministers were licensed and four Deacons ordained and the music ministry was enlarged.   Rev Reynolds pastored until 1981 when Rev. George Alexander was elected to pastor the church.  Succeeding him is the present pastor, Rev. Therm M. James, Sr. who was selected in 1991.


Under the leadership of Pastor James, new ministries and outreach programs have been instituted under his leadership.  We operate a weekly soup kitchen that feeds many homeless and less fortunate persons in the community.  We also operate a weekly on-site pantry to provide food to families.  We have a Clothing Outreach Ministry that provides clothing to men, women, and children.  We also provide an After School Tutoring Program to assist children with homework and problems areas in their academic studies.  During the summer months, we operate a Summer Camp Program which includes Vacation Bible School and is in operation five days a week.  We also serve as a work site for the Baltimore City Youth Works Programs for youth workers each year.


            Other new ministries include Leadership Classes, S.W.A.T. Ministry, Security Ministry, Couples Ministry, City-Wide Outreach, Pre-Marital Counseling, Video & Radio Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Men’s Ministry, Tutorial Programs, Employment Ministry, Praise and Worship Team Ministry, Youth Bible Study, Singles Ministry, The Parent Network Ministry, The We Care Ministry and The Photography Ministry.



On August 2004, we left 2616 Ridgely Street, our old building and moved into a school for worship.  Our leaving was predicated on the assurance that we were about to knock down three walls of our old location and double the size of that building.  However, in December of 2006, we embarked on and purchased a new and larger building.  The first service was held on Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 4200 Townsend Avenue in the Brooklyn area of Baltimore City.  .  The ministries have been extended to the Brooklyn community where we now have in operation our second Food Pantry, Summer Camp Program and work site for the Baltimore City Youth works Programs.


The sanctuary at 2616 Ridgely Street was renovated and we are now “One church in two locations.”


Pastor James has ordained two Ministers and five Deacons and has licensed and added twelve preachers to the Ministerial Ministry.


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