History

Bethany United Methodist Church 1888 to present. A historical sketch.

In the fall of 1888, a ministry of the Immanuel Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church called the Society of Christian Workers, wanted to do some mission work in the neighborhood. That Church was located on Dean Street, here in Brooklyn. The men and women who birthed this ministry had a vision. A vision to reach the neighborhood with the news of the life saving, life transforming gospel; a vision of bringing people together to show them the way to Christ. And so they started this ministry, this outreach to the neighborhood in a carpenter’s shop located at 1635 Atlantic Avenue, right here in Brooklyn, and as a Sunday School Class. A few months later the opportunity arose to buy a building that was once owned by the American Baptist Church at the corner of Troy and Herkimer at a cost of $7,500.00. The Sunday school moved into this building by the spring of 1889, with a registered attendance of 15 adults and 25 children. What started off as a ministry of the Immanuel Swedish Methodist Episcopal Church through its Society of Christian Workers, developed into a church, now with its own building and own pastor. The Pastor, Rev. Charles F. Thornblade, delivered his first sermon at this his first charge on September 1, 1889. The very first sermon that the pastor preached was taken from Romans 1:16. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, first to the Jews and then to the Gentile.” They kept the main thing, the plain thing, and the plain thing the main thing, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, taking the admonition, the commandment at face value, “Go and make disciples”.

The congregation became a legal organization on March 28th, 1891 with 78 full members and 30 probationary members known as the Swedish Bethany Methodist Episcopal Church. As the church flourished and with the shifting of the Swedish population eastward to an area now known as Crown Heights, the decision was made to sell the church on Herkimer Street and to follow the suit of the trend to Crown Heights. The site for the building we are currently in was purchased on December 16th, 1914. Groundbreaking ceremonies were conducted on March 21, 1915 and the new building was formally dedicated on October 31st, 1915. The year 2015 marked the church’s 100th anniversary at this location. In 1968 when the Methodist Churches merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, we became known as Bethany United Methodist Church.

And today we still stand, strong in our mission, and we proclaim “that the gates of hell shall not prevail against this church”. It all started with a vision 127 years ago, of some men and women desiring to be God’s change agent in the community that they lived in, in starting a Sunday school. It started with a vision, to make God’s vision their own, to make disciples. And no, it’s not the same church in terms of the ethnic makeup, we have no Swedes in our midst, we are all black (for now), mostly West Indian, West Indian descent, Americans, Panamanians, but the mission remains the same: As Disciples of Jesus Christ our Mission is to be:

Demonstrators of His Love
Messengers of His Gospel, and
Sharers of His teachings. ( Matt.28:19-20 )

We welcome and seek all nationalities and ethnicities to join us on the road of discipleship.