Bethany Church began in 1918 when a small group of believers left the Congregational Church because they wanted a deep commitment to the Word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ. The Congregational Church had seen a decided shift towards more modernistic emphasis. Thirty-four charter members began to meet where they could and eventually cleaned an old pool hall to hold their meetings.
The charter pastor from 1918 to 1924 was Dr. Henry Rawlings. He conducted an inaugural series of meetings for several weeks. Bethany Church was formally organized at the close of the first series of revival meetings in 1918.
In 1920, with a congregation of 52, a nearly blind stonemason was commissioned to create what would eventually become one of Sierra Madre's most popular structures. A completely round cobblestone church was finished in 1921. Its cobblestone walls, only standing 22 feet high, supported a 52-foot dome. Members at the time suggested it had been built round so that the devil couldn't hide in the corners.
In 1957, the new sanctuary was "dedicated to the Glory of God and the service of men." The north wing of McAndrew Hall was dedicated in 1962, and the south wing in 1966. The Ministry Center was dedicated in the 80's and houses all Adult Bible Fellowship classes and the worship center.
Our pastors have been: Dr. Henry Rawlings, Dr. Elwood P. Lyons, Rev. William Duncan Ogg, Rev. Stewart Sheriff, Rev. Clarence Nida, Rev. Donald Rood, Dr. Robert N. Schaper, Dr. Robert Vander Zaag, Dr. Charles Wickman, Rev. Clyde Annandale, and Rev. Barney Hamady, Dr. Philip Carlson, Rev. Chris Crossan,
and now Rev. Briant Cuffy
We do not know how long Bethany’s future is. Christ commanded “Occupy ‘til I come,” and we can only try to be as effective in our witness as possible during the interim. While the Lord has blessed Bethany richly over the past 100 years, now is not the time for a respite or diminishing of our efforts. Bethany’s present task is as demanding as the one facing its founders in 1918 in that tiny pool hall. It is essentially the task of making the love of Christ so real and so transforming in the lives of its members that they will carry the message of God’s love to those around them in a winsome and persuasive fashion. To the degree that we do this well, we will someday be able to receive individually and as a congregation the welcome words of our Savior, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
(Adapted from the 50th Anniversary Jubilee Program for Bethany Church)