A rich history of groundbreaking
faith, innovation, and overwhelming trust and belief in the faithfulness of the
Almighty God, characterizes the momentum that this ministry has had from the
very beginning. In December 1955, Robert W. Dickerson began to discuss with
trusted friends and associates the possibility of starting a new Disciples of
Christ congregation in Cleveland, OH. If this dream became a reality, the church
would be named Bethany Christian Church based on the fact that Bethany was the
place where Jesus spent a great deal of time.
This exciting venture was discussed in
the home of Elder Melvin and Sister Lula Hampton. Prayers, plans and a foundation of
faith were established in which the church motto, Matthew 17:20 was chosen. The
first worship service was held at the home of Elder and Sister Robert W. Dickerson on
Sunday, February 15, 1956 with 17 people present. An offering of $10.00 was
entrusted to Elder Melvin Hampton, who along with his wife, served as treasurer
for 24 years. The second service was held at the home of Mrs. Grace Dickey
where five more people joined the congregation.
The congregation grew rapidly over the
years from these humble means and the worship service had to be moved to A. J.
Rickoff Elementary School where we worshipped for three years. During this time
the congregation flourished in an atmosphere of faith and love. With very
little money and an overwhelming faith in God, the young congregation began
negotiations to obtain a church located at 12306 Soika Avenue. On Sunday,
February 8, 1959, Bethany Christian Church celebrated the first worship service
in the new home on Soika Avenue. When the charter was obtained in 1961, the membership totaled
As the ministry experienced both
spiritual and numerical growth, the leaders carefully contemplated both current
and future needs and the decision was made to erect a new edifice. After much
preparation we had our groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday, October 13, 1990. Seventeen months later, on March 8, 1992 we had our first worship service at our
current location, 3940 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Elder R.W. Dickerson, the founding
pastor, was called from labor to reward in April of 1997. During his illness
Rev. Dr. Joseph Crockett and Rev. Dr. R.E. Hedgeman faithfully served the
congregation. On September 21, 1997 we extended a call to Dr. Hedgeman to serve
as full-time pastor.
Our legacy continues under the
innovative leadership of Rev. Dr. R.E. Hedgeman. Bethany retired the mortgage of
$1.1 million dollars in 2001. But, God wasn’t done with us yet. On Sunday
November 18, 2007, the Bethany Christian Church family gathered yet again to
break the ground of “faith” for The Joshua Project - an expansion plan to answer
the call for more space, more classrooms, an elevator, easier access, more
parking, and various other improvements.
Ribbon Cutting services for The Joshua
Project were held on Sunday, October 12, 2008. Each member was challenged to
"Grab Hold of the Vision" as we strive to be a five-star church fulfilling the
vision. The five stars of our ministry are: 1) Excellence in our Service to God;
2) Excellence in our Service to Humanity; 3) Excellence in our Community
Witness; 4) Excellence in our Worship; and 5) Each member executing their
Ministry with Excellence.
Overall, The Joshua Project has
enhanced what the Lord has already given to Bethany. It has improved upon our
ministry space. Bethany Christian Church is now a handicap accessible, state of the art facility
that is a blessing to the community and to the members. We look forward
with expectancy at what God is doing and we welcome you to join us in the mission.