Bethany United
Methodist            5634 S. Park, Tacoma, WA 98408

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Bethany United Methodist Church
A Rich History…  1942 to 1961

Even more important, after Rev. J. J. Ellington became Bethany’s pastor in 1943, J. J. Ellington 1943-1950was the bulletin announcement of Mother’s Day, May 14, 1944, of a Day of rejoicing for the following Tuesday evening dinner: 

       “… After the dinner a fine program will be given in the church auditorium.  Bishop Baxter will speak and former pastors will take part.  The MORTGAGE will be BURNED freeing the church of indebtedness.  You are invited.”

The program for the Mortgage Burning indicates participation, in addition to Bishop Bruce Baxter, of Mr. Whitney, the only living charter member; Rev. Huston as the builder; former pastors Howell and McQueen; wives of the former pastors; current committee chairmen; and lay leaders and ministers of neighboring churches.  The choir sang and there were messages in the bulletin from all former pastors. 

Since the union in 1939 of three Methodist bodies to form The Methodist Church, women’s organizations from the three merging churches had become the Woman’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS).  At Bethany, during Rev. Ellington’s pastorate, WSCS work is revealed through circle records, most of which tell about Circle II.  Their meetings were held in homes for lunch (sometimes potluck) followed by devotions, business, and a program until about 3 p.m.  They took turns with other circles serving lunch for the WSCS meeting.  Mission projects included Jesse Lee Home in Alaska and the Tacoma Community House, and in the 50’s, donated items were collected for Korean relief.  Picnics were popular with this group, as were fall bazaars and birthdays. 

Youth groups and Sunday School were active and well-attended in those years.  Epworth Heights Institute in July attracted young folks.  Bethany had a piece of property there, but no “lodge.” 

Jabez C. Harrison 1950-1951Rev. Jabez C. Harrison served as Bethany’s pastor from 1950 to 1951.  No records have been found for the period of his ministry – not even for any of the women’s groups. 












In 1951 Rev. Harry Coates was the Bethany appointeeHarry Coates 1951-1957.  During his pastorate a Hammond electric organ was purchased to replace the old pump organ in the sanctuary.  Mabel Sommerville was organist.  In those days the pulpit was central in the chancel, with the organ directly behind it, and the choir and piano on the opposite walls between.  There were doors out of the sanctuary on both sides of the chancel, the south one leading to a closet-sized room for the choir.  The north door led into the hall to connect with Sunday School rooms and stairs.  What is now our office was used as a little chapel. 

An important consideration for The Methodist Church during that period was the Status and Role of Women – apparently for good reason. WSCS minutes of Nov. 9, 1955 include this comment: “In our church there are 32 official board members, of which 6 are women.” More and more women were becoming employed, so during the 50’s Bethany started a unit of the Wesleyan Service Guild for working women. 



Elmer E. Beckman 1957-1961While Rev. Elmer E. Beckman was pastor, from 1957 to 1961, some remodeling work was done in the Sunday School rooms.  Also, Rev. Beckman initiated the first regular Bethany newsletter, and named it KUM JOYNUS.  It was mimeographed on colored paper.  An early issue (December 1958) reports on a “Church Wide School of Mission” to be held at Bethany on six Sunday afternoons beginning January 11, to explore the Middle East.  Mrs. Jack Shuster was the dean, and Sarah Cross was seen studying a book of Turkish recipes. 

During these years Vacation Church Schools were held at Bethany, as they continued to be for several years after.  One venue for Church Camping, Epworth Heights, was phasing out, but Ocean Park, Lazy F, and Deception Pass Camps offered Conference-wide programs.  In fact, in 1960 a Bethany planning session and 4th Quarterly Conference held in the Dining Hall at Epworth Heights in October was a “last chance” gathering at that campground before its demise.  In the Conference a new living facility for seniors, Wesley Terrace, was added to the Wesley Homes complex at Des Moines, and the Together magazine was an excellent periodical for all of Methodism, that nevertheless only lasted a few years. 

During Rev. Beckman’s pastorate, Bethany’s beloved and beautiful stained glass windows were repaired and fitted with protective covering, and the brickwork on the front of the building was tuck-pointed.
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