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

plus Bounty Food Bank         Office 253-475-7098 
  Bethany UMC  - "Your Family Friendly Neighborhood Church"

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Bethany United Methodist Church
A Rich History…  1975 to 1991


Then, in November, 1975, on short notice at the beginning of Advent, Rev.Rev. Vincent Hart 1975-1988 Vincent S. Hart, Jr. came to Bethany when Pastor Whitt was sent to Salmon Creek in the Vancouver District to respond to a crisis situation. During the next dozen years that Rev. Hart was pastor, the practice of observing Advent as a time of preparation for the Twelve Days of Christmas that end on January 5 (Twelfth Night) became well established. Also, “hallelujahs” during Lent were curtailed. In 1985, 10:30 a.m. was established as year-round Worship Service time, and “summer hours” eliminated. And sometime during these years, the annual Mother’s Day Cake Auction (and contest) was initiated, with proceeds usually benefiting youth and/or camping. 

In the late 70’s the BUMS softball team filled many spring and summer afternoon and evening hours contesting their skills against other church and community teams.  The youth group also went on lots of camping trips, and conducted “Iron Man” contests – which required church attendance following some busy Saturday activities.  With Laura Tippie still playing an advisory role, youth group leadership was spearheaded by Blaine Hanson, Tammy Dickens, and Mike Devine. 

Maintenance projects during the Hart years included establishment of a new women’s restroom, a crib room in the nursery, extensive work on the rental house to the south, and building ramp access to the church. Program projects included MAP (Ministry in Action Project), Volunteerism workshops, a Motivational Gifts seminar, DPL (Developing Persons for Leadership), a Future Committee to investigate feasibility of major building alterations, and Lay Witness Missions. Healing ministries, and service to persons and families with special needs also became a major focus, and the unused “choir” space in the chancel was walled in to become the Prayer Room. The newsletter was renamed the BETHANY WITNESS and was composed and mimeographed by Laura Tippie and Judy Baughn until the 80’s when Jean Hanson became editor. 

In 1979, seniors and retirees generated a social/support group called the Glowing Embers, which met twice monthly – once at the church and a second time on a field trip with lunch out.  In the founding years, helping projects for the church were sometimes undertaken.  Members of Glowing Embers came not only from Bethany, but also from other churches of various denominations, and most members were women.  Nevertheless, Ken Baughn was first president; and in the 1980’s and 90’s Clair Hanson held that position perennially.  From a gathering of as many as 25 or 30 at the start, death and disability depleted the roster over the years until, in 2004, following death at the age of 106 of Doris Wilson (who especially loved the group), the six remaining Glowing Embers, representing three different churches, discontinued meeting. 

Although Bethany had been donating food and clothing to the Fish Food Bank since 1977, it was in 1983 that our BOUNTY FOOD BANK really began.  What the acronym B-O-U-N-T-Y stood for has been lost to memory, except that B is for Bethany, and it represents sharing of our bounty.  My personal recollection of its genesis recalls a discussion in a Council of Ministries meeting, followed by Clair and Sande Bolender and Ken and Glenna Cook bringing fresh produce to the Friendship Room to share following Sunday service.  Recipients could donate to the church for produce taken.  Use of roto-tillers to help folds grow gardens was also offered.  This led to linking with a community food network, building a storage room, and opening the Bounty Emergency Food Bank on Monday mornings.  Today, many families are helped each week, and the Monday morning crew is made up of workers from both Bethany and the community. 

In those years, inter-church cooperation sometimes involved trading venues for annual church meetings or combining congregations for other events.  A multi-church occasion in May 1983 was called Church-Go-Round and was a Progressive Dinner that offered Appetizers and Mixer Games at Fern Hill UMC, Salad and Music at Bethany, a Barbecued Ribs Dinner at St. Paul’s, and Greek Dancing, Table Games and Dessert at Asbury.  Tickets were sold, and proceeds benefited Ocean Park Camp.  The following year, a cluster retreat at that camp involved some of the same churches.  In the summer of 1984, a day camp for children was put on in cooperation with Westminster Presbyterian Church.  Midway in Rev. Hart’s pastorate, the Korean Presbyterian Church began using our building for their services.  This continued for ten years. 

On October 18-20, 1984, Bethany’s 80th Birthday was celebrated.  Anniversary events began with a Friday evening Potluck and Music Fest, for which former singers came to augment Bethany’s choir.  Saturday’s Open House began at 10 a.m. and included historical displays and a Living History Project, which involved taping conversations with Bethany’s old times.  The evening concluded with a 7 p.m. Dessert Potluck and Slide Show.  For Sunday Worship the sermon topic was, “Where Do We Go from Here?”  An outstanding achievement of that same year was “A Christmas Madrigal Dinner” presented at Asbury UMC.  It was an event of Methodism’s Bicentennial Year that enacted scenes set in the home of Charles Wesley.  Both churches shared in the music and drama as well as the serving of a meal. 

Newly appointed in 1988 was fresh-out-of-seminary Rev. Karen Elizabeth KaserRev. Karen Kaser Odor 1988-1992-Odor, Bethany’s first woman pastor and also first pastor to give birth (to son Jared) during her Bethany appointment.  Annual Conference was held in Moscow, Idaho the next summer, and she was ordained.  Few of the congregation could attend the ordination, but we gifted her with a new stole, sent to Conference with our Lay Member.  During part of her term, she also pastured Fern Hill UMC on a part-time basis. 

During Rev. Kaser-Odor’s ministry, Activity Nights were tried, which included choir practice, classes for children, and study groups for adults.  The Nurture Work Area was created in 1991.  After thirty years as choir director, Laura Tippie retired in 1990, and was followed by Sherry Booke as choir director/pianist in 1991.  Pastor Kaser-Odor participated in Kairos Prison Ministries, and we all made cookies.  The church held some retreats at locations including Ocean Park Camp and Jefferson Playfield.  And Bethany had two (and for a while three) bowling teams: the Trundlers, Team Two, and the Bowlders.  Women were included on teams after 1988, and in 1990 one of our teams won the Church Fellowship League championship. 

Bethany’s physical plant always needed attention, with both parsonage and rental house to care for beside the church.  In 1988 the Trustees compiled and prioritized a list of building improvements projects, and the BBR&R (Bethany Building Renovation and Repair) campaign was launched.  The “little train that could” became the symbol of that effort, which continued as various projects were checked off the list.  These funds helped renovate the fireplace room, dining room and Friendship Room in 1991 and would be used to replace gutters, replace the roof, and accomplish many other improvements. 

A most significant time during Pastor Karen’s pastorate was our participation in the Congregational Revitalization Program, conducted in five phases over 18 months in 1989-90.  The congregation learned much about our church and community.  Teams were formed to research four possible styles for building our future.  When decision time came, we chose the “Royal Priesthood” congregational style.  We formulated our Mission Statement, and the “We Are the New Creation” slogan and butterfly logo (created by Susan Witter) were adopted.

 We are a New Creation


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