Bethel Baptist Church, East was built by men and women who relied on themselves and their own belief. They put to work their abiding faith in God and challenged the confidence they had in themselves to courageously move ahead.
In 1920, a mission was organized in the home of Mrs. Emma Potts on Alexandrine Street between Beaubien and St. Antoine Streets in the City of Detroit. A series of prayer meetings were held at that location.
On October 26, 1920 in the home of Mrs. Emma Potts, a meeting was held for the purpose of organizing a church. A minister from Greater Macedonia Baptist Church, in this city, presided. Deacons from Greater Macedonia Baptist Church and Friendship Baptist Church in the City of Detroit, assisted in the ceremony.
The church was named, “Bethel Baptist Church, East.” The call was immediately extended to the Reverend James Crawford to become the first pastor of Bethel, East. After one year at the above location, the church rented a storefront on the corner of Alexandrine and St. Antoine. Worship took place there for three months before moving to a storefront on East Fort and Riopelle where they remained for two years.
Under the leadership of Reverend Crawford, the church purchased a house at 2014 Dubois Street and remodeled it into a church. The church worshipped at that location for approximately five years.
In 1926, the Reverend Crawford was called from labor to his reward after serving the church for six years.
In 1927, the Reverend William Miles was called to the pastorate. He served the church for six years.
The Reverend Clarence W. Minter was called to the pastorate in 1934. Under his leadership, the church purchased two parcels of property, a storefront with an apartment above at 2004 and 2008 Dubois at Maple Street, and a two-family flat in the rear on Maple Street. This property was purchased for the purpose of demolishing the buildings and erecting a new church at that location. The church eventually moved into the storefront at 2004 Dubois Street. May 18, 1937, the church was incorporated under the provisions of the State Corporation Laws. Reverend Minter served for seven and one-half years.
The building at 2014 Dubois Street was sold; plans to build a new church were abandoned in 1942. In February 1942, while without a pastor, the membership purchased a church building and parsonage at 1701 and 1719 Dubois Street at Madison Avenue. In the same year, the Reverend James Bryant was called. His administration ended after about two years. At this time, the church was without a pastor for two months.
On March 25, 1944, the Reverend Price L. Woodson, Sr. was called and assumed his pastoral duties the following day. The Church Clerk was Mattie B. Moore. At that time, the membership had dwindled to 18; many of the members had become disgusted with the strife and turmoil in the church, so they moved their membership to other churches in the community.
Under the leadership of Reverend Woodson, and with God’s guidance, the church membership grew. He was able to unite and stabilize the church; a modest, fine, God-fearing man, who won the love and affection of his congregation by his steadfast devotion to duty.
In 1947, the property at 2004 and 2008 Dubois, as well as the two-family flat in the rear on Maple Street were sold and the proceeds were used to liquidate the mortgage on the church parsonage. In the same year, the membership witnessed the burning of the mortgage on the church property.
In 1954, due to the Urban Redevelopment Program, the City of Detroit purchased the church and parsonage located on Dubois at Madison Streets. On June 14, 1954, the church used the proceeds to purchase a building and two vacant lots at 5715 Holcomb Street. Sunday, June 27, 1954, Reverend Woodson led a motorcade, as members of Bethel, East and friends drove from 1701 Dubois Street to the new location at 5715 Holcomb Street with a police escort. On January 4, 1955, a house at 5721 Holcomb Street, next door to the church was purchased and used as the parsonage; this was also a cash transaction.
On June 17, 1956, a Cornerstone Laying Service was conducted with the assistance of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F. & A.M. of Michigan. The guest minister for the afternoon was the Reverend J. S. Williams, Sr., and the New Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Detroit.
Reverend Woodson served as pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, East for a period of sixteen years and four months. He resigned as pastor on August 14, 1960.
After a period of about two months, a Pulpit Committee of three deacons and two lay members was elected: Deacons Frank Hill, Nathaniel Lathan and George Hairston; Brothers Jonas H. Jackson and James McLean. The church was without a pastor this time for approximately six months.
After listening to several ministers preach, the membership elected the Reverend Carl D. Hughes as pastor. Reverend Hughes was called February 11, 1961, and assumed his pastoral duties February 12, 1961.
The Church Clerk was Sis. Arclancia Tucker, held this position from 1961-1962. Sis. Mattie Jenkins assumed Church Clerk responsibilities 1962-1987, serving 25 years. Pastor Hughes was a Teacher, Builder, Traveler, and Administrator. He was a very capable leader and thoroughly versed in the scriptures.
The parsonage at 5721 Holcomb was converted into a Christian Education Building, housing the Pastor’s Study, the Church Office, classrooms and auxiliary meeting rooms. This change was initiated soon after Reverend Hughes assumed the pastorate.
Looking toward the future, seeing the growth and development of the membership numerically on June 3, 1961, Pastor Hughes recommended to the church a Building Fund Program, which was approved. On June 13, 1961, the church made its initial deposit to the Building Fund with the Home Federal Savings and Loan Association of Detroit.
July 29, 1966, the church purchased three lots on the east side of Holcomb Street, just south of Cairney Street, and developed them into a parking lot. A ceremony was held Sunday, July 16, 1967, to dedicate the Church Parking Lot.
On January 8, 1967, the church voted to empower the Pastor and the Joint Board to move ahead with the necessary plans for the construction of a new Christian Education Building, a new Sanctuary, and a Home for the elderly.
On November 29, 1967, the church purchased a house at 5727 Holcomb Street, and used it for a Parish House.
February 14, 1968, the church purchased a new 40-passenger School Bus for the purpose of enhancing the Sunday School and Christian Education programs.
The church held a ground breaking ceremony, October 20, 1968, and was assisted by the Most Worshipful Enoch Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M., Inc.
On December 14, 1968, a committee led by Pastor Hughes and composed of the chairman of the Building Fund Committee and members of the Joint Board, visited the offices of the Case Construction Company, and G. E. Associates, Inc., architects of Flint, Michigan. This committee presented proposed plans for a New Christian Educational Building and a new Sanctuary. February 28, 1969, the architects presented the church advisory board with drawings of the first phase of the proposed building plans.
On May 1, 1969, the Michigan Department of social services issued a license permitting the church to operate a Day Care Center. Delores Baxter served as the Day Care Center Director.
On July 18, 1969, the architects presented the advisory board with the drawings of the third and final phase of the proposed building plans. On July 29, 1969, a loan was secured from the Home Federal Savings and Loan Association to finance the construction of a Christian Educational Building.
September 27, 1969, the church purchased two parcels of property; a two-family house at 5731-33 Holcomb Street, and a two-story building with a storefront and three apartments at 5700 Holcomb at Chapin Street. Demolition began January 17, 1970, on the three church owned buildings on the north side of the sanctuary. The land was prepared for the construction of the Christian Education Building. On February 6, 1970, the contractors began work on the foundation of the building.
On March 23, 1970, the Bethel Baptist Church, East Inc. Dry Cleaning Service was open for business in the storefront at 5700 Holcomb Street.
The Golden Jubilee Anniversary was climaxed on August 9, 1970, with the Reverend William Collins, Jr., and the Antioch Baptist Church of St. Louis, Missouri, as the guest throughout the day.
November 14, 1970, officials of the Case Construction Company of Flint, Michigan met with Pastor Hughes and the Officers of the church for a tour of the Christian Education Building. At that time, the keys to the new building were presented to Trustee Samuel Hill, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. The Annual Women’s Day Tea on November 22, 1970, was the first activity to be held in the new building, followed by the traditional Thanksgiving Day Service, November 26, 1970. The Christian Education Building was dedicated, January 31, 1971. Dr. Charles Morton, Pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church of Detroit, delivered the dedicatory message.
November 30, 1972, the Day Care Center purchased a new 1973 fifteen-passenger van to transport children to and from the Day Care Center.
October 1973, the Sunday School Bus Ministry was organized with the view of reaching an enrollment of 600 students by December 1973.
The Bethel Baptist Church, East Credit Union was organized on November 4, 1973, for the purpose of promoting thrift and creating a source of credit among its members. Later, the State of Michigan issued a charter.
November 19, 1973, two used school buses were purchased for service in the Sunday School Bus Ministry. By April 7, 1974, the enrollment had reached the figure 612; by May 5, 1974, the enrollment had increased to 625 students. On Easter Sunday, 550 students, the highest number in attendance was recorded. The average attendance was 358.
January 1974, Hanger General Contractors of Dallas, Texas, were awarded the contract to erect a new sanctuary.
The constant increase in the Day Care Center enrollment necessitated the purchase of another 15-passenger van on April 22, 1974.
September 11, 1974, four H.U.D. lots were purchased: two located at 5762 and 5768 Holcomb Street, adjoining each other; one at 5476 Rohns Street and one at 5480 Holcomb at Chapin Street.
The old white frame church, which had stood majestically on the corner of Holcomb and Chapin Streets since 1912, was razed November 6, 1974, to provide space for the new sanctuary. Excavation was begun for the foundation, November 22, 1974.
On April 17, 1975, two H.U.D. lots were purchased; they join each at 5715 and 5712 Belvidere Street.
April 28, 1975, a loan was secured from the Home Federal Savings & Loan Association to finance construction of the new sanctuary.
On October 5, 1975, a Cornerstone Laying Service was conducted at the new sanctuary with the assistance of M.W. Enoch Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M., Inc. The guest minister was Dr. S. C. Campbell and the Russell Street Baptist Church of Detroit.
On Sunday morning, December 21, 1975, members and friends of Bethel, East assembled in the parking lot of Sears, Roebuck & Company, at Van Dyke and Gratiot Avenues. A motorcade led by Pastor Hughes, with City Police escorting, drove to the beautiful, new sanctuary where services were held for the first time. Thousands of people viewed this spectacular event on television (Channel 2), as Bethel, East can say with sincerity and truth, “We’ve come this far by faith.”
Services were held throughout the month of January 1976, for the dedication and open house of the sanctuary. The closing dedicatory guest minister was the Reverend Benjamin Davis, Pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. During the afternoon service, January 26, 1976, a representative of Hanger General Contractors presented the keys to the new sanctuary to the church. Trustee Price L. Woodson, Jr., Chairman, Board of Trustees, made the acceptance.
The Travel Club of Bethel Baptist Church, East was organized June 4, 1976, under the vision of Trustee Jonas Jackson. The President was Dea. Willie Jenkins. The purpose was to foster Christian Spirit, to stimulate Christian Mission, and provide varied travel experiences.
On June 22, 1976, a Senior Citizen’s Food and Friendship Program was instituted to provide hot and nourishing lunches for the elderly men and women in the community. The two Co-Coordinators were Sis. Naomi Spears and Mother Mittie Payne.
On Wednesday, July 14, 1976, the first noonday, midweek prayer service was instituted on a church-wide basis.
The Travel Club purchased a 39-passenger used highway bus, July 16, 1976.
The church had summer programs such as N.Y.C. Trainers’ Program, College Work Study Program, Vacation Bible School, and the Summer Camp Program.
In March 1977, the Day Care Center purchased a new 15-passenger van to be placed into service.
During the month of August 1977, a wrought iron fence was installed around the front and the Chapin Street side of the church. Landscaping was completed: planting of small trees, shrubbery, and sodding of the lawn. Also, an underground sprinkler system was installed.
On April 24, 1978, a house was purchased at 5474 Holcomb Street, adjacent to the church owned lot at 5980 Holcomb Street. On June 26, 1978, church identification lettering was installed on the building at the corner of Holcomb and Chapin Streets.
June 30, 1978, the house at 5474 Holcomb Street was razed for the purpose of developing the two lots into a parking lot. On November 4, 1978, the two parking lots were opened, one at the corner of Holcomb and Chapin Streets, the other at the corner of Rohns and Chapin Streets.
The Day Care Center purchased a new 22-passenger mini-bus on September 24, 1979, to provide additional transportation for the children in that program.
On December 20, 1979, the church purchased a new 66-passenger school bus to provide transportation for the Sunday School Bus Ministry, as well as the church-at-large.
In a brief ceremony at the 11:00 service, Sunday, December 13, 1981, Trustee James C. Parker, President of the Travel Club, transferred ownership of the bus to the church. On behalf of the church, Trustee Price L. Woodson, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees accepted the gift.
On June 30, 1982, the church purchased a lot on the North side of the bus parking lot, which is located on Holcomb Street just South of Cairney Street.
On June 9, 1983, the church and the Day Care Center purchased a new 15-passenger Ford Van in order to improve the transportation needs.
The church hosted the Wolverine State Baptist Missionary Convention, Inc., which convened in Detroit, July 30 through August 4, 1984.
On February 8, 1988, Pastor Hughes departed this life while he was sitting in the Sanctuary listening to the choir rehearse. This was the close of a great life and an important chapter in the history of Bethel Baptist Church, East after 27 years of dedicated service.
March, 1988; the church immediately elected a Pulpit Committee to lead its search for a pastor. The names of the Pulpit Search Committee included Deac. Janice Green, Mo. Essie Hill, Sis. Geneva Lockett, Tr. Rosilind Little, Dea. Robert Pouncy, Tr. John Carter and Sis. Ruthie Nelson. Reverend James W. Stepherson, Jr. served as an associate to Pastor Hughes. In February he began to serve as the interim pastor.
After hearing different ministers preach, on June 28, 1988, the Church extended the call to the Reverend James W. Stepherson, Jr. On July 1, 1988, Reverend Stepherson accepted the call and assumed his duties as Pastor.
On October 16, 1988, the Reverend James W. Stepherson Sr., pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Miami, Florida, was the guest preacher for his son’s installation service.
On Sunday afternoon, March 12, 1989, the church sponsored a “Homecoming Service” in the interest of the Mortgage Retirement Fund.
On June 1, 1989, Rev. Stephenson initiated the purchase of a Computer System in order to improve and facilitate the general record-keeping procedures of the church.
In June 1990, a cement block building was erected in back of the two-story building at 5700 Holcomb in which to store church property. In July 1990, the building at 5700 Holcomb was razed. This lot was fenced in and developed into a play-lot for Day Care Center Children.
The Church held its Mortgage Burning Service in the afternoon of October 13, 1991, with the assistance of the Most Worshipful Enoch Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M., Inc. The guest minister for the celebration was the Rev. Cullian Hill and the Greater Concord Baptist Church of Detroit.
In March 1992, the church purchased a 1987 47-passenger bus. In January 1994, a new 16-passenger van was purchased for the Day Care Center. Also in March, 1992, Rev. Stepherson organized the first couples retreat.
On April 4, 1995, a house was purchased at 5741 Holcomb Street next to the Christian Education Building. The house was razed in October to provide additional space for future expansion. In July, the computer System was upgraded for better efficiency.
In July 1996, two lots were purchased from the City of Detroit at 5701 and 5709 Belvidere for future development. In June 1997, the Church purchased vacant lots at 5778, 5782, 5786, 5837, and 6027 McClellan Street.
In August 1997, Rev James W. Stepherson announced to the Church that he would resign as Pastor, effective the third Sunday in October 1997. He stated that after considerable prayer and meditation, he and his wife would be moving to Florida to be near his aging parents. He further stated that he desired to be available to care for them.
A Pastoral Search Committee was formed in October 1997, to lead the Church in finding a new Pastor. The Pastoral Search Committee was comprised of the following members: Trustee O. C. Lockett (Chairman), Sis. Jackie Moss-Williams (Vice Chairperson), Trustee Rosalind Little (Secretary), Rev. James R. Patton, Deaconess Maxine Matthews, Sis. Karen Jenkins-Tucker, Trustee Teresa Hanna, Deacon Roy Edwards, Deacon Dave Benson III, Trial Deacon Willy Scott, and Sis. Tara Walker. The committee reviewed 60 resumes of interest.
During the interim period, the Lord continued to bless the Church spiritually, numerically, and financially.
The Bethel Baptist Church, East Credit Union celebrated its 25th Anniversary in March 1997, with a special luncheon. Dr. Charles Butler, Pastor Emeritus of the New Calvary Baptist Church, was the guest speaker. The luncheon was very well attended.
In June 1998, the Church purchased a vacant house at 5745 Holcomb, which is located next to the Christian Education Building. The Church also purchased two vacant lots at 5780 and 5945 Holcomb, both of which are located on opposite sides of the Church bus parking lot. All of the property was purchased to allow for future expansion and development of church facilities.
On June 12, 1998, the church celebrated the Home Going of one of its faithful, dedicated officers, Trustee Emeritus Price L. Woodson, Jr. Brother Woodson served as Trustee for over 40 years and the Church Historian. He made significant contribution to the life of Bethel, East.
The church continued without a Pastor for almost 14 months. During this period, the church asked Dr. Charles Butler to serve as an informal advisor and to preach on a frequent basis, which he graciously accepted. The local ministers also preached on a rotating schedule established by the Chairman of the Deacon Board, Dave Benson, III. Rev. Dennis Veal was asked to conduct the worship services each Sunday and to perform other duties normally performed by the Pastor during worship.
The Pastoral Search Committee received over 60 resumes before it invited three ministers to come before the congregation to preach at the 10:45 a.m. Worship Service, and to teach a special Christian Education Seminar the following Monday evening.
On December 6, 1998, after a church-wide vote in November, Dr. Michael Andrew Owens was called as Pastor. Dr. Owens assumed duties as Pastor on December 31, 1998, at the Watch Night Service.
Dr. Michael Andrew Owens was officially installed as Pastor on March 21, 1999. Dr. Charles Butler was asked to preside over the installation services and Rev. McKinley Williams brought the message.
Shortly after assuming duties as Pastor, Dr. Owens met with the Joint Board to discuss several existing projects that were intended to upgrade various areas of the church. Dr. Owens offered several suggestions to enhance the scope of these projects and to generate funds to pay for the improvements including painting, new carpet and tile, refurbished pews, woodwork and upholstery, new lighting fixtures, upgraded sound system, recording and duplicating equipment, and a nurse’s room. In the Educational Building, the Pastor’s Office was expanded and renovated, including new furniture. The computer system for the church office and supportive operations was enhanced to meet our growing needs.
The Church held Sunday worship services in Bethel Hall during the renovation period. On May 23, 1999, the church climaxed a week of celebration with Homecoming Services in our newly renovated sanctuary. Rev. Michael Cunningham and the East Lake Baptist Church was our guest. Once again the Lord blessed Bethel, East with a spiritually rich Worship Service.
August 29, 1999, the Pastor and members attended the Home Going Service for former First Lady, Sis. Louise C. Hughes, in Indianapolis, Indiana. From June 1999, to August 2001, the Pastor, Choir, and Congregation have extended our church fellowship by traveling to Washington, D.C., Wilkes Barre, Erie, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Under Pastor Owens' leadership, the statement of the church's vision was changed to, "A Ministry Minded Church: Serving God with the Mind of Christ in the Spirit of His Love," based on the admonition of Philippians 2:5. The names of many of the church's auxiliaries were changed to reinforce the ministry focus.
Under Dr. Owens administration, the Membership Club names have been changed to Membership Ministries.
Dr. Owens conducted classes for new Deacons and Deaconess prior to their Service of Consecration and Ordination, May 7, 2000.
New Ministries have been established, Bethel East Praise Dancers, Intercessory Prayer, and the Tutorial Ministry. The Tutorial Ministry began weekly tutoring sessions on October 7, 2000, offering assistance with Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, Spelling, Homework Help, and Study Skills. A computer lab was established, and computer classes were initiated, including Microsoft Windows, Word, and PowerPoint.
Scholarships and other support for students following graduation from high school have also been expanded. In 2000, the vision and ministry of the Scholarship Club was marked by a name change to the EXCEL Ministry "Exalting Christ while Enhancing Learning." Student achievements are formally and enthusiastically acknowledged throughout the school year, and increased contributions by the Bethel, East members allow more generous scholarship awards.
The first East Side Gospel Fest celebration took place in 2000. On Saturday, August 11th, the 2001 Gospel Fest “Took The Gospel to the Street.” It offered soul food for the body and Spirit. There were over 45 vendors, food, music, prayer tent, and inspiring messages held in the fellowship halls and on the outside church grounds.
The ministry of Bethel, East Praise Dancers was initiated in 2001 utilizing the talents of Sis. Amber Porter and several Bethel, East youth.
The Men’s Ministry, "Time in the Temple" came about as a result of the great success of Men’s Day in May 2001. This ministry includes monthly Bible Study and Fellowship.
December 2001, the Angel Tree Program led by Mission Outreach provided Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated parents. This effort is an annual project.
In 2002, new roofs were installed on both buildings as a result of the direct giving goal.
Ministries to and for our youth have been greatly expanded. "Youth Exploring Salvation" (Y.E.S.), Bethel's youth ministry, has served growing numbers of young people in its weekly youth fellowships. In 2002, Sis. Andrea Jones succeeded Sis. Connie Garrett and other interim leaders, as Youth Director, continuing the strong commitment of Bethel, East to nurturing and mentoring young people. Spiritual growth, personal comportment, and self-confidence is evident each 5th Sunday and throughout the year as the youth lead 5th Sunday Worship Services, an annual Youth-Led Revival, prepare and deliver inspiring messages, and minister to others in service and outreach activities. Participation in the Calvary District Youth Department has been frequently recognized with the Attendance Award Banner.
In April 2002, a Women's Ministry was established, "Women at the Well" built on the account of Christ's encounter with the woman in Samaria in John 4:4-29.
The outside Marquee is an additional physical improvement inviting the community to share in our Worship and Ministries. A new van was also been purchased.
Mission Outreach has launched a correspondence ministry to family members of Bethel, East members who are incarcerated.
Community involvement included participation in the Detroit 300 year-round celebration where some of our members were a part of the 800+ voice choir and our name, Bethel Baptist Church, East is on one of the Pavers in Hart Plaza, bearing the inscription, “Go With God.”
The first Street Fair was organized under Dr. Carl D. Hughes, and then later, Saturday, August 11, 2000, the name was changed to Eastside Community Gospel Fest, as we took the Gospel to the streets. It offered soul food for the body and spirit. There were over 45 vendors, food, music, prayer and inspiring messages held in the fellowship and on the church grounds.
In 2002, Bethel, East benefited from the faith-based initiatives linking church and community in the effort to provide after school educational activities for youth. A grant was awarded by the Skillman Foundation for $75,000 to be shared by Bethel, East, the 4-H Club, and five other East Side Churches. The program enlisted many volunteers from our church in various capacities and serviced children from Bethel, East and surrounding neighborhoods.
A new scholarship, The Kimberly Award, was established in 2002 by Pastor Owens in memory of his sister, Kimberly T. Quarles. This award is given annually to the student with the highest Grade Point Average.
A Reading Assistance Program was also instituted at Bethel, East as a pilot program, utilizing several churches chosen by the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity in collaboration with Detroit Public Schools. This effort fostered a closer relationship with Chandler Elementary School.
In 2003 the Couples Ministry had their first, "In-House Retreat" signaling a wider appeal to families to be strengthened by the Word of God.
In 2005 & 2006, a 3-day Praise Dance Workshop, led by, "The Restoration Liturgical Dance Ministry" from Tennessee State University, provided instruction and inspiration for seasoned and aspiring dancers, not only from Bethel, East, but also from other churches across the city.
On July 17, 2005, the Music Ministry hosted an 85th Pre-Anniversary Reunion Homecoming Concert, featuring over 100 choir members and musicians from across the years of Bethel's rich music history. This extraordinary concert was presented to an overflow audience and professionally recorded on cassette, CD, video, and DVD.
The 85th Church Anniversary was held, August 21-28, 2005. The theme was, "85 years – Celebrating the Faithfulness of God and the Fellowship of God's People" from the scripture text Deuteronomy 7:9. Rev Benjamin T. Hailey and the Union Baptist Church Family from Allentown, PA opened our celebration. Dr. Wallace Charles Smith pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church, Washington, D.C. preached the culmination worship service. The celebration ended with a gala black-tie banquet at the Roostertail.
“Steadfast and Abounding in the Work of the Lord” from the scriptural text, I Corinthians 15:58, was the theme for our 86th Church Anniversary which we celebrated August 23-25, 27, 2006. The Women’s Day Legend’s Banquet, and the “Women at the Well” Spiritual Retreat were a highlight of the year. The spiritual fall-out spread more love and unity throughout the various ministries of the church.
January, 2007; a committee of nine were selected by the pastor for the revision of the Constitution and Bylaws. The revisions were approved at the Annual Church Meeting January 7, 2007. The following members served on the committee Dea. Dave Benson, III, Esquire, Dea. Stanton Wells, Tr. Jonas Jackson, Tr. O.C. Lockett, Deac. Jacqueline Patton, Mo. Jessie Parker, Sis. Margaret Johnson, Sis. Andrea Jones and Sis. Ruthie Nelson.
Bethel, East continued building on a strong foundation using “The Keys that Unlock our Faith”; love, prayer, obedience, study, and worship. This theme for the 87th Anniversary was based on Matthew 16:18-19. The celebration began August 21-23 and culminated August 26, 2007.
A new ministry was established at the end of 2007, “Holy Hands of Praise.” This sign language ministry has been an inspiration to not only Bethel, East but also to many of the area churches. Sis. LaTonya Underwood offered her gifts to provide creative, artistic direction to this work. Pastor Owens has expressed the desire to have other ministries of this kind developed under the banner of C.H.A.R.M. (Christian Arts Ministries).
Spirituality, Stewardship, and Service were the areas of ministry focus established for 2008. Bible Study experienced a sharp rise in attendance and participation. Plans were drawn up for a new capital improvement project that would result in repairs and renovation of the front of the church. On June 15, 2008, Trustee Jonas H. Jackson was honored by Bethel, East, as “A Man for All Seasons,” with an Appreciation Dinner following the Morning Worship. Trustee Jackson had concluded 23 years of service as Chairman of the Board of Trustees in 2006. At the 2007 meeting, the Trustee Board elected Trustee Joyce Howard as the first female Chairperson.
For 88 years Bethel, East has continued to “Hold Fast the Faith” This theme scripture text was Hebrews 10:22-25. We celebrated Monday, August 18-Wednesday, August 20 and Sunday, August 24, 2008.
The 89th Church Anniversary was celebrated Sunday, August 23-Wednesday, August 26, 2009. The theme was “Our Excellence for His Glory”, I Corinthians 12:27-31 and Philippians 1:9-11. Local pastors proclaimed the messages with emphasis on the theme text.
The 90th Church Anniversary was celebrated during the month of August, 2010 with the theme: “90 years serving Christ to Fulfill the Great Commission” from the scriptural text, Matthew 28:19,20 and Philippians 2:5. We began the celebration with a “Gospel Fest and Open Air Church, August 7th & 8th, followed by an All Night Prayer Vigil, August 13th & 14th. A Homecoming Choir Reunion Concert was held August 21st after which the Anniversary Worship Services were held from August 22nd-26th. The 90th celebration culminated Sunday evening with a Black-Tie Banquet, held at the Arts League of MI Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center (Old Paradise Valley).
In December, 2010, Pastor Owens was elected President of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit & Vicinity. Bethel, East became the headquarters for weekly meetings of the organization as well as the host of numerous forums in which religious, social and political leaders addressed issues of importance to the community. Pastor Owens’ administration continued through December, 2013. By then Bethel, East had also moved to the forefront of leadership in our fellowship with the Calvary Missionary Baptist District Association, when Pastor Owens was elected Moderator in July, 2012.
The year 2014, the 94th Church Anniversary year was highlighted by a Mother’s Day Extravaganza featuring dinner, fashions and entertainment for the entire family. In the Fall of that year, Bethel, East celebrated the 100th birthdays of two cherished members, Mother Jessie Kuykendall and Mother Mary McKay. A tribute service and reception was held at the church attended by a host of family, friends and Bethel, East membership.
In December 2016, the church held services to recognize the calling and licensing of the first female Ministers in the 97 year history, Ministers Ann Godbold and Andrea Jones. During the same week , the Church witnessed the ordination of Rev. Monroe Pendelton. This was certainly one of the high spiritual worship services of the year.
On February 25, 2017, the Church honored two long serving members, Sister Georgetta Woodson and Deacon Dave Benson III, Esq. An elegant dinner and tribute program was held. The occasion was entitled "A Night With Two Legends". A oratorical tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King and a musical tribute to Lady Mahalia Jackson was presented in the church sanctuary, to highlight the evening. Sister Woodson had served over 60 years in the Sunday School ministry. Deacon Benson had served as a deacon for over 45, and 27 years as Chairman. Both of them had been faithful servants to God and supporters of Bethel, East.
On Sunday, June 18, 2017, Pastor Michael A. Owens announced to the Church that he had submitted his resignation to the Joint Board of the Church. His resignation was effective July 16, 2017. Pastor Owens had served 18 years. The church experienced many milestones under his leadership.
On August12, 2017, as part of the 97th Church Anniversary celebration, the church hosted a combined Church picnic and Gospel Fest. This was the first time the two annual events were combined. It was an overwhelming success. Over 300 members, friends and community residents attended. The event was held in the street in front of the church and on several vacant lots next to and across the street from the church building. Free food, clothing give away, live music, family games, health care screening and school back packs filled with school supplies was given away. Everyone who attended enjoyed the outdoors celebration.
Upon the resignation of Pastor Owens, the Chairman of the Deacon Board, Deacon Dave Benson III, assumed the spiritual and administrative responsibilities of the Church. The Acting Chairman of the Trustee Board, Trustee Edgar Kennebrew and the Joint Board as a whole also provided leadership to the church during this period. The church leadership was committed to continuing all obligations, ministries and traditions previously established.
A Pastoral Search Committee was selected by the Joint Board. The search committee held its first meeting on June 20, 2017. The committee included the following members: Brother Samuel Hill (Chairman), Trustee Shirley Gilkey (Vice-Chairperson). Sister Deborah Allen (Secretary), Rev. James Patton, Deaconess Maxine Mathews, Deacon Dave Benson III, Deacon Andrew Warren, Deacon Michael Kelsey, Trustee Edgar Kennebrew Sr., Deaconess Charlotte Moody, and Brother Tyrone Odister.
During the ensuing 22 months, the committee received 85 application/resume from around the country. Each candidate was given prayerful consideration. The committee provided frequent updates to the congregation on its progress.
The church set aside each Wednesday for special prayer services, seeking the Holy Spirits’ guidance in calling a pastor. The associated ministers accepted the responsibility to lead this special prayer service. The chairman of the Deacon Board also asked the six ministers (Rev. James Patton, Rev. Dennis Veal Sr., Rev. Monroe Pendelton, Rev. Horace Blue, Minister Andrea Jones and Minister Ann Godbold-Douglas) to preach and to serve as worship leader on rotating bases. Other ministerial duties were also shared between the associate ministers. Each of the ministers served with outstanding spirit and faithfulness. The church was richly blessed because of their service.
Bible Revival was held October 17, through October 19, 2017. The Lord was surely with Bethel at this time. The theme: “The Power of a Discerning Spirit: To Whom Are You Listening?” (Scriptures Isaiah 119:66, John 16:13, John 14:26). The Lord blessed Bethel, East with a great movement of the Holy Spirit’s presence in both teaching and preaching.
As Bethel, East moved into the New Year, 2018, the church continued to grow in the Lord spiritually, prayerfully and financially.
The church continued to engage in the following activities: Annual Church Conference, Installation of Officers, Good Friday Fellowship Services, Women’s Day, 5th Annual Mother’s day, Gospel Fest, Church Anniversary, Bible Revival, Men’s Day and spiritual rich Worship Services through the year.
The 98th Church Anniversary was held August 21 through August 23, 2018, with nightly services. The theme “A Church Trusting In God: Growing Stronger, Soaring Higher,” Isaiah 40:31. The service culminated Sunday, August 26, 2018, at 10:00am Worship Service with Rev. Robert Dunlin Jr. bringing the message.
On November 11, 2018, in honor of Sister Mattie L. Jackson, after Sunday Worship Service a special farewell Celebration was held to appreciate her for 62 years of faithful service as member and Church Secretary/Administrator.
The church started the year 2019 without a pastor. The Pastor Search Committee informed the church that, after nineteen months of prayers, investigations and meetings, it is requesting the church’s approval for a one time waiver of the by-laws to allow consideration of two candidates who met some but not all of the requirements. The church voted and approved the one time waiver.
On February 10-11 and February 17-18, 2019, respectively, the two candidates were invited separately, to preach at the Sunday Morning Service and to teach Bible Study Class on Monday evening.
The Church overwhelmingly voted to call Rev. Stephen L. Herrod to be Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, East on February 24, 2019. Rev. Herrod accepted the calling that same day.
March 24, 2019, Bethel, East held its first annual Members Appreciation Day celebration service. Six members of the church were honored for their service, support and love. Mother Jessie O. Parker, Mother Janice Green, Trustee Marshall McNeil, Trustee Frank Matthews, Sister Bobbie Newby and Brother John Nesbitt.
On March 31, 1019, Youth Sunday, Rev. Stephen L. Herrod Pastor-Elect, preached his first sermon, Do It For The Culture” I Corinthians 2:1-5. After service, the church held a reception to meet and welcome Rev. Stephen L. Herrod. The church was elated to meet the new pastor and it was excitedly attended.
During the April Spring break, Pastor-Elect Herrod and the youth canvassed the community, evangelizing, introducing himself to the community, and passing out bags of candy.
May 26, 2019, Pastoral Installation Service was held for Pastor-Elect Rev. Stephen L. Herrod. Rev. Cornell D. Sampson Jr., Pastor of “Let Them Come Baptist Church,” presided and Rev. Maurice Rudds, Pastor of “Greater Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist Church” brought the Installation message: “Guaranteed to Succeed” Joshua 1:1-9.
The Lord richly blessed Pastor Herrod and Bethel Baptist Church, East in the first year growing spiritually and numerically, with ongoing prayer meeting and Bible study, and exponential increase to Sunday Morning Worship service.
Unbeknownst to us all, just one year after Pastor Herrod's first service at Bethel on March 22, 2020, it would be our last in-person worship service for over a year. The COVID-19 virus plagued our land, and though we closed our doors for in-person worship, we kept our doors open for outreach. We launched a weekly food pantry to feed the community, summer food pantry to feed the youth while they were out of school, upgraded our sound system, and installed 3 cameras so that we could livestream our services and still be connected. We also extended our giving options to electronic options. In addition to that, we launched a ministry on facebook and youtube reaching hundreds, and even thousands of people weekly. Finally, we opened our doors and joined the fight against COVID-19 and health disparities in our community by partnering with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to be a neighborhood site weekly offering COVID-19 tests and vaccinations.
In the Summer of 2021, we opened back up for in-person worship, while maintaining our online ministry. In addition to that, we purchased 9 lots on our street and are in the process of converting them to a community garden and other short-term beautification projects.
The Lord has richly blessed us during this pandemic, and we give all glory to God for sustaining us in every way. We are now 102 years strong, and look forward to continuing God's work in Jesus' name!