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United Methodist Church
A Rich History… 1942 to
Even more important, after Rev. J. J. Ellington became Bethany’s pastor
in 1943, was 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
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
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.”
Rev. 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 appointee. 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
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
While 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.