History of Bethel

A Brief History of Bethel Baptist Church


“This is none other but the house of God – And this is the gate of heaven… And He called the name of that place Bethel.” Genesis 28:18 – 19a

Bethel Baptist Church of White Plains, New York was organized in 1885 by a group of 12 parishioners holding prayer meetings in the home of the late Mr. and Mrs. Junius Wilkerson. Permission was granted by the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church of New York, NY to form a church body. Rev. Anthony Johnson was assigned the role of acting pastor, serving from 1885-1886.

In 1886, Rev. Edward M. Roberts was called to serve as the first official pastor of Bethel. Initial services were held in the Lafayette Hall on Railroad Ave. (currently Main Street) in White Plains. Bethel Baptist Church became officially incorporated on April 23, 1890.

In 1890, the property at One Fisher Court in White Plains was purchased for one dollar. A single frame building was erected on the site and dedicated on May 17, 1891 for use by the small congregation of 31 parishioners at that time. The church building remains on this initial site and has undergone several expansion, remodeling, and major renovation efforts over its history to accommodate the growing congregation and changing ministry needs.

The list of pastoral leaders of Bethel is as follows: Rev. Edward W. Roberts (1886-1895), Rev. George Kraeger (1895-1896), Rev. V. P. Chamberlain (1896-1897), Rev. Edgerton (1897-1898), Rev. Francis Blair (1898-1901), Rev. John Tyler (1901-1904), Rev. Ralph Paige (1904-1912), Rev. Manuel King (1912-1914), Rev. John G. Williamson (1914-1942), Rev. Thomas H. Slater (1942-1965), Rev. Louis H. Wade (1966-1991), Rev. David B. Lucas (1992-1996), Rev. Dr. Daly Barnes, Jr. (1998-2002), and Dr. Edward O. Williamson, (2004-present).

Bethel under the guidance of its pastoral leaders and with the support of church officers, ministry leaders, and parishioners has been a long time supporter of denominational work, missionary endeavors, social activism, civil rights causes, and numerous civic, social and community concerns and issues. Bethel has affiliations with the following organizations the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., the Empire Baptist Missionary State Convention, the Central Hudson Baptist District Association, the Lott Carey Mission Convention, and the NAACP.

Bethel has serves both God and community for over 130 years. Bethel’s vision is to serve as a beacon of hope to individuals, families, the community and the world.