Will Bethany church be here to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2027? The answer, as before, is in the hands of Divine Providence. In the meantime, we encourage Bethanyites to keep in mind that the church is ultimately the people working together, staying aware of the past but looking to the future, and, as the old saying goes, “keeping the faith.”Extract from the Bethany Baptist Church 50th Anniversary book.
History is the foundation of the future. This brief overview of key moments and milestones in our history is presented in recognition of the faith and dedication of all those who came before us, and to provide the inspiration for us to rebuild their vision, look to the future, keep the faith, and continue their legacy.
IN THE BEGINNING…
Those were years of leaping and scrambling, the early 1950s. World War II was over, the postwar reconstruction had begin. The “baby boom” was beginning to make itself heard. There were were polio outbreaks in the summer and unusually cold spells in the winter. Ottawa was building rapidly toward the south and west to accommodate the army of new government employees and their families. Everything had to be done at once….Extract from Bethany Baptist News #166, April 1977 – the 25th Anniversary special edition
The postwar feeling of relief and optimism matched the mood of the church planners.
- Feb 22 – A small group of Baptists living in the newly-built residential areas of south-west Ottawa and Nepean meet in one of their homes and decide to organize as a church.
- Feb 25 – Dr. Donald Thompson of the Ottawa Baptist Churches Extension Board, Mr. (later Rev.) Neil and Mary Price, Mr. Harold McCarthy, and Dr. Gerhard and Maria Harder, meet at the Price residence to discuss the need and formation of a new Baptist church to serve some of the new developments in south and west Ottawa and encroaching into Nepean, which was being transformed from quiet rural farmland into sizeable urban residential districts. The area was served only by one other Protestant church, City View United Church (at that time a former Methodist church at 1548 Merivale Rd, demolished in the mid 1960s.) A pro tem committee consisting of Neil Price (chairman) and Harold McCarthy (Secretary) was elected.
- March 30 – After a house-to-house survey of local neighbourhoods mostly still under construction, the first public meeting is held in the “old school house,” a four-room red brick school building at the corner of Merivale Road and Lotta Ave. which in earlier times served as City View High School (the school is long demolished and is the site of the PartsSource store). Nineteen people from the local community attend and 14 of those present indicate they support the establishment of a new Baptist church. The first Sunday School Superintendent and the president of the Women’s Association are elected, stressing from the very beginning the leading role of women and how important children are to the community.
- April 6 – The first worship service of the as yet unnamed congregation is held in the “old school house” with the first guest preacher, Dr. J.B. McLaurin, General Secretary of the Canadian Baptist Overseas Mission Board (now Canadian Baptist Ministries).
- May 19 – A Building Committee composed of “all of the men of the City View Baptist Church group” is elected.
- June 15 – Six names for the new church are proposed to the congregation. Parkway Baptist Church and McLaurin Memorial Baptist Church tie for first place, so the name choice is carried over until the fall. Property on Baseline Road east of Clyde Ave. is selected for “construction of a chapel (ranch style bungalow).” This will be purchased for the new church group by the Ottawa Baptist Extension Board at a cost of $2500.00.
- June 28 – The first congregational picnic is held.
- August 12 – George Y. Lockhart, native of Scotland and at the time a theological student at Carleton College (now university), is welcomed as our first pastor.
- October 26 – Bethany Baptist Church is adopted as the name for the church by vote of the congregation, with the motto “First and Foremost a Soul Winning Church.” The name was proposed by Mrs. Pearl Hardie (Member #6) after the village in the Gospels “where Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived and where Jesus spent many a quiet hour.”
- October 29 – the first mid-week prayer meeting is held.
- November 25 – The first Finance Committee is elected. Their first task is to purchase a shovel for the imminent sod turning ceremony.
- November 29 – A symbolic sod turning ceremony by Dr. Thompson for the new chapel is held on the two acres at 1374 Baseline Road. Construction of the church building is recorded as having begun in late 1952.
- February 1 – A meeting of the congregation is held in the old school house to consider a constitution and to elect the first church council, the Board of Deacons, which will be composed of four Deacons.
- February 22 – Bethany Baptist Church is officially inaugurated with 13 charter members entered into the Memorial Roll.
- March 28 – The Dedication of the newly completed chapel is joined by a choir from Fourth Avenue Baptist Church and and a quartet from First Baptist Church.
- March 29 – The first worship service in the new “chapel” is celebrated.
- May 4 – A service of recognition for Bethany Baptist Church by the Ottawa Baptist Association and the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec (now CBOQ). Congregation has grown to 38 worshippers.
- June 3 – Neil Price, one of the original 13 members of the congregation (#11) is granted a licence to preach.
- April 21 – A Constitution is adopted, a Men’s Fellowship group formed, and the first Christian Education Committee is organized. A “Brick Committee” is also appointed to arrange for a brick facing on the church building. This work is completed by the fall.
- January 28 – A Building Committee is appointed and a Building Fund established to build a church adjacent to the Chapel on Baseline Road. A Group Committee is formed under the Boy Scouts of Canada and a Wolf Cub Pack is established and designated the 82nd Ottawa Group.
- September 30 – After five years of use the first Bethany Baptist Church building is sold along with the small plot of land surrounding it to a doctor and became a medical clinic for a while. It will be leased back from the purchaser for the next nine months until the new church building is built. (The original “ranch style bungalow” can still be seen today, it is now being used as a Thai Restaurant.)
- October 26 – Dr. Donald Thompson returns for Bethany’s second sod turning ceremony, held to mark the construction of a new church building on the adjacent land at 1366 Baseline Road. The new church is completed by the following Spring, in the shadow of Laurentian High School opened not long before, on the other side of Baseline Road. (The high school was one of three Ottawa high schools built at that time to accommodate the baby boom wave. It was closed in 2005, demolished in 2009, and is now the site of a Walmart Supercentre and shopping plaza.)
- January 4 – The datestone for the new church is laid by Rev. E. Smith, Moderator of the Ottawa Baptist Association.
- April 18 – The first wedding is held in the new building: Bernice McCausland and Mr. Sceviour. Forty-two years later Bethany would place a rose on the pulpit for their granddaughter, born April 23, 2001.
- April 19-26 – Week of dedication of the new church building is celebrated.
- April 26 – The first Baptismal service in the new church building is held for five new members.
Bethany Baptist Church is now firmly established and, riding the crests of the Baby Boom and Ottawa residential construction waves, begins to grow over the following years.
- April – The Board of Deacons is increased from four to six members.
- October 23 – A Boy Scout Troop is added to 82nd Ottawa Group. A Canadian Girls in Training group is formed, as well as an Explorers programme and a Baptist Young People’s Union. By the end of the year there are 84 members, with Sunday School enrolment of 163 with 19 teachers.
- March – Bethany Baptist News Vol. 1 No.1 published. The monthly Bethany community newsletter, with a few name changes and stops and starts along the way, will roll off the presses until 2018.
- October – The Junior Department of the Sunday School is moved to Laurentian High School, directly across the road.
- The Bethany Baptist News monthly church newsletter records the discussion at the Congregational meeting about their current location in what is becoming a busy commercial area and busy thoroughfare.
- November – A new children’s Sunday School prefab extension is commissioned and added to the rear of the church building.
- April 23-24 – Celebration of Bethany’s 25th Anniversary by 151 Members, plus Adherents and families, with many invited guests.
- September – The first Pastoral Care Team is formed.
- September 6 – Bethany becomes the sponsoring church for the new Bilberry Creek Baptist Church.
- On the recommendation of the Long Range Planning Committee’s “Our Vision for the 1990s” report the congregation makes the decision to relocate and build “a modern building in a community setting” as part of their vision for long range mission and outreach objectives. The motto adopted for this ambitious project was “Building to Share,” because the vision was to encourage groups, organizations, and communities beyond the Bethany family to share in the use of the new building.
- Spring – The purchase of a 3.65 acre parcel of land at 2320 Baseline Road for a brand new church building is agreed (the postal address of the church is later changed to 382 Centrepointe Drive.) It is bought with financial help from McMaster Divinity College. The purchase includes an old red brick farmhouse, a remnant of the rural landscape from 50 years before, which had been recently renovated by the City of Nepean. The farmhouse almost immediately begins to be used as a community outreach ministry under the spiritual guidance of pastor Rev. Isobel McGregor, a long-time Bethany Member.
- November 11 – The farmhouse is officially opened as Centrepointe House, and would become a Christian centre for outreach, counselling, and retreats.
- September 8 – The groundbreaking ceremony for the new church site is held, marking the beginning of construction of a new home for the Bethany family.
- March 1 – In recognition of a new next phase in the Bethany community’s development, one of the last undertakings at the old church recognizes alumni of youth groups of the 1950s and 1960s begin to qualify for a new group. The Seniors’ Group is formed and will grow steadily over the years.
- April – The new church building is completed in time for our 40th anniversary.
- April 26 – Affirmation Sunday. A final “affirmation service” is held in the old church building, with an emotional summation of Bethany’s history. (Sadly, after 33 years of use the building would soon be demolished by the new owners. The location of the church has since been overgrown with a grove of shrubs and trees.)
- May 3 – The “Bethany on the Move” pilgrimage from the old church to the new church, 3.5 kilometres further west along Baseline Rd, for the official opening and the first worship service.
- June 6-7 – A dedication weekend and service is held for the new Bethany Baptist Church.
- Jan 11- The City of Nepean gives Bethany a Design Award for the new church building, as it was considered an appropriate and impressive gateway to the Centrepointe community.
- July 2-3 – Bethany Baptist Baby Boomers’ Reunion of the Century! for Bethany youth group alumni and leaders from the 1960s and ’70s. Festivities include a Saturday evening BBQ meet-up and presentation, and Sunday morning worship service and lunch. A total of 187 attend the event.
- September – The Bethany Bloomers gardening group is established to begin the process of greening and beautifying the grounds around the new church. This will lead to several phases of volunteer-led initiatives over the next few years to plant bulbs and trees and begin landscaping the new church grounds.
- Jan 8 – Bethany adopts the Home Group concept, created in the spirit of the first New Testament churches.
- February – Bethany votes to support the Longfields ministry being established in the expanding Barrhaven community. When it is accepted into the Ottawa Baptist Association in 1999 a Bethany Member will be called as its first pastor.
- April 22 – Bethany hosts the Baptist Men’s World Wide Day of Witness and Prayer for four local Baptist Men’s groups. This event is so successful they host again next year.
- September 17 – Issue 348 of the monthly newsletter showcases the new name, The Bethany Newsletter, and displays the church logo.
- November 12 – the tapestry in the Sanctuary, woven in memory of Letizia “Tish” Taylor, is dedicated at the morning service. The tapestry incorporates the Cross and the Tree of Life extending its roots into water.
- March 19 – Bethany Baptist Church and Centrepointe House begin participating in the Community Employment Action Program to help local unemployed people find work. This program was a cooperative project sponsored by Ottawa area churches.
- April 13-14 – Wake-Up Call conference by Bethany to address the changing demographics of the congregation and to plan for the coming decade.
- October – Phase 1 of the “Greening of Bethany” landscaping project begins, carried out by the renamed Greening Group. Over 200 shrubs are planted on the northern slope facing Baseline Road and 10 community plots created beside Centrepointe House.
- Kenny Bullerwell, charter Member #1, for 47 years an active member of Bethany holding many offices in the church as well as beloved Sunday School teacher and coach, passes peacefully on December 17. A service of remembrance will be held and a spruce tree planted in his memory in 2001.
- Another phase of the landscaping project is completed with a rock garden at the northeastern corner of the church grounds. The Green Thumbs children’s summer outdoors programme is also established and allocated some of the community plots.
- October 14 – The 50th Anniversary year of celebration is officially kicked off with a worship service joined by former Bethany Pastor John Bell, who served from 1961 to 1965. He is the first of a number of former pastors visiting over the next 12 months. The Bethany Newsletter also announces the church and Pastor now have e-mails!
- October 21 – The tree planting ceremony is held for Ken Bullerwell, Member #1 and last remaining charter member of Bethany congregation.
- February 10 – the next phase of the 50th anniversary celebrations begins with the annual International Luncheon as the Bethany community celebrates “50 Years of Family.”
- May 18-19 – Bethany’s 50th Birthday Weekend Celebration begins with a breakfast and presentation for 65 guests, then an evening meal for 175 guests at the Nepean Sportsplex. A commemorative tree is planted in the southwest corner of the carpark. The Sunday service of celebration and luncheon is attended by 215 people.
- September 14 – the season of celebration ends with community outreach as Bethany organizes a neighbourhood fair inviting residents of surrounding communities. This month also marks when Bethany builds its first website www.compmore.net/~bethany, sadly now long deleted.
People who have studied the life cycles of congregations suggest that the years around the 50-year mark are crucial for any church. Many people can recall the entire story of the church…They remember a church full of young parents and young families. That feels like a loss. Instead, it is a natural part of the progression…One needs to remember that every high point in the life of a congregation was only reached by climbing a difficult hill of programming, building, and working along the way. If we are going to climb the next hill it will take effort exerted by all the people who are part of the church. I pray that as you seek out your future as a church here, you will do so prayerfully, open to the faithful leading of God.Pastor Fred Demaray, 2003 Annual Report
- January 1 – A new Constitution approved by the Bethany membership takes effect. It is introduced to ensure church programmes are pursued and coordinated more effectively by reorganizing the committee structure into three new commissions and placing them under the supervision of the Church Council, composed of the 12 Deacons and the Moderator.
- After 20 years as a Christian outreach centre, Centrepointe House is transferred to the administration of the Matthew House charity to be used as a home for refugees.
- April 29 – We celebrated our 60th Anniversary with a special service with 188 people attending, followed by a meal in the gym. Many old friends make a special trip to join the celebration.
“…where do we want to go in the next 60 years? Where will we be in 2027 when we celebrate 75 years. My hope as we travel with God, is that we are firmly trusting that God is guiding our steps. I trust that God will provide us with the strength to go the distance. I lean heavily on the knowledge that Jesus often said this: “Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 10:26, 28; 28:5, 10; Luke 12:4, 12:32)Pastor Maryann Turcott, 2012 Annual Report
- Sunday, July 3 – We celebrated our 70th Anniversary on a glorious sunny day with a wonderful outdoor service and BBQ attended by 70 old and new friends.