Bethany had its beginnings in the 1880s, a decade during which Seattle's population grew from 3,553 to 43,835. As the city expanded outward so did the need for churches and Sunday Schools. Since then the congregation has built and occupied three buildings: ...................Bethany's 2nd church building
- at Harrison and Oak Streets, now the
site of the International Fountain at Seattle Center (1888-1907)
- at First North and
Roy Street, now Larry's Market (1907-1930)
- the present
location at the top of Queen Anne Hill (since
Including interims, 21 pastors and five
associate pastors have served
Bethany. Four of those pastors shepherded Bethany through
a total of 71 of its 115 years:
- The Rev. William A. Major, 1893-1914
- The Rev Richard A.
Van der Las, 1914-1927
- The Rev. Lawrence J. Mitchell,
- The Rev. Richard W. Denham, 1964-1990
The congregation officially
incorporated January 31, 1888 as Second Presbyterian
Church with 38 members. However, its roots go back to the Bell
Town Mission Sabbath School organized in 1885 to serve "North
Seattle" or Bell Town. It was the Sabbath School founders who petitioned
Presbytery to become a church.
Second Church met at 4 p.m. Sundays at the Battery
Street Methodist Church while their own building was under construction. Seattle pioneer
David T. Denny donated the land; today it's the site of the International
Fountain at Seattle Center. The church was dedicated July 29, 1888.
No Longer "Second"
The Rev. William A. Major led the congregation over
the next twenty years of growth, as well as a name change.
In 1903, no longer wanting to be known as "Second," members
voted to become Bethany, "home
of the friends of Jesus," winning out over the names Knox and Emanuel.
Bethany, with 300 members by 1907, purchased land just blocks away at
First North and Roy Street to build a larger sanctuary. This second
building housed the congregation for 23 years (decades later, in the 1970s and
1980s, the structure was to become known as "Sunday's Restaurant" before
it was torn down to make way for the Larry's Market).
Bethany established its first mission, the Boren
Avenue Bethel Sunday School near Lake Union.
The Rev. Richard A. Van der Las pastored Bethany through the World
War I years and most of the 'Twenties. Services were held Sunday mornings
and evenings. "Cottage Meetings" were held during the week.
On to the top
By 1919 membership was up to 433 with 280 in Sunday School,
and the congregation began to set its sights higher -- to
of Queen Anne Hill. As First Presbyterian's Dr. Mark Matthews
is reported to have counseled, "You
have been long enough at the bottom, go to the top."
Thanks to the Rev. Francis Horner for his research.