Bethany Presbyterian Church is a small but committed community of faith founded in 1918 by the Rev. John W. Lee and Mr. B.F. Stewart who were assigned to organize a black Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio as a result of the Great Migration from the South to the North between 1910 and 1930. Because of the growing population in Columbus and integration yet to be implemented, the desire for a “colored” Presbyterian Church was expressed and the Bethany Presbyterian Mission was organized. Over its now 100+ years, Bethany has called nine pastors and it is currently under the spiritual leadership of Rev. Edward K. Lewis, Sr.
That first meeting of the Mission was held on Saturday, February 17, 1918 and the Columbus Presbytery was petitioned in April 1918 to organize a church. Permission was granted in June. So, on July 21, 1918, the Bethany Presbyterian Church had its official beginning. In 1920, the lot on which the church now stands was purchased from the City of Columbus for $1,800.00 and on October 9, 1921, the cornerstone of the first unit of the church was laid. On January 8, 1922, the first service in the new building was held in the basement in what was called Garfield Hall and is now named Vando Rogers, Sr. Hall. Renovation of the building to its current sanctuary and classrooms was completed in 1959.
The ministries of the church include worship and music, education, fellowship, mission, and outreach. Bethany is a proud member of the BREAD (Building Responsibility, Equality, and Dignity) organization, a city-wide justice ministry, and Eastside Fellowship Ministry, a six-member ecumenical association of churches located in the King-Lincoln and near east-side neighborhoods. Bethany has hosted and supported a Community Lunch Program for more than a decade that has provided nourishment to the hungry. Bethany has also been home to many Tuskegee Airmen, local political figures and activists, 2 NBA players and coach, educators, doctors, attorneys, several firsts in the local entrepreneurial world, and home to the first American woman to be crowned Queen Mother of a village in Ghana, Africa.