History of The Greater Bethel Baptist Church

This year, 2020, marks the 100th year anniversary of Greater Bethel Baptist Church Bethel. Like many thousands of Christian institutions founded upon the “SOLID ROCK” of the Gospel of Christ, Greater Bethel has weathered a great number of storms but God has been with us through it all. We’re 100 years strong and proud to be still standing as a pillar in this community.

Bethel Baptist Church was organized on Sunday, July 17, 1920 at 4:00p.m. by Rev. R. A. Jones of Second Baptist Church.

1st Pastor - Rev. J.. W. Douthard – under his leadership, a camp house was started and the congregation grew.

2nd Pastor – Rev. E. W. Murray – a lot was purchased on Roscoe Street and a building was purchased on Robert Street.            

3rd Pastor – Rev. J. W. Snell

4th Pastor – Rev. B. D. Hinton

5th Pastor – Rev. Gordon A. Humphrey – a radio broadcast was started at station WAKR.

6th Pastor – Rev. William K. Hawkins, Sr. was called to pastor on October 17, 1962. In September 1963, the church was incorporated and the name was changed to “The Greater Bethel Baptist Church, Incorporated.” The congregation outgrew the building t 371 Robert Street and in September 1964, the church purchased and marched to its present location at 404 S. Arlington Street.

7th Pastor – Rev. Charles E. Sheppard was called on July 27, 1987. He spearheaded the renovation of the church spending over $200,000 remodeling the sanctuary, gym, heating, air condition and ventilating systems of both the church and parsonage as well as resurfacing of parking lots.

8th Pastor – Rev. Darrell L Isaiah – Under his leadership, the Sunday morning 8:00 a.m. “Pursuit of Holiness” class began.

Interim Pastor – Dr. Booker J. Person, a son of Bethel, traveled biweekly from Chicago to feed the flock spiritually.

9th Pastor – Rev. Melford J. Elliott of Louisville, Kentucky accepted the call on January 1, 2001. Under his leadership, a new radio broadcast was created on WARF 1350 AM. He was passionate about serving the community and was responsible for several community events including, but not limited to, Annual Jubilee Festival, Annual Past Unforgotten Program at the Akron Civic Theatre and the Annual River Baptismal.

1Oth Pastor – Dr. Booker J. Person, a son of GBBC, was called on November 7th, 2016 and Installed on April 23, 2017. After pastoring in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Chicago, IL for 38 years, God sent him back to Renew, Revive and Restore! He is passionate about preaching God’s Word, teaching God’s people and producing effective leaders.