In March 1901, the New Bethlehem Baptist Church was organized by a small group of devout, dedicated Christians who had a desire to fellowship and worship God.
The first church building was erected on the corner of Eighteenth Street and Eleventh alley. During the first year of the Church’s existence, Rev. Joseph Bowden was called as pastor of the church; this building was destroyed by fire in 1918. Before purchasing a tent for worship service, the members met in various homes for several months. While worshiping in the tent, Rev. A.C. Burkes was called as pastor, and the word “New” was added to the name of the church.
Former pastors following Rev. Burke’s were Rev. W.L. Rhone, Rev. G. W. Jackson and Rev. N.J. Penson and Rev. J.F. Steele. Under the leadership of Rev. Steele, who served as pastor from 1950-1977, the first brick structure was erected on the corner of Eleventh Avenue and Eighteenth Street. He advocated tithing, reactivated several auxiliaries, and built the first level of the Educational Building. He instilled within the members a desire to work and to fulfill the purpose and call of God. In June, 1978, William H. Walker, Sr. a powerful man of God, a dynamic preacher, a true leader, and excellent teacher, a dedicated Christian, accepted the call from God and members of the church to serve as pastor of New Bethlehem Baptist Church. Because of Pastor Walker’s leadership ability, the membership has doubled, new ministries have been added and old ministries were expanded for meaningful spiritual growth. Some of the ministries and activities now in effect are: Men’s Youth Outreach Ministry, Honor Roll Awards Program, Sisterhood/Brotherhood Fellowship, Ordination of several ministers, instructional classes for prospective Sunday School Teachers, Saturday Morning Intercessory Prayer, How to Study Your Bible Class, Media Ministry, Welcoming Ministry, New Convert Classes for Men, Women, and Children, New Members’ Class, Spiritual Retreats (Bible Study), Evangelistic Team, Recreational Ministry, Personnel Ministry, Puppeteers, Van Ministry, Security Team, Get-it-Done Ministry, Youth Prayer Meeting, Pastor’s Aid Ministry and Annual All Night Retreats.
Realizing the need for a larger edifice, in 1992 plans and funds for a new sanctuary were instituted, and in 1997 ground breaking for the new sanctuary took place. Renovation of the old sanctuary was completed in 2001. The results of this renovation were a large Fellowship Hall equipped with a Commercial Kitchen and a Recreation Center.
The building of the new sanctuary and the renovation of the old sanctuary were done by Hambrite and Son Contractors. Deacon Hambrite is a staunch member of the church; he is chairman of the Trustee Board and is a Sunday school teacher. The new sanctuary seats approximately 1800 people. Some of its outstanding features are: a new Pastor’s Study, Rehearsal Hall, Nursery, Emergency Medical Room, Parental/Bridal Room, Welcome Ministry Office, Security Guard’s Room, Secretary’s Office and the Tape Ministry Office.
A large Day Care structure which was begun in 2002 was completed in 2003; the Day Care is full to its capacity with a waiting list.
The Mortgage-Burning Ceremony, indicating the building structures are debt free, took place on June 29, 2003.
Complete renovation of the educational building is now finished.