Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
(An August 11, 1928 newspaper article excerpted from the book Kansas City: Mecca of the New Negro by sonny Gibson.)

In the late autumn of 1912, Mrs. Kittie E. Raynor called together some of the small children of the neighborhood and started a Sunday school in her home at 2442 Highland Avenue. The Sunday school was held in different homes and grew most encouragingly. Harrison Williams suggested that they start as A. M. E. mission and agreed to lay the matter before the Rev. H. Blanton Parks, who was preaching at Allen Chapel the following Sunday. The Bishop said that several missions had been attempted in that part of the city without success. However, since the Sunday school was succeeding and several adult members of Ebenezer and Allen Chapels provided leadership that former groups had lacked, the bishop agreed to send a minister.

Nothing was done about it until February, 1913, when the Ref. T. C. Nash, a traveling minister, became interested and was appointed to the mission. Mr. Williams, W. H. Raynor, and Dr. Thomas A. Jones arranged for a store room, 2407 Woodland Avenue, and services were held the following Sunday night. It was a cold night and the hall was not heated. Three persons beside the minister attended.

An option was obtained by the minister on the property at the corner of Woodland Avenue and Twenty-fourth Street, on which was a basement, built by the Second Christian Church. This property was bought and the Bethel A. M. E. Church organized.

The members as reported were W. H. and Kittie E. Raynor, Mr. Armour, Dr. Jones, Mr. Williams, Eliza Sellers, Cecilia Bond, H. Rodger and Emma Roger, T. P. Harpole and Mrs. Harpole, Mr. Allen, and Mrs. Davis.

Under the Rev. F. D. Wells (1913-17) the membership grew to 170; much of the debt was paid off, and the first Negro scout troop west of the Mississippi River was organized with Mr. Williams as scoutmaster.

After Mr. Wells, under the Rev. B. G. Dawson (1917-21), the money due on the property was paid off and, in 1920, the foundation of the present church was built. Dr. William Alexander came to the pulpit (1021-23).

It was left to the Rev. W. C. Williams (1923-26) to build the superstructure of the church. The membership and enrollment of the Sunday school doubled.

The present pastor, the Rev. G. W. Williams, had been presiding elder of the district and was familiar with conditions at Bethel. He is a good pastor and a capable leader. The membership is 700. The Sunday School enrollment is 350. Mrs. Willa Martin is superintendent. The church building and equipment is complete except for the organ.


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