Bethany Christian Church. Photo by Renee Umsted.

Bethany Christian Church has been in our neighborhood for 70 years.

With approval from Dallas ISD, a few local families started meeting at Lakewood Elementary School in July 1952. Before long, the families had a Disciples of Christ pastor, C.H. Holcomb, and they took the name of Holcomb’s alma mater, Bethany College, forming Bethany Christian Church.

By October of the same year, the church purchased a property on the corner of Oram and Alderson streets from the heirs of jeweler Arthur A. Everts for $20,000. In 1955, when they had a loan, they started construction on the sanctuary. There was a two-story home on the property, which the church continued to use for educational and fellowship space.

Though the home was torn down in the mid-1960s, it was replaced by the Melinda Jenkins Fellowship Hall, which still stands.

It has been an important site for the East Dallas community. John Creuzot, the current Dallas County District Attorney, instituted the Dallas Initiative for Expedited Recovery and Treatment (DIVERT) in 1998; from 1999-2007, a group overseen by Mark Faust, a DIVERT field surveillance operator, met weekly at the church’s fellowship hall. The program was established to allow first-time offenders to embark on intensive, court-monitored rehabilitation rather than facing prison time.

Later, from 2009-2012, the church campus was used as a meeting place for the county’s Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facilities program.

The church has been led by 14 pastors over the past seven decades, and it currently has about 50 members. One of their programs is creating bags with food, water, fruit cups and other items they keep in their cars to hand out to people they see on the street. Church members have also created layettes for premature babies.

“We of course are open and affirming. We welcome any and all to the church and just try to be a presence,” says Sandi Foreman, who’s been a member at Bethany since 1972.

Bethany Christian Church. Photo by Renee Umsted.

About Everts

Arthur Everts was the nephew of John Thomas Oram and Sarah Helen Stanford Oram. John Oram, who had a watch repair business, taught Everts the trade and treated Everts as his own son.

Everts started Greenville Avenue Christian Church with his wife and 36 others in 1898; it held its final service in 1982.

The street where Bethany Christian Church is located is named for the Oram family.