In the spring of 1893, five persons met with the desire to carry out the spirit of the original Free African Society out of which the African Methodist Episcopal Church evolved. They met in homes and then in a harness shop located at James and Baltimore Avenue, Fernwood, PA, organizing under the leadership of Brother James Byrd. After three years, they finally had to disband, in September, 1896; Rev. Hall reorganized this same group. Under the leadership of Rev. Hall, the mission began to grow.
The Rev. Hall was succeeded by the Rev. J.L. Paxon, of Media, PA, who became the first appointed Pastor. Under his leadership, the congregation secured the present site in 1909. The congregation then worshipped in their building until 1914 when it was destroyed by fire. Under the pastorate of Rev. J.W. Harris, it was rebuilt in 1915, and in 1916, an organ was purchased. In 1929, under the pastorate of Rev. B.W. Durant, the building was completely remodeled. In May, 1941, the Rev. Charles H. Carter served the mission and a parsonage was purchased at 407 Maple Street, Yeadon, PA.
The Rev. Harvey L. Gault, served from 1949 to 1952, and during his administration a new heating system was installed. The Rev. Isaac Newton Patterson, III was sent to the mission in 1952, and it was under his great drive, in spiritual leadership, the membership grew. The mission was incorporated at Media, PA, as a Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lansdowne. The church was remodeled and the parsonage redecorated. We had a Cornerstone laying with Bishop D. Ward Nichols giving the sermon, Presiding Elder, Rev. William J. Townsend presiding.
In June 1961, the Philadelphia Conference appointed the Rev. William B. Faush, to Bethel. During his stay, the parsonage on Maple Street was sold a new parsonage was purchased, along with new furniture, at 519 Bonsall Ave., Yeadon, PA. The Bishop elevated the Rev. Faush, to Presiding Eldership in November 1967 and the Rev. J. Anthony Portlock succeeded him until May 1968. In June 1968, the Rev. Leslie S. McNeil became Pastor and served until 1970. The Rev. William Banks served one year and Rev. Leslie S. McNeil returned, remaining until 1974. During his last stay, the basement was finished and named "Heritage Hall" as suggested by Brother Ernest Laswson. Rev. McNeil was assigned to Campbell.
In February, 1974, the Rev. Isaac N. Patterson, IV, became our Pastor and during his pastorate, five persons were called to preach. On May 31, 1981, the Rev. Alexander Stephens was appointed Pastor at Bethel. Rev. Stephens served well until he was called to Greater Mt. Olive at the end of the Conference year May 1984. In June 1984, the Rev. John C. Justice was appointed by Bishop Richard Allen Hildebrand from the Seminary in Atlanta, GA, to Bethel. He remained at Bethel until 1989.
Rev. Joseph F. Whalen was appointed Pastor in 1989, and served one year. Following his tenure, Rev. Carrie Nobles was appointed on June 12, 1990, and served until November 19, 1995. Rev. I.N. Patterson, IV, was appointed on November 1995, and served until May 25, 1997. Rev. Nathaniel Lawrence Williams was appointed to Bethel on May 27, 1997, and served until May 20, 2001. Rev. Gerald H. Hesson, was appointed to Bethel May 20, 2001 and served until June 10, 2006.
Rev. Trevor E. Woolridge was appointed on June 10, 2006 to Bethel A.M.E. Church. Under the dynamic leadership of Rev. Woolridge, there was tremendous growth. He led the church into the twenty-first century utilizing the latest technology to communicate with the congregation and the community. Rev. Woolridge took an active role in the community keeping a strong relationship with the political and social leaders. Rev. Woolridge was a most powerful preacher, often combining strong biblically based sermons with his keen sense of humor. Pastor Woolridge served until 2012.
Our current pastor, Rev. Deborah Speakes, is a dynamic and powerful woman of God. Pastor Speakes with the congregation is always trying to find creative ways of bringing new persons into this body of believers.