HISTORIC NEW BETHEL A.M.E. CHURCH HISTORY
The African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) grew out of the Free African Society (FAS) which Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and others established in Philadelphia in 1787. When officials at St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church pulled blacks off their knees while praying. Allen led a small group who resolved to remain Methodists. In 1794 Bethel A.M.E. was dedicated with Allen as pastor. Because Black Methodists in other middle Atlantic communities encountered racism and desired religious autonomy, Allen called them to meet in Philadelphia to form a new Wesleyan Denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Ormond Beach, FL was organized in 1885 by a small group of devout, conscientious Christians. They decided among themselves to pool their pennies, nickels and dimes trust God and purchase a small lot to build the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Ormond Beach, FL. Today it is known as the "Old Parsonage." and is still standing firm on the original lot.
The Presiding Prelate in the State of Florida in 1885 through 1888 was the Right Rev. Daniel Alexander Payne. Two of the first pastors were the Reverends Price and Hayes; however, the exact years that they pastored are unknown. Unfortunately, church history from 1885 to 1902 cannot be located or recalled. Much of the information gathered was taken from the corner stones of this great church. New Bethel Church is one of the oldest churches in Volusia County The membership grew both spiritually and numerically during its early history. Due to of the vision of growth and development, the members and Pastor A. L. Bennett set out to build a new and larger sanctuary.
In the year of 1926, under the leadership of Rev. A. L. Bennett, cement blocks were made in the afternoon by young schoolboys. Some of the youth were; James C. Clement, Sam Douglas. and Joe Douglas. "Once the blocks were made, they were stacked away in the back of the lot in tall weeds, until they had enough to build the present church." Under Pastor Bennett, the Seven Trustees: S. Romeo, Sr., B. W. Watson, R. Miles, J. C Chatmon, W R. Redman, H. A. Rose. and H. M. Rose Church Secretary, the vision became a reality. During the year 1927 Historic New Bethel’s Current Sanctuary was completed. The church is located at 116 S. Yonge Street (across the Street from the original site). The Pastor and Architect was Rev. A. L. Bennett, Presiding Elder R. T. Gordon, and Bishop J. Hurst.
In 1955, under the leadership of Pastor R. H. Edmond, a concrete floor was poured in the basement, and the windows were added.
In 1977 under the leadership of Rev. AIlen C. Williams a lot was purchased on Live Oak Street. With the assistance of church members, a parsonage was constructed by Architect Fred Gamble. Furniture was upholstered by Brother John Miller. The first pastor to occupy the parsonage was Rev. Wayman T. Dixon.
Rev. Carl Brinkley served as Pastor for 12 years from 1982 co 1994. Under Rev. Brinkley's leadership, numerous accomplishments were realized. During Brinkley’s administration a steeple was purchased and installed in January of 1991. Rev. Brinkley was well known for his leadership in the entire Ormond Beach Community.
Under the leadership of Rev. Willie W. Branch Jr., a chairlift was installed to assist with entry into the sanctuary.
Rev. Phyllis Rose Brown was assigned to pastor Historic New Bethel A.M.E. Church on September 30, 2016. One week after being assigned pastor on October 7, 2016 a devasting Hurricane named Matthew destroyed the roofs on the sanctuary, original church building, and parsonage. The twenty-five-foot steeple attached to top of the two-story sanctuary was also blown off the building. Officers and pastor discovered there was no hurricane insurance after the storm. With the help and by the Power of Almighty God, Rev. Brown led the congregation in a fund-raising drive to raise the money to repair all properties. Trustee Frances Davis was a strong advocate in bringing in community support for the hurricane repairs. The steeple was repaired and returned to the top of the sanctuary. It still serves as a beacon calling lost souls to the Lord.
The annex received a face lift in the summer of 2018.Thread worn carpet was removed and replace with porcelain tile. The tile was installed by Trustee Pro-tem John Dunbar and son. Dr. Gary and Steward Rosalyn Frick were very instrumental in the completion of the downstairs sanctuary project.
In 2019, the church was once again blessed under the leadership of Pastor Brown, to repair structural damage and to paint the exterior of the sanctuary. We praise God that the House of God called Bethel is still shining bright for the Lord as we continue to grow in Spirit and in Truth.