Our History

A Tradition of Inclusion

Our congregation is deeply rooted in San Francisco history.

We were birthed from the joining of two historic congregations: Grace Methodist Church founded in 1852 and Epworth Methodist Church founded in 1877. Bethany was formed at the site of the Epworth Church (Clipper and Sanchez) in June 1965. Grace Church was demolished, and the site is now home to Bethany Center Senior Housing, a 134-unit housing complex. See www.bethanycenter.org.

Part of our living memory history is the rise of gay pride and the trauma of the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. Bethany was an early joiner among United Methodist congregations to the Reconciling Movement, an attempt to teach congregations about the presence of the LGBT community among us and how to open our doors wide to all in our fellowship and offer full participation in the life of our churches.

Bethany members and staff served the needs of the gay community during the worst of the AIDS epidemic with personal and pastoral care, support of the local meals program, and a warm welcome to everyone seeking to know God in the midst of the turmoil.

We like to think the rest of the world is catching up with what we have known for a long time. Today we are a mix of LGBT and non-LGBT folks and family members. We have all heard the call of God to love our neighbors and welcome each other warmly in our gatherings and endeavors.

Bethany United Methodist Church today is now housed in a completely renovated building. A project that was completed in 2012. We continue to be a congregation in tune with the social justice movements of the day, and try to make our worship and our ministries reflect the needs of our time. To be a United Methodist at Bethany has always meant to be actively engaged in the pressing social needs of the world, and we continue that legacy today through our ministries and radical inclusivity.