Our Story

The Bethany Story...

1899—City Mission was established in St. Catharines by “ministering sisters” - single, young missionaries who served as pastors. Our first location was at the corner of King and William Streets downtown. Meetings were held on the main floor with living quarters upstairs. Sunday Schools were started in Port Dalhousie and Effingham. In 1940 the name changed to Bethany Chapel and in 1944 the first male pastor, Rev. Carl Lehman arrives— the first of seven pastors who have served at Bethany thus far.

1954—The building on King St. is sold and farm land is purchased on Church Road in Grantham Township (later to be known as Linwell Road) in St. Catharines. In 1955 the congregation holds their first service and dedicates the new facility at the corner of Linwell Road and Lora Street, led by Rev. Dan Thornhill. At this time, the name was changed to St. Catharines United Missionary Church.

1975—The congregation of 70 people calls 24-year-old Larry Shantz fresh out of seminary to be their pastor—his first pastorate. He was impressed that the congregation under current pastor, Ted Montgomery, had started a building fund as soon as they had their mortgage paid off. The church was impressed with Larry’s wife, Sharon’s, musical ability.

1977—The name is again changed, this time to Bethany Community Church. In 1979 a new 11,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose facility on 6 acres on Third St. is completed for a cost of $380,000 (land cost was $65,000). The congregation holds a mortgage of $250,000.

1985—A second employee is hired for one day a week as a secretary. Average worship attendance increases from 132 in 1985 to 151 in 1986.

1988—An 8,000 sq. ft. addition to building includes a new foyer, library, fellowship room, kitchen and classrooms.

1991—Children’s Ministry and Youth Coordinators are hired. Bethany’s mission is articulated...to be a caring community for a hurting world.

1995—A large platform addition is added in the main sanctuary—the gym, which allows for 100 more chairs. The small semi-circular platform was getting way too crowded!

1998—A third addition increases nursery and youth space and provides offices for two more new staff members—Pastor of Personal Care & Development and an Administrative Assistant. At this time the average worship attendance is 424 and the yearly budget is $580,000.

2002—Construction of fourth addition ($4 million) begins and the Vision Team convenes to discern and renew Bethany’s vision for the next 5+ years. Dedication of the new addition takes place early in 2003. Joining over 450 volunteers in carrying out the ministries of Bethany are new staff positions—Director of Small Groups, Director of Worship & Arts, Children’s Ministry Assistant, Youth Ministry Assistant and a third Administrative Assistant.

2005—We celebrate 30 years of ministry with Pastor Larry and Sharon Shantz. Celebrate Recovery begins under the leadership of Bethany’s first Director of Support & Recovery Ministries. An Executive Director of Administration is hired as well as a Facilities and Events Coordinator.

2006—A new Relational Governance Model was adopted in 2006 and this organizational structure equips Bethany to broaden our ministry effectiveness. A Director of Young Adults is also added to the staff and in 2007 a Director of Jr. Youth Ministries.

2009 - Bethany adds a Director of New Media to the staff.

Bethany’s goal has never been to be a large church. Our goal is to be a healthy church. Healthy churches are growing churches. What will God do through this local church in the future? Join us. You are in for an adventure with eternal rewards.