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Reverend Timothy White, D.D.

Rev. Timothy White
More than four thousand men, women, and children joined the landmark church at 265 Bergen Street in Brooklyn, New York, the first African American church built from the ground up in South Brooklyn, a culturally diverse borough bordering Manhattan.

In 1888 Reverend Timothy White, D. D., our founder and first pastor, was born in Buckingham County, Va., came North to Brooklyn, New York at an early age.  He allied himself with the Concord Baptist Sunday School, under the Rev. Dr. Dixon, Pastor.  When the Holy Trinity Baptist Church was organized under Rev. S. W. Timms, he united with that body.  It was not long before he became member chairman of the trustee board, when he received the call to the ministry.   In 1905, he was granted his license to preach. 

On May 13, 1906, he started his first church work, under the name of the Holy Trinity Baptist Mission which was later reorganized and called the Bethel Baptist Church.  A prayer group that consisted of Brother Joseph Holland, Sister Bertha Brooks, Brother Jordan Robinson and fourteen other followers, formed the nucleus of the great Bethel Baptist Church.
On May 29, 1907, Reverend Timothy White was ordained as the first pastor and founder of this great Church.  With the rapid growth in the membership the place of worship became too small.  Under the leadership of Reverend White, the property at 50×100, 261-65 Bergen Street was purchased for $8,500 for a new church home.  After paying for the lots, he with nothing but faith in God and confidence in the congregation, broke ground for its first edifice in the Spring of 1914.  With the lots paid for, the basement of this sketch was erected in April 1915.  Rapid growth in the membership  was readily seen as anxiousness in the membership was evidenced by their longing to see the edifice enlarged.   The adjoining lot was purchased for $3,100 in 1924, and the mortgage was burned in 1920.  Later with plans for the future the pastor informed the officers and members that it would be wise to tear down and build a more spacious building to meet the needs of the community.  They began building the new edifice in the summer of 1923.  Dr. White and the members of Bethel with the people of the community, dedicated to God this magnificent building in October, 1924.  From a mission to a church, from a one story building to a $100,000 two story building.  Under his leadership community development projects was established. They included a Day Nursery, Doctor’s Clinic, Reading rooms and all modern improvements.  From 1907 to 1943 Reverend White continued to lead the church congregation until God called him home.

Reverend Luther T. Chapman

Rev. Luther T. Chapman
Our second pastor was born in Greenville, South Carolina.
He came to New York on January 1, 1917. He joined the Bethel Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Timothy White.  Reverend Chapman immediately connected himself with the Sunday School and later was appointed a teacher.  After three years he  became Superintendent of the Sunday School department.  He served for seventeen years in this capacity.  He was a member of the Senior Usher Board, and the Chairman of the  Board of Trustees.  In August of 1936, God called Reverend Chapman to the ministry.  He attended classes at the National Bible Institute of New York City, and was licensed to preach God’s Doctrine.  On November 17, 1938, Reverend Chapman was ordained as Assistant Pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church.  He served in this role for five years. 
On August 15, 1943, Reverend Chapman became Pastor of this great church.  By his faith an inspiration, he led the completion of many projects that were  already under construction. Under his leadership the church continued in its growth in membership.
During his time many projects  were accomplished, a Parsonage was purchased, the mortgage of the new Church was burned, and the redecoration of the Sanctuary was completed.  From 1943 to 1960, Reverend Chapman continued to lead the Church in its growth and development until “God said well done my good and faithful servant.”

Reverend Paul T. Pruden

The Reverend Paul T. Pruden was born in New Bern, North Carolina. He attended Adkin High School in Kinston, North Carolina. In 1936 he attended New York City College. Additionally, he attended Shelton College (aka National Bible Institute). He was an S/Sgt. in the Armed Forces. He served in England, France, and Germany. Rev. Pruden received a Good Conduct Medal and Medal of the Rhine River while in the Armed Forces. He was Honorably Discharged.
Reverend Pruden joined Bethel Baptist Church in 1945 under the leadership of the late Reverend Luther T. Chapman. He was loyal and served faithfully in all phases of the church. Reverend Pruden was ordained and became a servant of God, under the leadership of our second pastor.
When the late Reverend Luther T. Chapman was called from labor to rest, Reverend Pruden served 15 months as a Supply Pastor until the election of Rev. Dr. W.J. Hall.
During those 15 months, Reverend Pruden had some rough spots to cross; however, he continued to guide Bethel. He would brace his feet on the floor of the Word of God and tighten his reins of faith and tell the members “We can’t disunite now. By the Grace of God, we must hold Bethel together”.

Reverend Dr. Willie James Hall

Rev. Willie James Hall
In June 1961, Reverend Dr. W. J. Hall, was installed as the church third  pastor of Bethel.  He was called after a search by the church elders that took him from the foothills of North Carolina, to a pastoral career that is distinguished and diverse.  For more than four decades, he sounded the heart-cry that won thousands of souls to the Lord, Jesus Christ. Under his leadership the congregation became very strong supporters in the Civil Rights Movements, and the fight for justice and equality thought out New York city, and the state of Alabama, during the turbulent 60’s and early 70’s.  He continued to lead the church in its growth and development.
With this congregation, many community development projects was established.  They included a new parsonage,  a new piano and Hammond organ, extensive improvement and major renovation of the entire church. 
He is founder of the South Brooklyn Self Help Council; a Cadet hall, and  Bethel Baptist Day Care Center.  Upon his retirement and after forty-four years, of faithful service, Reverend Hall was bestowed the honor of Pastor Emeritus of Bethel Baptist Church – Brooklyn, New York.
On July 7, 2011 at the age of 82, Rev. Dr. Willie James Hall was called by God from labor to reward.

Reverend Dr. H. DeVore Chapman

Rev. H. DeVore Chapman

Our fourth pastor, Rev. Dr. H. DeVore Chapman, also born in Greenville, South Carolina was the grandnephew to our second pastor, Rev. Luther T. Chapman.  Rev. Chapman would visit New York every summer as a young man and New York would eventually become his home. He attended Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina as well as Fordham University in New York.

He joined Bethel under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Willie James Hall where he became active in different ministries.  In 1968, Rev. Chapman  was ordained to preach the Gospel by Rev. Dr. W. J. Hall. His calling led him to pastor Greater Bright Light Baptist Church, where he continued  to do so for 35 years.

Life became full circle for Dr. Chapman, as he was led back to where it all began for him.  Commencing in May 2005, Reverend Dr. H. DeVore Chapman began serving as Pastor-elect of Bethel Baptist Church and on November 1, 2005,
Dr. Chapman was called to lead Bethel Baptist Church as senior Pastor. He was installed on December 4, 2005.
Under Dr. Chapman’s leadership, many accomplishments were made. In 2006, a new van was purchased. Also in 2006, Phase I of our church beautification process was completed. This included interior and exterior renovations and re-wiring of the entire church. In June 2012, it was the vision of our Pastor to have new pews installed and in September 2012 new doors were the latest addition to the beautification of our church.
It is with that same zeal that we the Bethel family continue  working on  our pastor’s vision of Phase II;  which is the expansion of our Annex Building because on December 18, 2012, Rev. Dr.  H. DeVore Chapman was called home to eternal rest.