Bethany United Methodist Church

The first Methodist church in the city was established in 1849 by William Taylor. On November 11, 1877 a Methodist Sunday School opened in an unfinished flat at 29th and Sanchez Streets in Noe Valley. This led to the founding of the Twenty-Seventh Street Methodist Church, which would eventually become Bethany United Methodist Church. The first church building was erected on a rented lot at Day and Sanchez Streets. In 1899 the Twenty-Seventh Street Methodist Episcopal Church changed its name to Epworth Methodist Episcopal Church. The location remained the same on 27th Street. Epworth M. E. Church moved to a new location at 3863 26th Street (corner of 26th and Church Streets) in 1890.

The earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906 severely damaged Epworth M. E. Church, and in 1907 a building permit was filed for a new church at the corner of Sanchez and Clipper Streets. The architect was Montrose Warn with the Kein Bros. as the builder. (Warn was later a staff architect in Los Angeles county and designed buildings for health facilities in the 1920’s.) Estimated cost was $12,000. When dedicated in 1908 the church was described as a frame structure of the modified Mission type. An old photograph shows a shingled exterior, a Bay Area tradition. There were flat Gothic style hood molds above windows and doors. A stepped crenelated parapet shows at the gable on Sanchez Street as well as a crenelated wall on Clipper Street.

In 1913 a fire severely damaged the Church, and a building permit was approved to “remove the entire roof of building and replace the ceiling and all interior finish.” In 1957 there was a remodeling of the exterior incorporating stucco, rustic redwood, and brick veneer as well as new steps to the tower. The remodeling retained the original bell tower with its octagonal shape, fortress-like top and steeple. In June 1965, Epworth M. E. Church merged with Grace United Methodist Church and the name Bethany United Methodist Church was chosen for the new congregation.

The sanctuary form is typical of Protestant churches of the period with theater style seating surrounding the pulpit area. Curved pews allow for good views of the service from all locations. The dropped redwood ceiling and arch supports provide an intimate and restful effect. The organ has been expanded over the years with pipes added from Grace and Trinity United Methodist Churches.

From its organization in 1877 until the present time the church has continuously served the people in this neighborhood. Many different pastors have been appointed to Bethany. The current directory lists over 150 members. The congregation embarked on implementing significant changes to the building in 2011 which increased space and allowed for more flexible use of the sanctuary. The renovation Included plans to add more skylights and a south-facing courtyard with French doors.