What God has Done
A Brief History of Bethel Church
On May 21, 1874 a meeting was held to organize a new mission church on the “fringes” of the growing community of Kingston, an item since we are now considered a “downtown” church! Bethel Congregational Church of Kingston, located at 314 Johnson St., was the result of that vision. Who in that group could have looked ahead through the years and imagined God’s blessing? How we praise God for those with vision so many years ago!
As a congregation, we are proud of our heritage of ministry to downtown Kingston. Some formal highlights include:
- 1874 — Organizational meeting to plant a church on the current site
- 1884 — completion of the addition which houses the current International Room (library)
- 1894 — ”radical” Bethel pastor J.R. Black brings churches, Queen’s University and the City of Kingston together to open a “new” Children’s Aid Society at 75 Union Street (now the Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington).
- 1925 — independence following the joining of other Congregational Churches into the United Church of Canada
- 1949 — affiliation with Associated Gospel Churches of Canada, which continues today
- 1961 — construction of the East Wing addition housing the Nursery and what came to be known as the “Old Gym”
- 1978 — completion of the sanctuary balcony
- 1984 — completion of front foyer and offices
- 1986 — purchase of 318 Johnson; we also own 324 Johnson
- 1999 — “Build ’99″ Facility Development to build the West Wing
- 2004 — West Wing completed (New Gym/Auditorium, new classrooms and connecting space for all)
- 2006 — Café Church, “daughter church” of Bethel is approved by the congregation and begins ministry at the Wellington Street Theatre
- 2007 — Conversion of houses at 318 and 324 Johnson from student rentals to the Bethel House Ministry, in partnership with the Salvation Army Harbour Light Centre, for men leaving the addictions treatment program there. They are able to continue their recovery while living and growing in a healthy community for a period of 6 months to two years.
- 2007 – After many successful years of ministry, Pastor Doug Martin and his wife move back to Southern Ontario. Reverend Lew Worrad is appointed Interim Senior Pastor.
- 2008 — New Senior Pastor Mark Kotchapaw comes aboard on August 1st.
- 2009 — New Director of Family Ministries Jamie Stinson starts on May 1st. Her ministry is holistic as her firm belief and focus is that “what happens at home is more important than what happens at church.”
- 2009 — Café Church moves to her own location on Ontario Street in downtown Kingston and is incorporated as a standalone, non-denominational church
- 2010 – Conversion and renaming of the Old Gym to “The Upper Room”. as a large meeting room
- 2011 – The membership approves a new cooperative partnership with the Salvation Army Community Family Centre on Patrick Street as our City Focus, allowing members of the congregation to assist the Salvation Army by volunteering to help out in their many programs there.
- 2011 — The membership approves Bethel’s “new” Vision statement: “Responding to the Heart of God; Transforming the Heart of the City, the Nation and the World”. We say “new” because this is what was being done all along. This process simply put it into words.
- 2011 — Our National Focus, Constance Lake First Nation, grows as we (with Café Church) spend two weeks there in August and, for the second year, send another team up at Christmas with gift boxes and bags for the children and seniors (“Operation Constance Lake”)
- 2011 — the membership approves a new Bethel Constitution and By-Law, superseding the one passed in 1987.
- 2012-13 — Our World Focus this year is the Central American nation of Honduras in partnership with our international workers Ken and Sue Vissers. A team will travel to Honduras on a short missions trip in February to assist in various construction and development projects. Our national Constance Lake ministry grows again as we spend a total of three weeks there (once more, with the help of Café Church). Plans are once again to send a team up at Christmas.
Through the years Bethel Church has been a welcoming family for many different kinds of people, of all ages and all stages of life. The effects of ministry in the lives of people touched by the Gospel are innumerable. Proximity to Queen’s University has provided natural ministry with students and our large student congregation. A strong tradition of involvement in local, national and worldwide mission has also developed through the years and continues to grow. We praise God as Bethel increasingly strives to become a healing church in our city, nation and world.
The Kotchapaw household is slowly beginning to scatter as our kids grow up and pursue higher education. Our daughter Lyndsey has graduated university and is spending a year in the Philippines as an intern for the International Justice Mission. Landon our middle son, continues his education while Taylor, our youngest, is now also in university at Queen’s.
Rhonda (my wife) and I are loving this stage of parenting. While it is painful to see our kids move on, we realize that it is necessary and healthy in their continued development. Rhonda is busy with a full-time job and various ministry commitments at Bethel. And we both have interests that help keep us balanced and healthy – we both enjoy reading, exercising, and spending time by the quiet lake when time permits. My wife is also into making homemade soaps and creams. I use them but have no interest in adding that to my list of hobbies!
We are loving Kingston and the diversity that we find here. The close proximity to everything is awesome and makes checking off “to do” lists a lot easier than when we lived over in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Rhonda and I both have a vision for the local church that includes authentic community, transformed lives, and relevant ministry to bless the congregants, as well as city and a team approach. It’s about team, not one or two people being at the center of everything.
Fred & Amy were married in October of 2002 and have the privilege of serving together on Bethel’s staff. Fred started at Bethel in September of 2006 as Youth Director, and Amy started in May 2010 as Secretary (now the Office Manager). They also serve together as the Team Leaders for our National Focus: Constance Lake First Nation.
A large part of our role is also serving and supporting the City Focus: Kingston. Bethel Youth Ministries serves grades 6 to 12 and their families. we do many activities throughout the year that reach out to the city and its youth. Amy provides administrative support to many of the city outreaches.
Fred & Amy enjoy spending time together on the water in their boat with their Boston Terrier Abbie (while their cat Charlie relaxes at home). Amy enjoys scrap-booking and leading a women’s bible study. Fred enjoys watching Toronto Maple Leafs games and ice fishing.
Director of Family Ministries
New to Bethel? Need someone to talk to / pray with? Our pastoral care team is here to help!
Bill, a retired Presbyterian minister, has blessed Bethel with his pastoral care gift for many years. His energy and willingness to help out, whether it’s visiting a shut-in, or getting to know all the new families and helping them get to know us, are a credit to him and his love of people.
Chairman, Elders’ Board
Senior Pastor, Ex-Officio Elder
Church Administrator, Ex-Officio Deaconess
Chair – Deacons’ Board, 2012-13
I began working for Bethel Church in September 2006 after attending church here for a few years.
I still unashamedly tell anyone who is willing to listen that is is the best job I have ever had and God-willing, they’ll take me out of it in a coffin when I’m 95!
My husband Mike (he’s in the army) and I have been in the Kingston area for since 1996. We both love this city and will probably retire here. We have no children, but we do have a cat named Pinball who believes (probably correctly) that our house is maintained for his comfort and convenience, and so that we can Buy Him More Chicken.
When not working at Bethel, I can usually found on a soccer field somewhere as I am one of the Chicks Obsessed With Soccer (C.O.W.S), as well as playing softball for the (2012 Kingston and District Church Softball League Champion!) Bethel B team. I also lead an awesome bunch of women in a bi-weekly bible study (my second most favourite “job”) as well as a regular Truth Project group here at Bethel. And while those who know me know that I’m not into “girly-girl” things, I do love to cross-stitch, and renewed my love of stamp collecting a few years ago.