Bethany Baptist was founded or planted in June 1937 by 38 members from the First German Baptist Church in Vancouver. By 1939, they had their first building on 47th Ave and Prince Albert Street in Vancouver, BC. All services were held in German. Serveral young men from Bethany serviced in WWII, but all came back safely. Soon after the war, many immigrants from Germany and the rest of Europe came to Vancouver, and Bethany was active in helping with post-war relief. By 1946, there was a youth group that was meeting. There is a picture in the 50th anniversary pictorial book of a group of 11 teens. By the mid-50's, Bethany had grown so much through immigration that they took up the challenge of dividing into about half and planting a new church, and Immanual Baptist Church was formed.
Bethany Baptist Church experienced continued steady growth after WWII, and eventually they needed to build elsewhere. So in 1962, they moved into their newly completed building on Quebec Street and 50th Avenue in Vancouver. By the early 70's the Baby Boomers were in youth group, and Bethany called their first youth pastor part time in 1970. He was full time by 1972. At about the same time, the English service took precedence over the German service. A separate German-speaking service was held at 9 am and the English-speaking services were at 10 am and on Sunday evening. In the decade of the 70's, youth pastors seems to come and go every couple of years. In the 80's there was about 4-5 years between youth pastors.
By the mid-90's, it was recognized by the congregation that more and more families were moving to the suburbs away from Vancouver. It was too expensive to stay in the city for most. So the hunt was on for a new place to build. In the end, they bought land and built the building we are currently in today, in Richmond, BC. The building was dedicated in 1998, and we have already been in the community of Hamilton for 22 years. The German-speaking service ended sometime in 2011. The community of Hamilton was comprised mostly of low-income immigrant families; a story not unfamiliar to the Bethany congregation, but this time the families were Chinese. A Chinese service was started, and eventually it was felt that they should be integrated into the main church body. Therefore, live Cantonese and eventually Mandarin transaltion was started in the Sunday morning service. The youth group has stayed very steady, though the peak attendance was in the Boomer years. The youth pastors have also had longer tenures as time went on.
The Student Ministries at Bethany now encompass those from grade 6 through to mid-30's. There is the iConnect Ministry which is for grade 6 & 7 students. It is run by the Youth Pastor Associate and her team. Youth Group is for grade 8-12 and is run by the Youth Pastor and her team. There is also a Young Adult Ministry for those just graduated from high school through to any age that feels they are ready to move on to a different group or a different life stage. This is also run by the Youth Pastor.
Bethany has recently moved to a new governance structure - away from a management board to a governance board that sets the vision and then mandates the staff to follow and implement that vision. A good illustration would be that of a sandbox. The Board sets the perimeter of the sandbox and fills it with sand. Then the staff member granted charge over that sandbox can do whatever they like in there as long as they stick to their own sandbox and stay within its boundaries. This frees us as staff to make decisions and spend money (within limits) without having every little thing approved by a committee.
Looking over the members of the congregation of the database, we don't have birthdays or ages for many of them. With the numbers we had (for about 2/3 of them), the median age was about 30. On Sunday mornings, we have a healthy representation of all age ranges in our attendance of about 330.
We preach that marriage has been mandated since creation for humans to be between one man and one woman. That does not mean that all people need to seek marriage, but that is the place for sex and the place to have children. We recognize, however, that that is the ideal. We are strive for that ideal, but we also live in a fallen world where sin happens and grace is needed. We have representation in our congregation of all kinds of situations, and it mirrors secular society. There are lots of marriages, from new ones to ones that are celebrating 60 years of marriage. We also have separations and divorces. We have single moms from within the church and from the community who need love and support. We have a mix of married and single people, and we need to minister to everyone.
This is not something that our church tracks or asks for.
Current Year's Budget: $1,088,824 Student Ministries Budget: $13,000, which is 1.19% of the total budget. This is for ministry activities only. Staff not included.
Student Ministries Budget (incl. staff salary): $102,000, which is 9.4% of the total budget.
Grades 8-12 make up the Youth Group at Bethany Baptist. They are a mixed gender group that lives in a world that stuggles with gender identity. We don't have a student at the moment who is outwardly struggling with this, but I am sure there is a lot of that going on inwardly. We have talked about it and continue to talk about it as openly as possible. The struggle is very real for some, and we want to be a safe place.
Economically, as a church we are fairly well off. We do not struggle for a yearly budget, we have amazing facilities, and when we fundraise for missions trips, the people of the church are extremely generous. As for the economic situation of the students themselves, that varies from student to student. Some are from lower-middle class homes, others are from fairly well-off homes, and then everything in between.
Having just done the community demographics, I discovered that we have 12 schools represented by our youth, who number under 30 students on a Friday night. This has pros and cons. There are not really any preset cliques that spill over from school into youth group. But it also means there is less of a sense of comraderie and commonality among them. It also makes for a LOT of school plays or sports events to attend!!
The spiritual state of the group is a little fascinating to me. I feel like they are willing to be spiritually challenged, but it is also very easy to slip into birthday party mode where all we do is etertain and have a themed party on Friday night. In light of that, I have done a series on Spiritual Disciplines to try to combat the apathy in some. Also, I believe that Covid-19 is having an effect on the group to not take things for granted, and also to look for ways to help. I also realize that as the youth pastor, some of the state of the youth group is my responsibility. I want to strive to have a godly purpose in each event, to show them how much God loves them. To that end, we are moving to have small groups as often as we can for the youth. It may be that we are teamed up for an event with our own small group, or maybe it is an actual Bible Study. But this is the support they crave, and the friendships forges can be so important and amazing.