Brief History

Bethel United Methodist Church has always been a pioneering congregation. In the summer of 1911, it was a time of jubilee and celebration as a faithful group of Christians gathered in the home of Reverend and Mrs. Joseph J. Jones to discuss organizing a Methodist church in the City of Peoria. The church was organized and originally named St. Luke Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1934, it became known as Bethel. The congregation occupied a series of storefronts, until they moved to a church building on Fifth and Sanford Streets in 1948.

In 1939, three church entities organized and became the Methodist Church. At that time, Black congregations were placed in a separate organization in the church known as the Central Jurisdiction. Despite the lingering presence of the "Jim Crow" mentality in the Methodist Church, Bethel continued to grow.

In 1984, when the City of Peoria decided to redevelop, Bethel with the financial help of the United Methodist Connectional System and efforts of its own members, moved into a newly constructed church at 210 North Sheridan (renamed to 210 Richard Pryor Place).  

Since that time, Bethel has continued to flourish, with members attending Lay Speaking school, the School of Christian Mission, participation with other United Methodist churches in worship, partnering with other denominational churches and community outreach. These are just a few ways that Bethel is moving onward.

Many people have contributed to the growth of Bethel in the past, with many fine outstanding pastors and lay people bringing God's ministry to fruition. Those of the present continue on with the vision of making Bethel a place where people who are seeking God's love and hope can find a place where their souls can be restored, nurtured, and grounded in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

As the ministries of Bethel continue, we look forward to praying, rejoicing, and moving towards God's future for us.