about us

The New Testament's teachings of the church seem to indicate that a church's work- and hence it's objectives - fall into the three areas: the making of vital Christian disciples, the fostering of members growth toward Christian maturity, and the developing of spiritual power in the lives of it's members.
March 6, 1932 -The New Bethel Baptist Church was organized in the home of Samuel and Mamie Varnadore at 2627 Leland Street in Detroit, Mich. The founders were a group of Christian women who organized a prayer band called "The Helping Hand Society." Led by their president, Sister Mary Walker, they held regular meetings to give prayer and praise to God. The songs and praise were so powerful, it drew the interest of others.
Rev. H.W. Webb and Rev. C.C. Cummings were selected as the ministers in charge of completing the necessary documents to organize the church. The founders collected a total of $178.78 to help with the necessary effort. Brother J.H. Henderson came forward with the name New Bethel Baptist Church, which was accepted by everyone. The first officers elected were W.B. Bell, chairman of the Deacon Board; Benjamin McFall, chairman of the Trustee Board, and F.J. Brown, church clerk.

The Rev. Robert Tate was elected to supervise and administer the services. Under his leadership, the church began to grow in numbers. Several members of Israel Baptist Church sent letters requesting permission to merge with New Bethel. A committee was formed to discuss the proposed merger and it was decided to accept Israel Baptist Church. The consolidation increased the membership to 104 parishioners.

March 14, 1932 - At a meeting on March 14, 1932, 52 people were added to the church roll. The first Sunday church service was conducted by Rev. H.B. Brunson and the message was "The Word of God Increased." The speaker for the evening service was Rev. H.H. Coleman, whose message was "And They Called It Bethel." On that day, 48 people became members.

April 29, 1932 - Rev. V.L. Bolton was called to serve as the first Pastor of New Bethel, but was only able to serve for a few months.

August 1932 - Rev. H.H. Coleman was called as the next pastor of New Bethel. The church prospered and Pastor Coleman served faithfully.

March 17, 1935 - Rev. N.H. Armstrong was called to be the pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church for five years.

October 25, 1940 - Rev. William E. Ramsey accepted the call to pastor and 166 members were added to the church roll. Former members returned and the church took on a new life. Money was raised, indebtedness cleared, and the church had $29,000 in savings.

1932-1945 - During the first 13 years of New Bethel's existence, there were very crucial periods. Three churches (Warren Avenue, Sacred Cross and Ebenezer Baptist Church) came into existence during this time. After the departure of Rev. Armstrong, the prophecy of Christ was fulfilled as remaining members kept New Bethel alive. In 1945, Pastor Ramsey departed, organizing Gospel Temple Baptist Church. New Bethel was again a sheep without a shepherd.

May 1946 - Rev. Clarence LaVaughn Franklin accepted the call to pastor New Bethel. He was dynamic in his Christian outreach and in delivering the gospel message. As a result, New Bethel drew people from all walks of life as anxious souls came forth to demonstrate love and respect for his leadership. Soon, the membership increased rapidly and a large building was needed to serve the congregation. God answered the prayers of the flock and New Bethel began to make annual donations to Home Mission, Foreign Mission and major contributions to organizations such as the NAACP, S.C.L.C.., and the March of Dimes. Each Sunday, a special offering was taken for the needy.

June 1948 - The church began major reconstruction of an old bowling alley at 4210 Hastings Street at a cost of $250,000, but a lack of finances held up construction for two years.

1948-1950 - The church held services at the A. G. Wright Funeral Home at 505 E Hancock, while awaiting the completion of the new church. Services were also held at the Brewster Center and the McFalls Brothers Funeral Home on Canfield near Hastings. With the grace of God, determination and sheer dedication, the bowling alley was transformed into a magnificent sanctuary.

October 1951- New Bethel marched into the renovated church, a spacious building with a seating capacity of 2,500. The members of New Bethel were active in a variety of outreach ministries, including providing food and clothing to the poor and scholarships for deserving youth. New auxiliaries and ministries were formed, including the famed Radio Choir under the direction of Professor Thomas H. Shelby Jr. The church sponsored a radio broadcast each Sunday evening in order to spread the gospel to thousands of listeners.

June 1961 - The construction of the Chrysler Freeway (I-75) forced New Bethel to move from Hastings Street and the congregation held services at 8210 12th Street for a short period.

March 1963 - On March 10,1963, the New Bethel Baptist church family marched into our present location, 8430 Linwood, now (C.L. Franklin Blvd). The building cost approximately $500,000.
June 1963 - Members of the New Bethel Baptist Church helped to organize the "March to Freedom" down Woodward Avenue. This was the largest civil rights march ever held in the state of Michigan. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the guest speaker for this event. Rev. Franklin and several New Bethel members worked tirelessly to ensure the march was a success.

1972 - The Historic New Bethel Radio Chorus under the direction of Thomas H. Shelby Jr. and Assistant Director Emma Moody completed an album entitled "Only A Look."

1979 - In March 1979, the total indebtedness of New Bethel was liquidated. A committee was formed to organize a mortgage burning ceremony. However, on June 10,1979, the unbelievable happened. Pastor Franklin was shot in his home during a robbery. The church did not celebrate the planned burning of the mortgage due to the misfortune of Pastor Franklin. The church, in a state of devastation, selected Rev. C.L. Moore to supervise and administer services while Pastor Franklin was in a coma.

1979-1981 - The church experienced an upheaval with the departure of Rev. Moore and the birth of Enon Baptist Church. New Bethel was once again a flock without a Shepherd. During this difficult time, the church's determined officers searched for a new Shepherd while persevering and they held the long awaited mortgage brrning ceremony on Dec. 13, 1981. Rev. Cornell E. Talley, Pastor of New Light Baptist Church conducted those services.

July 1982 - To the delight of New Bethel's weary sheep, Rev. Robert Smith Jr. was selected and graciously consented to serve as co-pastor. While struggling to overcome the C.L. Franklin tragedy, the church split, receiving nationwide attention. Through it all, Rev. Smith encouraged the congregation to aspire to carry out the work and will of God.

Since 1982, Rev. Robert Smith Jr. has led New Bethel to new heights. The church has grown and increased its number of outreach ministries.

1983 - On January 10, 1983, Rev. Smith and the members of New Bethel Baptist Church opened its Emergency Relief Center. Through this ministry, New Bethel clothes and feeds the needy.

December 1983 - Rev. Smith organized Bank Day to encourage New Bethel members to support the African-American business community. The first Bank Day was so successful that it became an annual church event. New Bethel invited the president of the First Independence Bank to the Bank Day celebration to deliver an annual state of the bank address and advise members about the list of services offered by the bank. The Bank Day programs taught members to control their destiny by controlling their dollars. The proceeds of the annual Bank Day enabled the church to purchase property surrounding it.

June 1984 - After the death of Pastor Franklin in June 1984, Rev. Robert Smith Jr. became the sole pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church. Rev. Smith vowed to continue the legacy of Rev. Franklin through many new church programs.

1984-1994 - Rev. Smith worked hard to improve the property surrounding the church. He organized the New Bethel Redeemer Development Corporation to make affordable housing available in the Linwood community. The corporation purchased and renovated a 31-unit apartment complex.

In the late 80s, several business leaders who were also New Bethel members formed a network to inform members about their services and provide support for each other. The organization was known as the Linwood Area Business Association. The church acquired many grants from the city to assist homeowners with the Linwood Community Organization (LCO) to improve the quality of life for residents in the Linwood community. The LCO, led by its president, Bama Blocker, arranged for several landlord and tenant meetings at the church. As a result of these meetings, changes were made in the community for the good of all residents. The church also used government grants to provide afterschool programs for children, as well as computer classes for adults.

Also, under the leadership of Rev. Smith, New Bethel has increased its contributions to the Foreign Mission and Home Mission Programs. The church also makes major contributions to the World Headquarters of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., in Nashville.

Rev. Smith encourages all members to learn more about the gospel and emphasized teaching the Word through Sunday School, Bible class and special weeks of study. He reorganized the Wednesday Night Bible Classes and sponsored the annual Christian Education Seminar to help better educate members about the Word of God. He also organized a Midweek Service as part of Bible classes.

The youth ministries are exposing young people to positive role models and providing them the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities. As a result, more young people are graduating from high school with strong plans for the future.

1995-2002 - New Bethel Baptist Church moved from radio to television. Dr. Claud Young helped Rev. Smith and New Bethel gain air time to preach the word. Shortly thereafter, the church's programs appeared on several Christian networks. The Bridges of Faith Telecast aired weekly, reaching many in need of a positive worship experience.

Rev. Smith and the New Bethel Church family began to open its doors to support groups such  as Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Other nonprofit groups, including the United Housing Coalition and the Linwood Community Organization were also allowed to conduct meetings at the church.

The church increased its property value by purchasing several buildings as part of its outreach ministries, including:

1. Angel Land Child Care Center, 8401 C.L. Franklin Blvd.

2. Center of Hope, 8642 C.L. Franklin Blvd.

3. Samaritan House, Virginia Park/ Linwood

4. Church Office, 2541 West Philadelphia

Rev. Smith and Trustee Terrie Weathers-Henderson developed a ministry that provides childcare services in a Christian environment. New Bethel is the co-sponsor of Angel Land, a day care facility that assists mothers going from welfare to work. It also provides a homework center and training for children.

The Children and Youth Ministries have grown under the leadership of Rev. Smith and First Lady, Cynthia P. Smith. New Bethel members have made it possible for children to travel and learn about the world outside of their community, including but not limited to the NASA Space Center in Huntsville, Ala., and Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Children have also gone on Christian retreats to such places as Wheels Inn and participated in sleepovers at the church.

December 1998 - The first residents moved into the Rehobeth Plaza Apartments, 2556 West Philadelphia.

1999-2007 - Our Samaritan Ministry provided clothing and food to senior citizens and low-income families. The Samaritan has become a major distribution center for the city of Detroit, and as of October 2011 six other churches pick- up food for the needy at NBC's Samaritan Ministry. Samaritan Ministry begin as The Emergency Releif Center in 1983 as the first major ministry introduced by Pastor Smith as Co-Pastor of NBC.

2001-2007 - The old sanctuary saw major renovation in 2001 the interior of the main auditorium was completely remodeled included new pews and pulpit area. The dinning hall, kitchen and floor level bath rooms were completely remodeled. All parking lots were complete resurfaced and fenced. The cost of all the interior remodeling was more then $800,000.00. Thanks to the hard work of then Chair of the Trustee Ministry Joe Nichols and Chair of the Deacon Ministry Robert Eaton with then Chief of staff Minister Chris Hale all the work was pay for in cash. The exterior of the church received a complete face lift and a change in exterior design in 2007. The effort was led by a determined Mr. John Mallard a champion of many great causes. the million dollar face lift as brought new life to all the church family and attracted younger worshipers. The cost was more than a million dollar and the money was found in the stuff-est of financial times by  CFO Theresa Sparks, Loan Director Moshelle Randall and Chair of Trustee Ministry Attorney Vanessa Miree Mays it has raised the spirit of the community. 

New Bethel is proud of its sons in the ministry who were nurtured by the church, including Rev. Edward L. Branch (Third New Hope Church), Rev. Conderidge Smith (Agape Church), Rev. Solomon Kinloch (Triumph Church). Rev. Ralph Godbee (Cleansing Spring) and Rev. Raynard Sims (House of Prayer Church).

The church began a major church building and sanctuary renovation and New Bethel started the Seed Faith and Turn Key Programs.

Please join us as we continue to restore the building, which God has given to us.

What A Mighty God We Serve!  

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