Bethany Baptist Church originally was organized under the name of "The Union Society" and needed a permanent Pastor to lead the church. The members heard of Rev. George Stevens who was to graduate from the Seminary at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, "The Union Society”, though not permanently organized, extended a call to him.
Upon acceptance, Rev. Stevens arrived in Syracuse on May 19, 1887, and preached his first sermon the next day to the ‘Little Flock.”
The original eight members banded together by a covenant to start “Bethany Baptist Church”. It was incorporated under the name of “The Union Baptist Society” on May 5, 1887. The name of the church was officially changed to BethanyBaptistChurch on September 2, 1890. These records of incorporation, and name changes under the laws of New York State are recorded on file at the Onondaga County Court House, Syracuse, New York.
Eventually, a house and lot were purchased in the 800 block of East Fayette Street, with the intention of building a House of Worship and a Parsonage. The property owners in the neighborhood opposed the building of a Negro church at this location for fear it would depreciate the value of their properties, so another location was chosen. The members canvassed the city for funds. When enough funds were obtained, building of their House of Worship and Parsonage for the minister’s family began on the site of 608-10 East Washington St.
A long-time dream of those gallant and courageous members came true. The project was completed and dedicated on May 10, 1894. The cost was six thousand five hundred dollars ($6,500) to build the edifice that seated four hundred (400) people. The style of the church was gothic: brick facing to the first story window sills; shingled from there up; windows of cathedral glass of appropriate and memorial patterns. Inside was an open timber ceiling of Georgia pine with the finish in natural pine. Off of the pulpit was the Pastor’s study. A Sunday school classroom was located in the rear of the sanctuary, and a dining room and kitchen were located in the basement. Also an eight-room parsonage was built off to the right side rear of the main building for housing for the Pastor and his family.
Rev George Stevens remained Pastor of Bethany for eleven years (11) till 1898. In 1898 Rev. William Lawrence became Pastor for two years (2) followed by Rev. E.H. McDonald in 1901 – 1902. Later in 1902 Rev. James L. Pinn became Pastor of Bethany and serviced for fourteen years till 1916.