Our history

Bethel African Methodist Church was organized in the early spring or late winter of 1894 under the leadership of Reverend H. P. Burton. The church was located at 851 Brunswick Place in what was known as "China Town" at that time.


The church was listed in the Memphis City Directory as early as 1896 as Bethel Mission, A.M.E and is also listed in the Tennessee historical Society Directory that documents the year of inception of Bethel.


The congregation was looking for a larger church; therefore, they moved the church from Brunswick to Wicks Avenue. In 1941, the church moved to 626 Wicks Avenue under the leadership of Reverend H.R. Reynolds as documented in the Tennessee Historical Society Directory. 


In 1977, the church moved to 2011 Alcy Road, its present location under the leadership of Reverend Charles Ezekiel Ware. As with any church, the leadership of the Pastor and officers is always very significant and Bethel has been blessed to have leaders of distinction throughout its history. The first recorded pastor was Revered W.P. Burton who organized the church. The Tennessee Historical Society Director of 1941 lists the Pastor as Reverend Herbert R. Reynolds and the presiding elder was Revered Clifford C. Townsend. Other pastor who served were the Reverends: H. W. Henning, John Hunter, I. T. Jefferson, W. E. Pruitt, E. R. Keyes, Louis Williams, Robert L. McRae, Otis T. Hooks, James L. Gleese (who later became a Prese


In 1977, the church moved to 2011 Alcy Road, its present location under the leadership of Reverend Charles Ezekiel Ware. As with any church, the leadership of the Pastor and officers is always very significant and Bethel has been blessed to have leaders of distinction throughout its history. The first recorded pastor was Revered W.P. Burton who organized the church. The Tennessee Historical Society Director of 1941 lists the Pastor as Reverend Herbert R. Reynolds and the presiding elder was Revered Clifford C. Townsend. Other pastor who served were the Reverends: H. W. Henning, John Hunter, I. T. Jefferson, W. E. Pruitt, E. R. Keyes, Louis Williams, Robert L. McRae, Otis T. Hooks, James L. Gleese (who later became a Presiding Elder), W. L. Young, W.W. Wortham, C.E. Ware, Reverend Dr. Almella Yvonne Starks-Umoja and the current Pastor, Reverend Dr. Barbara Sargent Green. 


Perhaps the most prolific pastor was Reverend Charles Ezekiel Ware who served for twenty-eight years. He has been recognized from the local to the national levels in the areas of community development and outreach. He built a daycare center and formed a corporation known as Beth-Reach that focused on housing facilities for the elderly. Revered Ware was named Pastor Emeritus after retiring in 2004.


The former Pastor, Reverend Dr. Almella Yvonne Starks- Umoja, is the daughter of the most memorable Pastor to serve in the ministry in Memphis. Revered Henry Logan Stark was not only a minister but a renowned seminary teacher and civil rights leader. A Humanitarian Award is named in his honor at the Memphis Theological Seminary. His daughter has followed in his footsteps to continue to educate people of color and lift high the banner of Christ in an ever changing community.


Reverend Dr. Barbara Sargent Green; a native of Georgetown, South Carolina, currently serves as the Senior Pastor. Reverend Green relocated from Flanders, New Jersey to Memphis, TN in 1987. 


Reverend Green has a passion for Women in Ministry especially married sisters. She has a burden to pray for the Body of Christ. Reverend Green has implemented numerous ministries such as Standing in the Gap Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Bethel Computer Classroom Learning Center, God’s Precious Gifts 2 Liturgical Dance Ministry for children, R.E.G.O.I.C.E Liturgical Dance Ministry, Youth/Young Adult Bible Study, Leadership Summit, and Puppets for Christ Ministry and Christ Connection Newsletter. 


The facility at 1350 previously known as Bethel’s Day Care has been completely renovated and renovation has taken place at the church facility.