Bethesda Christian Church

The Seventies

THE SEVENTIES

Bethesda’s congregation joyfully greeted the New Year of 1970 with considerable anticipation. The Lord was leading and working for us.  The feeling was intoxicating.  We had, at long last, been able to purchase the property adjoining us on the east — the business corner at Van Dyke and Nevada — the turnaround spot of the old Baker Street Car Line.  This new addition, The M.D. Beall Building would include an extension and enlargement of the sanctuary platform, a new radio studio, and extended baptismal facilities. Architects completed the plans of enlargement. Demolition crews cleared the site.  The needed funds flowed in easily, but, much to our amazement and consternation, a new, desired, but troublesome opportunity stared us straight in the face.

Across the main north-south traffic artery on the east (M 53) stood a large formidable furniture factory — a long time landmark of the community.  Overnight, and much to our surprise a “For Sale” sign appeared above the front door.  The price: $500,000.  Good price.  Wrong time.  No buyers.  The new price of $250,000 brought no action.  The company ran out of options and declared bankruptcy.  Sheriff’s Auction was the only answer.  Pastor Jim, or Brother Jim the Associate Pastor, approached the leaders of the church with a daring proposal.  “Go to our bank and have them prepare a Cashier’s Check for $75,000.  I feel assured we can purchase the entire grounds and buildings for that amount.”

Phil Baer, the church treasurer, and Harry M. Beall a Trustee appeared on the announced date in downtown Detroit with the bank check in hand -- the only attendees.  The elders surrendered their check to the auction authorities and returned to the church as the new owners of 25,000 + square feet of buildings, 2 ½ acres of land — our future main dining room, Catechism Department, several multiple class rooms, storage space, and vehicle garage.

1973 found us with elementary school problems  -- it was obvious our youth catechism students lacked reading and writing skills.   The public school system evidently was not doing its job. Days of long and hard deliberations brought us to the decision that the church must open Bethesda Christian Schools — grades kindergarten through 3rd grade.  One grade was added each year following.

Progress is the name of the game and this is especially true when education is concerned.
1977 was the year chosen to erect the new Bethesda High School, but we had a problem.
School Street a dead end 5-block stretch of asphalt — Bethesda’s Red Sea, separated two of our buildings from the main aggregation.  We reasoned:  nothing ventured, nothing gained.  We will petition the City of Detroit to close the street for us.  We took our mission seriously.  A few hundred valiant Bethesdans met their pastors at City Hall urging affirmative action in our regard.  One dissident stood in opposition.  The City Council moved in our favor.  Shouts of praise filled the municipal halls.  Work began. School Street faded into memory. Two story Bethesda High School with first class academic and sports facilities stood proudly in the sun -- a triumph of faith.

This is the Day, an ongoing television series, hit the airways in 1977.

Bethesda laid its Founder and First Pastor, Rev. M.D. Beall, to rest in 1979 following 45 years of faithful service.  This excellent and widely known religious leader served her Lord and the BCC congregation with dedication, love, care, and carefulness.  Pastor M.D. Beall was 84 years of age at the time of her home going.  Her successor was Rev. James Lee Beall, her eldest son.  Harry Lee Beall, her husband, preceded her in death in 1973.

On February 15, 1975 Analee Beall, who would become Bethesda’s 3rd Pastor, became the bride of Mr. D. James Dunn

Pastor Jim and his wife Anne traveled, preached, and taught down under in Australia and New Zealand in 1975.