The Bethany Baptist Church was begun as a mission known as Faith Mission in January, 1955. The first meeting of the Mission was held at the I.O.O.F. Hall in Marceline with Sunday School and Training Union for all age groups and morning and evening worship services conducted by James L. Farris.
In February of that year the Mission was organized into a duly constituted Southern Baptist Church with 105 charter members. The name Bethany which means “Friends of Jesus” was selected for the Church.
During April 1955, the Church voted to erect a building at the present site at the corner of Howell and Missouri Streets, and Rev. A. J. Johnson was called as interim pastor and overseer of the building program.
Members of Bethany Baptist Church sold bonds in the amount of $55,000 to erect the present building. Work was begun, and in August the Church moved from the I.O.O.F. Hall to the basement which had been partially completed.
As the outside structure neared completion, Rev. Johnson resigned as Interim Pastor, and Rev. W. A. Merryman of Auburn, Kentucky, was called as pastor and assumed his duties on November 29, 1955.
Work continued on the building, and in February 1956, the first service was held in the sanctuary with the observance of Cub Scout Sunday.
On Sunday, June 24, 1956, the Dedication ceremony for the sanctuary was observed with Dr. Walter Pope Binns, then president of William Jewell College, delivering the dedicatory address.
The first deacons elected by the church were Earl Thompson, J. B. Epperson, Kenneth VanWye, Cecil Wood, William Twitchell, Ed Schneeflock, Orville Porter, Harold McCullough, Wayne Thompson, Jr., L. W. Hawkins, R. W. Pischel, and Carl Heins.
In May 1958, Rev. Merryman accepted a call to the Eastwood Hills Baptist Church, Kansas City, Missouri, and Rev. Wilbur Harbaugh, Bucklin, was called as pastor. Rev. Harbaugh assumed his duties on August 17, 1958. Rev. Harbaugh remained with the Church until November, 1962 when he accepted a call to the First Baptist Church, Doniphan, Missouri.
In December 1962, Rev. Pierce Matheney, professor of Old Testament at the Midwestern Theological Seminary, Kansas City, was called as interim pastor. On April 3, 1963, the Church extended a call to Rev. Vernon Westenbrook, Kansas City, who assumed the pastorate of the Church on May 12, 1963.
It has been estimated the value of the building now exceeds $80,000. The church building is of colonial design, constructed of red brick masonry. The sanctuary is beautiful in its simplicity with stained glass, arched windows and matching light fixtures. The sanctuary has a seating capacity of 340. The educational unit consists of three stories with the ground floor serving the dual purpose of kitchen, dining, and furnace rooms, and as a Sunday School department and class rooms. The second and third floors are made up entirely of departments and class rooms.
Two young men have been licensed to preach by the church: Wayne Thompson, Jr., in 1956, and Richard Adams in 1961. Both men now are ordained ministers. Rev. Thompson is serving a church in Colorado, and Rev. Adams in Missouri.
The Church has continued to offer a spiritual program to serve all age groups with Sunday School, Training Union, Sunday morning and evening worship services, Women’s Missionary Union, midweek worship service, graded choirs, Vacation Bible School, and numerous courses of study throughout the year. A preaching point has been established at the King Rest Home where services are conducted on the third Sunday of each month.