Bethany House of Worship began as a home church with four families coming together to worship and break bread around the Lord’s Table in 1979. Since then God has enlarged our congregation, expanded our ministries, and established the testimony at its present location in North Philadelphia.
The seeds for forming a church were sown after a group of believers attended the Cazenovia Holy Convocation during the summer of 1979. At that convocation, Konakanchi family and Neelakantams family took baptism. Soon after, we were lead by the spirit of God to come together for worship. Inspired by Acts 2:42 and the pattern observed in New Testament churches, we incorporated the following elements in our Sunday service: Worship (individual and corporate), Breaking of Bread, Prayer, ministry of the Word, and a time of Fellowship. The first worship service was held during the Fall of 1979 at Anil and Madhu Paul’s residence at 305 West Mentor Street, Philadelphia. Subsequent services were held at Sanjeeva Rao and Surya Vangore’s home at 311 West Mentor Street, Philadelphia. The large hall in their basement was very convenient for the four families (Konakanchi, Paul, Neelakantams, Vangore) to meet. Bro. Sanjeeva Rao Vangore, who had recently completed his theological studies, was anointed as the Pastor to shepherd the congregation. During those early years, it was wonderful that the Lord amazingly brought three families from different places to live on the same street. We were thus able to enjoy warm Christian fellowship throughout the week. Later Brother G. John also bought a house on the same street and ministered to us whenever he was in USA. The assembly also attracted students from Eastern college and Faith Seminary including Bro. David Babu who joined Bethany fellowship in 1982. Sister Lalita Seva joined the fellowship in 1983.
Bethany House of Worship was formally incorporated in 1980. As the congregation began to grow, we moved from meeting at home to gathering at church buildings. We initially rented the Episcopal Church on the Boulevard on Sunday afternoons and from 1989, we began to meet at the Oxford Circle Mennonite Church.
We were not very happy meeting in the afternoons and in a rented space, so we prayed earnestly that Lord would provide us with our own place of worship so that we can meet for worship in the Sunday morning hour. By the Grace of God, in June 1996, God lead us to buy the present building at 1070-69th Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19126, which was originally St. Andrew Ukranian church. Brother Sanjeeva Rao continued to be our Pastor at our new location. After 22 years of faithful service, Brother Sanjeeva Rao retired in 2002 due to health reasons. We elected a new board on November 4, 2007. Brother Anil Paul was elected as the President and Brother Phillip Russel was elected as the Vice President. We remain faithful to our original vision and pattern of worship.