Throughout its history, Bethany Baptist Church of Louisville has been committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and to the Scriptures as the authority guiding its faith and practice. Despite changes in the surrounding community, Bethany has remained true to this commitment.
In 1927, a small group from Deer Park Baptist Church began to hold worship services at Aurora Lodge Hall, located at 1718 Bardstown Road. In 1928, this group initiated action to effect a formal church organization and moved into a building recently vacated by St. Paul United Methodist Church, located at the corner of Bardstown Road and Woodbourne Avenue. The aspiring church held a constitutional meeting December 17, 1928, and achieved final organization January 17, 1929, constituting as the Bardstown Road Baptist Church. There were sixty-eight charter members, the majority of whom came from Deer Park Baptist Church.
The budding congregation became incorporated December 5, 1932, and was accepted into the Long Run Baptist Association in 1933. The church purchased part of its current property, at 2319 Taylorsville Road, in 1927. At this time, a group of men forming the Gladhand Bible Class joined the effort to construct a building.
On September 4, 1940, Bardstown Road Baptist Church changed its name to Bethany Baptist Church. Membership steadily increased. Pastors who served the church during these early years were Dr. M. D. Austin, Rev. Macon C. Vick, Rev. John Yelton, Dr. David Earl Browning, Rev. Carroll Carter, Dr. Zech Ford Bond, and Dr. W. C. Fields. Dr. Fields went on from Bethany to become the editor of the Baptist Record, the state newspaper for Mississippi Baptists, and eventually became the director of Baptist Press, the news agency serving the entire Southern Baptist Convention.
Years of Great Growth and Harvest: 1951-1986
In 1951, Bethany Baptist Church of Louisville called Dr. Eugene I. Enlow as pastor, marking the start of an extended period of remarkable growth. Attendance increased so rapidly that the church was forced to hold two worship services on Sunday mornings for more than three years. Recognizing the fact that the growth rendered the facility completely inadequate, with great vision the church voted to construct a new auditorium.
In 1959, after celebrating its 30th anniversary, Bethany Baptist built an Educational Building. Kentucky Governor Bert Combs spoke at the formal entry March 5, 1961. Later, at the formal dedication, special guest speakers included Dr. Duke McCall, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Dr. W. C. Fields, a former Bethany pastor and director of Baptist Press; Dr. Robert Lee Mills, president of Georgetown College; and Dr. Harold G. Sanders, general secretary-treasurer of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky (now the Kentucky Baptist Convention).
In 1964, Bethany called Dr. H. Lloyd Storment, who became Bethany’s longest tenured pastor. After announcing his retirement, Dr. Storment preached his final sermon June 15, 1986. The church held a banquet in his honor.
Years of Sustaining and Renewal: 1987-Present
In March 1992, Dr. William A. Groover became the senior pastor at Bethany. In 1993, the church began a “Building the Church of Tomorrow — Today!” campaign, seeking to expand the parking lot and add an elevator. Rev. Todd Robertson became Bethany’s pastor in February 1999, bringing vigor for evangelism and missions. Following his resignation in February 2002, and an interim ministry by Dr. Stephen Wellum, Bethany called Dr. Steve Dwinnells in December 2002. Dr. Dwinnells, who exuded a pastor’s heart, resigned in December 2003, and Dr. Gregory A. Wills became the interim.
In 2006, the church called Dr. Charles W. Fuller as Senior Pastor. Dr. Fuller announced his intention to lead the church through a strategic ministry renewal process, in 2007. As a result the church moved to a team-based ministry structure and revised its constitution and bylaws.
Following the tenure of Dr. Fuller, Dr. Shane Garrison served as Bethany’s interim pastor from 2010 to 2011. Then, in 2011, Bethany Baptist Church of Louisville called Rev. Kenneth W. Vickery as senior pastor, who has brought about a renewed focus on missions in Louisville, North America, and to the ends of the earth.