Learn more about Bethany's history, who we are, and what it is we believe so that you can decide if this is the right church for you.
We are not too big and not too small. On a typical Sunday morning at Bethany, between 200 and 300 people will come to worship as a part of our church family.
We are multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational. (Those big words mean that all kinds of folks come here!) We are a diverse group of people in age, experience, and backgrounds. We have made intentional commitments to pursue racial reconciliation and to tear down the wall that divides deaf and hearing cultures. The strength of Bethany is that we support each other in our mutual goal of trying to live more like Jesus. We are all imperfect people living in an imperfect world. We support each other in our struggles and learn from each others successes and failures. Bethany is a place where Jesus’ friends live.
Bethany Community Church was started by a church planting team sent out from Bethany Church of Long Beach, California, with the goal of impacting the National Capitol area for Christ. The work to establish Bethany began in September 1986, when Kevin & Ann McGhee and Rick & Laura Mastroianni moved from Long Beach, CA to Laurel, MD to start a new church. These two couples began to meet the community through a door-to-door survey that sought to determine why so few people in our area attend church. On December 14 of that year, Bethany Community Church held its first worship service at Laurel High School. After four years, the church leased space in an office park at Laurel Lakes on Route 1, where it held worship services for the next 10 years.
As membership at Bethany grew, the time came to seek out property on which Bethany could build its own facilities to more effectively serve the Baltimore Washington Corridor. In 1996, the family of Dr. James W. Smith of Laurel donated 24 acres of its beautiful wooded farm on Riding Stable Road to Bethany Community Church. After many years of construction, the church moved from its Laurel Lakes facilities to its new home between Laurel and Burtonsville. From this location–which lies at the crossroads of Montgomery, Howard, Prince George’s, and Anne Arundel counties–Bethany is uniquely equipped to minister to the spiritual needs in our growing region.
Bethany’s name is significant:
Bethany is not only the name of our Mother church, it is the small village where Jesus’ friends lived. We say that Bethany is still the place where Jesus’ friends gather.
Community is our middle name because we share in community with each other and extend the love of Christ to the larger Baltimore Washington Corridor.
Church to us does not mean a building, but a family of Christ followers that He has called together to do important things that He has prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:10) We don’t want to go to church – we want to be the church.
Is Bethany associated with any denomination?
We have always labeled ourselves as “non-denominational.” We have members from dozens of different church backgrounds. Our plans and direction are determined by our own leadership (our board of elders and pastoral team), rather than by an external organization. However, we do associate ourselves with other churches or groups for joint support of common goals. A little less than ten years ago, we decided to partner with other churches in a movement known as “ Converge.” This is an association of like-minded churches that have joined together to START new churches (our interest is particularly in the National Capitol region), to STRENGTHEN churches, and to SEND followers of Jesus to all parts of the world. Our pastor now has a key leadership role with Converge in our region as well as with the national office of Converge Global Missions.
Our founding pastor, Kevin McGhee, is also the leader of an informal group of Pastors known as the Central Maryland Evangelical Pastor’s Fellowship. He helps facilitate the shared ministry of about 20 churches in the Baltimore Washington Corridor. About 10 years ago, the group launched an initiative to promote volunteer involvement in our public schools in Prince Georges County known as Side by Side. More recently, the group has launched a non-profit ministry to the homeless and vulnerable known as New Day. At Bethany, we like to say “Community is our middle name!” – and we mean it. One of our distinctives as a church is the extent to which we serve as a hub for activities both in West Laurel and in the region.