Building bridges between diverse communities is an important mission at Bethany United Methodist Church, located in Noe Valley. As one of more than 160 Reconciling Congregations, we are known nationwide for our openly gay and straight congregation. Our members find solace, admiration and respect through each others lives. Recently, a gay man found the acceptance he sought all his adult life from a 63 year-old straight woman: Thank you, he wrote, for "the words ‘we will just have to be your family here.’" And a straight woman admired a lesbian couple this way: "Their commitment to each other for over 30 years," she wrote, "is a model to all and a statement to be made to the church when it speaks of ‘fidelity in marriage.’"
While Bethany strives to be a caring inclusive community and to promote healing in the gay and lesbian community, we also are committed to providing outreach to the neighborhood and to the world. In particular, Bethany is a SHARE site which combines community service and cooperative buying power to provide monthly food baskets, provides hot meals to persons in homeless shelters, collects socks for homeless persons, is a visible presence at the annual Lesbian/Gay Bisexual/Transgender Pride Parade as well as the Castro Street Fair, and provides a ministry to the residents of Bethany Center through regular worship services, sing-alongs, parties, and rides to church. Bethany is home to more than 20 community groups, including, Little People's Workshop (a Children's Day Care Co-op), various self-help groups, a Hawaiian Chorus, English Country Dance, and the S.F. Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band which offers free community concerts in the sanctuary.
Bethany Church is nearly 40 years old. Its roots are imbedded deep in San Francisco history. The congregation was birthed from the combined operation of two other churches: Grace Methodist Church founded in 1852, and Epworth Methodist Church founded in 1877. The merger of the two congregations occurred in June 1965, and the name Bethany was chosen for the new congregation. Grace Church was demolished in 1965 and the site now is home to Bethany Center, a 134-unit senior citizen housing complex. Bethany United Methodist Church, formerly Epworth Church, has established itself as a progressive force in the community.
Dolores Street Baptist Church shares part of the building with Bethany. They worship in another hall. They have been a partner with Bethany since their church building burned down in a fire in 1999.