July 11, 2014

Valley religion news: Bethel Christian celebrates 100 years

An east-central Fresno church that received a boost with evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson's Fresno revival meetings in 1922 will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

An east-central Fresno church that received a boost with evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson's Fresno revival meetings in 1922 will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Bethel Christian Center will host a Centennial Gala on July 19 at TorNino's Banquet Hall, 5080 N. Blackstone Ave. The reservation deadline has passed.

On July 20, the celebration will continue with a special service at 10:30 a.m. at the church, 4665 N. First St.

Rich Guerra, superintendent of the Southern California District of the Assemblies of God, will speak at both events.

The church history was compiled in a 50-page project by Lauren Odell, daughter of current church pastor Powell H. Lemons.

The church, founded by William E. Opie in 1914, has humble beginnings.

For the first two years, services were held in a home, a rented building downtown next to a livery stable and under a tent at Belmont Avenue and Fresno Street.

In 1915, the tent was moved to Thomas Avenue and Clark Street.

In 1916, a building was built and the church was named Thomas Avenue Mission.

In 1922, McPherson, one of the most famous female evangelists in the world, came to Fresno to conduct revival meetings at Fresno Memorial Auditorium.

Opie made church business cards and passed them out to people standing in line. After that, attendance grew and the church was enlarged. In the mid-1920s, it also was renamed Bethel Temple Church, Pentecostal.

Opie served as pastor for 42 years.

In 1965, the congregation moved to its current location, where it was named Bethel Christian Center. Lemons became pastor in March 1976.

"We're a stable, charismatic congregation," Lemons says. "We still have members who were here before I came."

Since 1993, Bethel Christian Center also has been the site for pastor prayer meetings on Tuesday mornings.

"It's a call for revival, awakening of the city," Lemons says.

Details: (559) 225-0411.

The Well north campus offers pancake potlucks

A pancake potluck will be offered after all four services Sunday at The Well Community Church north campus, 2044 E. Nees Ave.

The potluck is part of the church's "connecting events" that are designed to connect congregants and make a large church feel smaller.

The church will flip the pancakes. Congregants are asked to bring a pancake topping or breakfast side dish to share, dropping them off at the church kitchen before the service.

Services are at 9 and 11 a.m. and 5 and 7 p.m.

Details: or (559) 326-5100.

Hospice worker writes devotional book

A ministry worker at Hinds Hospice in Fresno is the author of a new book, "Another Companion for the Journey."

Larry Patten's book is a devotional written for individual or group reflection and appropriate for daily readings along the journey of faith.

He is former pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Fresno.

The book is available in paperback for $8.99 or Kindle for $3.99 on

Patten says he will donate 25% of book profits to Hinds Hospice's Angel Babies program, which supports families grieving the death of an infant or caring for a child with a life-limiting illness.

The book also is a follow-up to Patten's 2012 book, "A Companion for the Journey," a collection of essays.


Church hosts program on 'Acceptance of Self'

A program on "Loving Acceptance of the Self — Secrets of Transformation" will be presented at 6:30 p.m. July 22 at St. Paul Catholic Newman Center, 1572 E. Barstow Ave.

Sister Diane Tillman, coordinator of the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center at Seal Beach, and Sister Brigitte Fohanno, administrator of the Global Retreat Centre in Oxfordshire, England, are the speakers.

Both Tillman and Fohanno have been practicing and teaching raja yoga meditation for more than 25 years.

The event is presented by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization in Fresno.

Details: email or call (559) 435-2212.


Related content



Entertainment Videos