The History of Bethlehem Baptist Church
Serving the Savior and Community Since 1896!
The Bethlehem Baptist Church was the reality of a dream born in the minds of a few dedicated
Christian women who felt the need for a Baptist church in the area of Jericho, North and South
Woodbury. In 1893, Sister Nannie Brinkley, Sister Sarah E. Jones Bowman, Sister Mary Bryd,
Sister Elizabeth Beverly, Sister Lucy Stanley, Sister Mollie Thomas and Sister Mary Watson
formulated the idea of starting a church.
In the beginning they had no meeting place, so they met from house to house. Their first meeting
was held at the home of Sis. Mollie Thomas who lived in Jericho, New Jersey. In 1896, they
were granted letters from the Seventh Baptist Church of Camden, New Jersey to form the
Bethlehem Baptist Church in Woodbury, New Jersey. Brother Moses Thomas, Sister Zena
Thomas, Brother Emmett Hardy, Brother Richard Miller, Sister Mary Moody, Brother Joseph A.
Jones and Sister Mary Byrd were the first members to begin the legacy of the Bethlehem Baptist
During the year of 1896, under the leadership of Reverend John Thomas, they secured Scottish
Hall, located on South Broad Street, near Penn Street in Woodbury and received their charter in
the same year. Later they moved to Green Street and were incorporated in the year of 1898.
In 1904, Reverend John Thomas was called to minister in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and
Reverend Stephen E. Harris was called to Bethlehem Baptist Church while it was still a mission
on Green Street. Reverend Harris was ordained from the Monumental Baptist Church in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and continued to serve the members of Bethlehem. With the love of
Jesus in their hearts, the members worked and made plans to purchase a lot on Carpenter Street
in Woodbury. Reverend Stephen E. Harris erected and laid the cornerstone of Bethlehem Baptist
Church in 1906 and 1915. He served as shepherd of the flock until he resigned in 1922, leaving a
debt free church.
Following the pastorate of Reverend Stephen E. Harris, Bethlehem has continued to grow and
prosper as the Torch of Leadership was passed to faithful men of God. Reverend Edward M.
Smith was called as Pastor in 1922 and served until his death in 1946. He served during the
Great Depression and greatly impacted the members’ during those trying times. Reverend I.
S.Fisher served as Pastor in 1948. From 1949 to 1952, Reverend Marcus G. Wood served as
Pastor where under his administration the church parsonage was built on Carpenter Street. In
1952, Reverend Theodore People was called to Pastor. From 1952 to 1957. renovations to the
Carpenter Street edifice were completed under his administration.
In 1954, the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. preached at Bethlehem while traveling through the area.
He heard how Bethlehem was heavily involved, serving the surrounding communities.
Reverend Charles E. Thomas was called to Pastor from 1957 to 1968. During Reverend Thomas'
administration, the members expressed their desire to build a new church. Under Reverend
Thomas' leadership, efforts to strengthen and expand, work on the new church began. The
present building was completed in 1963. As the membership grew, God saw fit to send Reverend
Thomas to the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. In the interim, the church
continued to march on with the noble assistance of Reverend E. Vincent Cream and Reverend
In 1969, Reverend E. Vincent Cream was ordained by the Bethany Baptist Association of South
Jersey and became the Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Under Reverend Cream’s leadership,
the liquidation of the church mortgage became a reality in November 1973. Reverend Cream
served until 1989 when he founded Macedonia Baptist Church. Reverend Dr. Horace Guyton
became the Pastor of Bethlehem in 1990; he was known for his love for the youth and served
until his death in 1995. From 1995 to 1996, Reverend W. D. Willis served as Interim Pastor and
gave Bethlehem wisdom, guidance and direction as he preached God’s Word.
In the year of the church’s 100th Anniversary, in December 1996, Reverend Wilbur D.
Winborne Sr., was called to serve Bethlehem Baptist Church as its 10th Pastor. On March 16,
1997, Pastor Winborne was installed and continued the work of the ministry that was started long
ago. Pastor Winborne brought an enthusiastic and upbeat spirit to Bethlehem. He established a
Nursing Home Ministry, Leadership Training and Certified Biblical Counseling Training. Pastor
Winborne was called back to his home church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 31,
2013 to be the Senior Pastor after that church's pastor was called home to be with the Lord.
In December of 2016, Minister Jimmy Lindsay was called and assumed the position of PastorElect until his departure in August 2017. On August 27, 2017, Pastor Glenn D. DeShields was
called to serve as the Interim Pastor.
On April 15, 2018, Pastor DeShields was installed as the 11th Pastor as the baton of the Pastorate
was passed to him from Pastor Dr. Wilbur Winborne, Sr., the 10th Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist
Church in an Installation Service that filled the church as both churches, (19th Street Baptist
Church of Philadelphia, PA and Bethlehem Baptist Church), united to honor God for the work of
both pastors. Over 18 churches were represented in the historic, spirited and blessed Installation
Service as Pastor Dr. Wilbur Winborne, Sr. delivered the installation sermon and presided over
the spirited Installation Service. Pastor DeShields serves as the 11th Senior Pastor of this
Through God’s leading Pastor DeShields, the church broadcasts the Sunday Worship Service to
its social media outlets, partners with other community churches to provide meals and clothing
for those in need, remodeled its kitchen and sanctuary, hosts a community farmers market each
summer for the community, established an interactive and revamped Bible Study, started a daily
online prayer ministry, revised the church’s website and social media accounts, instituted an
executive council and the historic ordination of this church’s first female deacons.
Through the faith and perseverance of dedicated Pastors, committed People and the Power of the
Holy Spirit, we look forward to a blessed and exciting future. We will continue to Praise,
Worship and Serve to God's Honor and Glory until Jesus Christ comes again