Bethel Church (Redding, California)
|This article relies too much on references to primary sources. (January 2011)|
|Bethel Church (Redding, California)|
|Denomination||Non-denominational charismatic, Pentecostal|
|Previous denomination||Assemblies of God|
|Senior pastor(s)||Bill Johnson|
|Pastor(s)||Eric Johnson, Beni Johnson, Danny Silk, Kris Vallotton|
Bethel Church is a non-denominational megachurch that was established in Redding, California as an Assemblies of God congregation in 1954, and has since grown to an estimated weekly attendance of over 3,500 people. The Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry was founded by the church in 1998.
- Bill and Beni Johnson (1996 – current)
- Ray Larson (1984–1996)
- Val Munson (1982–1984)
- M. Earl Johnson (1968–1982)
- Vic Trimer (1966–1968)
- Robert Doherty (1952–1966)
Bethel Church began in 1952, with several families meeting in a private home. As the number of members grew, the church moved to the Eagle's Hall on Yuba Street. In 1954, the Seventh-day Adventist Church building became their home and it was then that the application was made with the Assemblies of God to become incorporated as Bethel Church. Under Pastor Doherty's ministry, the church was able to purchase property on Bechelli Lane and the facility there was dedicated in 1964. Pastor Doherty's vision was that Bethel Church, being on a hill overlooking Redding, would be a light to the city.
In 1966, Reverend Vic Trimer, an evangelist from Wichita, Kansas, became the pastor of Bethel Church. He left in 1968, when the district office assigned him to the mission field in Malaysia.
In 1968, Earl Johnson moved from Downey, California to become the pastor of Bethel Church. During his 14 years of pastoring the church, Bethel grew to over 1,000 in attendance and expanded its ministries. In 1982, after Pastor Earl Johnson was called to serve as the Assistant Superintendent of the Northern California/Nevada District of the Assemblies of God, Val Munson became the pastor.
In 1984, the congregation invited Ray and Rebecca Larson from Sacramento, California to lead the congregation. Under their leadership, the church grew to nearly 2,000 in attendance and relocated to the present 71-acre (0.29 km2) site.
In February 1996, the congregation invited Bill Johnson from Weaverville, California to lead the congregation. Johnson, the son of former pastor Earl Johnson, only had one stipulation before he was voted in: that the message would always be about revival and that the subject of revival would never change. He received nearly unanimous approval by the congregation and the church board. What believers consider to be a supernatural revival began to break out shortly after Bill's arrival. People in the congregation began laughing uncontrollably and falling and rolling on the floor, believing themselves to be under the power of God during church services. A mass exodus took place shortly after manifestations began happening. An estimated 1,000 people left the church and the two Sunday services were reduced to one. From 1996-1997, Bethel Church saw very little church growth.
In January 2006, the membership of Bethel Church of Redding voted to withdraw the church's affiliation with the Assemblies of God and become a nondenominational church. In a letter Johnson points out that this action was "...not a reaction to conflict but a response to a call... we feel called to create a network that helps other networks thrive — to be one of many ongoing catalysts in this continuing revival. Our call feels unique enough theologically and practically from the call on the Assemblies of God that this change is appropriate."
Bethel Church and Bill Johnson have been featured in video segments by Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). The segments reviewed the church's approach to outreach.
Bethel Church offers a variety of ministries including: nursery, children's church, junior high group, senior high group, deliverance, counseling, and Sozo (Greek for saved, healed, and delivered). The church hosts a variety of conferences and schools each year including: School of Supernatural Ministry, School of the Prophets, School of Worship, Bethel Christian School (PK-8), Open Heavens Conference, Kingdom Culture Conference, Piercing the Darkness Prophetic Conference, and Jesus Culture.
Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry
In the fall of 1998, Bethel Church began Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, under the direction of Kris Vallotton, Bethel's senior associate pastor. The normal program is one academic year (September through May); there is also a fuller program that runs three years. Approximately 15% of the students stay for the full three years. While the school was founded with just 36 students, by 2010, the school enrollment numbered over 1,200 students annually, from all over the world.
At the October 2013 Strange Fire Conference, Phil Johnson, a pastor at John MacArthur's Grace Community Church (California) criticized the church's "fire tunnel which is a kind of gauntlet for the laying on of hands." Johnson showed a video excerpt showing what appeared to be people getting "drunk in the spirit" and laughing uncontrollably, falling down, crying, and twitching during church services at Bethel Church.
- "Bethel and the Assemblies of God | Bethel Church". Ibethel.org. Retrieved 2011-05-01.
- "Living a Life of Miracles - CBN TV - Video". Cbn.com. 2011-04-07. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
- "Miracles Outside the Church Walls - CBN TV - Video". Cbn.com. 2011-04-07. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
- Winters, Amanda (January 16, 2010). "Bethel burgeons under pastor's visions of prosperity". Record Searchlight.
- Johnson, Phil (2013-10-17). "Is There a Baby in the Charismatic Bathwater?". Grace to You. Retrieved 2014-05-12.