Bethany Gospel Chapel, Newport News, VA

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Bethany Gospel Chapel in Newport News dates back to the turn of the century when five families met each Sunday to Break Bread in the home of William Dunning, a coppersmith at Newport News Shipyard, who lived in the 300 block of 49th Street.   One of the other families was William & Janet McFarlane, who emigrated from Scotland in 1900.    

In the early 1900's, John Millar Sr. was serving as a Sunday School superintendent for the Calvary Baptist Church, which subsequently closed, and the building was utilized for a short time by a Pentecostal group.   Around 1908, Millar had formed a new Sunday school in the same building, and met Mr. Dunning and was so impressed with the type of services held at Dunning’s home that he made his building available for  assembly services.   Old Dominion Land Co. owned the building which was rented to the Brethren for $5 per month.

In a few years after starting, the growing assembly purchased a house and land and for $1,200 and organized under the name Gospel Hall. The first trustees were Henry O. Eggleston, Tom J. Murphy, and John Millar, Sr.

The McFarlane family relocated in 1909 with their three children to Warren, Ohio.   After William's death in 1931, Janet returned to fellowship in Newport News, living with the family of fellow assembly co-founders Tom J. Murphy until the mid-1950's when she moved to the Gospel Hall Home in Longport, New Jersey, where she died in 1959.

Expansion of the assembly led to plans for a new building in 1938. The Hampton architect was Custer Robinson who designed the chapel on the Easthampton Methodist Church. "They had a steeple and we didn't, but otherwise the two buildings were much the same." The first meeting held in the new Newport News Gospel Hall at 82 - 29th Street was in May 1940.

There was a Sunday School work started in nearby Deep Creek in the early 1940's that became Deep Creek Gospel Hall, later known as Union Gospel Chapel. Bernard L. Redford, among others from the main assembly held gospel meetings there. This assembly was still active in the early 1950's.

In 1961, Newport News Gospel Hall changed their name to Bethany Gospel Chapel. Around 1962, when the area around the area was becoming more commercialized, the assembly moved to 40 Ballard Road in a residential neighborhood, where more children could have easy access to hear the Gospel. Construction of Bethany Gospel Chapel was begun in September 1963 and the chapel was dedicated in June 1964. The congregation numbered 125-150 in 1963, and had outgrown their Sunday School quarters. Officers in 1963 included John Millar, Jr., his brother William O. Millar, Bailey as the SS Supt., and J.P. Dale as chairman of the board of trustees. Around 1989, several families left Bethany to plant Hampton Roads Community Church, which lasted about ten years before dissolving.

Bethany has been a popular spot for itinerant preachers since the beginnings, and have had many types of community outreaches from Vacation Bible School, youth conferences, etc. The assembly presently has one resident worker, with about forty congregants in 2020.



There have been annual conferences since the early years attended by hundreds from the area, and advertised in the local newspaper. Some of the conference reports are here, as well as reports on ministering brethren. See Visiting Ministry at Bethany Gospel Chapel, Newport News, VA for a more comprehensive list.


July: S. McEwen, George Winemiller and John Monypenny each had meetings while passing through Washington D.C. Brethren McClure and Monypenny took meetings in the afternoon and evening on June 3 in New York City. George Winemiller had a week's meetings in Newport, a week in Matoaca and a week in Petersburg and Richmond, all in Virginia. Bro. Monypenny visited the same assemblies and had one meeting in each, and two in Richmond. Messrs. Benjamin Bradford and W.H. Hunter are expected for meetings in Petersburg and Newport News.


Newport News, VA: Conference was held Jan. 1-3. Fifteen preachers were present. Benjamin Bradford, S. McEwan, Fisher Hunter, Jas. Smith, William Smith, Mehl, Calderhead, Crocker, Cather, Reager, Nugent, Monypenny, Wilson, McCloud, and Craig. Conference was much enjoyed.


Harold G. Mackay ministered here in 1943, while ministering elsewhere in the South. See Plumsteadville article.


1945 APG.jpgAlfred Perks Gibbs


J.M. Davies, missionary to India for 40 years, was the guest speaker when Bethany moved to their present location, as advertised in the Daily Press of Newport News on May 17, 1964.


Bethany Gospel Chapel provided "Help for the Family" community outreach events in the 1980's, including David Stiefler, from Blasdell, New York, who taught on the twelve disciples for a week of evenings in March, 1984 & November, 1985, featuring black light & "scene-o-felt" illustrations.


Worth Ellis did a week's worth of gospel meetings Oct. 4-11;


  • William Dunning's home @ 300 block of 49th St. & nearby SS
  • 3407 Huntington Ave. +1914-1940
    • an old frame building initially used as a mission of Calvary Baptist Church, then as a Pentecostal meeting;
  • 82-29th St. aka 29th & Casino 1940-1962
  • 40 Ballard Rd. 1962-present

1964 Davies.jpg

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