A More Light Congregation

Bethany Presbyterian Church

Timeline: Our Founding and Early Years

(This section written by Charter Member William T. Quickert)

Fall 1955: The Presbytery of San Francisco decided that a Presbyterian Church could be established in the San Bruno area.

February 1956: Presbytery called Reverend Dr. Roy Peyton, from Mesa, Arizona, to be organizing pastor of the new church.  Dr. Peyton, his wife Jean, and their two children settled in the Rollingwood neighborhood of San Bruno.  He visited families and held meetings in their homes, building the new congregation.  A steering committee of eleven couples, with Dr. Peyton as Moderator and a committee from Presbytery, planned for the future growth and organization of the church.

April 8, 1956: Peninsula Presbyterian Church began holding services and church school classes in two temporary San Bruno locations: the Volunteer Fire Department and the Carpenters’ Union Hall.  Since the Fireman’s Hall was being used by various organizations, the “decorations” for Sunday morning worship were not always appropriate to the occasion!

Mother’s Day, 1956: The first baptism was to Harry Warren, infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond A Warren.

July 1, 1956: Mr. Charles Jackson, a member of the Steering Committee, petitioned the 12th Naval District for permission to use the unused Base Chapel temporarily for all church activities. The request was granted, and the first services were held in the chapel.  The Base Library was also made available for meetings and Sunday School.

August 17, 1956: Citing the warm and welcoming reputation of the town of Bethany in the Gospels, retired minister Reverend Alois Husak suggested a new name for Peninsula Presbyterian Church. The church was renamed Bethany Presbyterian Church.

September 30, 1956:  The Presbytery of San Francisco officially organized the church with a charter membership of 92 members.  The charter was held open until October 30 during which 13 more were added making a total of 105 charter members.  Six months later, the congregation officially elected Reverend Dr. Roy Peyton as their pastor.

1959: The church site at 2400 Rosewood Dr. was purchased in January. At the Groundbreaking Ceremony in February, San Bruno Mayor Bob Price welcomed the new congregation into the city. There was heavy rain that day so the ceremony was held at the Chapel with dirt brought from the site to the meeting place in a wheelbarrow.  The first services were held in the new building on December 19. Much of the interior construction work was completed by the men of the church.

Pastoral Leadership

Reverend Roy Peyton, DD 1956 - 1968 (Founder)

Our founding pastor, Dr. Peyton had a formal style and offered thorough, motivating sermons rooted in theology.  He traveled to the South in the late 1960's to march with Martin Luther King, Jr., in a time when that was not necessarily a popular choice.  When he and his wife Jean retired, he noted that it was time for new energy and modern approaches in the church.

Reverend George DeWeese 1969 - 1979

Pastor DeWeese came to Bethany - with his wife Kay, sons David and Nathan, and daughter Gretchen -  as a young family man.  At the time we were a young church, with many founding members holding key positions.  George's style was less formal than his predecessor, and less evangelical in style.  He worked to incorporate the youth into the life of the church.  He left Bethany in 1979 to establish a mission church in San Diego.

Reverend Monte Brown 1979 - 1981 (Interim)

Reverend Brown served as a guest minister after Dr. Peyton left, and was brought back to Bethany as part-time Interim Pastor.  During this time, Bethany also found a third-year student from San Francisco Theological Seminary, whom Monte helped to mentor until graduation.  This student later became his successor, Garry Cox.  Bethany bestowed the title of Interim Pastor Emeritus on Reverend Brown when he retired.

Reverend Garry Cox, DD 1981 - 2000

Reverend Cox was ordained and called to ministry at Bethany right out of seminary.  A Viet Nam veteran, Garry joined us with his wife Robyn, and daughters Suzane and Jenifer.  Bethany members appreciated his relaxed preaching style and strong sense of mission in the church.  Under his leadership, Bethany became involved in hunger walks, shelter work, Habitat for Humanity, and other social programs.  He and Robyn left Bethany to move to Sacramento, to be closer to his grown daughters and pursue new areas of ministry.

Reverend Janet Bower 1989 - 1996

Reverend Bower also began as a student intern from SFTS, and was ordained when she graduated in 1989.  Janet was called to Bethany as Associate Pastor, and brought with her husband Todd and young children Brian and Jennifer.  Her primary responsibilities were Christian Education and Youth programs.  She launched a highly successful LOGOS program and led Bible studies and forum groups on social issues.  She was called to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Belmont in 1996.

Reverend Kimberly Elliot 2001 - 2004 (Interim)

Reverend Elliot was hired as Interim pastor during a time of great transition.  As with other main-line protestant churches, our numbers had declined, and concerns about the health and strength of the congregation were reaching a peak.  Kimberly had a biblically-based, instructional preaching style and empowered lay leaders to take ownership of the life of the church.  Gifted in liturgical dance and the arts, she supported these endeavors within the congregation.  Reverend Elliot left when she successfully completed her interimship, and a permanent pastor was hired.  

Reverend John Lee 2004 - 2008

Reverend Lee was called to Bethany after an extensive pastor search.  A regular part of the music ministry at Montreat Youth Conferences, John brought a passionate faith, gift for music and a strong connection to the youth of the church to Bethany.  His goals for the congregation included establishing a concrete vision for mission work and deepening our discipleship. Reverend Lee, his wife Evelyn and two young children left Bethany to be closer to their family in Minnesota.

Reverend Leroy "Don" Smith 2008 - 2011 (Interim)

Reverend Smith, a career Interim pastor, came to Bethany with extensive experience in leading congregations in transition.  He guided the Clerk of Session in re-establishing order to Bethany's Session minutes and Church Register.  He and his wife Lori left Bethany when Reverend Kathryn Pyke was called to Bethany.

Reverend Kathryn Pyke 2011-2019

Rev. Pyke was called to Bethany from her home state of Arizona.  Kathryn worked with Session to help re-envision our ministry, encouraging outreach to the community with various programs and social activism.  An ardent animal lover, she led the creation of Bethany's annual Blessing of the Animals.  She and her husband, Rev. Richard Pyke, retired to Arizona.

Reverend Debra McGuire 2020 - Present

Pastor Deb presided over worship for the first time as Bethany's Transitional Pastor, on Sunday, January 5, as our part-time, transitional pastor for the first time in Bethany's history.  Deb has had the extra challenge of pastoring the congregation through the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Six weeks into her tenure all in-person meetings ceased, leaving her to invent and innovate ways (in collaboration with Bethany leadership) to guide us whilst getting to know us.

Our History