A short history of Bethel Temple (Bethel Fellowship International)
Bethel Temple started out as Pine Street Pentecostal Mission at Second and Pine in downtown Seattle, Washington, USA in the early days of the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit, perhaps as early as 1910. The following is a brief glimpse into Bethel’s many miracles of God’s provision and passion to spread the gospel around the world.
There was a young Englishman by the name of William Henry Offiler who migrated to Canada briefly in the early 1890’s, and then shortly thereafter to Spokane, Washington. While in Spokane, he came in contact with the Salvation Army, and it was with this group he gave his heart and life completely to the Lord Jesus. He also met his first wife, Gertrude Riley, who was a Salvation Army lass, playing the pump organ for their street meetings.
Shortly after his conversion, Brother Offiler received the mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost, and felt the Lord calling him into full time ministry. After pastoring briefly in a small church in Spokane, he and his family moved to Glacier National Park in Montana, where he was employed as superintendent of pluming and heating.
In the early summer of 1914, God called him to lay down his tools and move with his family to Seattle, where he began attending the Pine Street Mission. After two brief moves in the inner city, this mission finally settled in a newly remodeled building on Third Avenue near Bell Street, in the fall of 1920. It was then the name Bethel Temple was placed on their new church.
Through Bible study and revelation, Pastor Offiler received rich truths concerning the church in the last days, which have proved Biblically sound. He preached a great last day revival and ingathering that inspired and encouraged many to run the race and be part of God’s great plan for the ages. The Lord also gave to Pastor Offiler great insights concerning the bride of Christ, the Godhead and, in particular, a revelation of the Name of God.
Accounts of Revival Fires
During the teen years, 1920’s and 1930’s in particular there was a mighty spirit of revival attending all the services, and literally hundreds were gloriously saved, healed and baptized with the blessed Holy Ghost. Both at the Bell Street location and the “Crystal Pool” sanctuary, Bethel Temple experienced tremendous revival meetings. Well known evangelists from across the country ministered at the church.
Among others, healing evangelist W. V. Grant, Sr., Paul Cain, Jerry Owen, J. Herman Alexander, Kelso R. Grover, Rev. J. S. Eaton and Leonard W. Heroo, delivered stirring messages under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
It was testified that during the W. V. Grant meetings, this little timid evangelist from Malvern, Arkansas would flow under a power flow of anointing for healing. Around him would be cots, wheelchairs and stretchers bearing the burdens of crippled humanity. Rest Homes around Seattle would send their ambulances to transport the shut-ins to church. The very atmosphere of the church was surcharged with an electrical tension that caused the packed crowds to sit hushed and reverent. Miraculous healing of every kind known to man occurred regularly. Not all in the endless lines received their healing but many of them did!
The first missionary families, Bro. Dick and Christene Van Klaveran, and Bro. and Sister Groesbeek and their two daughters, Jenny (12 1/2yrs..) and Corrie (6 yrs.) set sail from Bethel Temple for the Netherlands East Indies (now the Republic of Indonesia), on March 4th, 1921. These were the first Pentecostal missionaries to spread the gospel in that vast island republic, at least during the 20th century.
The first Pentecostal Bible School was opened by Missionary W. W. Patterson in 1935 at Surabaya, Java. Many other Bethel pioneers, and at least 15 additional Bible Schools sprang up, which are even now being operated under Indonesian supervision and teachers. Fifty-six other Bethel missionaries responded to the call of God and established ministry centers in countries such as Japan, China, Holland, Columbia, and Mexico to name a few. Foreign missions are still a vital part of Bethel Fellowship International today as we endeavor to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. “To God alone belongs all the praise and glory for any and all spiritual accomplishments!”
Other Bethel Ministries
Camp meetings were an exciting experience in the history of Bethel Temple. In the spring of 1935 Pastor Offiler began praying and searching for a suitable location for a summer camp meeting. He would later contract to purchase 60 acres of property at Mirror Lake, Federal Way, Washington. Many faithful volunteers, helped blow out the stumps with dynamite, clear and level the land. A huge wooden tabernacle was erected in the spring of 1936 which measured 75 X 200 ft., supported by big pillars and exposed rafters, and for the first three years or so had a sawdust floor. Camp meeting opened on the Fourth of July weekend in 1936, and continued for several weeks under the anointed and inspirational preaching of Evangelist William Booth-Clibborn, a Spirit filled Salvation Army preacher. He was the grandson of General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. Thus a 55 year history of summer camps began.
The first youth camps were inaugurated at Mirror Lake Gospel Park in 1954 and for the first 35 years, Pastor Renus Cabe was the director. The first week was for the juniors, both boys and girls, and the second for the combined teenagers. These young people were in four or five groups each supervised by a willing volunteer counselor. Their activities consisted of devotional periods, craft work, sporting activities, swimming, etc. The campers all looked forward to the Friday evening service when all the sports trophies were given out, as well as the selected Gold Cup boy and girl of the week. Dan Peterson succeeded Brother Cabe as Youth Camp Director to be followed by Tom Patterson who faithfully continues the work today.
The Radio Ministry was a great outreach at Bethel Temple. Pastor Offiler often conducted the broadcasts from the organ bench. “Nearer My God to Thee” rang out over the air waves morning after morning for many years. He became one of the first radio preachers. Beginning in 1925 was a regular program called “God and His Bible.” This radio ministry was faithfully carried on by the pastors of Bethel Temple through the ministry periods of Pastor C. J. McKnight and associate Pastor Renus Cabe. The radio ministry continued almost without interruption for thirty seven years “with astonishing results.” Shut-ins were blessed, many who had no other access to church found this their church family and were blessed, strengthened and healed through the prayer of faith prayed each morning. Letters were received from fishermen off the coast, and as far away as New Zealand telling of the blessing the broadcast was to them. As was the case in many meetings at Bethel Temple, people in radio land also received salvation, deliverance and healing.
Outreach has always earmarked Bethel ministry. Gospel teams of young and old alike were heavily involved with open air street meetings, both at skid row in the heart of the city, on Saturday and Sunday nights.
Bethel Temple was involved in a weekly jail ministry, hospital and convalescent services and visitation and ministering to other branch churches.
Pastor Offiler had also started a night Bible School in 1933, continuing for many years. Having a burden to raise up his people to know God and His Word, Pastor Offiler was compelled to offer them systematic teaching. Fortified by this spiritual foundation in the Word of God, our missionaries, as well as the local pastors, teachers and Gospel workers have accomplished lasting results. Among others who were saved at Bethel Temple and influenced by its leadership and teaching was Dick Benjamin who eventually, with his wife Carol, founded Abbott Loop Christian Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Ernest B. Gentile, the founder and pastor of Christian Community Church in San Jose, California, also received his diploma from Bethel Temple Bible School.
Left to right:
Pastor Offler, Pastor W.W. Patterson, Apostle Dick Benjamin, Rev. W.V. Grant,
Prophet Ernest Gentile, Dr. Kevin Conner
Just prior to World War II, Bro. W. W. Patterson began evening Bible School classes at Mirror Lake. Many pastors and teachers took part in this operation. In 1952 Pastor W. W. Patterson inaugurated the Day School from 9 to noon, at Bethel Temple. Again numerous pastors and teachers gave of their time to teach the next generation. Pastor James Apple was the director following Pastor Patterson. Later Pastor Renus Cabe would carry the leadership and burden of the school.
Bethel Ministries Today
The ministry of Bethel continues today. This alone is a testimony to the grace of God who has preserved a witness of His work in Japan, Indonesia, Holland and elsewhere around the world.
“Bethel” to us is our heritage and valued impartation of solid ministries for over 80 years. We desire to see a re-digging of the wells of revival and manifest presence of God in the places called the Bethel, the “House of God.” There is a conviction in our heart that the promises and covenants of God are being reestablished and that the mandate given through our “fathers” to preach the unsearchable riches of God’s Word, can and will be fulfilled today.
The process of moving into the future has caused the church worldwide to define her vision with ever increasing faith to believe for the impossible. The missionary spirit evidenced historically in Bethel continues.
Our Heritage in the City of Seattle
Note: The following was written and delivered by Dan Peterson, then pastor of Bethel Christian Ministries (Bethel Temple) at Bethel Temple’s last service on Sunday, September 21, 2003, after which Bethel merged with The City Church.
Bethel Temple had its original roots in 1914 at the Pine Street Pentecostal Mission at Second and Pine. This was the time at the turn of the century when a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit swept the land. Its history is full of miraculous accounts of God’s provision, revelation and a passion to spread the gospel around the world.
During the 1920’s and 1930’s in particular there was a mighty spirit of revival in all the services, and literally hundreds were not only gloriously saved but healed and baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Our founder was a young Englishman by the name of William Henry Offiler who migrated to Canada briefly in the early 1890’s and then moved to Spokane Washington where he came to know Christ through the ministry of The Salvation Army.
After Pastor Offiler began ministering at the Pine Street Pentecostal Mission in 1914, he moved the church two times briefly before remodeling a building and moving the church in 1920 to Third Avenue near Bell Street. It was here they placed the name Bethel Temple on their new facility and it would become the Gospel center of the Northwest where many would come to experience revival, transformation and healing physically as well as spiritually. Many workers were also trained and sent out to minister around the Northwest and various countries of the world.
In 1944 Bethel Temple moved to the “Crystal Pool” facility at 2nd Avenue & Lenora which had been vacant for a number of years. Through hard labor and dedication many of the congregation members helped Pastor Offiler remodel the building. The winds of revival continued to move as famous evangelists came from various places to minister under the powerful anointing of God’s Word.
In 1948 at the age of 73 Pastor Offiler felt it was time for a younger man to take the leadership of the church and one Sunday afternoon installed Pastor W. W. Patterson into that responsibility. Pastor Patterson was succeeded by Pastor James Apple in 1955 and he, in turn, was succeeded by Pastor C. J. Mcknight.
The 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were particularly hard on all churches in downtown Seattle. People began to move to the suburbs and some churches literally closed down and sold their buildings. Bethel also experienced a decline in membership but held to the precious truths they had been taught and also faithfully carried on the missionary endeavors around the world.
Pastor Renus Cabe and Pastor Robert Brodland led the church from 1985 up until 1993. For a few months Pastor Gordon Adair from New Zealand acted as interim pastor at which time LaVonne and I were asked to take the church.
Note: The ministry and history of Bethel continues in Bethel Fellowship International (http://bfi-online.org). Bethel Fellowship International exists to facilitate and nurture meaningful relationships among member ministers, equipping and enabling them to be more effective in their callings, for the purpose of building and multiplying strong local churches at home in the United States and for the furtherance of fulfilling the great commission through missionary outreach throughout the world. Bethel Fellowship International is a non-profit corporation based in Washington, USA. Its members minister throughout the United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, as well as Indonesia, Japan, Peru, Africa and The Netherlands.
Bethel Fellowship International is in fellowship with Ministers Fellowship International, headquartered in Portland, OR. Its officers include:
Jeff Earlywine, (acting) President 2021 ~ Present
Vacant awaiting appointment ~
ElTora Cabe, Treasurer 2004 ~ Present
Nils Olson, Secretary 2017 ~ Present