The Beth-El Temple Church of Christ, Inc. formerly known as the Highway Church of Christ, is located in the densely populated, inner-city community in the Northwest corridor running along Park Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road. The church was organized as the Highway Christian Church of Christ on November 16, 1951. Our first place of worship was located at 542 West Biddle Street. The Pastor and Founder was the late Overseer Rubin Robinson. As our congregation increased, we occupied several buildings: 748 Pennsylvania Avenue; Perkins Square; 1500 Fayette Street; 1046 Lexington Street; 1606 Harlem Avenue; and 3413 Hayward Avenue (all located in Baltimore, Maryland).
During the year of 1971, the late Overseer Rubin Robinson became seriously ill and it was necessary to appoint an Assistant Pastor. The General Chairman and Bishop Fred Page (of Baltimore) officially appointed the church’s musician, Minister Robert Evans, Jr., as Acting Pastor. On January 6, 1972, Minister Robert Evans, Jr. was ordained as Elder Robert Evans, Jr., and this blessed man was officially installed as the Pastor of the Highway Church of Christ on March 6, 1972.
On Thursday, January 2, 1986, the Highway Churches of Christ, Inc., consecrated the then Elder Robert Evans, Jr. to the sacred office of Bishop. In 1987, the name of the Church was changed to Bethel Temple Highway Church of Christ. In September 1988, Bishop Evans resigned from his posts in the Highway Churches of Christ; he began as the Lord directed him, to organize the Bethel Churches of Christ, Inc. and our local church name was changed to Bethel Temple Church of Christ, Inc.
God continued to increase the membership of the Beth-El Temple Church of Christ. In 1989, the Lord led Bishop Evans to change our name from Bethel Temple to “Beth-El” Temple representing God’s name, Jehovah. This name change was birthed out of the biblical reference of Jacob’s encounter with God. The place where God visited with him, Jacob called “Beth-El” because God was present and the glory of God was seen in a dreadful place. As church membership grew, we purchased eight (8) acres of land to build our new edifice, but due to zoning board restrictions, the Lord instructed Bishop Evans to occupy 3910 West Rogers Avenue, our Rehoboth, as we continued to pursue Canaan.
After hearing from God, Apostle Evans sent his sons and daughters out to establish other ministries. In November 1998, he then consecrated Elder Richard Pender to Assistant Pastor. Together they worked to bring Beth-El to the pinnacle of its spiritual and organizational growth until Apostle Evans became seriously ill and subsequently passed from life to glory on May 13, 2000, leaving the church family devastated. God did not leave his people without hope, and a vision to continue on in the faith. Pastor Pender girded up his strength and might, through Christ Jesus, and began to lead the people from devastation to celebration. He became Beth-El’s modern day Joshua.
With the support of the leaders and lay-members alike, Pastor Pender was consecrated as Pastor of Beth-El on Saturday, October 14, 2000. He then began to further develop the framework of this fast-growing, community-focused ministry by instituting ministries that addressed the practical side (as well as the spiritual side) of the congregants, such as: Helping Hands Ministry/Soup Kitchen (feeding the Homeless and the less fortunate); New Day Substance Abuse Ministry (for persons addicted to drugs or any type of abusive behavior); One Touch Ministry (addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic); Prison Ministry (taking the Gospel behind prison walls); Ambassadors Street Witnessing Ministry (taking the Gospel to the streets to the “unsaved”); Scholarship & Tutorial Programs (after school programs for children in the community); Health Care Ministry (promoting quality health care for unwed pregnant mothers and to promote awareness of Hypertension and Diabetes); and a GED Program (to assist persons in the community to obtain their G.E.D./High School Diploma).
Bishop Pender continues to lead the people into new experiences by broadening a holistic view of what real ministry is – further unveiling to the people that “Salvation” – is both a natural and a spiritual process that was always in the mind of our establishmentarian, the late Apostle Robert Evans, Jr.