For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building…
But each one should be careful how he builds…
If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.
I Corinthians 3:9, 10, 14 NIV
The Bethel AME Church Family in 1995, led by then Senior Minister and Pastor, Reverend Dr. Adam Jefferson Richardson, Jr., responded to the needs of the people living in the Bond neighborhood, a community found in the shadow of the Bethel AME Church, by establishing the Bethel Community Development Corporation. This 501 (c) 3 was created as an affiliate ministry of the Bethel AME Church to address the blight, the lack of homeownership, the increase in absentee landlords, the crime, the drug abuse and the endemic and pervasive loss of a sense of community in this once vibrant African American community. The original board of directors and incorporators included members of the Bethel AME Church, persons from the community and elected officials.
Inaugural Board of Directors and Incorporators
Dr. Nicholas Gaymon, Secretary*
Mr. George Drumming
Dr. Charles Evans
Dr. Joseph L. Webster
Dr. Freddie L. Groomes
Mr. Hodges Abner
Mr. William C. Proctor
Dr. Johnnie Cue Blake
Mrs. Barbara Rouse
Mr. John D. Harris*
Mrs. Patricia McGowan
Dr. Melvin Stith
Mr. William Stevens
The Honorable Ron Weaver
The Honorable Anita Davis
Dr. Ralph Turner
Mr. Frank Williams
Mr. Fred Peacock
At the time of its founding and even now, the Bethel CDC has a two-fold mission: 1) to provide safe, decent, clean, and affordable housing for disadvantaged families of low to moderate income, and working with governmental and other agencies to bring this about, and 2) to provide opportunities for economic development, that should result in the ownership and management of business enterprises in the African American community. Both of these initiatives will help in tackling the more oblivious problems of crime, unemployment, despair, drug abuse, and the dissolution of the family.
To effectuate a plan of action, Board Chair, Reverend Dr. Adam Richardson, Jr. and the Board of Directors created a public private partnership with the City of Tallahassee and its Department of Neighborhood Services, made possible by Mrs. Anita Favors, the Deputy City Manager at the time and a member of the Bethel Church to designate the Bethel CDC as a Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO). With this designation, the Bethel CDC was then able to secure federal financing for the construction of affordable new homes for low income first time homebuyers. Just prior to Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson, Jr., leaving Bethel to fulfill his Episcopal duties in October 1996, the first three houses were constructed and the first three families were served.
Bethel AME Church’s vision for changing the quality of the lives of the people who live in the shadow of the Church continues. Bishop Richardson’s legacy of salvation includes more than the souls converted and the persons baptized, it also includes the families who have enjoyed the luxury of homeownership and the benefits that homeownership provides a family – safety, security, and self-sufficiency.
Since its founding, the Bethel Community Development Corporation has been responsible for more than $5 million in new construction in the Bond Community alone. During Reverend Julius McAllister’s administration, the Bethel CDC has now added to its inventory of services, owner-occupied rehabilitation and weatherization of homes in the historic neighborhoods of Frenchtown, Springfield, Apalachee Ridge, Providence, and Bond. More than twenty families have been served through this program and it has had a fiscal impact of more than $780,000 in these neighborhoods. Further, the Bethel CDC most recently signed a contract for more than half a million dollars ($500,000) to construct affordable rental housing for low income families in the Bond and Springfield neighborhoods. These are just examples of how the nobility of Bethel AME Church’s notion to “change neighborhoods…one family at a time” continues. The Bethel CDC will continue to meet the needs of working class families through affordable housing and we do not doubt that the “Best is Yet to Come!”