I was online recently looking for churches and noticed New Bethel AME listed among several area congregations. Our firm has worked with AME congregations in the past, including a major project restoring the Paul Quinn AME Church in Bastrop. So I went looking for this church.
I’ve driven past this site several times without ever noticing the church sign in front of a beauty salon. The sign is easily overlooked at 45 mph, but this time I was looking for it. It appears that the church worships in the back of the salon building. The smaller portable building appears to house classrooms, though it is more visible from the street than the church entry.
The buildings are puzzling to me. They don’t begin to tell this congregation’s story. The AME Church has a long history and tradition of established congregations. These temporary quarters are more typical of startup churches, and not at all what I expect from an AME congregation. On-line, the church’s website offers hints at the back-story. It appears that New Bethel is the next generation of what once was the Bethel AME Church in Manchaca.
What’s more more intriguing are the ministers leading this church. The website introduces Rev. Margaret Sims, Pastor. She is joined by the Assistant Pastor, her mother, and the Youth Pastor, her daughter. There really is more to this story!
New Bethel AME Church, 11543 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748