Bethesda Mission

Summary

Bethesda Mission (BM), located in Pennsylvania's capitol city of Harrisburg, is a non-profit Christian Rescue Mission. The organization has been meeting the needs of hungry and homeless people in the Greater Harrisburg area since 1914, when the mission was founded by fifteen laymen representing nine different denominations across the city.

The goal in 1914 was the same goal by which Bethesda is operated today:

To provide food, shelter, clothing, and life-changing counseling based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who seek their help.

  • Refuge for over 80 men at the Men's Shelter on Reily St.
  • Refuge for 25 women and children at the Women and Children's Shelter
  • Discipleship Recovery, a long-term program dealing with the causes of dysfunctional lifestyles through group and individual counseling and support - 429 enrolled in 2012
  • Social Service programs which assist with benefits such as medical, veteran, welfare, social security, etc. - 2,321 units of service provided during 2012
  • Medical/Dental clinic provided by area medical personnel who volunteer their services on a consistent basis, including on-staff nurses - 3,948 visits in 2012
  • Sexual abuse support counseling dealing with the pain and providing healing in both group and individual settings
  • Youth Ministry works with inner-city 7 to 18 year olds through mentoring and a broad range of programming designed to provide the knowledge and strength needed to live life in a responsible, constructive manner
  • Public Soupline served nightly
  • Provision of food, clothing, personal care items, blankets, Christmas gifts to departing guests as well as to community people in need
  • Mobile Mission van which provides sleeping bags, warm clothing, sandwiches and coffee or soup to those who remain on the streets - 5,689 ministered to in 2012
  • Provided a ministry to the rural poor that involved distribution of 14,190 bags of groceries and a significant amount of clothing, blankets and household supplies

Contact information

Mailing address:
PO Box 3041
Harrisburg, PA 17105-7105

Website: www.BethesdaMission.org

Phone: (717) 257-4442

Email: info@bethesdamission.org


Organization details

EIN: 231389397

CEO/President: Mr. Charles L. Wingate

Chairman: Mr. David E. Dyson

Board size: 15

Founder: Mr. James W. Barker

Year founded: 1914

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 06/30

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 1991


Purpose

Bethesda Mission (BM), located in Pennsylvania's capitol city of Harrisburg, is a non-profit Christian Rescue Mission. The organization has been meeting the needs of hungry and homeless people in the Greater Harrisburg area since 1914, when the mission was founded by fifteen laymen representing nine different denominations across the city.

The goal in 1914 was the same goal by which Bethesda is operated today:

  • To provide food, shelter, clothing, and life-changing counseling based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who seek their help.
  • Refuge for over 80 men at the Men's Shelter on Reily St.
  • Refuge for 25 women and children at the Women and Children's Shelter
  • Discipleship Recovery, a long-term program dealing with the causes of dysfunctional lifestyles through group and individual counseling and support - 429 enrolled in 2012
  • Social Service programs which assist with benefits such as medical, veteran, welfare, social security, etc. - 2,321 units of service provided during 2012
  • Medical/Dental Clinic provided by area medical personnel who volunteer their services on a consistent basis, including on-staff nurses - 3,948 visits in 2012
  • Sexual abuse support counseling dealing with the pain and providing healing in both group and individual settings
  • Youth Ministry works with inner-city 7 to 18 year olds through mentoring and a broad range of programming designed to provide the knowledge and strength needed to live life in a responsible, constructive manner
  • Public Soupline served nightly
  • Provision of food, clothing, personal care items, blankets, Christmas gifts to departing guests as well as to community people in need
  • Mobile Mission van which provides sleeping bags, warm clothing, sandwiches and coffee or soup to those who remain on the streets - 5,689 ministered to in 2012
  • Provided a ministry to the rural poor that involved distribution of 14,190 bags of groceries and a significant amount of clothing, blankets and household supplies

Mission statement

Bethesda Mission uses the following to express its mission:

Since 1914, Bethesda Mission has been a missionary arm of the local church, reaching out to men, women and children of all races, nationalities and creeds, providing the poor and homeless with shelter, food, clothing, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and discipliing them in the Christian life.


Statement of faith

Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Evangelism

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating295 of 43025 of 34
Fund acquisition rating260 of 43022 of 34
Resource allocation rating144 of 43011 of 34
Asset utilization rating402 of 43029 of 34

Financial ratios

Funding ratiosMedian % for
all ministries in
MW database
20172016201520142013
Return on fundraising efforts Return on fundraising efforts =
Fundraising expense /
Total contributions
7%8%8%10%6%5%
Fundraising cost ratio Fundraising cost ratio =
Fundraising expense /
Total revenue
6%8%8%10%6%5%
Contributions reliance Contributions reliance =
Total contributions /
Total revenue
95%95%100%98%92%94%
Fundraising expense ratio Fundraising expense ratio =
Fundraising expense /
Total expenses
6%9%8%9%6%6%
Other revenue reliance Other revenue reliance =
Total other revenue /
Total revenue
5%5%0%2%8%6%
 
Operating ratiosMedian % for
all ministries in
MW database
20172016201520142013
Program expense ratio Program expense ratio =
Program services /
Total expenses
83%86%85%85%87%88%
Spending ratio Spending ratio =
Total expenses /
Total revenue
99%91%102%107%92%80%
Program output ratio Program output ratio =
Program services /
Total revenue
81%78%87%91%80%70%
Savings ratio Savings ratio =
Surplus (deficit) /
Total revenue
1%9%-2%-7%8%20%
Reserve accumulation rate Reserve accumulation rate =
Surplus (deficit) /
Net assets
3%7%-1%-4%6%17%
General and admin ratio General and admin ratio =
Management and general expense /
Total expenses
10%6%6%6%6%6%
 
Investing ratiosMedian measure
for all ministries
in MW database
20172016201520142013
Total asset turnover Total asset turnover =
Total expenses /
Total assets
1.320.540.590.520.550.54
Degree of long-term investment Degree of long-term investment =
Total assets /
Total current assets
1.536.1012.9123.7111.355.51
Current asset turnover Current asset turnover =
Total expenses /
Total current assets
2.533.307.5612.286.272.96
 
Liquidity ratiosMedian measure
for all ministries
in MW database
20172016201520142013
Current ratio Current ratio =
Total current assets /
Total current liabilities
9.094.471.971.172.255.96
Current liabilities ratio Current liabilities ratio =
Total current liabilities /
Total current assets
0.100.220.510.850.450.17
Liquid reserve level Liquid reserve level =
(Total current assets -
Total current liabilities) /
(Total expenses / 12)
4.072.820.780.141.063.37
 
Solvency ratiosMedian % for
all ministries in
MW database
20172016201520142013
Liabilities ratio Liabilities ratio =
Total liabilities /
Total assets
10%16%18%19%20%22%
Debt ratio Debt ratio =
Debt /
Total assets
0%12%14%15%15%18%
Reserve coverage ratio Reserve coverage ratio =
Net assets /
Total expenses
63%155%139%156%145%145%

Financials

Balance sheet
 
Assets20172016201520142013
Cash$1,707,774$445,539$135,845$711,788$1,566,404
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$580,207$584,864$439,127$551,329$947,414
Short-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$2,287,981$1,030,403$574,972$1,263,117$2,513,818
Long-term investments$4,613,896$5,000,431$5,445,924$5,605,370$4,739,315
Fixed assets$6,691,454$6,927,139$7,241,296$7,082,997$6,113,734
Other long-term assets$366,239$348,822$370,550$382,708$478,686
Total long-term assets$11,671,589$12,276,392$13,057,770$13,071,075$11,331,735
Total assets$13,959,570$13,306,795$13,632,742$14,334,192$13,845,553
 
Liabilities20172016201520142013
Payables and accrued expenses$281,381$299,582$262,903$389,220$218,567
Other current liabilities$230,403$224,557$226,943$173,220$202,951
Total current liabilities$511,784$524,139$489,846$562,440$421,518
Debt$1,625,608$1,819,752$2,022,514$2,216,311$2,511,166
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$104,603$96,120$98,419$72,781$121,451
Total long-term liabilities$1,730,211$1,915,872$2,120,933$2,289,092$2,632,617
Total liabilities$2,241,995$2,440,011$2,610,779$2,851,532$3,054,135
 
Net assets20172016201520142013
Unrestricted$4,970,839$4,844,366$5,341,311$5,493,760$4,126,077
Temporarily restricted$2,419,810$1,723,839$1,255,983$1,395,921$2,361,598
Permanently restricted$4,326,926$4,298,579$4,424,669$4,592,979$4,303,743
Net assets$11,717,575$10,866,784$11,021,963$11,482,660$10,791,418
 
Revenues and expenses
 
Revenue20172016201520142013
Total contributions$7,882,700$7,658,423$6,471,096$7,925,626$8,752,124
Program service revenue$0$0$0$0$0
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$389,413($34,401)$96,964$624,948$321,743
Other revenue$63,899$15,026$32,229$64,815$209,160
Total other revenue$453,312($19,375)$129,193$689,763$530,903
Total revenue$8,336,012$7,639,048$6,600,289$8,615,389$9,283,027
 
Expenses20172016201520142013
Program services$6,468,972$6,656,979$5,997,071$6,897,771$6,541,355
Management and general$429,513$500,170$418,708$514,327$435,148
Fundraising$649,982$637,078$645,207$512,049$476,127
Total expenses$7,548,467$7,794,227$7,060,986$7,924,147$7,452,630
 
Change in net assets20172016201520142013
Surplus (deficit)$787,545($155,179)($460,697)$691,242$1,830,397
Other changes in net assets($66,754)$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets$720,791($155,179)($460,697)$691,242$1,830,397

Response from ministry

No response has been provided by this ministry.


History

"Heritage" is a good term to describe over 80 years of ministry to the hopeless, the helpless, and the homeless people of the street. Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines Heritage as "Something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor." Today, the Mission is still faithfully transmitting that which it has received from its founders.

Harrisburg's Mission tradition goes back to a Scranton Welshman named Griffith Jones, who started the predecessor of Bethesda at the turn of the century. This early mission was known as the Lafayette Mission, and was located where the State Education Building is in Harrisburg today.

On December 22, 1914, James W. Barker founded Bethesda Mission, taking the Biblical word for "mercy" as a name for his mission. He called it a "Christian workshop and workingman's hotel." "Uncle Jim" Barker (1853-1944) was the mission's first president. He was a thin, stately man with a moustache and goatee. It was often said that he looked like a cross between Monty Wooley and Sigmund Freud. Earning his livelihood in the feed and grain business, he lived on Evergreen St. near a political boss of the time, Ed Beidleman, and was Sunday school superintendent at the Stevens Memorial Methodist Church.

Barker attracted some of the real "class" of Harrisburg at the time to be directors of Bethesda - men like Eli Hershey, J. Boyd Trostle, John W. Appleby, H. B. Alexander, E.S. Chronister, C. M. Thumma, Gus Steinmitz, O. B. Lank and Gus F. Larson. The only time that they ran into flak was when they considered purchasing the old Biley mansion at Front and Chestnut Streets, because a big controversy arose over the so-called "Front Street for the Front Streeters" movement. That was in the early 1930's when, as they used to say, there weren't any proletarians on Front Street, though John O'Hara knew otherwise.

In 1934 the Mission purchased the old Pennsylvania Railroad YMCA at 611 Reilly Street for $10,000. It had been built in 1902, and had housed Harrisburg's first indoor swimming pool. The swimming pool is now filled in and capped over, and the room is currently serving as a dormitory.

Henry Reinhart (far right), a self-acknowledged former "booze-soaked, despondent salesman from Cleveland," came aboard when the mission was at 107 S. Second Street and moved on to Reily Street for 31 years as mission director. The depression days were the glory days (in that period of time), when the mission lodged as many as 36,000 men a year, including seamen from the Morro Castle and ex-bootleggers who wanted to go straight. Today the Mission sleeps more than that on a routine basis, and that does not include the women and children's shelter, which opened in 1983.

In 1975, an over-optimistic investment in what was to be a state-aided and funded alcoholism pilot program put Bethesda Mission in a financial hole of over $30,000, because the State pulled its promised funding after the mission had expended its funds to create the facility. While that isn't much money for most organizations, it was a critical loss for Bethesda, which operated on a $70,000 annual budget.

In the process of recovery, the mission reorganized much of its volunteer board, parted ways with an executive director, and adopted a retrenching, survival policy. "The easiest route for most of us would be to resign from the board and get ourselves out of this embarrassing predicament," wrote the Rev. Donald R. Javert, then of the Market Square Presbyterian Church. "Even more embarrassing would be to leave forgotten persons in the streets of Harrisburg unattended and without shelter. The Mission is a friend to those who are genuinely without friends."

Agreeing with Rev. Javert were the remaining board members, plus four new members who replaced the six who had left and by 1979 the mission had paid off its debt.

The mission at that time had 30 permanent residents and about five transients daily. Today it has no permanent guests but sleeps over 100 men on most nights, provides over 100, 000 meals per year, separately houses 40 women and children, and operates a full-time after-school youth program for neighborhood children that involves 50 or more boys and girls each afternoon. From a staff of one executive director in 1979 the mission has grown to an organization employing 43 dedicated workers. Increasing from the annual $70,000 budget of those years, the mission now requires $1,800,000 to provide for the expanding needs of its many services.

There is an historical paradox to the mission tradition in America. Bethesda and others in the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions began well before the American public welfare movement. The public might think that with the ubiquitous welfare check, the "down-and-out," as "Uncle Jim" Barker called them, do have security and don't need lodging, food, or counseling. The truth is the direct opposite, in fact. The boys don't ride boxcars into Harrisburg anymore, and the increased urbanization and impersonalization of society, coupled with alcohol and drugs, bad economics, and declining education, have all replaced the self-reliant, self-esteemed happy "bums" of yesteryear with faceless, alienated lost souls of mass man. Missions have a more vital role to play today than ever before, and it isn't that of middle-class hypocrisy or guilt-cleansing, either.

Above all, the Mission's quality board and staff have re-established the Mission's statement of purpose to conform to the original charter, thus assuring a continuation of the Heritage passed to it by its founders and supporters. "Uncle Jim" Barker would be pleased to see his Mission in the hands of those who are guiding it today.

(The material for this page was taken from Bethesda's Spring 1994 newsletter, which was in turn taken, verbatim in many places, from the column, "Reporter at Large" by Paul B. Beers. The original article appeared in the Patriot News on 12/11/75, and has been reprinted with the permission of Mr. Beers. It was adapted to reflect the current purpose of that newsletter and this page and also to bring it up-to-date. Our sincere thanks to Mr. Beers.)


Program accomplishments

Accomplishments for Fiscal Year Ending 6/30/2001

  • Over 60% of the graduates of out long-term recovery program remain drug-free and employed one year after graduation.
  • Served over 120,000 meals and provided 34,000 bed-nights of shelter.
  • Hundreds of men, women and children have come to Christ through this ministry.
Accomplishments for Fiscal Year Ending 6/30/2002
  • Nearly 97,400 meals served.
  • Beds slept in nearly 38,100 times.
Accomplishments for Fiscal Year Ending 6/30/2003
  • Over 85,000 meals served.
  • Beds slept in nearly 34,000 times.

Needs

Needs

    Food Needs:
  • Meats
  • Dairy Products
  • Vegetables
  • Spaghetti & tomato sauce
    Other Needs:
  • Boxes of tissues
  • Paper towels
  • Personal Care Items
  • Cold medicines - no alcohol content
  • Cough drops
  • Antibiotic creams
  • Deodorant
  • Disposable razors