Pastor Darren W. Phelps (Pastor Darren) is the senior pastor/ founder. He was licensed to preach at age 15 at Allen AME Church, Queens NY. He was ordained at age 24 at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church, Petersburg VA. At age 25 Pastor Darren was called to the Pastor the Hickory Run Baptist Church, VA. After several years, He was called to pastor the Beverly Manor Baptist Church, VA. In 2008, he founded the Bethel Christian Church, DC with a focus on radical inclusivity – affirmatively welcoming of all people regardless of sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender identity or expression or economic situation.
Bethel is a vision-driven multicultural church, called to speak to this generation. We're a church where people can grow in Christ and become transformed so that they might transform their world. Bethel is affiliated with the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM), under the leadership of Bishop Yvette Flunder.
In 2011, Bethel DC made history by purchasing their “First Home” located at 2217 Minnesota Ave SE, Washington DC. In July 2013, Pastor Darren was appointed as the TFAM East Coast Episcopal Liaison- where he is responsible for overseeing churches, Pastors and lay leaders in the DC/ VA/ MD region.
Pastor Darren is passionate about developing a hub in the community where the church resides. He has a heart for all of God’s children whether gay, straight, black, white, transgender, bisexual, young or seasoned. Pastor Darren reaches through the walls of conventionalism and he is a strong voice for those who have been marginalized. Pastor Darren is a dynamic teacher and preacher that embraces community, diversity, justice, equality, worship, fellowship, inclusion and social action.
His pastoral leadership along with his administrative and enthusiastic preaching style makes him an outstanding strategist who implements both socio and ecclesiastical approaches to his pastoral and overall interpersonal methods. Pastor Darren has a successful track record in building productive relationships. (i.e. community, educational, political, and congregational) This man of God has the ability to interface with persons from all walks of life.
Pastor Darren has been an active member with Clergy for Marriage Equality and the Gertrude Stein Club (the DC affiliate of the National Stonewall Democrats). He has served on the planning committees for Capital Pride and Black Pride -DC, organizing LGBT-inclusive interfaith services and focusing on broader inclusion of communities of color. He stepped up as a leader with Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence Committee (GLOV) working to reduce violence against the LGBT community within DC. He has received many awards for his community service- the Prism Award, the Capital Pride DC Hero award, just to name a few.
Pastor Darren has spoken out at Transgender Day of Remembrance vigils, supported the DC AIDS Walk and organized for One Nation Working Together. He is also on the Host Committee and People of Color committee for the "Practice Spirit/ Do Justice" Creating Change conference, organized by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
Pastor Darren is a graduate of Virginia State University BA Education, MA Psychology. He completed further studies at Virginia Union seminary, Beulah Bible University, ITC Atlanta, and Capital Bible seminary. He is the proud father of two daughters and two grandsons.