It All Came Together in 1971


Bethesda (Aramaic for "Place of Mercy") began its vision of helping individuals with disabilities and their families in January 1971. When parents, individuals with disabilities and interested others gathered for the 1st Annual General Meeting. On May 13, 1971, there was great joy and gratitude to God as Bethesda was officially formed.


Bethesda’s first Board of Directors included Ed Loenen (President), Dietrich Ramm  (1st Vice President), Peter Jonkman  (2nd Vice President), Nel Molenaar  (Treasurer), Rits Vander Woude  (Recording Secretary), Willy Van Est  (Corresponding Secretary).


"Bethesda" comes from John 5 in the Christian Bible: Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of individuals with disabilities used to lie - the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?" "Sir," the man replied, "I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me." Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.


In the manner that Jesus showed mercy and compassion, the founding parents of Bethesda wanted to embrace Jesus' act of kindness in helping individuals with disabilities and their families - this central theme continues to be a focus of workers at the agency. Primarily, Bethesda supports individuals who have developmental disabilities.

Statement of Faith & Community Good Neighbour Commitment


Members, Board Directors, Employees, Volunteers and Direct-Care Contractors strive to implement Bethesda's vision in supporting individuals with disabilities and their families with a Christian spirit of love, compassion, respect and with excellence to the glory of God. As a community of believers, each person embraces Bethesda's Statement of Faith and the agency's Community Good Neighbour Commitment...


The "Good Samaritan Rule"

Become a Member


The "Parable of the Good Samaritan" is quite a familiar story, even for people who haven’t read the parable. People generally understand that the parable's central theme is to do good to their  neighbour, who is identified as someone in need. While this perception is true, there is a greater sense of what Jesus meant in telling his listeners the story.


The Good Samaritan was a person who showed mercy and who provided more than just "helping" the person, he provided a refuge for him. At the time the "Good Samaritan" went to the aid of the beaten man, he probably didn't realize the full measure of how involved he needed to be nor did he appear to be concerned about it. The Good Samaritan's frame of reference was to provide refuge, or in other words, to do whatever it took, within his abilities and resources, to meet the man's need. The man in need welcomed the Good Samaritan's unconditional help and entrusted himself to his care.


Bethesda's mission is to support people with disabilities and their families with the attitude and motivation like that of the Good Samaritan. Primarily, Bethesda supports individuals who have developmental disabilities.  In keeping with the "Good Samaritan Rule", Bethesda will act, within its abilities, to support persons with varying disabilities.


"Refuge" is synonymous with "support", "protection", "security", "shelter" and "haven". Refuge may be short-term (e.g. foster care, respite care) or it may be permanent (e.g. adoption, residential).

A Member is a person who is interested in supporting the work of Bethesda Christian Association and who has a personal faith in Jesus Christ as presented in our Statement of Faith.


You can fill out a online membership form on our Donations and Membership page here.... or call our Head Office at (604) 850-6604 or e-mail us at  to request a Membership package. Membership fee is $5 per individual and requires an annual renewal.


Your support as a Member enables Bethesda to:

• Helps to support individuals with disabilities and their families

• Strengthens Bethesda’s profile as a Christian service provider in British Columbia

• Entitles you to voting privileges on matters brought forward by the Board of Directors at the Annual General Meeting, including the election of Board Directors


As a Member, you are entitled to:

  • voting privileges for items presented at the Annual General Meeting in September or at Special Meetings,
  • receive regular updates describing Bethesda's work.


Thank you for your interest in Bethesda's work, it is gratefully appreciated.

Elected by the Membership, Bethesda's Board of 10 Directors govern the Association. Each Director serves for a 3-year period and can be re-elected for a second 3-year period. A Self Advocate also serves on the Board and is appointed by the Directors.


The Board meets regularly with its manager, the Executive Director, to review such information as necessary to ensure that the mission of Bethesda is being carried out throughout the agency. The Board is also involved in quality improvement initiatives and in futures planning. Directors highly value the input of individuals receiving services and their families.