“The money,” Al Bethea jokingly answers when asked why he became a pastor. Like many, Al was brought into ministry through the Lord’s call, but he was first a Staff Sergeant in the Marine Corps for eight years until he was radically saved.
Al described himself as a “typical” Marine. He enjoyed partying, and although everything seemed okay because of his success, on the inside, Al was miserable. After attending a promotion party, he got so drunk that he was sick and spent the night in his truck. Around 3 AM, he remembers saying “Oh, God” and began praying without truly realizing what he was doing. At that time, God repeatedly told Al, “This isn’t what I have for you. There’s so much more.” From then on, Al began “chasing the more.”
A favorite scripture of his, Proverbs 12:1 (NIV) states, “whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” Al shares, “This scripture humbles and reminds us that we always need to learn. If not, we are being stupid with our walk.” After God’s revelation, Al began attending church and “wasn’t looking back.” He eventually fell in love with the Church of God. During this time, he heard his now-wife, Tara, singing during worship, and he fell in love immediately (although he never let her know that). He later helped with teens and chaperoning events until he was eventually asked to help teach. In 2000, after being credentialed, he entered full-time ministry as an associate youth pastor.
Later, he was invited by Mike Pickett, pastor of Southgate Church in Moore, OK, to PH training in Alpha Conference. Afterwards, in 2006, Al transferred to Alpha Conference and has pastored the Flomaton Pentecostal Holiness Church in Alabama (Alpha Conference) for the last 10 years. His wife and daughters join him as well: his wife, Tara is the worship pastor; his oldest daughter is entering ministerial study; and his youngest daughter, who was born with Down syndrome, has helped him and others overcome challenges with special needs while bringing out the best in people. Al was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Alpha Conference in 2021, and in 2023, he was elected for the same office during the 2023 Alpha Quadrennial Conference. Jason Beiler, Alpha Conference Superintendent shares, “Pastor Al is a dear friend and a great leader. I am thankful and blessed to have him as a pastor in the Alpha Conference. He is highly valued by his Alpha family, which was evident at our Quadrennial Conference in July when he was re-elected as the Assistant Superintendent by acclamation. We as a conference are grateful for his leadership. What I love most about Pastor Al is his desire to be led by the Holy Spirit and to exalt and proclaim Christ in all he does.”
While his most important job is being a husband and father, as a pastor, Al focuses on leading others. He shared that every single salvation is a highlight of his ministry. He also appreciates the opportunity to train and launch others in ministry. He especially has a heart for those he can empower when they feel they have nothing to give.
Throughout his experience, Al has discovered and continues to believe the truth shared in Hebrews 4:12 (NIV): “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Even with severe depression and chronic pain as a disabled veteran, God has always given Al hope, supernaturally and through the Word, in the darkest moments.
Al maintains, “The Lord provides everything we need in our lives. Even if we cannot find it yet, we must remember to properly apply the Word of God, and our lives will be changed forever.”