The History of Bethel UMC
The "Historical Record" of Bethel Church that follows is not a new document at all, but rather it is just another edition of a written history that was begun back in 1947 with updates in 1972, 1977 and an addendum in 1986.
That first history, preserved as a handwritten entry on the first pages of the church membership book in 1947 was the work of Doctor W.F. Dunkle and Mrs. Lilla Crowder Burns using old church and conference records. In 1972 Lucene Sims and Mrs. Lucille Bennett did additional research and updated the history thru 1972. Rev. Jesse Baker completed the history to 1977 in preparation for Homecoming that year and Faye Callaway and Thelma Royce prepared an historical summary for our 1986 Homecoming which provided additional insights.
The summary which Thelma and Faye prepared was, in a sense, a different type work than the others in that it presented some personal reminiscences gathered from individuals with long time associations with the Bethel community. This represented an interest which these two sisters have in the people and places of this area, where their family has lived so long.
With the belief that a history of Bethel should also be in part a history of the people and the community which both serve and are served by the church, this most recent update to the church history presents the earlier works essentially as they were originally prepared, but interspersed with some additions, in italics, which it is hoped will add to the interest, the information and the life of the Bethel story. Some of these additions come from the summary of Thelma and Faye, others have been provided by Thelma for this revision.
I have also added a few paragraphs to the end to carry forward the basic history regarding ministers, district and conference officials thru the present. We can hope that there will be continued efforts in the future not merely to record the "history" but more importantly the story of the church, the community and the people.
Phillip E. Brown
for Heritage Sunday
April 23, 1989
HISTORICAL RECORD OF
BETHEL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
From its beginning in 1834
to the Year ending October 12, 1947
The earliest recorded data of the beginnings of Methodism in what is now The Bethel Methodist Church Area is that in the summer of 1834 a camp meeting was held sometime in August on or near the banks of Bethel Pond near which Bethel Church now stands. The pastor of Trinity Methodist Church in Tallahassee, the Presiding Elder of the Tallahassee District and the pastor of the Gadsden Circuit conducted this camp meeting. Some results must have been obtained from this meeting for the next summer, in August 1835, another campmeeting was held in the same vicinity.
It is also known that before any church building was erected Methodist preachers held occasional, maybe regular, services in the homes of the neighborhood. Later on, services were held in a small log school house, the Frierson School, situated about a mile north of the present Bethel Church. In warm weather months, brush arbors provided a meeting place for church services. Evidently an organization was formed, for on March 17, 1847, Joseph Hale and his wife, Thirsa Hale, deeded to the "The Trustees of Bethel Methodist Church" two acres of land on which to erect a "Meeting House". The Trustees then were: Silas D. Allen (son-in-law of the Hales), John L. Mooring, Thompson F. Cocker, Council B. Allen, Martial Smith, Joseph L. Bryan, and Lewis Robertson, Evidently these Trustees had been duly elected or appointed by Bethel Church Quarterly Conference or by the Presiding Elder.
County land records and Census Reports indicate that the Allens, Mooring, Smith, Bryan and Robertson were early settlers of this neighborhood. No information was found on the Cocker family. It is possible that Thompson F. Cocker represented the Methodist Church. It is known that the Bryans (Bryant) and the Allens have family members buried in the Church Cemetery.
To the first "two acres" deeded by Joseph Hale and wife, additional acreage was added from time to time until a considerable plot of land is now held by Bethel Church and a large Cemetery has developed on this land. In this Cemetery are buried many persons from Bethel Community and from surrounding areas.
"With the first church building the cemetary, or graveyard as it was called then, was also established. A portion of it was set aside for the black people of the neighborhood. There were few slaves on the farms of this area. Most of the farmers were small land holders and not wealthy enough to own slaves. However, census reports show there were some and a burial place was designated for them at the new 'meeting house' graveyard."
The majority of the early settlers in this area of Leon County were from North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia. They come from areas with long established churches and to have a place of worship was one of their most important goals. In addition to our Methodist Church, there were at least two Baptist Churches in the neighborhood. The Lake Jackson Primitive Baptist Church which was located near the present Silver Lake Road and the Aenon Missionary Baptist Church, located in the vicinity of Aenon Church Road and Highway 20. The second Sunday of the month Bethel had church services and the Primitive Baptist on the fourth Sunday.
The first house of worship for the Bethel Congregation was a small log house located about a mile north of the present church. This house was soon outgrown. The next house of worship was of logs also. It was later taken down and a small frame church was built to take its place. It was located on the land deeded to Bethel Church by Joseph Hale and wife and was built on the site where the Sunday School rooms are located today.
The present church was started during the pastorate of Rev. D.G.E. McDaniel late in the summer of 1909. Mr. Orion C. Parker was the builder. Mr. Wescott Crowder, Mrs. Annie Ruth Hartsfield's father, helped with the building. Mr. Crowder said they made the roof so steep it would split a raindrop and it would never leak. This house remained "unsealed" inside until the summer of 1945 when Rev. W.F. Dunkle was pastor. The Board of Missions and Church Extension, aided by the generous help of Trinity Methodist Church in Tallahassee made it possible to complete and furnish the Bethel Church as it is today.
"Some of the pews were from the old church and were slotted benches. Some new pews were built and were made of wide heavy lumber. When the church was remodeled these old pews were given to a smaller church."
The furniture in Bethel Church constitutes one of the most interesting parts of its history. The Pulpit is the same one Bishop Joshua Soule used when he organized the Florida Annual Conference in February of 1845. No record of when or by whom it was built exists. Nor is there any record of how or when it came into the possession of Bethel Church. We do have from the writings of Joshua Knowles, pastor of Trinity in 1836, a description of the pulpit in the new Methodist Church on 200 Foot Street (Park Avenue) and Boulevard as a "queer looking semi-circular pulpit". Whatever its origin, it is an invaluable part of Bethel Church history. The Chancel Rail was given to Bethel by Trinity Church in the year 1946. It was part of the furniture of Trinity Church from an early date in its history (1845). The communion Table was also presented to Bethel Church by Trinity Church in the year 1946. It was acquired by Trinity Church in 1899. Two of the Pulpit Chairs were also given by Trinity Church. They were acquired by Trinity in the year 1903. A stove was given by an unknown donor. They were formerly a part of the furnishing of one of the chapels at Dale Mabry Field. The piano and organ were also given. They have been in the church a long while.
The Community Center was projected by the Youth Fellowship Group during the year 1946-47. They have raised all the money thus far expended on it and have done much of the work connected with its construction. It is intended to be used for community and church purposes. Mrs. Lilla Crowder Burns and her daughters gave the land on which it is being built.
When Bethel began it was part of Leon Circuit which at that time took in all of Leon County except Tallahassee; all of Gadsden County, all of Jefferson County and all of Wakulla County. This status continued for some years but gradually, as other circuits were formed, it was reduced to Leon County and a few nearby places in Gadsden and Wakulla Counties.
At various times Bethel Church has been part of Hinson Circuit, Midway Circuit, and Woodville Circuit. For awhile it was a two church pastorate composed of Lake Jackson and Bethel. Then for awhile it was a two point charge composed of Bethel and Boulevard Church in Tallahassee, now the Emmanuel Baptist Church. It was part of the Woodville Circuit when the present church was erected in 1909. It is now (in 1947) a part of Leon Circuit composed of Bethel Church, Chaires Church, Lloyd Church, Miccosukee Church, Pisgah Church, and Springfield Church.
The Bishops who have presided over the Florida Conference since its organization at Trinity Church, February 6, 1845, by Bishop Joshua Soule, are:
Joshua Soule (1845), James O. Andrew (1846), William Capers (1847), James O. Andrews (1848), William Capers (1849), James O. Andrews (1850), Robert Paine (1851), James O. Andrews (1852), William Capers (1853), James O. Andrews (1854), William Capers (1855), James O. Andrews (1856), John Early (1857), James O. Andrews (1858), H.H. Cavanaugh (1859), George F. Pierce (1860-61), James O. Andrews (1862-64), George F. Pierce (1865), Holland N. Mctyiere (1866).
The Florida Conference entirely separated from Georgia in the year 1866. Since then the Florida Conference has included only Florida and all of the State except that portion west of the Apalachicola River. This has always been and still is in the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
The Bishops since the Florida Conference was separated from Georgia have been:
George F. Pierce (1867,1874,1877,1880), Davis S. Doggett (1869, 1879), W.M. Wightman (1868, 1870,71,75-6), Enoch M. Marvin (1873), McTyiere (1882), Cavanaugh (1883), John C. Keener (1884, 1890), Linus Parker (1885), W.H. Hargrove (1886), Eugene R. Hendrix (1887), Joseph S. Key (1888), Charles B. Galloway (1889, 1908), Wallace Duncan (1891,95-7), John C. Granberry (1892), O.F. Fitzgerald (1893, 1902), Atticus O. Haygood (1894), Warren A. Candler (1898-1900, 1905, 1918, 1921), A. Coke Smith (1903), Alphous W. Wilson (1903-4), H.C. Morrison (1906-7, 1915-6), John C. Kilge (1910), Elijah E. Hoss (1911), Collins Denny (1917), Wm. N. Ains-worth (1922, 25), Hoyt M. Dobbs (1926, 29), John M. Moore (1930, 33), Sam R. Hay (1934,38), Paul Kern (1939-40), Arthur J. Moore (1941, 1947).
The men who have served Bethel Church as Presiding Elders (District Superintendents) since the formation of the District are:
John L. Jerry (1838-40), Peyton P. Smith (1841-44), John W. Yarbrough (1845-47), R.H. Houron (1848-49), John W. Mills (1850- 54), Simon Houron (1854-55), Simon Peter Richardson (1855-59), James Glover (1860-64), Thomas H. Capers (1865-66), W.F. Easterling (1868-69), A.J. Wooldridge (1870-71), J.A. Wiggins (1872), Samuel Woodbury (1873-76), Charles Dullwood (1878-80), Charles E. Dewman (1881-84), E.H. Harmon (1885-89), S.E. Philyss (1899-93), T.W. Tompkies (1894-97), A.E. Householder (1898-1902), John C. Ley (1903-4), H.G. Christian (1895). From 1895 to 1906 the list is not complete. J. Edgar Wilson (1906-9), L.W. Moore (1910-13), J.P. Hilburn (1914-15), G.S. Roberts (1916-18), A.E. Householder (1919-22), L.D. Lowe (1923-25), A.H. Cole (1926-30), F.E. Steinmey-er (1931-34), Finley J. Patterson (1935-38), Paul A. Fletcher (1938-43), Ed J. Pendergrass (1944-46), J. Withers Blake (1946-).
The list of pastors who have served Bethel Church starts with 1838. But it is certain that faithful men were pastors from 1834, when it was known a campmeeting was held near the present site. The available list is as follows:
John W. Yarbrough (1838), Alexander McPherson (1839), Isaac Woody (1840) who died during the year, William Choice (1841), R.R. Houren (1842), John Carter and John C. Penny (1843), Charles Woodbury (1844), James Harris (1845), J.J. Richards (1846), Ira L. Potter (1847), John W. Mills (1848), John L. Jerry and Dr. Adams (1849), Alexander Graham (1850), Samuel Woodbury (1851-52), Thomas Gardner (1853), James Peeler (1854), G.W. Pratt (1855-57), L.W. Duval (1858-59), R.H. Howren (1860), T.R. Weaver (1861-2), Simon P. Richardson (1863-4), John C. Ley (1865-6), Samuel Woodbury (1867-8), A.J. Woolridge (1869), J.W. Wiggins (1870), E.L.T. Blake (1871).
From 1871 to 1880 the list of pastors is not available. At the conference in 1880 Rev. Ira S. Patterson was made pastor of Leon Circuit of which Bethel Church was then made a part. He served from 1881-82. Then W.D. Gray was appointed pastor from 1882-85. During this time he also taught the local school. A.M. Mann was pastor in 1896, W.S. Weir (1897), W.S. McMannahan (1898-1902), Isaac Munden (1903), D.G.B. McDaniel (1907-09) as supply pastor. During his pastorate, the present church was built (1909). E.B. Edwards was supply pastor for 1910. C.E. Boland was supply pastor for 1911, and J.F. Steward for 1912.
At the Annual Conference in 1912, Bethel Church was joined with Boulevard Church in Tallahassee and T.W. Tomkies was appointed pastor for 1913. At the 1913 Conference Bethel, was separated from Boulevard and put back on the Woodville Circuit and left "to be supplied" by J.D. Williams for 1914. At the 1914 Conference, Bethel was placed on Midway Circuit with W.H. Smith as pastor. In 1916, Midway Circuit was abolished and Woodville Mission established with Bethel as a part of it. Fred B. Langford was the pastor for 1917-19. At the Conference of 1919, the Waukeenah Mission was formed and Bethel Church placed on it and "left to be sup-plied". Mr. Duckworth served this mission for 1919. At the Conference of 1920 Bethel Church was taken from Waukeenah Mission and placed back on Woodville Mission with D.G. McDaniel as "supply pastor" for the years 1919-21. It was during the last year of his pastorate that Bethel was re-turned to Leon Circuit, to which it has belonged ever since; services were discontinued at Bethel for eleven months. C.C. Smith, a layman from Trinity, supplied Bethel Church for the next ten years and more credit belongs to him for his heroic and saving labors during this time than he is ever likely to receive. But for him, so far as we can now see, Bethel Church would have ceased to be.
The pastors following C.C. Smith were:
J.B. Gilbert (1931-32), W.V. Dukes (1933), C.C. Smith (1933-34), Frank Robinson (1934-35), D.W. Ferrell (1935-36), W.G. Strickland (1937), W.L. Windsor (1938-40), C.C. Martin (1941-43), W.F. Dunkle (1944-47).
It was during the pastorate of W.F. Dunkle that the Church was finished and refurnished. Later the concrete porches and steps were built. Later still a flue was built, a stove installed and the wiring and light fixtures put in.
It is singularly unfortunate that no list of either the Charter members or of the Officials is available for this history of Bethel Church. It is certain that Silas Allen, John Mooring, Thompson Cocker, Council Allen, Martial Smith, Joseph Bryan, and Lewis Robertson were the first Trustees, and that to them the first property was deeded on March 17, 1847.
If only we could know who were the faithful stewards and Sunday School Superintendents, the first class teachers, the Epworth League Presidents, and the Woman's Missionary Society presidents, what a roster of devotion and of heroic service we should have! Blessings on them! Being dead, they yet speak.
Out of all that devoted and heroic past only one remains alive -- Sister Lilla Crowder Burns. What Bethel Church owes to her faith and devotion, and to the faith and devotion of her family, none but God knows. May we who are here today (1947) and may those who come after us be as true and as faith-ful and as devoted to Christ and to Bethel Church as they have been.
Membership of the church in 1947 is thirty-nine active members and twen-ty-one inactive members.
History Continued from 1947 to Present (October 1972)
Bishops of the Florida Conference during this period include:
Arthur J. Moore (1947-1948, 1959), finishing year for Bishop Branscomb who passed away, Roy H. Short (1949-1952), John Warren Branscomb (1953-Jan. 1959), James W. Henley (1960-1972), and Joel B. McDavid (1972- ).
The list of District Superintendents for the Tallahassee District during this period of time include:
J.W. Blake (1947-48), J.A. Tolle (1950-55), Shuler Peele (1956-61), Robert C. Holmes (1962-65), William W. Roughton (1966-68), Robert B. Chapman Jr. (1969- ).
Faithful in God's vineyard have been the pastors throughout the history of Bethel. The ministers assigned to Bethel in this period include:
W.F. Dunkle (1947-48), L.E. Herndon (1949-50), James Flowers (1951- 52), T.J. Northcutt, Jr. (1953-55), O.B. Allen (1956-57), Lamar Prater until Sept. 1958.
In October 1958, W. Calvin Williams found himself as the new minister of Bethel. A recent graduate of seminary he came "seeing" a vision of Bethel's future and promptly adopted the slogan, "Bethel Methodist Church, the Church with the Bright Future." With his physical eyes he was blind, but with his spiritual eyes he beheld much.
He worked, he dreamed, he planned, he telephoned, and he prayed for this vision to come true. During the years he was here, 1958 until his death in December 1963, the Sunday School grew, church membership grew, and conference dues were paid. In addition the members and friends of Bethel completed the interior of the Sunday School rooms and the Youth Center and furnished them. The church building was remodeled on the inside. The men laid the oak floor, the ladies finished and waxed it. New pews were purchased and carpet laid. The walls were painted and the pulpit area of the church decorated. An organ was given to the church.
The dream was there to remodel the front of the sanctuary to the point that plans were drawn. That dream became a reality under the leadership of John Wolfe (1968).
Another vision Brother Williams had for Bethel was to build a parsonage. The last act performed by him as pastor of Bethel was to supervise the clearing of the lot where the parsonage now stands. His widow, Lucene, was appointed as pastor of Bethel at the time of his death, December 1963, and stayed until June 1965. Under her leadership the parsonage was built, furnished and the pastor began living in it. In January 1965 Bishop James Henley dedicated this parsonage to Brother Williams and his memory lives as Bethel continues to be a bright light of leadership for God.
One could say that Brother Williams' dreams had come to pass, but the story is not complete to record only the material achievements. Several men in the congregation were encouraged to participate in the lay speakers program. During the last few months of his life and ministry, Brother Williams had led several people to think seriously about answering their call to full-time Christian service. This prayer was answered in the following ways: His widow, Margaret Lucene Kirland Williams, went into the ministry in December 1963; Paul Morris had his ministerial license restored to him in January 1964, and was appointed to full-time ministry in June 1964. Homer Norman entered college in 1965 and shortly thereafter was appointed as student pastor. Today he is in seminary (October 1972) and pastor of a nearby church. A lay speaker, Howard Almand, yielded to his call to the ministry and in June 1965 was appointed as a pastor.
That brings us to one other with whom Brother Williams prayed and talked many times -- our present pastor, John Booth. After graduating from seminary, Brother Booth received a full-time pastoral appointment in June 1971. He came as our pastor in August 1972.
This list does not include the musicians, teachers, and lay persons and prayer warriors who have been a witness for God and Christ through their life and testimony. But there have been many. "Your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28) W. Calvin Williams saw a vision -- Bethel Methodist Church -- the Church with the Bright Future.
From December 1963 to June 1965 Lucene Williams was pastor of Bethel. In addition to her leadership in building and furnishing the parsonage, she urged the lay speakers to keep busy, and was excited about those who were going into the ministry. She did a lot of work with the children of the church.
In 1965 Frank Welch came as the pastor. During his year here he organ-ized the W.S.C.S. and kept the work of the lay ministry going.
1966 found Robert S. Barefield in the parsonage at Bethel as the minister. Under his leadership the Men's Fellowship was organized, the lay ministry was encouraged, and work with the children highlighted his ministry.
Dana L. Hamrick was the pastor in 1967. He was influential in keeping the lay ministry of Bethel busy.
John Wolfe came to Bethel in 1968 and stayed until 1970. He came as a student minister with a heart full of love for God and His people. Not only did he have a dream for Bethel, the Church with the Bright Future, but from the very start he prayed, he visited, and won the love of the people. With his leadership the congregation began the great project of remodeling and adding to the church. With Jeanie Keel as Chairman of the Building Committee and Mary Monfort and Jo Palmer as her assistants the whole interior was remodeled leaving the beautiful old windows. New lights were put in, and air conditioning and heat were installed. The pews, altar rail, communion table and pulpit were refinished. The new narthex was added, with entrance and walkway built. The people of Bethel will always be thankful to God and grateful to John Wolfe for being such a good Shepherd.
Richard K. Walker III came as Bethel's minister in 1971. In his quiet understanding manner he went about the business of the church and it was our privilege to be with him as he led us and as he grew in "wisdom and stature with God and man". He presented to the church a beautiful desk for the pastor's study. Rick received more members in our church than any other pastor.
Our present pastor, John Booth, came to us in August 1972. He brings to us an example of God's love in leadership, concern, planning, praying, and preaching. We look forward to a growing congregation in numbers of persons, and in spiritual growth as he leads us.
Richard Fife, his wife Carol, children (David, Karen, and Susan) came to Bethel in June 1973. Richard brought to our church a ministry rich in love and concern for the church's needs and for each of us.
He saw the future of the church in the lives of our children and gave special guidance to them. Each Sunday he had the children's sermon, with the children gathered around him at the altar. He organized the Sunday afternoon activities for the youth and children, which included religious instruction and recreation. This activity remains an important part of the church life of the youth and children.
Richard organized the acolyte program for the children which continues to give our young children an opportunity to be a part of the church services.
During Richard Fife's ministry the church purchased the organ and new carpeting for the sanctuary. Choir robes were given to our church by the First Christian Church, Tallahassee, from whom the organ was purchased.
Richard and Carol Fife gave of themselves to us with full measure.
On this Homecoming Day, October 9, 1977 Jesse Baker is our pastor. Jesse, his wife Fay, daughter Vera, sons Bert and Kenneth, came to our church in June 1975. An immediate need of our church was the revitalization of the Sunday School. From an enrollment of 12 in the summer of 1975 there is now an enrollment of 49, with every class staffed and an average attendance of 32.
A Bicentennial Homecoming in 1976 saw our pastor and his family and other members of the church dressed in colonial costume. New innovations in worship by our present pastor bring new life and vigor to church services.
As plans are made for this Homecoming a historical pictorial display is being collected by Phillip Brown and N.V. McElvar. This will add to the history already written. Mrs. Thelma Royce is "filling in" the details surrounding the early history of Bethel church. Bethel continues to share a vision of former pastors and faithful church members that the future is filled with hope and promise for Bethel church and her ministry to the community around her.
History continued to April 1989
The Bishops of the Florida Conference since 1972 have been:
Joel B. McDavid (1972-80), Earl G. Hunt, Jr. (1980-1988) and H. Hasbrouck Hughes, Jr. (1988-).
The list of District Superintendents for the Tallahassee District during this period of time include:
Robert B. Chapman Jr. (1969-1975), Alfred B. Vaught (1975-1981), Thomas G. Mitchell (1981-1987) and Charlene P. Kammerer (1987-).
Leslie Jackson and his wife Addie came to Bethel in 1978. We are grateful to Rev. Jackson for his handiwork in providing the storage counter in the Youth Lounge/Library and in insulating and paneling the parsonage walls. Mrs. Jackson's talent on the organ was appreciated by all. It was a casual comment of Addie's about how nice it would be to have a bell to call people in that resulted in the placement of the bell in front of the church, although it wasn't acquired until after they had left.
The coming of Russell Bean, his wife Aneta and children Rusty (Russell jr.), Jim, Tom, and Cyndy in 1979 brought an automatic surge in membership. But Russell and his family brought much more than that, including a new liveliness to the church property. There seemed to always be something going on. While Tom was likely to be found with his pole down at Bethel pond, Rusty and his dad were busy keeping the family carpool running.
Rev. Bean will be most gratefully remembered though for his prodding the congregation to act upon the looong discussed plans for building a new fellowship hall. From the drive for contributions, making use of a concrete block in the narthex to receive donations, to the call from the pulpit to get the work started the next Saturday, Russell was probably the only one who never doubted that the project would be successful.
With men, women and children all having a hand in the digging of the trenches for the foundation, raising the walls, placing the roof trusses, laying the floor and shingling the roof, it was a project in which all took part with pride. While Delma Monfort served as contractor, retired bridge-builder Wm. Bennett supervised the work and brought in enough experienced workers to see that things were done right. The building was begun early in 1980 but the work, which progressed on a pay-as-you-go basis, was not completed until 1982. (Does anybody have a record of dates for the stages of construction?) The dedication was held in the spring of 1983 with Bishop Earl G. Hunt in attendance.
T. Glenn Mitchell and his wife Gail came to Bethel for the year 1982-83. Glenn, the son of District Superintendant Thomas G. Mitchell, exhibited a sensitivity in his first ministerial assignment that seemed unusual for his youth. Glenn and Gail brought innovation to the programs they introduced here. The inter-generational Sunday School classes which they led were well attended and we well remember the occasions when they shared their talents for interpretive dance.
In 1983, Ray Honaker came to Bethel after spending some time as an announcer for WFSU. Although Ray, his wife Dorothy and grand-daughter Amy had looked forward to settling down here, the opportunity to return as minister of Matacumbe U.M.C. in the Florida Keys that he called "home" led him to leave in 1984.
David McKelder served as minister in 1984-85. For David, wife Helen and daughter Rachel, it was a sort of "homecoming" as well because Dave had been a member at Bethel from 1979-81, leaving here to become a student minister at Miccossukee U.M.C. David will be remembered for the spirit of the "circuit rider" which he brought to the pulpit at Bethel.
Since 1985 Bethel has been blessed by the energy, talent, love and dedication which Joseph R. Stiles, his wife Barbara and daughter Jennie have brought to this, his first ministerial assignment since responding to a long felt call to full-time Christian service.
Perhaps foremost in the message which Joe has brought to us has been a call to service not just within the local church but through it to the community. The fish fry, pilau and spaghetti dinners have become not just local church but community events. A halloween carnival that had become a neighborhood tradition at the home of Donnie Abbott has been held the past two years on the Bethel grounds as a gift to the community. The fellowship hall has been used to hold neighborhood meetings concerning civil issues. Taken together, these represent considerable progress towards achieving the goal of becoming the "visible Christian Center of the Community".
Barbara has worked patiently and diligently to build the music programs here at Bethel. We have seen the children grow appreciably in their abilities to present significant musical programs.
While much has been accomplished since Joe and Barbara arrived four years ago, we have really only begun to re-establish the presence of Bethel in the life of the community which it enjoyed in the early years of its existence.
The words which Thelma Royce and Faye Callaway placed at the end of their historical summary in 1986 seem appropriate for closing this edition as well.
This is a small part of the history of this old church. Hundreds have worshipped here before us and hopefully, hundreds will in the future. From the first Camp Meeting in 1834, to the small frame church, to the new building in 1909 with its tall roof, to this day 155 years later, people are still gathering to Glorify The Name of The Lord, To Bless His Holy Name and To Sing Praises Unto Him...for...GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD! AMEN!