The congregation that eventually became Bethel Church was formed as a Methodist Society in 1780, and that Bishop Francis Asbury was its establishing preacher.
The oldest available records indicate certain members having been received into Bethel Church in 1783 and 1784.
There are no early records which indicate precisely where and in what type of facility Bethel’s congregation first met. However, there did exist in the 1950’s, a deed which indicated the church’s acquisition of property, dated October 17, 1808.
A one-room log church, constructed of logs hewn and hauled to the site by members of the church, was erected on that property in 1820. Around 1835, the trustees of the church acquired more property and erected a second church building, which served the congregation until the next sanctuary building was completed in 1923.
Construction of the next sanctuary building was begun in 1922. Services were first held in our sanctuary during October 1923. Much of the material and labor were donated by members, but the cost of the building was still about $35,000. The hard times of the early 1930’s made paying for the building difficult, but these were “faith folk” and the church was finally paid for and dedicated around 1935.
There are no records to help us determine when Bethel’s annual camp meetings originated. It is believed that they pre-date the civil war. Families came from far and near with their servants, stoves, food, cows, and chickens. They were tenting on Bethel’s campground for a week of religious services. Four times a day during that week they would be called to services by the blowing of a trumpet. Just as we do not know exactly when camp meetings originated, we do not know when they ended.
Bethel’s Homecoming Sunday (camp meeting) is still celebrated in the arbor on the 2nd Sunday in August, the same as the original camp meeting Sunday was celebrated. The arbor was built (circa 1830) when the church alone could not hold the people who attended the camp meetings in August. The arbor was listed in the national register of historic places on May 23,1997, and was dedicated on homecoming Sunday August 10,1997.
The parsonage was consturcted in 1948, and has housed Bethel’s ministers in the intervening years. The old fellowship hall, now the Taylor Youth Building, was opened on October 25,1958.
Many discussions about the need for more church school rooms led, in the late 1970s, to the establishment of a building fund. On Homecoming Sunday, August 1987, our educational building was dedicated. It was paid for before it was ever completed.
As Bethel’s congregation increased, the need for a large, more accommodating fellowship building was evident. On November 24,1996, ground was broken for a new fellowship hall. The new fellowship building, Asbury Hall, was dedicated on November 14, 1999.
In 2006 we began construction on a new sanctuary. It was completed and we held our first service there on December 23, 2007. We thank God every day for the blessings that we’ve received from this project and pray that our community will be changed by our growth.
But buildings do not make the church. Rather the members are the power of the church in their dedication to their faith and service.