Bethel Church has seen changes of name, of location and of organization over its more than 200 years of existence. Even though the church was not constituted until 1816, it had a worship service and roll of regular members in 1776.
Our church has not always been called "Bethel Baptist Church". The earliest records available recognize our church, in 1816, as "The Second Bethel Church of Christ". After uniting with New Salem Church in 1851, the name was changed to "The United Baptist of Jesus Christ at New Bethel".
The members of Bethel Church have met in various buildings on various sites. In 1816, the house of worship was located on Thompson Creek. In 1824, a modern building with a stove and glass windows was constructed off Sanders Lane. The church records of 1868 state the place of worship as being on the Chaplin River. The first record of a building on the current site was in 1870. A larger more elaborate building was erected here in 1906, but was destroyed by fire on January 4, 1929. The present building was dedicated on November 17, 1929.
The organization of our church has also changed over the years. In 1865, Bethel withdrew from the South District Association and joined the Baptist Association. Four deacons were elected in 1876. Sabbath School started in 1884 and became Sunday School in 1896. Offerings for missions were taken since 1890, and a policy of Free Will Offerings was adopted in 1912. Preachings was only twice a month in 1902, however, full time preaching began in 1922.
Through all of these changes, we have a record of 48 pastors having served our church. In spite of over 200 years of change, the members of Bethel Church still agree with the following Articles of Constitution as recorded in the minutes of November 8, 1817:
#1 We believe the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God.
#2 We believe Jesus Christ to be equal and co-existent with the Father.
#3 We believe in the Holy Spirit and these three are one.
#4 We believe in the fall of man and man's utter inability to save himself.
#5 We believe in the necessity of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our dark benighted understanding.
#6 We believe in the imputed righteousness of Christ alone for our justification.
#7 We believe in the final preservation of the saints through grace to glory.
#8 We believe that the happiness of the righteous are eternal and the punishment of the wicked of the same duration.
V. B Pinkston