The First 100 Years
Bethel's First 100 Years
A quick check of Wikipedia indicates that the City of Worthington was founded in 1803, Dublin in 1810, and Columbus in 1812, but did you know that Bethel United Methodist Church had its beginnings in 1842? About twenty-five worshippers first met in an old distillery in the area, but soon moved their meeting site to a barn at Kenny and Francisco Roads.
In 1848, the group purchased a half acre of land at Kenny and Bethel Roads, and in 1853 a 30 X 50' building was completed under the ministerial guidance of The Reverend Uriah Heath. The church was first lighted by eight candles, but soon the candles gave way to four hanging kerosene lamps that were subsequently replaced with gasoline lanterns. The church was heated by a large stove for many years but the stove was finally replaced with a furnace.
At that time, Bethel was a part of the Worthington Circuit. In addition to the Bethel congregation, groups in Worthington, Gardner, Asbury, Fletcher, Mifflin, Stratford, Clintonville, and McKendree were on that circuit. The minister traveled by horseback to the different locations so, needless to say, he didn't preach at every church every Sunday.
Also, in 1853, a Bible study class was formed from which our present-day Sunday school evolved. Initially, Sunday school (or Sabbath School as it was called then) met only during the summer months, but when Bethel Road was extended to the Scioto River Road, attendance increased substantially and Sunday school became a year round offering.
In 1877, the Hocking Valley Railroad laid a track about 75 feet from the church's front door. The noise from passing trains was deafening and the ministers would have to stop preaching until the trains passed.
Almost immediately, the congregation began the process to relocate, but it wasn't until 1918 when the Perry Township school board decided to sell two one-room schools houses (one frame and one brick) located 200 yards west of the existing church, that church relocation actually began to take shape. The school buildings were sold at public auction. When Will Henderson, representing the Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church, bid $800 for the two buildings and the site on which they were located, all other bidding ceased.
In March 1919 the existing church building was moved to its new site facing Bethel Road and joined on the north to the frame school house. The cost for the remodeling was off-set by $600 that came from the sale of the Fletcher church. Bethel also received the church benches from the Fletcher Church.
The old brick school building was remodeled at a later date and was used by many organizations for meetings and activities (The Refectory Restaurant now occupies that site.)
Bethel celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1942. Many of the traditions that were begun in its first century of its existence are still being honored today at BUMC. The first 100 years were only the beginning of things to come. Our heritage became our pathway to the future as we fulfill our mission of Discovering Christ, growing together, and reaching and serving others through God's love
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