IT ALL BEGAN IN 1828 ...Like all pioneers, those who came to Indiana endured all the hazards of uncharted lands. With vision, foresight and a commitment to God, these early folk established “Meetings” in private homes (1828) that were to unfold as Bethel Methodist Church ( organized in 1832) – the oldest church still in existence in this area.
The first building to house the Bethel family was a log cabin, built in 1833 from native timber and located on the grounds of what is now the Bethel Cemetery. Rough hewn logs provided pews: a potbellied stove radiated heat while candles and lanterns gave forth light. A rock from the original foundation now serves as a centennial marker near the present building.
As the church family grew, a larger frame structure evolved from the log cabin in 1853. Forty years later, stained glass windows, an “updated heating system” and a bell tower were added. The first bell is now in the belfry of the present structure.
The facilities now used by the Bethel family were built in three stages. The sanctuary building was planned, erected, and paid for in 1905. Evening services were held beneath glimmering gas-lit chandeliers. Stirring revivals helped to convert and commit many to live and work for God.
The church continued to expand the building as the church family and Pike Township grew. The sanctuary building was planned, erected and paid for in 1905. Evening services were held beneath glimmering gas-lit chandeliers. In 1954, the first classrooms, restrooms and offices were added ( providing members with in-door plumbing!) In 1959, 8 more classrooms, and the lounge were added.
In 1968, the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church so the church became what it is today – the Bethel United Methodist Church – a family who worships, witnesses, serves and claims God in Jesus Christ.
Again the church family grew to the point that a new sanctuary was needed. The current sanctuary was completed in 1988 and the old sanctuary became “The Upper Room”- home of countless dinners, programs, Sunday school classes and neighborhood events. It has been undated, renovated and painted and now reflects the incredible beauty of both the original church family and the current Bethel family.
So now we had the church, but like most families, we still continued to grow. Bethel had nowhere in the church large enough for the entire congregation to come together to share programs and meals (something VERY important at B.U.M.C.!) The church especially wanted to have enough space for our youth – Bethel United Methodist Church needed to grow once more.
In the spring of 2010 we had the consecration of our new Family Life Center - a multi-purpose space large enough to host our entire congregation. This beautiful addition to the church adds meeting space; a huge kitchen; storage and additional restrooms. It is handicap accessible and available for use by the entire community.
Decedents of the early settlers, along with new “settlers”, continue to help make the Bethel United Methodist Church an example of loving Christian discipleship. “Bethel” means “house of God” and our doors are open to all. We invite you to come and find purpose, direction, strength and fellowship in the name of a God who “loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.”
congregation of faith
Bethel United Methodist Church