Bethel UMC - 153 Years of Preaching the Gospel

Homecoming, August 4, 2013
In preparation for Homecoming we have asked for members to share their memories of Bethel. Thank you Vennie for sharing this wonderful list of memories!

Here are the thoughts that I had entered in my diary about church when I was 16/17 years old. (I'm 56 now.) Seems like I started off my Sunday entries the same each week with "went to church".

  • 1/7/73 – Went to church. Went to Sub-District Council Meeting. No church tonight because Buddy (Strickland) went to North Carolina.
  • 1/6/73 – Moma (Shirley Walden) and Gwen (Walden) cleaned the church.
  • 1/21/73 – We hired a Minister of Music (Jerry Ward).
  • 1/28/73 - Went to church. Jerry Ward makes me mad sometimes.
  • 2/25/73 - Went to church. We (the youth group – think we called ourselves the Sunshine Singers) sang "Pass it On" and "Put Your Hand in the Hand".
  • 3/4/73 - Went to church. Stayed for Administrative Board. Went to youth choir practice.
  • 3/8/73 – (Thursday) Went to choir practice. Joan (McElroy now) said they had about 25 streakers today at Clayton Junior College.
  • 3/25/73 - Went to church. Even sung in choir. We heard that Buddy is leaving in June (being moved to another church). That's horrible! I wish it weren't true.
  • 5/13/73 - I'm going to get a kitten from the preacher's fami-ly.
  • 5/20/73 - Went to Sunday school and church. We sang "The Lord's Prayer" this morning. We had the program for Sub-District. We sang.
  • 5/27/73 - I picked out my cat today. Our new preacher is coming Tuesday.
  • 5/30/73 - Turned 17.
  • 6/3/73 - The church went to Stone Mountain. It started raining when we were singing. The preacher and his family are leaving for North Carolina today.
  • 6/4/73 - We had vacation bible school and I have the 5th and 6th graders.
  • 6/21/73 - Well, our new preacher moved in (Joe McCombs). He's not like Buddy but then we didn't expect a miracle. I went to choir practice.
  • 7/1/73 - I went to church. I like our new preacher and his wife (Joyce). They are really sweet. We went singing at a Baptist youth revival. We had a Sub-District council meeting.
  • 8/5/73 - The church is 114 years old. We had a good time today just sitting around and eating. We played the organ in the church.

Vennie Walden

Bethel UMC - 150 Years of Preaching the Gospel

On Sunday, August 1, 2010 Bethel United Methodist Church of Stockbridge, Georgia celebrated its 150th Homecoming! From its humble beginnings in 1860, meeting under a brush arbor, to the present, Bethel has boldly preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ, providing ministry to the Fairview community, and in more current times has focused on global missions. Bethel members and friends were invited to homecoming, and they came from as far as Texas to celebrate. Kathryne Mitchell, Bethel’s longest standing member of 92 years, was in attendance not looking a day over 70!

150As the Worship Center filled with 300+ people, voices were raised to God in praise as the congregation sang "Love, Mercy, and Grace" and "Shall We Gather at the River." Several worshipers commented that it felt like being at a Billy Graham crusade! The moving of the Holy Spirit was incredible.  Bethel’s Pastor Lavell Sanders and the Worship Committee put together an order of worship that was a wonderful celebration of God’s blessing. Former Bethel pastor, Dr. Robert Brown, preached an inspiring and challenging message. His vocally-gifted wife, Denise, sang "His Eye is on the Sparrow." Present in the congregation was another former pastor from 1967, Tom (Reeves) Smith and his wife, Carolyn. God’s praises were sung by Bethel’s Men’s Quartet, the Chancel Choir, the Praise Band, and a trio of Godwin sisters who grew up under Bethel’s ministry. After the worship service, the traditional "Dinner on the Grounds" was attended in the Fellowship Hall by over 200 people.

The 150th Homecoming Team compiled a Memory Book which contained a collection of history, letters, photographs, and memories of Bethel. Ads were sold to area businesses to provide a complimentary copy to each Bethel family. Special Bethel 150th commemorative plates, mugs, cookbooks, and fans were also made available. 

A special focus for Homecoming was to generate funds for the Cemetery Trust Fund and the Sanctuary Mortgage Reduction Fund. Bethel members and friends who gave $150 to the Sanctuary Mortgage Reduction Fund (symbolic of Bethel’s 150 years) were invited to an Appreciation Dinner on Saturday night before Homecoming.  

Bethel’s 150th Homecoming has come and gone, and it has now become a part of Bethel’s history. The Body of Christ at Bethel United Methodist Church is set and ready to preach the Gospel of Christ until that wonderful day when Jesus returns for his church!

By Joan Thurman McElroy

Co-Chair, Bethel’s 150th Homecoming Team


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Bethel United Methodist Church  |  245 Fairview Rd  |  Stockbridge, GA 30281  |  770-474-2570