History

A Church with a History of Service

  • 1828: Bethel organized
  • January 8, 1829: First verified meeting of  Bethel congregation
  • July 1829: First official minister, Thomas Espy, accepts call to Bethel
  • September 1829: First election of elders: Patrick Johnston, Robert Potts,
  • Alexander Brevard Jetton, Charles Mitchell
  • 1829: Rock wall built around cemetery
  • Summer 1830: First building erected with work done by congregation (a frame building which stood near the front of  the present sanctuary)
  • August 29, 1835: First known burial in church cemetery, Hannah E. Knox
  • 1856: Election and ordination of first deacons, S. M. Withers and John R. Knox
  • July 1895-December 1895: Present building erected with work done by congregation
  • January 17, 1896: First sermon delivered in present building by Rev. Dr. J. M. Grier, who served Bethel for 13 years
  • 1907: Bethel sends first missionary to Korea, Bess Knox Wilson
  • January 1939: The hut, originally called the community house, is built
  • September 1947: Wilson Knox ordained as elder, serving longer than any other
  • living Bethel elder 
  • July 20, 1952: Rev. John Edwin Wayland, Jr. (Didi), installed, beginning Bethel’s longest ministry along with his wife, Jane Puckett Wayland; on June 1, 1951, Rev. Wayland had begun his service to Bethel as a supply minister.
  • 1954: Cora Wayland, sister of Rev. Wayland, begins her 26 years of missionary work in Korea; Bethel’s support of Korean missions continues for many years through donations to Hanil Seminary
  • January 1955: Work begins on construction of a vestibule and steeple; heart pine from neighborhood is used to surround the steeple
  • 1967: Fellowship Hall and educational building are built, then enlarged in 1976
  • 1968: Gail Sides Knox becomes choir director serving until 1997
  • 1977-78: Congregation meets in Fellowship Hall while sanctuary is enlarged
  • March 26, 1978, Easter Sunday: first sermon in enlarged sanctuary
  • 1979: Carlita Hunter joins staff as first director of Christian education
  • 1982: House and land across the street from Bethel are purchased
  • September 4, 1983: Congregation votes to change elders and deacons to a rotating system
  • December 4, 1983: First female elder, Carolyn Nelson, elected 
  • July 29, 1990: Rev. Nathan Wheeler ordained as first associate pastor
  • August 1991: Eleanor Chamness called as director of Christian education, followed by
  • Mike Williams in 1994
  • June 1992: Megan Knox Ritchie becomes first female member raised in Bethel to be
  • ordained as a minister
  • December 13, 1992: Dedication of  Celeste McShane Gallent Family Life Center
  • December 1995: Bethel holds first annual barbecue for missions
  • 1996:  Robert Kennedy joins staff as music educator and serves as choir director
  • from 1998-2004
  • December 29, 1996: Rev. John E. Wayland, Jr., and wife Jane retire from their
  • Bethel ministry
  • 1997-July 1998: Rev. Dr. Neil McMillan serves as interim senior pastor
  • 1997-1999: Rev. Jim Cockerham (97-98) and Rev. Jim Sample (98-99) serve as interim associate pastors
  • August 9, 1998: Rev. Rob Hinman installed as senior pastor
  • 1998: Michael Northrup becomes Bethel’s first youth director followed by
  • Jeff Starnes (2001-03)
  • January 1, 2000: Rev. Jim Keegan begins ministry as associate pastor
  • February 1, 2000: Rev. Dallas Bradel begins ministry as associate pastor
  • May 2005: Adam Lowder becomes music director
  • May 15, 2005: Mark Morgan becomes youth director after serving part-time for two years
  • September 4, 2005: Rev. Rob Hinman leaves Bethel after accepting call to First Presbyterian Church of Lenoir
  • May 1, 2006 - April 2008: Rev. Dr. Lewis Johnson serves as interim senior pastor
  • June 1, 2008: Rev. Dr. William V. Cain becomes senior pastor
  • August 1, 2008: Jan Boswell called as director of Christian education
  • August 17, 2008:  Dr. Cain installed
  • July 1, 2009:  Leesa Gray becomes interim music director
  • July 1, 2009:  Gabe Swing called as director of youth ministries
  • October 18, 2009:  Bethel dedicated as a historical landmark
  • October 27, 2009: Leesa Gray becomes Director of Music Ministries