History of Bethel UMC

 

Sometime during the Spring of 1869, the pioneer settlers of Adamsville met in the old Green School house on Greens Ferry Road (which is now Gordon Road-at the junction of Bolton Road), for the purpose of organizing a Methodist Church.  W. J. Wardlaw was sent as first Pastor to assist them. The majority of the settlers joined in with the work and the church became known as Bethel Methodist Church.

ChurchHistoryThey held church in the school house until early spring of 1875 when a storm hit Adamsville and destroyed the school house.  It was rebuilt immediately, but moved to a more logical place to meet the spiritual and educational demands of the people.  A.G.G. Howell deeded the property to Bethel Church to be used only for school and church purposes.

In 1900, the Bethel congregation built a sanctuary on a hilltop near the junction of Gordon Road – now Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Bolton Road. This church building remained the site of Bethel congregation until 1928, when the growth in church membership to 169 necessitated a larger sanctuary on a bigger site.  The church was eventually moved to Del Mar Lane where it continued to grow.

By 1963, the Adamsville community was undergoing much racial transition, and members of Bethel began to move away from the area. Thus in 1963, the congregation began to lay plans for a new and larger church. They partnered with the Fulton County Board of Education and a deal was struck whereby two church members offered four acres of land to the Board for the building of a school if they would deed part of this land to the Bethel congregation to be a site church. The new church was located in the triangle bounded by Del Mar Lane, Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Brownlee Road. Considerable improvements were made to this property which was sold in 1964.  The District Superintendent of the Atlanta West District, of which Bethel was a part, assisted with finding the present location on New Hope Road as a new church Site. Construction was started in 1964.

On Sunday, February 5, 1965, the first service was held in the new church and Rev. Fred L. Shoenberger was pastor. In 1969, Rev. Judson Hodges was pastor and the first to reside in the parsonage on Loch Lomond Trial.

The Service of Dedication for the present sanctuary was held Sunday, January 6, 1974 under the leadership of Bishop William R. Cannon and Pastor F. Maxwell Wall, Jr.

In 1978, Rev. Emile Ennis was appointed as the first Black pastor of Bethel. Under his leadership, the church grew with strong choirs and youth programs. Also, pews were installed in the current sanctuary to add permanence to the worship service. Since Rev. Ennis, eight Black pastors have served Bethel.

Rev. Dr. Michael D. Stinson has served Bethel since 2012. Under Rev. Stinson, the physical plant has been improved with monitors in the sanctuary, a new organ, a new stove, and a new icemaker. Bethel has received grants to establish a lactation room and a community garden. Bethel also received a grant to improve the worship experience. Currently, Bethel is moving forward as “A church in unity reaching out to the community with the G.O.S.P.E.L.” Part of reaching out to the world community includes mission trips to Staten Island, NY; Haiti; Aurora, NC; Sandy Hook, CT; Kenya; and the Dominican Republic. Reaching out to the local community includes support of the South West Ecumenical Emergency Assistance Center (SWEEAC) and Smart Lunch Smart Kids, and trips to the Trinity House Missions, Quality Living Services, Ashbury Harris Epworth Towers, and the Bethlehem Center.

We also reach out to the community with the joy of God by inviting high school and college choirs and community bands to worship with us. In the last two years Westlake High School, Tri-Cities High School, Pebblebrook High School, and Benjamin E. Mays High School have thrilled us. Spelman College Glee Club, Morehouse College Glee Club, Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society, Rust College A’ Cappella Choir, Winston Salem State University Singing Rams, and the Metropolitan Atlanta Community Band have lifted our spirits in song. Over the next year, new performers include Tri-Cities High School Wind Ensemble, North Atlanta High School Bel Canto Singers and Philharmonic Orchestra, Tuskegee University Golden Voices Concert Choir, and Pierce County Young Adult Choir.

We are living up to our vision statement so that all will know that, “God is love. God loves you. We want to show you God’s love.”