“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”, Matthew 6:33
This is the verse we stand on at Bethany, because we are committed to seeking God first, He is pouring out his blessings on this church. Bethany is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, and though we are proud of that fact, we are first and foremost a Christ-centered church seeking Him first. Our sole purpose for existence is to serve the One whose name is above every name. All of our ministries are geared toward loving Him and sharing Him with others. We are a church that is alive because we serve a Savior who is Alive! What an exciting time to be part of a growing body of believers with a unified goal of knowing Him!
God is blessing our church in the areas of spiritual growth and numerical growth. Bethany Baptist Church has a rich heritage and an even greater future inheritance as we seek to serve Jesus. It is a tremendous honor and privilege to be your pastor and an even greater honor to be a part of what God is doing in our church. My heart’s desire is to serve God by serving you, to minister to one another and by working to see lost souls come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Some years prior to 1868, a group left the Primitive Baptist Church to form a new church. Services were held in a log cabin belonging to W. H. Stokes on what is now known as the Billy Williams farm with Rev. George Stapleton serving as pastor. October 28, 1867, Elizabeth McPhail conveyed by deed, two acres of land, 1/4 reserved for burial ground, to Bethany Baptist Church. On May 22, 1876, Cassandora Wood conveyed to the church three acres of land. George W. Stapleton donated land adjacent to the church for a community cemetery.
First official minutes of the church were dated April 4, 1868, with Daniel N. Fann, pastor, and the church being named Bethany Baptist Church for Bethany Forehand Stokes, wife of William Henry Stokes. The first church building was used both for a church and a school. The shingles under the tin were hand drawn and are still in use in the present building, as well as the original sills which were also hand drawn from towering pines 40 and 60 feet long.
Most of the minutes of the early church are comprised to calls for disciplinary cases (gambling, profanity, dancing, drunkenness) and calls for excuses and past absences. The decorum stated, if any member shall be absent for three consecutive conferences, he shall be considered in disorder.
Studying our church history gives us a glimpse of what has happened before, and we can certainly appreciate the sacrifices made, especially during those early years to accomplish God’s purposes. September, 1896, $5.00 was collected for indigent ministers. Bro. J. A. Clark was called as pastor with a $2.00 per meeting salary. February 7, 1885, a resolution was passed to organize the first Sabbath School. October 9, 1886, the church agreed to give Ebenezer College $10.00 annually as an endowment. Ebenezer is now Middle Georgia State University.
The first recorded revival was held in July, 1883, and continued for nine days with 30 decisions. At the conclusion of which a small purse containing $2.95 was taken to show appreciation to Elder W. J. Barton for services rendered. March 6, 1897, $3.68 was collected for a church organ. September 13, 1902, the church unanimously called Bro. B. S. Railey as pastor for the next year accompanied with the promise of $10 per month and rail fare.
Back in 1918, it was “recommended that the church earnestly commend to her members the planting of a church patch – proceeds of which shall belong to the Lord.” July 22, 1922, the church heard the report of the committee appointed to audit the treasurer’s books. The committee reported a shortage of 70 cents. The treasurer made acknowledgement to the church and replaced the money. The church forgave him. February 27, 1927, the church voted to have a twice-a-month preaching. April 24, 1927, motion made and carried for church to help the pastor on a trip to the Southern Baptist Convention and not to give less than $5.00.
The first members were filled with a spirit of enthusiasm, determination and a strong belief and faith in God – qualities which not only have helped through the years to build a church with a rich heritage, but, also have contributed to the growth and prosperity of the Bethany community. The church continued to grow physically and spiritually. In 1954, a revival was held with 24 baptisms and 12 by letter in 1955, a revival was also held with 30 baptisms and 15 by letter.
Over the years, changes were made in the appearance and size of the church. April 24, 1952, the church voted to repair the original church building. In 1958, the auditorium was brick veneered, and in 1962, a heating and air condition system was installed. Originally, heat was provided by a pot-bellied stove in the center of the sanctuary/chapel with a stove pipe which ran up through the ceiling to emit smoke. The old sanctuary is now our Fellowship Hal. The church continues to progress. At the end of 100 years of service to God, the church broke ground for a brick, air-conditioned educational building at its Centennial Service.
Not only has the church progressed in appearance, but also in service. The church was begun with a handful of faithful believers. The church has been a witness in the community, and also around the world by giving financially to the cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. The first record of giving to foreign missions was September 23, 1893, in the amount of $16.00.
The past few years has been a time for spiritual and physical growth for Bethany Baptist Church.
On November 6, 2005, our congregation crossed over during the morning worship service into our new 300 seat sanctuary. The new structure was built in front of the old building, with new Sunday school rooms and offices and the old sanctuary became a fellowship hall. Although it was somewhat sad, we rejoiced to see how God's hand and guidance has been on our church during this building program. We give praise for the great things that have been done in the past, but we look forward with praise and great expectations to the future to see what God has in store for us as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ at Bethany Baptist Church.
Sunday, May 1, 2011, was the date of our Note Burning Ceremony as we commemorated the paying off of the church's 2005 building debt. We had brief comments from former pastors, Bold Mission Builders and others who participated in our building project.
Bethany completed the addition of the new kitchen in 2014.
Let us give thanks to God and our forefathers and mothers of our church, and may we continue to be a church with a proud past and a commitment to win the lost. To God be the glory.
Brother Terry Moseley served as a youth minister at Stone Creek Baptist Church of Twiggs County for two years before becoming the pastor at McIntyre Baptist Church from 2002 - 2010.
On Sunday, Apr. 26, 2010 - Brother Terry Moseley accepted the position of Pastor of Bethany Baptist Church.