Bethel’s Foundation & History
Charter Members: (10)
Bethel Baptist Church is located on Bethel Road, in the northeast of the city of Hartselle, Morgan County, Alabama. Bethel was organized as a church on Saturday, before the first Lord’s Day in October 1872. Through the years it has undergone many changes.
The “Original” church is significant to the history of the Baptist movement in Hartselle, because it was established in 1872, more than 10 years before the organization of any other Baptist Church in Hartselle; and 5 years before the city of Hartselle was incorporated in 1877.
Bethel Baptist Church came into being from a conversation between J.D. McClanahan and George Hartselle, who donated the land on which the church’s first building was erected. Records available about the church indicate that in 1872, these two men were standing in front of a small log school building at Bethel, discussing the need for a Sunday school. As a result of that conversation, a Sunday school was started in the log school building, which stood on the present Church site near the back of the present educational building.
Mr. McClanahan was the first Sunday School superintendent. In a short time, the fellowship grew into an organized church. At a later date, C.T. Stephenson donated additional land where the building now stands. In 1873 the Church was received into the Muscle Shoals Baptist Association.
As time progressed, it became necessary to build a more efficient sanctuary building with two small Sunday School rooms. This building was placed where the educational building is now located.
In 1952, construction of a new and even larger sanctuary began, and was completed in 1953. The “Educational Building” was built in 1966, and provided the much needed Sunday School classrooms for an ever growing church!
In March of 1970, the Church congregation voted to annul its affiliation from the Southern Baptist Convention, the Alabama State Convention, and the Morgan County Baptist Association; and become an Independent Baptist Church.
In 1973, Bethel Baptist Church had its first ever Missions Conference, and the birth of “Faith Promise” missions giving was experienced! During that time, the church Sanctuary was renovated and a modern vestibule was built. Through the early 1980s, Bethel experienced another wave of growth. By 1990, a larger nursery facility was constructed, and the current Sanctuary and gymnasium had been built.