Bethabara Baptist Church
Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Church History

     Bethabara (the house at the ford) was founded in September of 1844. It was named so due to its proximity to the old pioneer fords of the Appalachee River, which are less than a mile away, where baptisms were frequently held.

     Bethabara's minutes are incomplete during the years of 1844-1845 and 1913-1919 due to a house fire for the earlier time period and someone "borrowing" the notes for the second time frame and not returning them.

     Bethabara was admitted to the Appalachee Baptist Association in the same month it was constituted. During its first 11 years, her membership grew from 12 charter members in 1844 to 121 members by 1856. Deacon elections were held in 1856, and hymn books were first purchased in that same year. Even though there was some conflict during 1856-1857 in which members were lost, by 1859 Bethabara's membership had risen to an unprecedented 208 members.

     During the years of the Civil War, membership decreased and would not re-attain its level of 1859 until 35 years later. A pulpit Bible was purchased in 1868, a new building was constructed and trustees were first appointed in 1871. Sunday School was established in 1873, but was not held every Sunday until 1882, even though worship service was only held one Sunday per month at that time.

     In 1885, the church began taking a quarterly offering for mission causes. The church began monthly mission collections in 1892. A new election of deacons in 1893 and purchase of more song books. In August of 1893, there were 45 converts reported during the revival which was followed by a special thanksgiving service. Members were also "assessed" church support amounts by the financial committee that same year with no complaints officially listed.

     In 1894 the church adopted a new covenant and articles of faith. This new covenant established that "any person" could join the church. A pastor was called in 1897, the first called for an indefinite period, previously they were voted on annually.

     Bethabara did not escape the effects of the social and economic conflicts of the time. For instance, Prohibition and the Civil War, affected the church's membership for various reasons, as well as the stock market crash in 1929.

     This is just a brief synopsis of the beginning of Bethabara Baptist Church. There is a more complete history available in the church office that was written by a former pastor, E. Keith Jones. Please contact the church office if you are interested in reviewing his thesis.