Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church
Thursday, November 23, 2017
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History

Mt. Bethel is one of the oldest congregations in East Lauderdale County. Bethel, as described in Genesis 12:8, was one of the earliest places mentioned in the Holy Bible. It existed even before Abraham's arrival in Canaan. Both Joshua and Samuel identified Mount Bethel as being in the hills near Bethel. In troubled times, before there were kings in Israel, it was to Bethel where the believers would go in their distress to ask council of God.
 
The early settlers who cleared the land and established their homes in the area northwest of Rogersville built their own Mt. Bethel as a place to worship God. Its first location of record was near Whitehead and was a community church attended by the Methodists and the Cumberland Presbyterians. The Cumberland Presbyterians who remained were called Old Mt. Bethel, and the Methodists who built a new house of worship became New Mt. Bethel.
 
The earliest Methodists at Mt. Bethel probably were meeting as a congregation prior to the Civil War. In the beginning they were one of some twenty preaching appointments on the old Shoal Circuit. This circuit was established in June 1818 at the mouth of Blue Water Creek in the new Alabama Territory. The area of the circuit roughly began in Tennessee and reached into North Alabama as far as Florence and Tuscumbia. In 1819, it reported 229 white and 3 black members. By 1830, it has grown to 430 whites and 46 blacks.
 
The existing records of New Mt. Bethel go back to 1877. When the new church was erected in 1885, its trustees were members of Driskell Chapel Methodist Church. Driskell Chapel was the first Methodist congregation in Lauderdale County. This early church has changed locations a number of times and is now the Center Star United Methodist Church.
 
The land where Mt.Bethel United Methodist Church is now located was deeded June 27, 1885, by James Whitehead and his brother-in-law, W.P. Grisham. The first house of worship on this site was made of logs. The second structure was erected west of the earlier log church about 1906 and 1907. This frame building was seriously damaged by a tornado while being built. Repairs were made, however, and it served the congregation until the beginning of World War II.
 
Construction of the beautiful rock church began in 1943 under the leadership of the Reverend John J. Webb. Mules and horses were used to bring in the field stones and the men of the community supplied the labor. The church complex has been expanded over the years to include additional class rooms and a fellowship hall.
 
Mt. Bethel is a growing congregation with a rich heritage. The song of the ancient Psalmist describes well this Church and her gentle people: "How lovely is thy dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts!... O blessed are they that dwell within Thy house." Amen.
 
Source: "History of New Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church" by William Lindsey McDonald