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.

ChurchHistory

They held church in the schoolhouse until early spring of 1875 when a storm hit Adamsville and destroyed the schoolhouse.  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 Trail. 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.

God blessed and grew the church by sending some the following spiritual leaders:

1971 – 1974 Rev. Fred Wall, Jr.;

1974 -1976 Rev. Gary M. Parrish

1976 – 1978 Rev. Luther Cooper

1978 – 1986 Rev. Emile Ennis was appointed as the first Black pastor of Bethel. Under his leadership, the church grew with strong choirs and youth programs. In 1984, pews were installed in the then fellowship hall to add permanence to the worship service until a new sanctuary could be built.  His humble spirit-filled manner of preaching and sharing God’s love will be everlasting.

1986 – 1988 Rev. Dr. Robert Stovall, through his seasoned pastoral style, galvanized the men to take a more active role in the church and community. His passion was family.

1988 – 1992  Rev. Frederick P. Grey shared the motivation of a pastor called to the ministry at a mature stage of life.  His candor was an encouragement to all who sought to strengthen their spiritual commitment as adults.

1992 – 1998 Rev. Dr. Derrick Rhodes was an energetic young pastor whose  sharing of the Word through sermons and bible study grew the church.  His knowledge of the bible was the beginning of Wednesday night bible study which has been vital to the church and its membership.

1998 – 2002 Rev. Moses Woodruff, Jr. led the church to a heightened scene of fellowship through his ability of transparency.  He revealed his strengths and weaknesses which encouraged members to bear witness to their life walk with Christ. He encourage and was influential in the formation of a Gospel choir.

2002 – 2003 Rev. Hulon Kemp left a legacy of genuine love for the congregation; especially the children.  He emphasized the importance of reaching out to other less fortunate communities near our local. His laid back genuine style of ministry brought a renewed commitment to grow the church.

2003 – 2003 Rev. Marvin King, Sr., (Interim).  While a standing member of the Mississippi Conference, Rev. King has been a tireless conduit of love and pastoral care.  His never- ending passion for the sick and shut-ins have changed the church’s outreach to the infirmed.  He has been a member of Bethel for over forty years and continues to be a strong support and encourager to each minister that has come to Bethel.

2003 – 2012 Rev. Lee Pendleton brought a studied knowledge of music to Bethel.  He magnified the beauty of traditional hymns while supporting the awareness of newer praise hymns.  He helped organize the need for ministry leaders to be trained and attend district study opportunities. He participated and encouraged foreign missionary trips.

2012 – July, 2018 Rev. Dr. Michael D. Stinson served Bethel. Under his leadership the physical facility was updated and improved in an effort to reach more young and non-churched people in the community. He always encouraged and participated in Bethel’s many missionary trips.  His knowledge and interpretation of the bible has brought Bethel to a higher level of excellence.

July, 2018 Rev. Dr. A. Elaine Crawford became Bethel’s first female pastor.  Her professional pastoral demeanor of unconditional love and support is sure to grow the church. Her experience and knowledge promise to expand the church under her expertise.  Dr. Crawford comes with many pastoral and educational achievements including professorships at accredited colleges dating back to 1993. Dr Crawford is a published author and scholar. She is a certified member of The Oxford roundtable. She is the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Virginia. She is an ordained Elder in Full connection in the North Georgia Conference (NGC), and has 25 year of dedicated years of ministerial leadership. Her most recent appointments were as Associate Pastor at Ben Hill UMC, Associate Pastor Cascade UMC, Senior Pastor at Newnan UMC and University Chaplain at Clark Atlanta University. Her life mantra is “To God be the glory for the great things God has done”