History of Mt. Bethel Baptist Church

Mt. Bethel Baptist Church was founded in a "Bush Harbor" in approximately 1897 by Rev. Willie Austin Bagley and four faithful Deacons: Norman Hatchett, William Coleman, Tom Smith, and Monroe Neblett. The Bush Harbor was located near the corner of Route 40 and 652. Around 1900, a church building was purchased from Herbert Moses for $100.00 and brought from Moses Corner, (earlier known as Goodwyn's Corner between Kenbridge and Victoria), to its present location 102 Aiken Road.

Among those who were instrumental in the Church's founding were early deacons, Norman Hatchett, Joe Taylor, Monroe Neblett, and William Coleman. Other dedicated deacons that served through the years were David Stokes, T.H. Blakes, George Harper, Clifton White, James P. Bridgeforth, and Charlie Jones.

Past Pastors of Mt. Bethel were as follow:
  • Rev. Willie Austin Bagley, founder and first pastor.
  • Rev. Harrison Bagley
  • Rev. Peter Winn
  • Rev. Albert Jones
  • Rev. Theodore Woods
  • Rev. Morgan
  • Rev. Burton
  • Rev. Delaware Harris
  • Rev. William Batts
  • Rev. H. R. Watkins

Cecil Bridgeforth was ordained to preach on July 12, 1974. David Banks was licensed to preach on July 11, 1975 and ordained on May 20, 1977.

Deacons at that time were Deacons Willie Bagley, Willie Hayes and Percell White.

Mr. Bernard Robinson was elected to serve as a Trustee on April 10, 1976 along with Mr. John Rhoades, and all of the deacons also served as trustees. Worship Services were held each second and fourth Sundays. Also in 1976 the church voted to have the church bricked.

Much work had been done during this time period to improve the structure of this church such as bathrooms installed, remodeling of the sanctuary, purchasing new pews, construction of the Fellowship Hall, kitchen, choir room, and pastor's study.

In May 1979 the present pastor, Rev. W. A. Batts resigned. Preachers were called in to render service. In July 1979 Deacon Willie Hayes was elected as Chairman of the Deacon Board and resigned in April of 1980 when Deacon Percell White was elected Chairman of the Deacon Board.

John Ragsdale was licensed to preach on March 7, 1981 and Rev. H. R. Watkins was elected pastor on June 15, 1981. In June of 1981 another deacon was added to the board, Deacon Willie A. Bagley.

In March 1986 the church voted to have prayer service on each Wednesday before the second Sunday and November 1986 the first Fall Rally was held. In June 1987 Louise Chaffin was elected Church Clerk.

As of April 28, 1990, Trustees were Bernard Robinson, Percell White, Willie Bagley, John Rhoades, Joe Smithson and Willie Hayes.

In December of 1991 the Pastor's Aide was organized and the Baptismal pool was installed in the church.

On December 9, 1995, Rev. H. R. Watkins resigned as pastor due to declining health.

On June 9, 1996, Rev. C.L. Hobbs, Jr. became Pastor-Elect and was installed as Pastor on September 15, 1996.

On December 29, 1996, Mrs. Yvonne O. Reynolds Johnson did her Initial Sermon becoming the first daughter of the Mt. Bethel Baptist Church.

In 1997 the parking area was paved, a handicap ramp and a sidewalk was constructed, a picture was professionally painted by Mrs. Nancy Green of Victory to cover the baptismal mirror along with other improvements to the church.

Two new trustees were added to the board on June 7, 1997, Mr. James Pettus and Mr. Carl Smithson.

In 1998 we were blessed to have much work done to the church both inside and out and among that the purchase of a church van. Also in 1998 we begin taking our Wednesday before the second Sunday Prayer/Praise Service into the homes of the elderly, members and friends and into a nursing home. This has truly been a blessing and enjoyed by everyone. Also in 1998 the Scholarship Committee was organized to help raise funds to assist our young people as they go off to college. This has proven to be a very successful venture for our church family and a blessing to our members in college. We give scholarships to those entering college and donations each semester to those already attending.

In 1999 Mt. Bethel went forth with faith trusting in the Lord and made a historical decision. At our regular church meeting in September 1999, members voted to hold Worship Service each Sunday with the exception of fifth Sundays beginning the first Sunday in January 2000. Services would be held on the 1st and 3rd Sundays at 8:00 a.m. with 2nd and 4th Sundays remaining the same. On October 16, 1999, Rev. Yvonne Johnson was ordained here at Mt. Bethel as a licensed Baptist Minister. She served as Associate Pastor in charge of service on the second Sunday in each month. As part of this service, Rev. Johnson did "A Moment With the Youth" until she was called to pastor Cedar Hill Baptist Church in Blackstone. Again in 1999 the church structure was greatly improved and additional work was done throughout the church. Also a copier was purchased with funds raised through publishing a Mt. Bethel Baptist Church Cookbook, which was spearheaded, by one of our members, Mrs. Christine Harris. Also in 1999 the Missionary was reorganized with a greater vision. We have been blessed to assist many people who have been sick, shut in, bereaved, and in distress in our church, community, surrounding counties, and abroad.

We have truly been blessed to have many people come to join Mt. Bethel and to dedicate their lives to God.

In 2000, we entered the new millennium with new foresight and determination to be the kind of church God is coming back for. We entered church early on the first Sunday in January 2000, beginning a renewed dedication of service to the Lord. We continue to work for the advancement of our church in knowledge and holiness. Our Bible Study continues to grow, as well as our Sunday school and early morning Worship Service. With God's blessings, we installed a steeple on the church, which had been destroyed some years ago. Toward the latter part of 2000, we begin our Breakfast Ministry--serving breakfast each Sunday morning and enjoying the fellowship that this ministry brought.

In 2001 much work was done to beautify the entire church. On Easter morning in 2001, members and friends of Mt. Bethel carried the cross from Highway 40 to the church. This was very inspirational and was something that many had never participated in.

Although we had many successes in 2001, we were saddened to lose one of our very dedicated deacons, Deacon Willie A. Bagley who went from his labor to reward on June 4, 2001. He is truly missed and fondly remembered.

God claimed His own, but in the year 2002, six new deacons were ordained and three trustees were installed on January 13, 2002. Deacons ordained were Deacons James Pettus, Bruce Beck, Renard White, Carl Smithson, Darryl White, and Trava Hawkins. Trustees installed were Allen Lang, Thomas Morrison, Sr., and Charles Hayes. A vice chairman of the Trustee Board was elected. Vice Chairman of the Trustee Board was Deacon Willie Hayes. In 2004 God saw fit to take one of our deacons from labor to reward, Deacon Willie Hayes.

On June 27, 2006, during our annual revival the church sustained fire damage. We were truly blessed because no one was injured. We continued our revival services at the Senior Citizen Building in Victoria. The next worship service was held in the parking lot at Mt. Bethel. We held several services at the Senior Citizen Building until the Fellowship Hall at Mt. Bethel was rearranged which enabled us to hold our regular worship services.

In July 2006 church members voted to look into the possibility of constructing a new church which later was voted out with another vote taken to do extensive renovation to the church.

On July 16, 2006, Mr. Thomas Morrison was ordained as a deacon; Mr. David Beck was installed as Trustee.

Also in October 2007 Deacon Trava Hawkins did his Initial Sermon and became another son of this church. Presently, he is the Associate Minister. In June 2008 the realization of renovations begin to take shape when work was started on the church with a new fellowship hall, classrooms, pastor's study, bathrooms, kitchen, with extensive remodeling to the sanctuary and vestibule and redesign to the front of the church.

In January of 2009, we were able to hold services in the sanctuary as work continued on the Fellowship Hall. On February 13, 2009 the entire church family was saddened when we loss the oldest man in our church family, Trustee Allen Lang, Jr. We sincerely miss his humorous spirit and his ability to always remember when everyone else forgot. Mr. Lang truly loved his church and served it well. Even though we loss a real trooper God blessed us with another minister to join us, Minister Aileen Moorman.

In June 2009, the entire renovations were completed just in time to celebrate Family and Friends Day, Homecoming and Revival. We thank God for all of His blessings and the dedication of the memberships as we stayed together in our "little back room of Praise."

In September of 2009, the Fellowship Hall was named in honor of our Pastor, Rev. C. L. Hobbs Jr., for his unwavering faith, dedication, hard work, and love of this church and the completion of this project. The Fellowship Hall in now known as "The C. L. Hobbs, Jr. Fellowship Hall.

This year on June 13, 2010, Minister Trava Hawkins' Ordination Service was held. In September Rev. Hawkins was called to pastor Zion Hill Baptist Church. Again, we were saddened to loss the oldest member of the church, Mrs. Albertha Hayes, who went home to be with the Lord on June 23, 2010. We truly miss her loving and humble spirit. She truly loved Mt. Bethel and served it well. Also, in August, Mr. Marvin Fowlkes became part of the Mt. Bethel Baptist Church as Pianist for the senior choir on the fourth Sundays.

Church officers are as follows:
  • Rev. C.L. Hobbs Jr., Pastor
  • Deacon Percell White, Chairman of the Deacon Board
  • Mr. Bernard Robinson, Chairman of the Trustee Board
  • Mr. Thomas Morrison, Sr., Asst. Chairman of the Trustee Board
  • Mrs. Louise Chaffin, Church Clerk
  • Mrs. Joyce Morrison, Superintendent of Sunday School
  • Mr. Bernard Robinson & Mr. Marvin Fowlkes, Pianists
  • Mrs. Diane Pettus, Chairperson of Hospitality Committee
  • Mrs. Judy Freeman and Mrs. Pauline White, Sextons

Auxiliaries are as follows: Missionary, Mrs. Joyce Morrison, President; Deaconess Board, Mrs. Edith Ragsdale, President; Senior Usher Board, Ms. Portia Jones, President; Youth Ushers, Ms. Vanessa Roper, In Charge; Senior Choir, Mrs. Ann Beck, President; Young Adult Choir, Mrs. Lavoris Jones, Directress, and Miss Brittany Boswell, President; Junior Choir, Mrs. Ann Beck, Directress; Pastor's Aide, Mrs. Judy Freeman, President; "For God's Sake" Youth Ministry, Mrs. Brenda Boswell in charge and Men's Club, Mr. Thomas Morrison, Sr., President. Other committees include the Scholarship Committee, chaired by Mrs. Emma Baskerville. We have Sunday School each Sunday and Bible Study each Wednesday night with the exception of the Wednesday before the second Sunday, which is Prayer/Praise Service. This week in each month is set aside to visit the sick and shut-ins in the surrounding community.

God has brought us from a mighty long ways. We are a little church with big hearts of members dedicated and committed to giving steadfast service to our Lord and Savior who died for each of us.

As you can see, God has blessed Mt. Bethel in many, many ways over the years. Our main focus is to give God all the praises, glory, and honor. Our Mission is to seek those who are lost as we were, give hope to the poor and at all time glorify God through Jesus Christ our hope and strength. Our Purpose is to be a beacon of light in this community, salt of the earth among his people and be that Church of believers Christ will come back for. Our Vision is to exalt the Lord through worship; to edify the saints of God through discipleship; to evangelize the lost through outreach and to extend the church through mission. We, who are known as the children of God, should always love each other as God loves us. The Mt. Bethel Church family thanks God for instilling in our ancestors the foresight to build and dedicate this church to the service of the Lord.
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