HISTORY OF BETHESDA CHRIATIAN CHURCH
The Bethesda Christian Church is a part of the Restoration Movement dating back to the early 1800's. This movement, unlike the Reformation of the 1500's and 1600's aims to restore the church as it was in the 1st century A.D. Based on the Bible book of Acts and the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, church members are Christians only. No denominational ties or organizationalhierarchy is present. The Movement's motto is, " No creed but Christ, No book but the Bible."
The Restoration Movement grew from ministers of Presbyterian and Baptist backgrounds in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern Kentucky. Thomas Campbell, his son Alexander, Barton W Stone, Walter Scott, Isaac Erret, and "Raccoon" John Smith were some of the early leaders of the movement. Thomas Campbell's "Declaration and Address," of 1809 was a basic document leading to the Restoration Movement and its emphasis on the unity of all Christians based solely on the principles found in the New Testament. In the 1820's, churches were started in Pennsylvania, western Virginia, eastern Ohio and Kentucky. The Movement soon spread throughout the country expanding westward.
Alexander Campbell established Bethany College in 1840 and he served as its first President. In the 1840's, 1850's, and the 1860's many congregation were established in eastern Ohio, especially in the northeastern counties. In Belmont County, Campbell and others established congregations. Several Bethany students served as ministers for our own congregation.
Bethesda Christian Church can trace its roots to the 1860's. In about 1869 or 1870, some 20 members moved their worship from the Morristown Christian Church to the Bethesda (Burr's Mills/Fairmount) area. Some members apparently came from the Badgersburg area.
Several local congregations probably had some influence on the early development. Bend Fork Christian Church (1828) was one of the earliest independent Restoration churches in eastern Ohio. Belmont Church of Christ, Morristown Christian Church, Barnesville Christian Church, Stillwater Baptist and Christian Churches, Chestnut Level Christian, and Hunter Christian Church were among those early churches. Documents indicate that the Campbells preached near Barnesville in 1810 and 1827. Barnesville Christian Church was established in 1833, Hunter Christian in 1847, and Belmont Ridge in 1856. The "Millennial Harbinger," Campbell's theological Journal, documents the travels of the Campbells and other ministers to establish eastern Ohio Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.
Between 1860 and 1890, details are scarce concerning the Bethesda Christian Church congregation, although one list of ministers dates back to 1864.
In June 1892, ground was broken for the old South Main Street Church of Christ, the building at 407 South Main Street. There were 33 charter members: 12 males and 21 female. By the end of one year, members totaled 64, after 14 baptisms and 17 transfers. Much of the planning and organizing of this new church building was due to James Patterson, A. E. Hoge and William Millison.
The original structure at ground level was raised twice (last in 1914) to accommodate classrooms and a furnace. Hitching rails were built in 1910 and a concrete baptistery was added. The Christian Endeavor Society for the young people was also begun in 1910, with the Ladies Aid Society being formed in 1912. A church paper was first published in 1934. Christian Fellowship Day was organized with its first meeting on June 10, 1938. Many Christian Churches and Churches of Christ came together at Epworth Park Auditorium for Sunday School and preaching. Then, those attending enjoyed a basket lunch or ate at the Epworth Park Hotel Restaurant.
In 1940, indoor plumbing was added, and Bro. James Craig secured the first parsonage in 1945. At least 10 church members served in WWII. In 1962, the Samaritan Missionary Ladies group was organized. These ladies continue to provide bereavement dinners and many other missionary oriented projects for the congregation. They supply much of the funding for our church library, sponsor our Cradle Roll and support 5 missions monthly. In recent years they have supported the Samaritan's Purse's "Operation Christmas" by sending over 100 packed shoeboxes annually for needy children worldwide.
The Bethesda Christian Church saw a "building boom" in the late 60's and early 70's. In 1969, we supported the Woodsfield Christian Church in the construction of a new church building. In 1971 and 1972, an addition was built on to the Bethesda church including three classrooms, a minister's study, a new baptistery, kitchen and fellowship hall. Then a new parsonage was built at the corner of Pear and Boardman Streets. This congregation has also been instrumental in starting new churches in Cambridge and East Richland.
On December 15, 1972 the name was officially changed from Bethesda Christian Church to the South Main Street Church of Christ after our formal withdrawal from the Disciples of Christ.
We have supported Elkhorn Valley Christian Service Camp, near Bergholz, OH for many years both financially and with youth and adult participants. In 1975, 26 youth attended, and in 2004 over 30 South Main people were there. Our ministers have frequently served as Deans of camp weeks and some have been on the Board of Directors.
The Samaritan Missionary Ladies established our church library in 1975. There are nearly 7000 books, tapes, videos, cassettes, etc. currently available. Reading contests have been held for the youth. Ruth Ridgeway was a driving force in this church ministry.
Our congregation continues to support Project Manna, a bi-weekly program for the area needy. We also support 16 missionary organizations and individuals throughout the world. In 2003, we fully financed a new church to be built in Kerala State, India.
Since the South Main Street congregation began, at least 40 different men have served as Elders, 82 have served as Deacons, 30 have served a Trustees. 44 men have ministered to this church, with Tim Snyder serving as our current minister, since April of 1998. Two "Timothy's" (men from our church who have entered into the ministry) include Marlin Carpenter and Kevin Powell. Marlin has since gone to be with the Lord. Melvin Jenewein and Bob Groves who both served the congregation in various capacities of Leadership have gone to his eternal reward also. Many other dear saints have served here faithfully and now rest in the arms and comfort of the Lord.
Ground was broke in April of 2010 on the new building on state route 147. Our new one floor facility has a Santuary, Fellowship hall, Kitchen, Library, Nursery, and many classrooms. Our name was changed back to Bethesda Christian Church from South Main St. Church of Christ, since the church was no longer located on South Main St.
----Compiled in June 2005 by Bob Groves and Tim Snyder from various sources including the 1992 100th Anniversary History of the South Main Street Church of Christ. Modfified 2012
A BRIEF STATEMENT OF OUR POSITION
The Church of Christ is composed of people who accept Christ as the Son of God and Lord of Life -- who strive to follow His commandments and honor His Word as their sufficient rule of faith and practice.
The Church of Christ is not sectarian, nor is it denominational. It is the Spiritual Body of Christ, wherein dwells the Spirit of God. (Romans 8:8-15)
We have no conference, convention, or earthly ecclesiastical authority over us - only Christ and His Word. We seek the unity of all believers in Christ upon the essential matters and the freedom of local congregations and individual Christians in matters of opinion.
-- No creed but Christ.
--No name but the divine.
--No book but the Bible
--No rule of faith and practice but the New Testament.
--Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.
--In faith, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things, love