Bethel Baptist Church History
Bethel Baptist Church is located on 847 Scaffold Cane, Berea, Kentucky.
Bethel Baptist Church is a church built on prayer. Alson Reed, who served in World War II, wrote a letter home asking his parents, Wiley and Lessie to pray for him. As a result prayer meetings began in the Reed home for those who had family serving in the war and those who were unable to attend church because they were serving their country. Bethel began as a mission of Berea Baptist Church in 1944. O.B. Mylum, pastor of Berea Baptist Church, conducted the prayer meetings. For the next twelve months there was a prayer service held at the Wiley Reeds house and many neighbors and friends joined the prayer services. Several people were saved and Rev. Mylum baptised them into the fellowship of the Berea Baptist Church. The group began to grow and sensed a need to build a church. Wiley Reed offered a plot of land joining Scaffold Cane Road to be used upon which a building would be erected so the prayer meetings could continue. Rev. Mylum drew up plans and Mr. Reed donated a half-acre lot. There was a donation of $100 from Rev. Floyd French and an additional $14.80 was spent on wiring and $6.20 on carpentry. Many people donated money and their time and labor and a 20 x 30 feet building was built to house their congregation. In 1946 the building was completed and given the name of Bethel Baptist Church. Rev. Merrill Lainhart was chosen as the first pastor and Rev. Mylum stepped aside to give the new church under the leadership of their new pastor a free hand in the Lord’s work there. Bethel Baptist Church was officially organized in 1949 after a revival led by Rev. Mylum. At that time there were 21 charter members.
Charter members of Bethel Baptist Church:
Mr Wiley Reed, Mrs. Wiley (lessie) Reed, Mr. Sam Reed, Mrs. (Carrie) Reed, Mr. Leonard Reed, Mr. Joe Vernon Reed, Mr. Johnnie Reed, Mrs. Johnnie (Emma Reed), Mr. Alson Reed. Mrs. Marie Reed, Mr. Herbert Reed, Mrs. Herbert (Lucille) Reed, Mr. Joe Reed St., Mrs. Vernie Reed Bratcher, Mrs. Elsie Reed Whittemore, Mrs. Richard Cain, Mr. Miley T. Cain, Mrs. Ann Day, Mr. Ernest McQuire, Mrs. Ernest (Agnes) McQuire, and Mrs. Charley (Rosie) Reed.
Pastors of Bethel Baptist Church:
Rev. Merrill Lainhart was the first pastor at Bethel. He served until 1953. Homer Lamb then became pastor and served until 1954 when Buram Byrd was called. Floyd Long served as pastor from 1955-57. Herbert Berry was pastor from 1957-59. From 1959-61 Charlie Lunsford served as pastor. Lester Arnold pastored from 1961-63. Bethel called H.K. Estes in 1963 and he served until 1968 when Rev. O.B. Mylum was called as pastor. He served until 1974 when he was killed in a traffic accident. Earl VanWinkle served as pastor until 1978 when Jack Frost was called. He served until 1991 Rev. Randy J. McPheron served as pastor from 1991-99. Pastor Kenny Davis, Jr was called as pastor in 2000 as is still serving as our current pastor.
Bethel continued to grow and serve after its humble beginning. In 1959, $400 was borrowed to construct Sunday School rooms. In 1972 Bethel joined the Tates Creek Baptist Association. The church also bought a house and one acre of land from Lyman Johnson for $11,000. In 1973 the church voted to build a new building. The building was completed, and on April 7, 1974, the congregation moved to the current site. The dedication service was held in September of that year. On November 13, 1974, after seeing his dream of a new church building come to pass, Rev. O.B. Mylum was tragically taken from us in a traffic accident. The church had a note burning ceremony to commemorate the paying off of the church debt on April 6, 1976. As the church continued to be blessed additional space was needed. An educational wing was completed in June of 1979 to accommodate the growth.
In October 1983 the church was given the opportunity to purchase property adjacent to the existing facility. In response to the leading of the Lord, the land was purchased for possible future needs. These needs would soon be manifested.
In December of 1991 Randy J. McPheron was called to pastor the church. He brought many changes to the congregation at Bethel. Under his leadership the church experienced rapid growth as loving the Lord and reaching the lost for salvation became the primary focus. To better support their new pastor and his growing family, the church moved to build a parsonage on the newly purchased property. The parsonage was completed in 1992 with a dedication service in July. Of course, growth means added needs for the congregation and additional parking had to be added on part of the new property in 1993. That same year, Bethel was recognized by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for Outstanding Evangelical Achievement. Since evangelism is the surest way to grow a church, Bethel approved a $250,000 budget for expansion in June 1995.
The expansion to the church would double the size of the sanctuary and nearly double the educational area. A groundbreaking service was held and the expansion began. In less than a year the expansion was complete. As a testimony of God’s blessing, not a single service was cancelled during the construction. Then during the Annual Homecoming services on April 14, 1996 the dedication service of the new building was held. God’s blessings continued for the church. Even after the expansion of the building, the sanctuary was completely full the first Sunday after dedication.
In 1997, the Lord once again moved the church to prepare for further growth. 9 acres of land near the church on Scaffold Cane Road was purchased from Peggy Broaddus for further expansion. The church held two Sunday Schools and two worship services during the 1998 Sunday School year and returned to one service for the 1999 Sunday School year. 1998 was also a record year for baptisms at Bethel. Forty-six people were baptized, the most in any year in the history of the church.
In 1999 under the leadership of Pastor McPheron, Bethel celebrated their 50th anniversary as an organized church. The theme was “Celebrating Jesus…50 Years and Still Growing by Faith”. The celebration began with the spring revival and Homecoming.
In 2000 Pastor Kenny Davis Jr. was called as pastor and is now serving as Bethel’s faithful pastor. Under his leadership Bethel continues to grow in many ways. 2006 Bethel received recognition for the top per capita giving church for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Pastor Davis is moving his congregation to be more mission minded with supporting many missionaries on the field. The church is actively involved with the Tates Creek Disaster Relief Team to help support those that have had disastrous events in their state. Bro, Kenny himself and other members of the church answers God’s call to serve on the mission field in Botswana Africa. Bro. Kenny’s has truly taken a stand on many issues that our community has been faced with and by doing so has been ridiculed by those who are not Christians in the community. We thank God for the stand he takes for us and for the community in which we live.
Under Pastor Davis’s leadership the church paid off the property debt and had a note burning ceremony with a picnic and special music.In October 2007 the church had the opportunity to purchase a lot adjoining the future building site on Scaffold Cane Road. The church purchased this lot for $28,000 and will be soon making plans to use this lot to run a sewer line and make the entrance to the property wider.Growth at Bethel has also meant adding some staff members. An Associate Pastor, church secretary, yard maintenance and custodians.
To Be Continued!