RACINE — The Bethany United Methodist Church will celebrate its 140th anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 14.
Activities of the day will begin with the morning worship service at 9 a.m. following by Sunday School at 10 a.m. An afternoon service will begin at 1:30 p.m. during which time there will be a social hour in which visitors will be invited to view pictures relating to the church and its activities displayed on a wall in the social room and to enjoy refreshments. Flowers donated in memory of deceased loved ones will be used in decorating the church.
The Bethany Church building was constructed in 1872 as a United Brethren Church on land donated by Peter and Mahala Harpold. The lumber for the original seats was donated by the late Jonas Sayre, grandfather of Hazel Wickline who was an active member of the church.
The first roof was a shingle one which was replaced in 1907 by a slate roof and in 1954 by an aluminum roof. Then in 1971 an asbestos shingle roof was put on the church building. In 1954 the interior of the building was remodeled with the old coal stoves being replaced by gas ones, and that same year the United Brethren and Evangelical Churches united into one church know as Evangelical United Brethren.
In 1960 a social room and a vestibule were added to the church building, and new seats, pulpit furniture, and a new piano were purchased in 1966. Also that year a new bulletin board was built in front of the church in memory of Ira Foster.
When the church celebrated its 100 year anniversary, Willie Cross, a longtime member, was 93 years of age. Gretta Carnahan had been a member for 56 years and when she died, she had been a member for 77 years and the church and benevolence treasurer for 35 years. Hazel Carnahan had taught the junior class for 43 years. At that time the church had recently affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Some years later aluminum siding was put on the church exterior. The church history records that Rush Beegle financed a lot of the renovations during the years.
In the 1990’s the pews were padded in honor and memory of loved ones by Robert G. and Martha Lou Beegle, Doley and Mattie Beegle, Tommy Beegle, Roger and Sharon Birch, Dwain and Wilma Casto, David and Sally Gloeckner, Dale and Kathryn Hart, Linley and Mildred Hart, Max and Jill Knopp, Otis and Edna Knopp, Rob and Letha Proffitt, Larry and June Roush, Ruth Simpson, Janet Theiss, Kenneth and Bernice Theiss, Esther West and Ronnie Young.
During the first decade of the 21st century, the church saw many improvements. The social room was doubled in size, adding two stoves and kitchen cabinets, new tables and chairs were purchased, aluminum siding was replaced with vinyl siding. A small shed was built and along with the Southern Charge was the purchase of the parsonage lot next door. Shirley Beegle donated one half acre of ground that adjoined the back lot of the property, in memory of her brother, Arthur “Buzz” Beegle. The front entrance way was remodeled with donations from family and friends in memory of Tommy Beegle. The side entrance was redone with donations from family and friends of Linley Hart. The back entrance was redone with donations from family and friends in memory of Roger Hubbard.
During the past two years, two new bathrooms have been added with donations from the auction crew and the building fund members. A new altar rail has been completed with donations from family and friends in memory of Mattie Beegle by the auctions crew and building fund, Holzer Senior Care (Pomeroy Branch) Roger Beegle Family, Dale and Kathryn Hart, David and Ann Zirkle, Dollie and Kathy Lackey, bill and Lillian Hayman, Martha Lou Beegle and Gary Gibbs.
A new Koehler-Campbell piano from Graves in Columbus was purchased with donations from the Dorcas Women’s Fellowship, Ruth Simpson, Lillian Hayman, Sheila Theiss, in memory of Inzy Newell, and family and friends in memory of Martha Lou Beegle, which were Bill and Debbie Beegle, Dale and Kathryn Hart, Mary Ball, David and Ann Zirkle, Dorothy Glenn Sayre, Phyllis Rowland, Marvin and Jan Hill, Judy and Ernie Bing, Joe and Evelyn Foreman, Brenda and Stephen Wellar, Sollie and Kathy Lackey and Robert and Joan Hudak.
Church pianist is Lillian Hayman and organist is Ruth Simpson. The church treasurer is Donna Sayre. The trustees are Garry Smith, Dale Hart, Kenneth Theiss, John Holman and Tom Theiss. Jim Holman is Certified Lay Minister.
Sunday School teachers are Kenneth Theiss, Bernice Theiss, and Letha Proffitt. Superintendent is Tom Theiss and Sunday School treasurer is Sheila Theiss.
Vision of the Future
The stated vision of the church is as follows:
“We take the permissible pride in the fact that this church has stood in this community for 140 years and in all of that time has enjoyed a good name. We can be sure that there have been many good people in this fellowship who were faithful to the Lord in spirit, behavior, and in service. Only in the fullness of God’s time can be seen the number, size and value of their love. Some of the members of the past have become heroes and heroines to us but there have been others just as faithful though less talented whose names we do not know. We give thanks to God that all of these have lived and labored here.
“We are reminded that we are enjoying the fruits of their faith, love and toil, We rejoice in the traditions they created and the respect of our brotherhood which they won. If we are to follow in their footsteps when we must place material on the foundation which they laid.
“But we must remember that the work here now rests upon our hearts and shoulders. What the church will be for the next 25 to 50 years depends upon the wisdom and devotion of the people who are here now, We owe it to the Lord and to the next generations to leave a better building and a more vigorous church than when we came.
“If we are faithful, then the future of this church is as ‘bright as the promise of God.’”