REEDSVILLE — For 125 years as of Nov. 1, South Bethel Community Church has sat upon a hill overlooking a clearing and has served as the home for Christ followers.
Of course, the church wasn’t always non-denominational. According to Pastor Linda Damewood, who’s served the church since late 2002, the building of the church began in 1883 on Silver Ridge Road in Reedsville. The property for the church was purchased by Philip and Emma Hoffman for $25, which is almost $600 in 2015.
The deed was certified in the Meigs County Recorder’s Office in Pomeroy on July 13, 1883. Using lumber that was cut and donated from the 218-acre farm of Abraham Bahr, the building was completed in 1890. It served as the United Brethren in Christ Church. The church bell, which still rings across Silver Bridge each Sunday, was carried to the site from Long Bottom on a horse-led wagon and was also donated by Abraham Bahr.
The church kept the United Brethren name until 1948, when it served as the Evangelical United Brethren Church for 20 years. In 1968, when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged, the South Bethel Methodist Church came into existence.
Several years later, the congregration felt the need to end their United Methodist affiliation and purchased the church building in 1983, when it became the South Bethel New Testament Church. Finally, in 2002 the church obtained the name it has today.
In 2014, the church was under threat of relocation beause of damage to the structure caused by termites. The congregation had to worship in the adjacent fellowship hall. But Damewood said she knew the church was not destined to be torn down, and added that she and her congregation did what they could to garner support for restoration efforts.
“I knew when we had all the problems with termites that God didn’t want us to tear it down,” she said. “It’s been such a light to so many people and brought so much joy to peoples’ lives.”
However, thanks to contractor Jason Fisher and donations from the community, with most donations coming from individuals, the church was restored and will survive for years to come, Damewood said. The church currently has about 20 members, which she said she loves as she can work and communicate with each member on an individual level.
“I just want it to continue going on, shining up there and be an outreach to Christ,” Damewood said.
Festivities for Sunday’s anniversary will begin at 9 a.m. with Sunday School, a 10:15 a.m. Communion, food and fellowship at noon and an afternoon service at 1:3o p.m. The guest singers will be Delivered and Jerry and Lisa Queen. The public is welcome to attend.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.