Bethel Baptist Church - Bristol, VA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member UberHOKIE
N 36° 36.513 W 082° 04.417
17S E 403984 N 4051985
Quick Description: On Sunday, April 23, 2008, the Bethel Baptist Church at 24004 Mock Knob Road in Bristol, Va., celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Location: Virginia, United States
Date Posted: 1/1/2009 1:06:56 PM
Waymark Code: WM5FMF
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
Views: 7

Long Description:
BRISTOL, Va. – A strong community of members has helped Bethel Baptist Church to survive for a century.
The church’s founding members came from families originating in North Carolina. Some of the family names were Hagymon, Trivett and Smith.

Lured to the area by cheap land, families established a small community off Old Jonesborough Road, and initially, the people attended Holston Valley Baptist Church. However, as more families moved into the area, the locals saw the need for a church of their own.

They pooled their resources and built a small Baptist church that still stands today. Founding members took a hands-on approach in establishing the church, donating the necessary supplies, materials and labor.

"They didn’t have money," said Betty Phillips, a lifelong church member and its historian. "The people in the community gathered together and built the church. There was no money involved. People just used their time and their talents."

Phillips’ grandfather, E.G. Harmon, supplied the lumber with trees cleared from his property.

After six months of construction, Bethel Baptist held its first service on April 13, 1908.

The congregation sat on simple, wooden benches. The first pastor, Ben Franklin White Sr., spoke from a platform raised a step above the floor. The first offering totaled 50 cents.

"That was a lot of money back then," smiled Phillips.

The church also served as a school until 1910, when New Bethel School was built.

In 1941, Bethel Baptist received an upgrade from its humble beginnings. A relocating Abingdon, Va., church donated pews, a podium and a piano, which was in use until last summer.

Despite two World Wars and The Great Depression, the church has never been in danger of closing.

"It [the church] has never been closed," said Phillips. "We have never been without a preacher."

Bethel Baptist’s existence has not been trouble-free, however. While the church’s membership exceeded 100 in the 1970s, the congregation currently numbers around 60.

"The old folks have passed on, and a lot of people have moved away," explained Phillips. "People just went [to] other places, found other jobs, and moved away. We don’t have many old folks in our church today."

She credited the congregation’s purpose and concern for the church as the reason for its longevity.

"They [founding members] built it on the foundation of the Lord being the head of it," said Phillips. "I think the Lord has been in the church since it was built; it is still that way today."

Pastor Bobby King, who has been with Bethel Baptist for 12 years, believes the church has survived "by the grace of God."

"With a church this old, people passing away will decrease your membership," said King. "It has been a challenge, but it has been a blessing."

Bethel Baptist members also have an eye to the future. King wants to prepare the congregation to keep the church alive beyond its centennial.

"We hope to establish good, concrete teaching principles so others can come in after us and keep the church going," he said.

Phillips believes the church is in good hands.

"I think the people who were there in the beginning cared about having a church," she said. "It was handed down from generation to generation; everybody has looked out for it. The younger generation is taught to care about the church."


A written history of the church, "The First 100-Year History of Bethel Baptist Church," was be published in late April.
Date Built: 4/13/1908

Age of Church building determined by?: Other reliable source

Service Times:
Sunday School 10:00 A.M. Sunday Service 11:00 A.M.

Website: [Web Link]

Church Address:
24004 Mock Knob Road
Bristol, Va USA

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