Some history of the church at Bethel Grove
We are one of the oldest of the churches of Christ in White County, AR (if not the oldest). Records date back to approximately 1853 as the earliest church meetings and the first church building built in 1868 at the location known as Bethlehem, 1.25 miles West of our present location. We still maintain the cemetery at that location.
Due to the change in major roads in the community, a new building was built at the present location in 1915 and the church had elders at or shortly after that time. That building was renovated and expanded several times over the years until, in 1977, construction was begun on our present facility and we began meeting in it in August, 1979. The old building still serves as fellowship hall, class rooms and benevolent program storage.
Some of the early preachers who conducted gospel meetings at Bethel Grove would sound like a roll-call of Who's Who in gospel preachers. Early names like Joe H. Blue, John L. Fry, Rue Porter, J.H. Whisnant, C.L. Wilkerson, Jesse T. Lashlee, L.O. Sanderson, L.E. Pryor, John Lee Dykes, J.D. Bales, Glen Pace--just mention a few. (For more information on some of these early preachers, see ARKANSAS ANGELS, Boyd E. Morgan, 1967.)
Bethel Grove has a very long history of being known as a 'mission-minded' church. Some of the earliest mission efforts were within our county. Members from this congregation were instrumental in the beginning or re-activation of congregations in Judsonia and Searcy and continued active in those churches serving as preachers, song leaders, elders and deacons as country people moved to the towns around us.
Mission efforts have included support of Bob Hare in Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe all during his long years of service there. We have supported and/or sponsored other mission efforts in the Netherlands, Italy, Africa, Phillipines, Brazil, and more recently, in Guatemala (See our Mission Work pages). We do more than lip service to the concept of world missions. Historically, a significant portion of our total budget has been dedicated to mission efforts and many current and former members have been involved in such efforts.
We feel fortunate and grateful that some of our members today feel a sense of heritage in that many of us are several generations down from some of the very early members at Bethel Grove. Some of our youngsters (very young) are sixth or seventh generation of families who are and/or have been members here.
All of this 'heritage' places a great deal of responsibility on us today. Any church, yes, all the Lord's church, is only one generation away from extinction. We have a deep feeling of knowing that in our hands is placed the 'faith of our fathers' and this places squarely on us the task of continuing what was once delivered to us. May God help us be faithful to the task.
We've got the tools
You bring the imagination!