No 1 Church, near Harroldsburg, Kentucky, June 8. This church is known as "Bethel No. 1" because of another C.P. Bethel in the same county.
In the full-day's service, one of the older ministers of the section, Rev. B. H. Henderson, brought a message. Dinner was served on the grounds. In the afternoon the pastor, Rev. Ezra L. Jewell, gave something of the early history of the church. Elder Milton Catlett gave something of the later history of the church.
Bethel Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized March 28, 1847, by 86 members, who formerly worshiped with the Dutch Reformed Church at Old Mud Meeting House on Salt River on the Dry Branch Road. Many of these had been adherents of the Dutch Reformed faith.
The Cumberland Presbyterian faith had its beginning in Mercer County in the spring of 1826, when Rev. Laban Jones, Rev. David Robinson and Rev. John Irvin, with torches lighted in the fires from the great Revival of 1800, came to this section and began religious meetings. Laban Jones was born in Virginia in 1796. He studied law and was licensed and began at once to prepare himself to practice in Kentucky and Indiana, but was caught in the religious fervor of the Great Revival, and at the age of 24, he professed religion and joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for the ministry.
When he came to Mercer County in 1825, he began to organize "societies," or groups of persons who could worship together until they could organize a church. With his co-workers, Robinson and Irvin, a Cumberland Presbyterian church was organized in 1826 at historic Old Mud Meeting House, and here worship was carried on until 1847, when Bethel was erected on land given for the purpose by Henry Comingo, one of the ruling elders of the church organized at Mud Meeting House.
The first Bethel edifice was of logs. Rev. Laban Jones, in 1844, had gone to Jefferson County to become pastor of the Bethlehem Church, but he returned to Mercer to preach a dedicatory sermon in 1847, of the new log Bethel Church, of which Rev. David Robinson was the first pastor. Jones died in 1848 and is buried in the Bethlehem Cemetery.
Among the ruling elders of Bethel, while the congregation worshiped in Mud Meeting House and later in Bethel Church, were Henry Comingo, Henry Scomp, David Board, William Semonis, Henry Bonta and others. These are ancestors of many members of the church today.
The log church was used for about thirty-five years, or until the present edifice was erected in 1881. The lumber for this building was from yellow poplar trees, which grew near Jenkinsville in Washington County. The lumber was hauled to the site on wagons. The present building has been in use 66 years. It was dedicated by a Rev. Mr. Blake. Among the ministers who have served at Bethel as pastors were Rev. J. C. Gilliam, who took charge just after the Civil War and served for 35 years, until his death. A young minister by the name of Taylor followed. Others who have been pastors or supply ministers include Revs. B. H. Henderson, David Vance, N. A. Johnson, R. D. Burgess, J. T. Piper, Mrs. Lottie Smith, E. L. Freeman, Roy Furkin, J. W. Furkin, C. E. Trent, and the present pastor, Rev. Ezra Jewell, who has served the church since 1939.
One of the most remarkable activities of Bethel is the prayer meeting, starting when the church was organized and carried on continuously through a hundred years by each succeeding generation of members. Today it is one of the potent factors of the present church, and its influence through one hundred years has set in motion moral and religious forces that are reflected in the good people of the Bethel section.
One of the most progressive steps of Bethel Church was building a complete and convenient small manse in 1941. The church now has full-time preaching, 164 resident active members, and 109 non-resident members, many of whom live in other states. The financial and spiritual conditon of the church is most satisfactory. During the past year the congregation has paid out for all purposes over $2,400, and has on hand a building fund of $2,000 toward a Sunday school addition to the edifice.
In 1906 Bethel was the only church in the Louisville Presbytery that refused to be merged. It was then placed in the Cumberland Presbytery of which it is now a part. Since becoming a member, Bethel has entertained Cumberland Presbytery in 1821, 1934, and 1944.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, July 17, 1947, pages 13-14]
The Bethel Church had its beginning at the Old Mud Meeting House. A new church the Cumberland Presbyterian--which had organized its Presbytery in 1810 and its first Synod three years later, was actively establishing churches in central Kentucky. Rev. Laban Jones, who was born in Virginia in 1796, was missionating through the Bluegrass. He studied law and was licensed and began to prepare himself to practice in Kentucky and Indiana, but was caught up in the religious fevor of the Great Revival. At the age of 24 he professed religion and joined the C.P. Church for the ministry.
When he came to Mercer County in 1825 he began to organized "societies" or groups of persons who could worship together until they could organize a church. With his co-workers Rev. David Robinson and Rev. John Irvin, A C.P. Church was organized in 1826 at historic Old Mud Meeting House and here worship was carried on until 1847 when Bethel was erected on land given for this purpose by Henry Comingo, one of the ruling elders of the church organized at Mud Meeting House.
It is remembered by some of the old who still survive, that among the ruling elders of the C.P. Chruch during the 20 years of meetings at Old Meeting House were the names of David Board, Henry Comingo, Henry Scomp, Wm. Semonis, Garret Cozine, Jesse Gritton, Isaac Vanarsdall and Henry Bonta.
Rev. Jones was pastor of the C.P. Church for several years. Rev. David Robinson was his successor and preached for several years. 86 members transferred from the "Mud House" to Bethel the 28th of March 1847.
Bethel Church was built on the turnpike road between Harrodsburg and Perryville. Of these 86 members more than 3/4 bear Dutch or Huguenot names.
The log church at Bethel was used for about 35 years or until the present edifice was erected in 1881. The lumber for this building was from yellow poplar trees, which grew near Jenkinsville in Washington County. The lumber was hauled to the site on wagons. The present building has been in use 99 years (1881-1980). It was dedicated by a Rev. Blake. Among the ministers who have served there as pastors were: Rev. J. C. Gilliam, who took charge just after the Civil War and served 35 years until his death; a young minister by the name of Taylor followed and otheres who have been pastors or supply ministers are : Rev. B. H. Henderson; David Vance; N. R. Johnson; R. D. Burrus; J. T. Piper; Mrs. Lottie Smith; E. L. Freeman; Roy Furkin; J. W. Furkin; C. E. Trent; E. L. Jewell; A. B. Hiser; Jessie Gibson; James Garrett; Arvin Milby; V. L. Lawrence; Larry Thomas; Gerald Underwood, and present pastor, Rev. James Byrd.
First members on record were in the reorganization of the church in 1866. The real date of their admission is not known. Some of them had been members since 1833: Mary Jane Algoo, Hannah Collier, Mason Collier, Lydia Comingo, Catharine Jackson, Artura Rujsell, John Rujsell, Elizabeth Semonis, Ann Watters, Thomas J. Board, Mary J. Board, Vary Con Se, Mary Nichols, James H. Semonis, George Neild, Alis Semonis, Harney Bonta, Elizabeth Bonta, J. Faircloth, Elizabeth Heff, Wm. French, Elizabeth Vanfleet, Wm. McGinnis, Mary Ludwick, Hanah Bonta, Rachel Robertson, Mary Robertson, Harrett Nichols, Abraham Comingo, Susan Neff, Malild Semonis, Mary Williamson, Allie Bonta, Rachel Semonis, Susan Semonis, Elizabeth Cannon, Elizabeth Titers, Caroline Divine, George Neff, Mary Neff, Elizabeth Board, Dealy Sevier, Margaret Terhune, Emma Bonta, George Penny, Sary Williamson, Martha Board, Malinda Cannon, Martha Chatham, David Chatham, John Wickersham, John Comingo, Nad William Comingo.
In April 1867 Rev. J. C. Gilliam became pastor of Bethel Church. First record of the first session meeting the following elders were present: David Board, David Bonta, J. W. Fletcher, and George Cannon. Bro. J. W. Fletcher was elected to go to Spring session of Ky. Presbytery at Caldwell Church in Boyle Co. Bro. Board was elected moderator of the session.
Following are some dates and events happening them.
July 26th 1868 - Martha Boyle was converted and session accepted her as a member of the church.
Sept. 8th 1868 - Following members accepted in to the church having been converted: John Whitenhill, Bettie Whitenhill, D. M. Ludwick, Isobel French, Mary Cox, Larue os, Josephine McIntyre, Miles Collier, David N. Board & Elizabeth Semonis.
Sept. 27, 1868 - The session voted to admit by letter the following: Elizabeth Beswick and Emily Gray.
Sept. 11, 1869 - A church meeting was held and Bro. Linzey Russell was elected ruling elder ordained by Rev. J. C. Gilliam.
Some of the places of meeting for the first presbyteries were: Caldwell Church in Boyle Co.; Providence Church in Marion Co., Hebron Church in Anderson Co.; Bethlehem Church in Jefferson Co.; Perryville Church in Boyle Co.; Mt. Gilied Church in Montgomery Co.; Winchester Church in Clark Co.
Sept. 24, 1870 - Following were elected as deacons in a meeting held at Bethel Church: Wm. Terhune, J. H. Semonis, George Bonta, and John Comingo.
Clerks of session from 1868 through 1875 were David Board and T. J. Board.
May 4, 1881 - At church meeting held in church the following persons were elected as Trustees: T. J. Jackson, C. R. May, Thomas Moss, H. G. Bonta. Following chosen as deacons: M. G. Teater, George Nichols, and James Tewmey. Alex Kirkland as an elder.
May 30, 1881 - Church Building committee turned over church building to church session.
Session clerk from 1881-1884 was Linzie Russell.
Rev. J. C. Gilliam resigned 1882. Rev. G. A. Blair was hired to come one Sunday a month for 6 months in 1883 beginning Sept. 1883. In March 1884 he was hired for 1 year to preach twice a month.
May 22, 1884 - Jacob Bonta appointed Clerk of Session. Following were elected elders: Jacob Bonta, Jaret Semonis, and Thomas Moss.
Clerk from June 14, 1884-Dec. 8, 1984 was Jacob Bonta.
In session minutes dated Sept. 21, 1889 Bro. Thomas Moss was appointed to talk to several members who had "not been walking orderly." He reported that he had talked to three men and one said he "was not fit to be in the church and requested that his name be taken from the church book." On motion this was granted.
Sept. 22, 1889 - David Terhune was elected as elder and John Davis as deacon.
No session minutes were recorded from Oct. 23, 1889 to Sept. 26, 1894
First examination by Presbytery Committee on session records was noted April 13, 1895.
Sept. 2, 1896 - Following persons were admitted to church after a revival held by J. C. Gilliam and Rev. E. E. Bonta: Mary E. Terhune, Susie Comingo, Lee Prewitt, James Semonis, Wm. Watts, Lilly Pelly, and John Collier.
Sept. 1901 - Rev. Henderson held a revival and following admitted to the church: Laura Cox, Maggie, Mattie, Lena and Wm. Wickersham, Jenny Owens, George Tewmey, Josie Graves, Maggie Ransdell, George Roney, & John Catlett.
July 1903 - Following were appointed to committee by session to build and repair fence around cemetery: George Nichols, Robert Ransdell, John Wickersham and Lou Whitehouse.
June 25, 1906 - Resolutions were written in session book for Rev. Gilliam who died on this date.
On June 22, 1907 the following resolution was adopted by the session, composed of D. R. Terhune, J. H. Bonta, & J. L. Semonis, that "We as a church are unattenably opposed to the union of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church with the Presbyterian Chruch of the U.S.A. Resolved that we believe in the teachings set forth in the Cumberland Church to be in accordance with the word of God as taught in the scriptures." Bethel was the only church in the Louisville Presbytery that refused to be merged. It was then placed in the Presbytery of which it is now a part.
Sept. 26, 1908 -- Rev. J. T. Barbee had a revival and following were received into the church: Mattie Powell, Susie Prewitt, Leur Murphy, Martha Murphy, Willie Nichols, Lee Kirkland, Talmadge Ransdall, Josie Kirkland, Oval Cannon, Virgie Tewmey, Hubert David, Margaret Kirkland, Alex Kirkland, Jr., Oliver McGinnis, Ben F. Logue, Virgil Tewmey, Effie Teater, Bessie Teater, Mary Alice Kirkland, D. J. Jackson, Carl David, Eliza Logue, Etc.
July 25, 1909 - J. H. Bonta & D. R. Terhune were elected as trustees of the church and Lee Kirkland and Robert Ransdall as elders.
Aug. 20, 1910 - J. L. Price held a protracted meeting and following were taken into the church: Nora McCrystal, (our oldest member), Ethel Kirkland, Hardin Langford, Gilbert Nichols, Grace Williams, Mrs. Bessie Semonis, Walter Langford, etc.
First infants recorded as being baptised at that time were: Graham Nichols, John H. Graves, Elizabeth Murphy, Thomas Adkison, Detra V. Adkison.
Oct. 26, 1912 - A memorial was written to Synod asking that the bounds of Louisville Presbytery, in which Bethel Church is located, be included in the bounds of Cumberland Presbytery. A note recorded on Oct. 29, 1913, in session book stated Ky. Synod of the C.P. Church included the bounds of Louisville Presbytery with that of Cumberland Presbytery. After joining Cumberland Presbytery, there being two churches by the name of Bethel, this church then became Bethel No. 1.
June 15, 1913 - Church Session met and ordained Alex Kirkland Jr. and John Catlett as elders.
Jan. 23, 1915 - Bro. N. A. Johnson was hired as pastor. Henry McCrystal recommended for deacon. Decided that the deacons see each member of church and have a book and take the amount each member pays.
Sept. 28, 1918 - Rev. O. A. Barbee conducted a revival and following joined the church: Elizabeth Murphy, Bernice McCrystal, Sallie Weldon, Milton Catlett, Sr., Marshall Wickersham, Alcie Divine, Addie McCrystal, Fay & Ray Catlett, Beatrice Divine, Anna May Gains, O. W. Trayner, Jr., J. W. Divine, and Martin Reed.
Minutes were written in the old session books approximately twice a year. In the spring and fall before presbytery meeting.
No records from 1918-1940
[Source: No author. Five page typescript deposited in archives in 1984]