OLD BETHANY CHURCH

     

Bethany,

Brooke Co, WV

     The first church at Bethany was organized and the first building erected before 1835 on land donated by Alexander Campbell, leader in the Disciples movement.

     Located on the eastern edge of the Village of Bethany, this first church was constructed of stone and placed at an angle to the road and the baptismal site was the ford of the nearby Buffalo Creek.

     The present brick building, erected on the same site but facing the Village, was constructed in the early 1850's. In 1851, while supporting efforts to build a church building in the nation's capital, Campbell wrote"

     "A majority of our churches are absolutely without meeting houses or in meeting houses behind the age and the growth of the churches. This is the case at Bethany. We have aided sundry infant and weak churches to erect houses and now, in common with the very many of our communities, endeavoring to raise a house equal to our wants."

      Stones from the first meeting house were used in the foundation for the structure now standing. The exterior of the building today looks as it did when first erected.

     The rectangular structure has large, double hung, 12 over 12 windows and has two entrances, one on either side of the pulpit. The congregation sat facing the entrances and that pulpit. It is said that Campbell believed this arrangement encouraged early arrival for worship and seated people closer to the front.

      Dominating the front room was the pulpit. The straight-back pews were arranged down the middle of the room and each had a middle divider which separated men from women.

     Heat was provided by four stoves cast in Wellsburg. Light was from cast iron chandeliers, each holding four oil lamps.

     In early years, the church had no settled pastor and the elders took turns preaching. Campbell frequently spoke.

     For more than 100 years, members of the College's graduating class who were entering the ministry were ordained at this church at an early morning service conducted on Bethany's Commencement Day.

     The church saw use for more than 60 years until the congregation moved to the present facility in Bethany in 1915.

     The OLD BETHANY CHURCH was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 19767. It is one of five structures in Bethany, plus the Village itself, to be so listed.

     In the summer of 1984, restoration began on the old church. The work, made possible by a gift and a commitment from Mr & Mrs R.H. Rountree of Fort Worth Tx, is done in recognition of her parents, Rev & Mrs. Benjamin H. Harman. The Rev. Mr. Harman, now deceased, was an author and minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) serving pastorates in Missouri and in Arizona. Mrs. Harman observed her 93rd birthday anniversary at her home in Phoenix AZ, as the restoration progressed.

     This restored meeting house, most often called the Old Bethany Church, is available for use by the local congregation and visiting religious groups.

     ( There is MUCH early Brooke County History found about the Village of Bethany. This is on Route 67 out of Wellsburg, WV. Realize that the PA line is just a few miles east of Bethany, many early settlers followed the Buffalo Creek on their travels west. gh)