Who We Are...
The people of Bethel are a gathering of all ages and various backgrounds that come together to grow and mature in our faith journeys together. We have a significant number of young married couples with children that have become an important focus of ministry.
We believe the Bible is the inspired word of God and that Jesus is the only way to salvation and eternal life.
Although Bethel is not closely connected to the Mennonite Denomination, we are still influenced by the early teachings and doctrine of the Anabaptist movement that became known as Mennonite. We currently have some families with strong ties to Mennonite history and traditions, along with many people that come from a variety of other Christian backgrounds. Still others have joined us and are choosing Jesus as Lord and Savior for the first time.
We believe God has called us to take a strong stand on His word, to share the gospel as we live out our calling to serve, and to be a light and source of hope to our surrounding communities and the world.
A Little Background ...
In 1874 a group of Mennonites left Russia for America. In January 1875 the Bethel congregation was organized with 35 charter members. This group functioned as a fellowship without a building of their own until 1880 when the first Bethel Mennonite Church building was erected. It was a humble building, made from adobe bricks (some of which have been preserved and are displayed at the Inman Museum). It was located 2 1/2 miles south of Inman, one mile south of the church’s current location.
Bethel Mennonite Church flourished with the strong faith and devotion of it’s members. By 1897 the congregation had grown and a new facility was needed. A wooden church was built at our current location. As the church continued to grow, so did the commitment of it’s members. In 1913 the first missionary was commissioned from within the congregation. During the following years, missionaries from Bethel Church would evangelize to the American Indians. They traveled to Kansas City, Chicago, parts of Wisconsin, as well as India, Africa, South America, and the Philippines. Bethel Church has a rich Missional tradition that continues today with missionaries from our congregation serving across the world and in different areas of the U.S.
In 1928 tragedy struck when Bethel Church was burned to the ground as a result of a lightning strike. Eleven months after the fire, the new building was dedicated. It was a labor of love in which many members had directly contributed to the construction. Bethel Church continued to grow and develop.
In 1953 tragedy struck at Bethel once again in the form of a fire. Although the source of the fire was never officially determined, many believe the fire was caused due to a build-up of gas pressure as a result of heavy frost on the pressure regulator. The fire that resulted again destroyed everything. All that remained was a chimney that stood alone amongst the ashes.
The destruction in ’53 was tragic. However, Bethel was growing and a new space was needed. A dramatic remodeling of the building had been proposed at the previous annual meeting. The proposal was declined at that time, but now the new building would be built. With the help of all of Bethel’s members, as well as help from 16 other congregations, the current (4th ) building was constructed using block and brick. It was dedicated in July of 1954.
Today Bethel is made up of a variety of individuals; from retired seniors to young adults, from growing families to single professionals. The diversity found at Bethel is common from our beginning. The original 35 charter members in 1875 came from 9 different villages in Russia, all with different thoughts and traditions. We are still all very different, but we are all brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus who are united as one body in the fellowship of the church.