From Sheep Shed to Shining Beacon
Bethany Baptist Church
Several years before Bethany Church was organized, the people of the surrounding community met for worship in an old schoolhouse that was known as the Old Sheep Shed. There they would worship, sing and teach the children.
In 1884 Bethany Baptist Church was organized with a membership of 27. The first pastor was Rev. Elder M. McGee.
In a short time a small church building was erected, with a seating capacity of 300.
The church was accepted into the Saluda Baptist Association in 1885, an affiliation still enjoyed today.
By 1899, the membership was 156. In these early years of the church, the men sat on one side of the church and the women sat on the other. The side the men sat on was known as the "Amen Corner".
The church continued to grow and in 1900 preaching began being held every first, second and fourth Sunday. Since at that time there were no paved roads and automobiles, when the weather was bad, services were cancelled.
In 1914 Walter O. Bratcher, who was 16 was elected as a Deacon. He was the youngest man to ever be elected to that position at the church. He served for a short time but read in his Bible that a Deacon should "be the husband of one wife. Since he was not married, he resigned. The story goes that years later, after he did marry, he served as a Deacon for quite some time.
In 1934, envelopes were ordered and distributed to each member. The idea was that each individual would put his offering in the envelope and members were encouraged to give each Sunday. This was the beginning of the envelope donation system at the church. Oftentimes, it is shown that the church treasury ran short and donations were taken to meet the pastor's salary. The congregation never failed to meet the needs of the church.
The first electric lights in the church were installed by Duke Power Company in 1936. The total bill which included wiring, white shades, light bulbs, and the light bill for July through December came to $25.81.
In 1952 work started on a new brick church building. When it was completed, the debts were paid and the church did not owe any money.
Mr. Walter Brown bought the old church building for the sum of $500. He paid for the building with silver dimes.
In 1967, the Educational Building was dedicated and in 1982, the steeple was added to the building.
Because of the heartfelt desire of the faithful few to worship with like-minded Christians over 135 years ago, Bethany Baptist Church has stood as the center of worship for this community to the present day. May we continue to be a spiritual lighthouse, lighting the pathway to Salvation through Jesus Christ our Savior.