$200,000 needed to rebuild ‘Old Bethel’
July 26, 2005
JACKSON – Bethel Church, the first permanent non-Catholic church west of the Mississippi and the beginning of Baptist presence in Missouri, is approaching its 200th birthday. Though it has been dismantled and forgotten for decades, the Missouri Baptist Historical Commission is campaigning for a restoration project to help highlight the pioneering spirit of early American Christians.
The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) has designated Aug. 14 “Church History Sunday” and the historical commission hopes churches around the state will help in the effort to restore Old Bethel.
Plans include rebuilding the structure using the original logs and assembling a metal awning to protect it from the rain and sun. The proposed plan will result in a building and awning much like the Old McKendree Methodist Church, about eight miles northeast of the Old Bethel site.
Commissioners said the project likely will cost $200,000, including road and creek approaches, parking areas, cleaning and straightening tombstones in the church cemetery, rebuilding the chapel, building the awning and establishing an endowment for ongoing maintenance.