Page 1

A Collection of History, Letters, Photographs, and Memories of Bethel United Methodist Church over the last 150 Years Compiled by Collective Efforts of Current and Former Members of Bethel UMC

Great Selection of New & Used Ve hicles

GM Parts and Service

Medium Duty Truck Sales and Service

Collision Center

Quick Lube & Car Wash Facility (all makes & models)

GM Pro Shop

(770) 954-3000 145 Industrial Boulevard • McDonough www.bellamyst rickland.c om

Inside Special Features Welcome ......................................................... 4 Letters

(interspersed throughout book)

........ 5

History ............................................................. 6 Timeline .......................................................... 6 Cemetery History ...................................... 8 Pastor List .................................................... 10 Altar Furniture History ........................ 12 Library History .......................................... 14 UMW History ............................................. 16 Stained Glass History ............................ 18 Mission Outreach .................................... 22 Memories ..................................................... 26

Enjoy Bethel’s Story & Memories—

May Bethel’s Story Become Part of Your Spiritual Story Special thanks to Joan Thurman McElroy who lovingly and encouragingly brought together an enthusiastic team of people to make this 150th Homecoming Celebration and Memory Book possible.

Welcome Greetings Family In 1923 James Weldon Johnson penned the words “Lift Every Voice and Sing ’til Earth and Heaven Ring”. This song spoke of a people who had journeyed far by the grace and power of the Lord God Almighty. They were a people who held onto the faithfulness of God as they pressed their way forward. Today we, like them, should lift our voices in praise and worship to God. Today we hold on to the faithful arms of God who has brought us a “mighty long way”. We have come to an exciting crossroad in the life of Bethel United Methodist Church. We are extremely blessed to be here at this time and season in the life of God’s church called Bethel. We are living in a time when too many mainline denominational churches are closing their doors and dying slow and painful deaths. I am humbled and honored to serve as Pastor of this awesome church. God has used Bethel to remind the world that the church is not an institution but a living organism. Bethel like all living organisms is full of life, as she continues to be a beacon of love and hope to the surrounding community. There have been many saints who have preceded us to our eternal destination. Today they are in that cloud of witnesses that join us in the unending refrain “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty”. We who are here today stand on the shoulders of all the saints who have gone before us. In times of change and swift transition we are the shoulders that others will one day stand upon. Bethel is living proof, that in order for a ministry to thrive it must remain relevant to the community. I am proud to serve this church which continues to foster strong family ties while seeking opportunities to proclaim the good news of the Gospel to the surrounding community. Bethel has enjoyed a rich heritage of mission and service. The message has not changed but the methods continue to evolve. As we celebrate this historic moment in time let us all remember that God is not through with us yet. There is something that the founding brothers and sisters of this awesome church knew and I believe that it holds true today. The truth is, the best is yet to come. Let us march on to service in God’s army propelled by His Love, Mercy, and Grace. The best is yet to come. Congratulations Bethel. I am grateful for all who have served before, for those who are serving now, and for those who will serve in the future. Let’s continue to open our hearts to God and roll up our sleeves in service. Can you imagine the next 150 years? Wow, what a day of rejoicing that will be! May God continue to bless and keep each and every one of you. My family and I are grateful for the opportunity to serve God along with you. I shall always treasure my time at Bethel United Methodist Church. Peace and Blessings, Pastor M. Lavell Sanders


Left to right: Dr. Valerie Sanders holding Camille Sanders, Nia Sanders, Pastor M. Lavell Sanders, Caleb Sanders August 1, 2010


August 1, 2010


Bethel’s Story & Timeline

Bethel’s Story – F

efore the War Between the States, Bethel’s congregation worshiped at the old Concord Methodist Episcopal Church of Stockbridge. It was the vision and faith of people like John Pennington Austin who realized there was a great need for a church in the growing Fairview community. So in 1860, with the cooperation of other people of like faith and vision, the Bethel church was organized. The original deed states that on October 1, 1860, approximately 15 acres of land were purchased by the congregation from John Appleton Callaway. John Austin, B.F. Patillo, and John Callaway, along with others representing the congregation, had a vision of someday seeing a permanent “campground” located near the spring that ran across the property. During 1860-1861, services were held on the property under a “brush arbor.” During the years until 1885, itinerant preachers came, circuit riders with their saddle bags. How the people welcomed their visits in the homes, their wise counsel, the hour of worship, and many wonderful helps which God gave his faithful servants. Toward the end of the Civil War, the first actual church building was constructed. The building was a rather low, wide building with a balcony being reserved for the “colored people” of the community. There is no record of what happened to that building.

The church-owned cemetery, located across Fairview Road, is the final resting place for many of the original church families. The first grave was a member of the Skelton family who died the day after he returned from the War Between the States. It is interesting to note that the headstones face East in keeping with the tradition of country churches and they face the front of the old Sanctuary. The days of Bethel being served by circuit-rider preachers on horseback ended in 1885. Through the years of 1885–1947, Bethel shared pastors with Stockbridge, Ellenwood, Rex, Mt. Zion, Anvil Block, and Union. From 1947–1977 Bethel was served by “student pastors” from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Reverend James A. Moore came to Bethel as our first full-time appointed pastor in 1977. The following list or roll call of member families was copied from the oldest list available in the order that they appeared in the record book: Patillo, Skelton, McElroy, Bowden, Martin, Willaford, Wilkerson, George, Rowan, Carroll, Arnold, Ford, Stockwell, Henry, Harris, Lewis, Clark, Austin, Callaway, Cowan, Kelly, White, South, Swann, Lyle, Thurman, Pair, Suttles, Hancock, Rivers, Willingham, Turpin, Crumbley, Peterman, Gardner, Camp, Stewart, Johnson, Helton, Walden, Hollensworth, Pratt, Howell, Waggoner, Sanders, Pritchett, Stubbs. Many of these families are still members of Bethel!

timeline of physical and spiritual events 1829

Worshiped at the old Concord Methodist Episcopal Church of Stockbridge


On October 1, Bethel Church was organized and the present property deeded

Jack Swan built Sunday School rooms on the left-hand side of the church and Alf Clark built the Sunday School room on the right-hand side of the church



Ed Cowan was first church treasurer


Services were held under a brush arbor


Parent church of Rex UMC


Itinerant preachers or circuit-riders on horseback came and preached


Served by “student pastors” from Candler School of Theology at Emory University


North Georgia Conference was formed



1st church bldg was built at the end of the Civil War— unknown what happed to this bldg

Gertrude Cates was first president of the Women’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS)


1st funeral was held at the Bethel cemetery, Mr. Skelton, a Civil War Veteran

1950-1956 Renovation projects were started to update the interior and the exterior of the church 1950’s

Community House was constructed


2nd church building (now the Chapel) was constructed


Marie Bankston was first president of the Youth Fellowship


Shared preachers w/Stockbridge, Ellenwood, Rex, Mt. Zion, Anvil Block, and Union


Kerry Rob was the first Associate Pastor


Parsonage was built and furnished


Parent church of Ellenwood UMC



Rev. Dunaway preached a great revival and many souls were saved

Additional Sunday School rooms were added to the Community House


Dan Overstreet was the first pastor to live in our parsonage


August 1, 2010

History & Timeline

From 1860 to 2010 As a part of its rich history, Bethel is the proud parent of two other churches nearby, Rex United Methodist and Ellenwood United Methodist. About 1950, a program was begun to update the old church building: remodel and refurnish the interior, add the vestibule and brick the exterior. This was a huge undertaking for a small congregation, but by 1956 the work was completed and by 1960 the debt was paid. Also, in 1960, the parsonage was built and furnished. In 1983, the old Sunday School rooms on each side of the Sanctuary were opened to increase seating capacity for worship services. The Fellowship Hall Building is actually three buildings in one. The original building was called the Community House and was a small block building with a large fireplace, built by Bert White, along with a kitchen, and bathrooms. Later, a second section was added to provide more Sunday School rooms. In 1979 construction began for the final part which provided more fellowship space, additional Sunday School classrooms, and a basement. In 1977, work began on a recreational field, which was finished in 1989. In 1988, as part of an expansion program, the parsonage, which had served so many ministers and their families, was converted to Sunday School rooms. The congregation began giving the minister a housing allowance instead of a parsonage. In 1988, a stairwell was constructed in the Fellowship Hall

to allow children using the basement classrooms access to bathrooms upstairs. In 1991, the Fellowship Hall was nearly destroyed by fire. It was modified and rebuilt to accommodate a growing congregation. The congregation outgrew its Sanctuary in the early 1990’s and constructed the present Worship Center at a cost of 1.4 million dollars. For a congregation the size of Bethel, that was an impossible amount of money. But through the grace and miracle-working power of God, the amount owed on the Sanctuary is now approximately $488,000. The new Sanctuary was officially dedicated in December of 1992 as the congregation processed from the old Sanctuary to the new one under the leadership of Mrs. Kathryne Thurman Mitchell, Mr. Hoke White, and pastor, Dr. Orin L. Sampson. Mrs. Mitchell and Mr. White grew up in the congregation and were the longest standing members. Bethel continues to be a church of ministry and mission. The 21st century holds a whole new avenue of opportunity for continuing to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Praise God! Sources: 101 Years of Bethel Methodist Church by Lena Calloway Heflin Homecoming/Heritage Sunday 1998


Lena Callaway Heflin researched Bethel’s history for Bethel’s 101st Homecoming


Sanctuary was officially dedicated


Disciple Classes began


Jerry Ward was the first part-time music minster

2000-2006 Teen Center opened on Friday nights


Jim Moore was Bethel’s first full-time appointed pastor


Bethel sent a mission team to Guatemala


Began work on a recreational field—completed in 1989


Contemporary service began


Additional space was added to the Fellowship Hall including a basement


A Stephen Ministry was established


Sunday School rooms attached to both sides of the church were opened up for additional church seating



Additional pews, chimes, new chandeliers, and a PA system were added to the church

1986-1998 Pre-school and Mother’s Morning-Out Program 1986

Tim Muti was Bethel’s first part-time Children’s Minister


Parsonage was converted into Sunday School rooms


Added stairwell from the basement to the Fellowship Hall

1990-1994 Randy Kanipe was Bethel’s first part-time Youth Minister 1990

Construction started on the Sanctuary building


Fellowship Hall was almost destroyed by fire

2003-2004 Bethel Bridges Ministry started as a DFACS partner Bethel Library was opened in memory of Mildred Elliott

2004-2010 First Bethel mission team went to Honduras 2005

Former parsonage was used to house a family hit by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans


Contemporary Service permanently moved to the Chapel


Plans and negotiations began to move the current Chapel to accommodate the widening of Fairview Road—slated to begin shortly after the 150th celebration.


Celebrated “Bethel… 150 Years of Preaching the Gospel”

Compiled by Joan Thurman McElroy for Bethel’s 150th Homecoming 2010 August 1, 2010


The Cemetery Story

Bethel Cemetery 1860-Present he Bethel cemetery is located on Fairview Road across from the church. This cemetery is the final resting place of most of the founding families. The first grave was a member of the Skelton family who died the day after his return from the War Between the States. Bethel continues to maintain a Cemetery Trust Fund that provides for the maintenance of the property.

It is a Bethel tradition every year at Homecoming that we take up a special offering to help cover the cost of keeping the cemetery presentable for the families represented.

“John Appleton Callaway granted lands to trustees to construct a church building to be called Bethel Methodist Church in the year just as the North and South were preparing to have war. (1860) The men were called to the colors and the church was not immediately built. However, upon their return, the church was built around 1870.” Source: Pitts Theology Library, Emory University

Celebrating Life with

Horis A. Ward Funeral Home Fairview Chapel 376 Fairview Road • Stockbridge, GA 30281 • Tel 770.474.1231 • Fax 770.474.2199 •


August 1, 2010


August 1, 2010


Record of Pastoral Service

We Graciously Thank All Our Pastors for Their Dedication & Service Bethel Church was organized and the present property deeded on October 1, 1860. Originally on the Stockbridge Circuit, Bethel became autonomous in 1942. The following pastors have served since 1885.

1885-1888 O.B. Quillian

1916-1917 W.P. Carrmichael

1955-1958 Clifford Weathers

1918-1920 W.A. Wells

1959 Thurman Brooks

1889 W.F. Robinson

1890 R.A. Eakes

1921 G.T. Sorrells

1960 Kerry Rob

1891 F.P. Brown

1922-1923 J.S. Thairlkel

1961-1963 Dan Overstreet

1892 E.C. Marks

1924 J.R. Brendall

1963-1965 F.D. Turney

1965-1967 T. Reeves Smith

1893-1894 W.E. Tarpley

1895-1897 L.P. Neese

1927 D.B. Cantrell

1967-1968 Gerald R. Youtzy

1928 J.L. Harrison

1968-1971 Bob Bowen

1971-1974 N.C. Strickland, Jr.

1974 Joe McCombs 1975 John Giglio

1898 H.B. Weaver

1925-1926 M.M. Maxwell

1899-1900 J.W. Hunt

1929-1930 L.P. Huckabee

1901 G.D. Moses

1901 H.D. Pace

1933 G.G. Ramsey

1902 T.R. Kendall

1934-1936 G.P. Cantrell

1977-1986 Jim Moore

1903 J.L. Ware

1937-1938 K.W. King

1986-1987 Hoyt Purcell

1904 J.W. Bailey

1939-1941 Y.A. Bailey

1987 Doug Lott

1905 Robert Todd

1942-1943 H.O. Henderson

1987-1999 Orin Sampson

1906 J.S. Embry

1944-1945 W.A. Shelton

1999-2004 Robert Brown

1907 J.M.Sewell

1908-1909 M.B. Sams

1947-1948 T.E. Fowler

1910-1912 W.O. Butler

1949-1952 Frank Jerkins

1913-1915 F.R. Seabonn

1953-1954 Charles Tanner

1931-1932 J.G. Davis

1946 W. A. Woodruff

2004-2006 Bob Brown 2006-Present Lavell Sanders

Oils | Lubricants | Service Station | Automotive Commercial | Industrial | Manufacturing Supplies

Fairview Elementary Appreciates Bethel UMC as a School Partner

Ray Parker

Vice President/Sales Manager

Fairview Elementary — Soaring to New Heights 458 Fairview Road • Stockbridge, GA • 770-474-8265


4450 West Panola Road • Ellenwood, GA 30294 Order Desk: 770.474.1286 Fax: 770.474.2750 August 1, 2010


August 1, 2010


The Altar Furniture Story

Bethel’s Altar Furniture hown below are the original pulpit, communion table, and side chairs from the Bethel church built in 1870. This furniture was used until the renovation in the 1950’s. The pulpit was refinished and given as a gift to former pastor, Orin Sampson, who was here during the construction of our newest worship center. The other photos include the silver communion serving pieces, used for many years at Bethel. Presently the table and chairs are used in various locations around the church property. When the pews were removed from the Chapel to create a different space for Bethel to use, pastor Orin Sampson took the nameplates off of the pews and preserved them on a sidepiece of one pew. This “pew plaque” resides currently in the conference room to honor and thank those who gave so that we might have a place to sit during worship (shown, far right).


RAINES AUTOMOTIVE CENTER 4401 West Panola Rd Ellenwood, GA 30294

770.389.4175 770.389.0023 Richard Raines


August 1, 2010

FAIRVIEW CHIROPRACTIC CENTER 421 Fairview Rd. Ellenwood, GA 30294 770.389.1901


August 1, 2010


The Library Story

The Story of Bethel’s Library By Doreen Elliott y mother-in-law, Mildred Elliott, had passed away. Oh, how she loved to read! When we cleaned out her house, I took all the books home to search through them. You know how folks stick pictures, notes, mementos, and sometimes even money inside; everyone insisted every book and magazine be gone through, so I volunteered. This even included the sales catalogs that she had saved. She saved everything! Well, almost 1,200 articles of writings later, I had over 700 books. Members of the family took some, I donated some to the county library and gave some away, but I still had 600 left. What would I do with 600 books? In trying to figure out what to do with them, I thought of a church library. I wanted to ensure that they were put to good use, and I sure couldn’t read them all. I’m not much of a reader… I’m more of a talker… as everyone knows.

The main portion of Bethel’s Library

This is when I went to Robert Brown, our pastor at the time. He said there had been talk of a Bethel Library in the past, but nothing was ever done about it. I was now on a mission. I went to the Board of Trustees. If I could come up with the funds to pay for it, the Trustees agreed to approve it, and we could build a library.

My mother, who is an avid reader, read almost every one of the 600 books that were left to be sure they were all “fit” for church reading. Over 150 of the books were either political in content or about famous people like Princess Diana, Ludlow Porch, and John Wayne. We decided these were not quite exactly what would be found in a “church” library, so these books were sold for a donation to go towards the purchase of some of the materials that we needed. I received more donations to buy all the materials and Don Lewis donated the labor. In 2004, we opened the Bethel Library. It is dedicated in memory of Mildred Elliott by Doreen and Tim Elliott (shown left), and a plaque was placed shortly thereafter.


Eat Fresh.

on time, done right!

Bethel UMC thanks c&D’s Market for it’s faithful support of Abigail’s Pantry and the Fairview Community. 1029 Thurman Road Stockbridge, GA

678.565.3313 14

SNOW CLEANERS THREE · 220 Fairview Rd · Ellenwood, GA · 678.565.5249 August 1, 2010


August 1, 2010


Bethel’s United Methodist Women ethel’s Local unit of the United Methodist Women began on May 7, 1948, as the Women’s Society of Christian Service. There were 15 charter members. The first local president was Gertrude Cates, who was active in the unit until 1988. Starting in 1948, meetings of the WSCS were held on the Saturday following first Sunday of each month, at 3:00 p.m. At first these meetings were held in the members’ homes, but this gradually changed to having meetings at the church. In 1973, this group became the Bethel United Methodist Women. It was only one Unit until the members of The Bethel Women’s Club

Harold Jenkins Jenkins Agency inc. 1229C Eagles Landing Pkwy Stockbridge, GA 30281 Ph: 770-474-2031 Fax: 770-474-2039 auto • home • business • life

The United Methodist Women’s Purpose: “The organized unit of UMW shall be a community of women whose purpose is: to know God and to experience freedom as whole persons through Jesus Christ; to develop a creative, supportive fellowship; and to expand concepts of mission through participation in the global ministries of the church.” Over the years, Bethel’s UMW has accomplished much for the local church in addition to paying our pledge for missions. According to the constitution and Bylaws of UMW, the local unit has three things to fund: 1) Pledge to Missions, 2) Administrative and Membership Development, and 3) Mission Locally.

Jose’s Vinyl Service

Hello, neighbor!

Chesley Coleman, Agent 450 Santa Fe Trail Ellenwood, GA 30294 Bus: 770-474-3646

joined UMW. The original unit became The Katie Nep Circle (named for Kathryne Thurman Mitchell’s mother who was an active member for a number of years). The new unit became The Joy Circle. The two circles together formed one Unit.


If you have upholstery, eventually it needs help looking good again.

Please stop by and say, “Hi!” I’m looking forward to serving your needs for insurance and financial services. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. CALL ME TODAY.




If it’s vinyl or upholstery and needs repair, give us a call. We’ll get the job done with top quality results. ~ CALL FOR A FREE ESTIMATE ~ 1001013


State Farm, Bloomington, IL

José Quinteros August 1, 2010

678.289.6394 Gail Quinteros


August 1, 2010


Stained Glass Story

Discover the Windows of Bethel he stained glass windows around Bethel have always been significant to the congregation. The historical windows in the Chapel and the new ones in the Worship Center all share their symbolism at night by glowing to the traffic on Fairview, and in daylight shining on those inside the buildings. The beautiful stained glass memorial windows in the church were installed during the renovation that took place in the 1950’s. The windows were ordered from a well-known stained glass company in

Florida. (Windows are shown below. Due to the current configuration of the Chapel, only the tops are featured). Six of the windows in the main worship area (center photos) and four other windows in the vestibule (right), were dedicated during the 1950s renovation. (Read more about the windows on the next page). R. Nathanial Calloway and Elizabeth Dickens Calloway

Agnes Peterman 1910-1936

Solomon K. Austin and Madge Hollingsworth Austin

W.N. and Willie Selfridge South J. Wesly and Ann South Pattillo

Thomas Green Swann and Eleanor Austin Swann

Mildred F. Martin and Henrietta Gardner Martin

David O. Johnson 1860-1941 Coro H. Johnson 1879-1959


Ben W. Walden 1864-1954 Nettie Bowden Walden 1869-1949

William Green Callaway 1863-1952 Lilly Waggoner Callaway 1868-1934

August 1, 2010

W. Milton Clark 1887-1931


August 1, 2010


Stained Glass Story

In 1992 the new Sanctuary was officially dedicated. The three tall front windows were dedicated to the following: Kathryne Mitchell; in memory of Clyde and Katie Nep Thurman

Merrill, Bromley, Henry Lem, Stafford, Joseph Jerre Clark, and Abbey McElwain; in memory of Grover C. and Jessie B. Clark

Carolyn Cox, Martha and Billy Thurman, Harold Thurman, Marie Bankston, Sara Batten, and Delane Gossett; in memory of Glynn and Ellen Thurman

The eight lower ground windows were dedicated to the following: Jim Clark Family Mike McLendon Family Emory Nash Family; in honor of The Goodwin Family, Johnny, Deena, Lindsay and Seth Robert White and Bill McKnight Families; in honor of Christopher and Dustin White and in memory of Brandon White

Thomas White Family; in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Clifford C. White Hoke White Family Helen, Newt, and Marion South; in memory of William T. and Mildred B. South Edward and Eleanor Asay; in memory of Mr. and Mrs. H. Clifford Smith

Please take the time to walk the grounds and see all the stained glass windows. We were not able to include photos of all of them. When you have the chance, we invite you to see them in person to see their full beauty.


August 1, 2010


August 1, 2010


Missions Over the Years

Missions—From Stockbridge to Honduras (and all places in between)

issions in the Fairview community have always been important to Bethel. In the Memory section you will read all about Vacation Bible School and how important it has been in Bethel. And yes, VBS is definitely mission work... along with Scouts, Teen Center, Friends House, Helping in His Hands Ministry, all the way to Honduras. Mission growth and expansion continues today at Bethel. Two specific events at Bethel helped to reinvigorate missions in recent years. One was implementing Disciple Bible Study into the congregation. Many people began to see mission in a whole new light, much more inclusive than the international trips. The second was a “Mission Weekend” in 2001. Below are some snippets of information about mission-related events through Bethel, designed to give you a snapshot of these important endeavors.

A New Era of International Missions by the Per-Lees: Basis for Missions: In 2000, Bethel’s newly formed Outreach Team felt led by God to lay a foundation for international service by teaching multiple lessons on the biblical basis for missions. In 2001, the team organized “24 Hours of Missions” which included a Saturday of service, dinners in members’ homes with local and international missionaries, and Sunday services focused on missions. Guatemala Trip: In 2002, Bethel’s first international missions team journeyed to Guatemala. There, they helped build a medical clinic and hosted a Vacation Bible School for local children. God’s initial spark now flamed. Each year from 2003 to 2010, Bethel sent a team of 12-16 people to El Paraiso, Honduras where they continued work on a local church, taught sign language, and hosted VBS. By returning over the years, Bethel members built enduring relationships with Honduran friends. China Trip: From  2004 to 2006, John, Joni, Katie and Abigail PerLee lived in Tianjin, China where John and Joni taught business courses at Tianjin University of Technology. With Bethel’s support, God provided them with opportunities to teach practical skills, share their faith, and see students become followers of Christ. Other individuals in our church have gone on trips in recent years with other groups. Take a moment to ask E.Y. Baine, Matt Pierce, and Vickie Pinson about trips they have taken.

Helping in His Name Ministry by Jean Cornwell: As far, as I’m aware, I was involved with this ministry soon after it was established under the combined group of similar-minded people of various faiths, creeds, and otherwise. I had been looking for some place to be of service in the community around Fairview Elementary School, but someone told me they needed help in the office at the food pantry. I didn’t get an interview, I got a job! So I talked up about the food pantry to everybody until they were “weary” of me. That is how I felt that Bethel Church could offer their help. Many folks remember when the plastic bags became the containers for food pantry recipients to  carry their “purchases” home with them, loaded down! Of course, real food items (can goods) were requested also by memos and inserts of Bethel’s news. So without taking too much credit, I think it started in 1968 to 1973 that Bethel Church became a Helping Partner for the Helping In His Name Ministry. Abigail’s Pantry by Fred Przystas and Robert Brown: Abigail’s Pantry began during Robert Brown’s term at Bethel. We were still in the Fellowship Class meeting in the Fellowship Hall. I believe it was in Robert Brown’s last


year there when Abigail’s Pantry began. Christine Brown won the “name this mission”. She named the mission in 2003 after a Bible Study on 1 Samuel 25 that Shane Robbins led one Wednesday night.

The Newest Outreach – WHO by Diane Geno: WHO? Workers Helping Others. WHAT? Bethel folks will reach out into the community to help with small, helpful maintenance activities for the elderly, disabled, or with physical limitations, who need a few extra hands to get some simple but necessary things done around the house and yard. WHEN ? It is slated to begin Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010. WHY? To be God’s hands and feet on earth and reach out into the community to connect with our neighbors in Christ-like relationships. TLC Ministry: This ministry can be summed up by noting that TLC has been a very important way to reach out to shut-ins who cannot get to church, and folks in general who need to be touched in a kind way to remind them the church is thinking of them. Mary Jane McArthur has been instrumental in forming this ministry and Pat Pritchett is continuing those efforts. Youth Missions by Doreen Elliott: Tennessee: In 2004 approximately 35 youth and adults went to a small town outside of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, where we painted the entire outside of a widow’s home, Ms. Georgia Whipple. We finished in time to even add insulation to two outer walls of her bedroom where there was NO insulation at all. The draft in the winter was very cold for her. She was so sweet. We stayed in a an old mountain retreat facility. Everyone would come in and turn on the air at the same time, there were a couple hundred folks total at the facility. This would trip the electric breakers and all the power would go out for hours. Our youth bathed in their swim suits outside in the rain one day. It was lots of fun and there were many great memories. All About Reaching Children (AARC): Our first visit to AARC was Nov. 11, 2006. We slept inside on the floors in sleeping bags. We did a lot of needed house and yard work at the foster home. We cleared the back of the property for paintball for the youth. There were several paths to clear and a long-g-g one that went to the animal area at the barn. This is where they had therapy for the kids with the animals. We stayed four days total. We went back to AARC June 19-21, 2007. We cleaned the chicken coop and made it larger. We worked the vegetable garden, built a flower garden with a seating area out front and even buried their beloved dog, Rufus. He was run over by a car, the night before we got there. We slept in tents outside. Nov. 2007, 19 of us returned to AARC to build a bridge over the creek, a project that spanned over two days. Previously you had to jump the rocks across the water or walk down the drive, up the road and back down another drive to get to the barn and animal area. We left part of Bethel there permanently by using the foundation of the old trailer from down on the ball field for the bridge foundation. We all signed the frame after it was painted. Seasoned Saints Luncheon: We had a youth/seasoned saints joint luncheon with 30 in attendance in the fall 2007. After the youth served a great meal, we all ate and learned about each other’s past. Louise Murphy taught us how to make Chrismons for the Christmas trees that are displayed at Bethel each year. 30 hours of famine in two days of March each year resulted in lots of clean up around the church, at seniors homes, at the Fairview Senior Center, AARC and at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Sure was hard to sort food when we couldn’t eat any of it. We slept at the church in various buildings

August 1, 2010


August 1, 2010


Missions Over the Years in sleeping bags. The Prayer Pals & Prayer Partners started in March 2006. Many loved ones have gone on to be with the Lord since then and I am so proud of all our youth and college folks for keeping in touch with our seasoned saints over these last three years. Sr. High Prayer Breakfast started Feb. 2008.

Scouts Programs by Kellie Frissell, Ron Beavers and Larry Ricks: The Boy and Girl Scouts have been a highlight at Bethel for as long as most remember. In 2009, several senior Boy Scouts wrapped up their years with a big project that involved building Camp Hyde. The camp includes a fire pit and a nice area for tents. A bathroom was installed on the ball field. In recent years, Tom Mahoney, Ron Beavers and Larry Ricks worked with the Boy Scouts. Since I’ve been at Bethel (late 1996), Alan Pierce and Clyde Davies have worked with a massive number of Boy Scouts. Tracy Williams and then Gail Quinteros have grown a great group of Girl Scouts. When you consider the numbers of kids who have gone through Scouts at Bethel, you realize just how much young people and their own parents—even their future families—have been positively affected. The Origin and History of Christmas Outreach @ Bethel: For more than 20 years, Community Christmas For the Needy (CCFN—a program overseen by Stockbridge Presbyterian and Connecting Henry) provided Henry County’s less fortunate citizens with a source they could rely on for assistance during the Christmas holiday. Unfortunately for Henry County, CCFN decided to disband shortly after December 2005, citing it was in the committee’s best interest to do so. That decision made, hundreds of families within the county were going to be directly affected and not in a positive way. If ever there was a silver lining to this sad development, it was in the knowledge that a large majority of the workforce behind CCFN was made up of Bethel UMC volunteers. So it should come as little surprise that a handful of concerned members collaborated to form a program designed to service those with hardships at Christmas within Bethel’s immediate area. In September 2006, Christmas Outreach @ Bethel (COB) was formed. In it’s inaugural year, COB was able to “adopt” 13 less fortunate families within the greater Stockbridge area; providing each with a complete holiday meal, canned goods, grocery staples, blankets, toys for children, formula and diapers, personal hygiene products, and Bibles for youth. Additional services presented in individual family’s needs ranged from providing delivery of above items, procurement of furniture, and lessons in signing for the deaf, among others. Last year COB adopted 16 families, our largest and most challenging project to date. It is with great hope that COB will expand to serve even more of those in need and be around for years to come. And last but not least, Teen Center by Kellie Frissell: One of the biggest undertakings at Bethel was Teen Center. This involved 100+ volunteers, nearly a year of planning, and lots of prayers, blood, sweat, tears and laughter. We provided a safe “Place for Teens to Be”. In the process, we formed chaperone groups who learned to work together in spite of differences of opinion and styles—all to bring a ministry to fruition that Fred Przystas brought to Bethel’s vision. When I heard about Teen Center, I knew God wanted me to help out. And obviously others felt the same way. I will be forever grateful for having that opportunity and I believe God has blessed our efforts in all these mission areas for His Kingdom. There are other things like our Fall Family FunFest, Street Parties, Barbecues, Chicken Fry’s, working at the Races, and more mainstream things like Revivals, Musical Productions, etc. …too many to go into detail. Just know that Bethel is alive and well and striving to serve God through missions! (partial list compiled by Kellie Frissell)


August 1, 2010


August 1, 2010



A Collection of Memories from Years at Bethel (in no particular order)

From Ardyth Bankston:

come back for the celebration, and we used to eat outside back then.

Bethel has been a large part of my life. I have many memories here.

When the New Sanctuary was being built, I climbed the scaffolding to the top. It is an incredible view from the top.

I started attending Bethel in the early 70’s just as my family moved to Henry County. We were an Easter/Christmas kind of family. As I got older, my friends would ask me to come. We had our own group, The Fairview Fun Factory. There was no UMYF at Bethel at that time, much less a youth director. So us kids were on our own. We had bonfires, hayrides, swim parties, bowling, and just plain Christian fellowship. Occasionally the pastor would round us up for discussions. One of which led to a confirmation class that led to my baptism and joining the church.

I have served on numerous committees through the years, played with the youth, sang cantatas, played bells, and led Disciple classes. I even pitched at one of the softball games. I am not at all athletically inclined. I am very thankful for this church and for the many friendships that have influenced me and my family’s life.

From Pat Pritchett:

As I grew older, I met my husband here at Bethel. Gene and I were married in the “old” sanctuary in August, 1981. My sister and one of my brothers were also married here. Gene and I have two children that were born and raised here, attended Mother’s Morning Out and Preschool. My children have enjoyed many Vacation Bible Schools here over the years.

I remember the Bible drills we had and that’s how I learned the books of the Bible.

I can remember weekend retreats, baptisms at Camp Glisson (being dunked by John Giglio, a previous pastor, in the waterfall), shaving cream fights by the older adults, and just downright fun. I remember polishing the silver elements for communion, baking the wafers and filling the tiny ”glass” cups with grape juice that had to be washed by hand. One time we ran out of juice and had to switch to Fanta grape. I remember the Homecomings of years past when the old members would

Our parents went with us to church and Sunday School and often the preacher and his family came home to eat Sunday lunch. I don’t know how they managed to have a good lunch ready and get us all off to Sunday School and church but they managed. I had a wonderful childhood. We were poor monetary-


Kathryne Mitchell and I love the old marble-topped Communion Table. We both remember my sister, Barbara Sanders Bialik, and I sitting on the floor polishing this little table’s intricately carved legs.

August 1, 2010

Memories wise but so rich in all the good things God gave us. Our lives revolved around church and family and we were enriched in so many ways.

From Bill Caskey: “Find a Need and Fill It” Right after our New Worship Center was built, we noticed the area in front had nothing but red mud and weeds growing. My wife, Judy, and I, and Ann and Ed Owens decided to do something about it. We purchase SOD and lay it ourselves. None of us had any idea how to do it. However, we had a Pastor who taught us to “Find a Need and Fill It.” On the day we planned to install the grass, we took my truck and trailer and picked up several pallets. It had been raining for several days prior but on this day the weather was clear. After we drove up to the church, we stood there trying to figure out how we were going to get the job done. The SOD was exceptionally heavy from the recent rains. Trying to lift the soggy mess and place it in the proper position was a big problem. Had we taken on more than we could handle? Not at Bethel. Much to our surprise, church members were driving by and noticed what we were trying to do. Before we knew it, the parking lot was full and people jumped in and started helping. What a wonderful sight to see these smiling folks joyfully working together to complete what otherwise would have been a difficult job. Over the many decades this same type story has been repeated many times at Bethel UMC, Christians “Finding a Need and Filling it.”

amazement these people agreed to come over to Rex and give me some ideas and costs of needed repairs and projects. After the completion of Bethel, I wanted to attend to see the completed version. I wound up sitting next to John Pearce, Bethel’s building chairman. The Lord puts us in these spots for reasons. I was finally able to get Jenny to attend some services with me. We would attend early at Bethel and then go to Rex. Jenny like the choir and learned to ring bells at Bethel. She continues to sing and ring today in Gold Canyon, AZ where we live. I remember when Robert Brown was starting Disciple I. Did I want to sign up for 34 weeks? Not really but I was certainly glad I did. I think we had a great class! Jenny went to a different class from me. We went on to Disciple II at Bethel and were in the middle of III when we moved to AZ. We repeated III and then did IV and then the Gospels. Bethel is a great place to go to church—great people, fellowship and food. I know when I come back to the area and walk into Bethel, people will be friendly and caring. God Bless you all, and if we are not there in August, have a great and wonderful anniversary.

From Charlie and Freddie Nichols:

Where should I start… My first encounter with Bethel was during the building process. I was chairperson for the building committee at Rex UMC and there were so many things we needed. Our minister showed me where Bethel was, as we were pretty new Yankees in downtown Rex. I journeyed over to Bethel one afternoon after work to check on the progress and met Orin Sampson. He introduced me to the building crew and to my

Our Bethel memories start in 1977 when Jim Moore was pastor. Jim and the Bethel folks gave us a warm and hearty welcome as we transferred membership from Wesley Chapel United Methodist in DeKalb County. Bethel was the perfect church for our family needs. Our oldest child, Marga, just entering 7th grade, found a large number of youth her age, and through Sunday School and other church programs developed life-long friendships. Our two younger children, Phillip and Casey were also raised in the active church programs that continued to grow at Bethel as they grew in their formative years. For all of the thanks we have to give Bethel, the lion’s share goes to all of the adult membership who gave unselfishly of their time to enable the growth of our children and those of so many more families.

August 1, 2010

From Bob Burgi:


Memories As Henry county grew, Bethel’s numbers grew until it became apparent that there would soon be no more worship space for visitors. At one time, we managed to put 220+ in one worship service in the old sanctuary. It was crowded, stuffy, hot and extra chairs were needed in the aisles, but the feeling of growth in the old sanctuary was a thrill that we will never forget. The more people that were crammed into the old church, the more exciting the service experience became. But the old sanctuary could not hold the influx of new residents in the area.   Through an intentional process, Bethel decided to reach out to the community and expand  its facilities to  be able  to offer a friendly place of worship to  its neighbors. There were many “Long Range Planning” meetings, filled with seemingly endless brainstorming mixed with prayer, and yes... some concerns about the challenges that lay ahead. Finally, the plan took shape with the input of church members, an architectural consultant, and a pastoral consultant from Texas, experienced in financial-giving campaigns. Ultimately the results were a beautiful Worship Center and with it a sense of renewal and pride in knowing that no one would be “turned away” for lack of space.  The stories of outreach, fellowship, teaching, learning, witnessing and spiritual enlightenment during our time at Bethel (1977 to 2006) are more than could be captured in 10 large volumes. Each pastor in the succession of pastors from Jim Moore to Orin Sampson to Robert Brown to Bob Brown preached the gospel with a unique passion conveyed from diverse personal experiences.  And through the triumphs and the challenges, it is apparent that God has been, is and will forever be alive and well at Bethel United Methodist Church. What a priceless heritage Bethel has to pass on to future generations! Happy Birthday dear Bethel.

From Deborah Joyce Cox: My first memory at Bethel: Summer of 1954 or 1955: I went to church with my grandparents, Ellen and Glynn Thurman. It was a hot summer day, possibly in July. There was no air conditioning, children’s church or any of those things like they have now. I remember having my baby doll with me and I played with her very quietly. Being a small child, I fell asleep during the service. The next thing I remember is a loud voice telling my grandparents to wake me up! As I started to cry, that man in a black suit with a loud voice said that my soul would or could go to a bad place. Needless to say, my grandparents had a few things to tell the pastor after service that day. My mother’s Funeral Service, April 2002: There was not a dry eye during that service as an earthly goodbye was said to her. Writing this it’s like I am sitting there seeing her “dog quilt” on her casket. I smile knowing that God let me know her for fifty years. This memory saddens me as I write this, but I know that she is in a wonderful place and she walks with me every day until the Lord takes me home to be with her. Carolyn Ellen Thurman Cox - September 22, 1924 - April 6, 2002 – At this Homecoming she is smiling down on us from heaven. Praise God!


From Doreen Elliott: Eric Brown was the youth pastor. I had just joined Bethel a few months prior. He was rushing around with many other things to do that Sunday so I asked if he needed me to help out with the Youth Usher Team… he did. Boy did he! I found out via the publication of the next weeks bulletin that I had volunteered to “lead” the Youth Usher Team. WOW did he learn early on how to work things. I did head up the Youth Usher Team that year and continued for many years and enjoyed it thoroughly. On Missions: I have been to Guatemala and to Honduras with many of my Bethel Family members; therefore I feel a special bond with them. Many emotions erupt inside of me at just the thought of those special times together, especially our very first mission trip. I had never been on a mission trip locally, much less out of the country. When the subject was first brought up I knew I wanted to go. Then we met to discuss the details. I thought “I have to pay $1100.00 to go down there to work”. I never stopped to think that if they had the money to fix and build the things that they needed, why would they need me? It was a “duh” moment. I can’t think of a better pastor to share this with than Robert Brown. He was and is a great person! His imitation of Gilligan on the bus was most hilarious. It was a bright spot for us to laugh at when the country looked so bare, poor and bleak. The third day at the job site I broke down in tears and Alan was gracious enough to let me cry on his shoulder, right there on the top step of the building where all the folks were all lined up to see a doctor. A trip many of them had walked as many as 15 miles for and would have to wait all day, and they had to do it once a month if they needed to see the doctor. I never expected to feel the way I did. It was sorrow, joy, fear, love, and many other things all rolled into one. The most important thing was that we went. We went to the job site and worked, we ate and worshipped together. We had fellowship together, we sang, we laughed, we loved the children and we cried several times together. I thought daily about family and friends, especially those back at Bethel praying for us every day. Riding on the bus, looking across the beautiful countryside and comparing it to the locals “attire” I had an epiphany right there in that foreign country and we all laughed about that as well, especially Robert. Everyone on that trip is forever etched in my mind as special and I love them dearly and forever. Music: One of my ALL TIME favorite memories at Bethel is the year Denise Brown sang Via Dolorosa at Christmas. The best!!! I joined Bethel on my birthday in 1995, December 10th; Orin was the pastor at the time. He used to have us circle up after the service and go around the room telling our names so everyone could get to know who we were, if they didn’t already. When we had done this several Sundays in a row, he got a kick out of asking us to say our “middle” name out loud instead. I was standing next to him one Sunday, I said “Doreen”. He asked my 1st name. He seemed so surprised when I told him it was Beulah. Isn’t everyone named Beulah? Anyway, there was this stray cat in the parking lot when I got there one Sunday morning, I asked who it belonged to and he told me that it was dumped out several days earlier and that I should take it home. Well it had been a while now since I lost my cat. I don’t know if she was taken or what had happened to her. We put out signs and searched feverously, but we were unable to find her, so I told Orin that if the cat was still there

August 1, 2010

Memories when the service was over that I would take it home. The service ended and I was getting in my car, Orin came by and asked “aren’t you taking the cat?” I told him that it was not in the parking lot anywhere, it must be gone. “Oh no it isn’t” he said. He conveniently closed it up in the chapel to ensure it was still there for me. I named the cat Sampson and still have him today. I cherish him dearly. Thanks Orin my buddy and my friend, Sampson.

From Fred Przystas: [Teen Center] was the best thing God put in my path. It was a ministry that could have continued for a long time. We pulled together as a church body, raised $10,000 in about 3 1/2 months, had 25 people on sub-committees writing rules, funding plans, games, activities, dress codes, safety, etc. It was amazing to see how powerful the Spirit is when folks are willing to let go and have faith! Thanks for being such an important part of that ministry.

From Gary Wayne Thurman: For me, Bethel Methodist Church was the center of the first twenty years of my life. I have so many memories of people and events, and so many of them revolve around this time of year. Believe it or not, I actually remember the Centennial back in 1960, even though I was only two years old at the time. I remember sitting on Mama’s lap, on the second row on the right side, and lots of men standing around the walls because the crowd was so large, and lots of speeches. (Long,

boring, speeches for a little tyke!) I did not know what was going on at that time, of course, but the memory remained, and later I came to realize the nature of this event which has stuck in my mind. Homecoming always meant two things: clean-up day on the Saturday before, and dinner on the grounds afterward, on plywood tables in a shady area which is now the parking lot. Heaven help the guest preacher who went too long on Homecoming Sunday, and kept the people away from their dinner! There was the lady who always brought chicken from KFC, but put it in her own dish to try to fool people into thinking that she made it. (Everyone knew, though.) Mama would always have to bring a place setting from home for Daddy, because he refused to eat from paper plates and plastic utensils. I remember the clean-up day the year the men tore down the old shack behind the Church. I remember lots of grass being cut by the men, and I remember many long hours spent in such fashion personally, working with my Uncle Clyde Thurman. I remember many different incarnations of the Community House, starting with a small building with four Sunday School rooms and a larger hall at the right side, heated by individual gas heaters. Cooling was by fan—the kind you put in your hand and waved from side to side. If Homecoming Sunday was rainy, the dinner was held here, but it was never as much fun as outside. I remember that during one renovation during the early 70’s a fireplace was discovered, hiding behind sheetrock on one of the walls.

The First State Bank Serving Henry County Since 1964

August 1, 2010


Memories Some bright new member suggested we uncover it and start using it again. “The ladies will love it!” he said. He was voted down by the other men, for they knew who would be cutting and supplying the firewood. The fireplace remained a secret. I remember the big tree just to the left of the Church, which was always “base” for our weekly games of tag after the service, and whose massive exposed roots were also great for climbing around. I remember the problem of having my first grade teacher, Mrs. Henry, as a member of the Church. No school day indiscretion, no matter how small, remained a secret once Church began on Sunday morning! And I remember Sunday School, so many wonderful teachers like Mrs. Bellamy and Mrs. Redding and many more. I remember the annual excitement of vacation Bible School. I remember a million Sunday School and Bible School songs taught to us on piano played by Aunt Marie Bankston or Mrs. Shirley Walden. And I remember Shirley’s husband Edsel growing a beard for another Sesquicentennial—that of Henry County. Is anyone growing a beard for Bethel’s? These days, I guess no one would notice. But my favorite part about Church during the summer was that there was no school the next day, and we might have a chance to go with Daddy to the mysterious “Church at Night,” more commonly called the Sunday Evening Service. We got to sing lots of songs from the green Baptist Hymnal or the little brown Cokesbury Hymnal. We would sing favorites like #153, “Love, Mercy, and Grace,” or my personal favorite, #121, “The Church in the Wildwood.” I can still hear the voice of Mr. James Cates soar for the high notes on “Footsteps of Jesus” and “Trust and Obey.” But the best part about Church at Night? Coming home, if I was lucky, daddy might let me sit in his lap and steer our old Chevy

down dusty Rex Road back toward home. That was quite a thrill for a little boy! And that’s one I don’t think we’d better try to duplicate today. Like Bethel itself, Rex Road has grown and changed quite a lot in 150 years!

From Jerry Wansley: In 1988 Marie and I moved to Little Mountain and we looking for a new church to settle in. We finally made it to Bethel. And almost immediately we decided this was it. I was so greatly impressed with how many young children and young people that were here and their enthusiasm. And we also had good friends going here as well. Over the years there have been many highlights and connections with many of God’s people.  I’ve enjoyed the small groups like: the New Founders Sunday School Class, the Disciple Study groups, the Choir, the Evangelism Committee, the Chicken Fries, the Family Outings of numerous sorts. It’s always been a great feeling to come and serve God and share it with all the great people here. Bethel is most special to me when my children and grandchildren come and worship here with us which is about twice a year, sometimes more. I’d like to name all the people I’ve enjoyed here, but I won’t. I might miss someone.  I still love seeing the children and youth that continue to serve with us. I would prefer that both services were combined. I feel we are missing the connections that are important between the old and the new. Right now I’m looking at the great potential that Bethel and the Christian faith has in this area. Praise the Lord our God always. May this church be a beacon for our community forever.

Tim Mitchell

404-685-1081 (Direct) · 678-623-3785 (Fax) 30

August 1, 2010

Memories From Joan Thurman McElroy:

offerings were placed in the decorated boxes and were hung on the Sunday School classroom door knobs for pickup.

Like most of my family, I was a member of Bethel before I was born. My Daddy, William White Thurman (Billy) and my Mama, Mary Martha Knight Thurman (Martha) were married in 1950. Mama was raised a devout Baptist, but moved her membership from Salem Baptist Church in McDonough to Bethel when they married. When I was born in 1955, there was no nursery. So I learned to be “good” in church from birth. My earliest memories of Bethel are the Fellowship Hall, then called the Community Building. It was a rectangular shaped cement block building with a cement floor painted red. It had a kitchen in the back right corner and a fireplace on the left wall. The tables had wooden pine tops with black iron legs. The chairs were wooden straight back chairs with woven cane bottoms. At Christmas we would have a live Christmas tree with a large fire in the fireplace. We would all draw names and everyone would have a gift. In the early 1960’s, Sunday School rooms were added to the Community Building. I remember my kindergarten teacher was Barbara Sanders. Other primary teachers were my Mama, Mrs. Jo Hanes, Mrs. Bill Bellamy, and Mrs. Billie Elliott. Mrs. Jo Hanes would invite us to her home for a wiener roast over a big fire and Mr. Hanes would help us ride horses up and down their driveway. My Daddy was my Sr. High teacher and was also the Sunday School Superintendant for many years. When I was really young, I remember decorating little parts boxes he would bring home from work. The Sunday School class

As a child, it was always fun when it was our family’s week to clean the church. My brother, Gary, and I, and my cousins, Glynnell and Gene Bankston, would clean for a while. But soon we would be playing “restaurant” in the Community Building’s kitchen or playing “wedding” in the church. Each summer Vacation Bible School was like a real vacation. We would begin by marching into the church singing “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” Mrs. Hubbard would help us create the most wonderful arts and crafts. We would have a glass of Kool-Aid and a large cookie for a snack. And we would always write our name on the bottom of the paper cup for us to use all week! We did not have a playground, but we didn’t need one. There was a really big oak tree between the Church and the Community Building. We would play on the roots of the tree, play freeze tag in the Church’s front yard, and play “rock school” on the steps of the church. My Maw-Maw Thurman was the Communion Steward for many years. She made her own communion bread. After church, she was always met by us kids wanting any leftover bread. My Uncle Clyde Thurman was also greeted by us kids every Sunday—he always had Juicy Fruit gum in his pocket. Uncle Clyde loved to cut grass. There is no telling how many times he cut the cemetery during his lifetime. In fact, he went to be with the Lord while he was cutting grass.

3611 Frederica Road · St. Simons Island GA


August 1, 2010


Memories Bethel, the place of God, continues to provide me with spiritual strength and wonderful memories. I look forward to the 200th Homecoming celebration. I’ll only be 105 years old!

Homecoming was always a special time. I can see Mrs. Fannie J. Clark walking down the church side walk with her daughter, Pauline Turpin, holding her Mama’s frail arms, as she carried her delicious chicken pie to tables that were set up under the trees. I can see Shirley Walden carrying a beautiful lemon meringue pie, then watching her trip over a tree root and seeing the pie plate break into a million pieces. I can see my Uncle Harold Thurman mixing together sweet tea in a large galvanized bucket full of crushed ice. I can see my Aunt Katie Nep Thurman proudly cutting her caramel cake. As she got older, I started making the caramel cakes for her. If anyone bragged on the cake, she would just wink at me and never let on that she did not bake anymore.

From Kathryne Mae Thurman Mitchell: I was born on May 1, 1918, but I was a member of Bethel before I was born. My mother was Katie Nep Swan Thurman and was born in 1888. My father was Clyde Young Thurman and was born in 1891. Both Mama and Daddy were lifelong members at Bethel as their parents were before them. In 1936 I married Ray Mitchell and we were blessed with the birth of Tommy Mitchell in 1940. Tim, Amanda, Avery, and Megan are my grandchildren. Madison and Grace are my great-grandchildren. I have truly been blessed with a beautiful family.

When I was growing up, the congregation of Bethel was always “breaking in” new student pastors from Candler School of Theology of Emory University. We took care of our student pastors and their families like they were our own. In 1965, when I was 10 years old, I gave my heart to Jesus under the pastorate of F.D. Turney.

The old church was one big room with carbide lights and a wood burning stove in the middle of the church. Wire was strung in the church to hang curtains to create Sunday School rooms. There was an outdoor toilet behind the church, better known as an outhouse—for women only. Bethel shared pastors with area churches on a circuit and met for worship once a month. When I was a teenager, my Uncle Jack Swan built me a Sunday School classroom on the left-hand side of the sanctuary. Mr. Alf Clark built the Sunday School classrooms on the right. When electricity came to the Fairview community in 1938, the church installed electric lights and then a little later stand-alone gas heaters. Each Sunday every family would give an additional $1 to pay for the lights and heaters.

Another memory—I always wanted to be a teenager. The teenagers always sat on the back row and looked like they were having so much fun. To name a few, there was Wayne Phillips, Edward Ricks, Lee Clark, and Jimmy Clark. When I did finally get old enough to join MYF, my Aunt Delane and Uncle Bobby were the youth counselors. I’ll always remember my Aunt Marie Bankston playing the old grand piano in the church. My second cousin, Kathryne Mitchell and her husband, Ray Mitchell, donated the grand piano in the 1950’s after the renovations were completed. Aunt Marie would also fill in as choir director if the church could not afford to hire one. Shirley Walden and my Mama would play for evening services and Sunday School.


When we arrived for Sunday School, Mr. Will South would have made the fire and would be sitting by the stove reading his Bible. My father, mother, and I would ride to church in a T-Model Ford. Another founding family of the church,

August 1, 2010

Memories girls to go home with them. My first cousin, Billy Thurman, who was nine years younger than me, was going home with us after church. He was sitting in the back seat of the T-Model Ford. He pitched a fit and cried for me not to leave with my friends. He was so upset that Mama wouldn’t let me go. I was so mad! On the way home sitting in the back seat of the Model-T, Billy would sniffle, slap my leg and say, “I got ya! I got ya!”

the Callaway family, lived on the corner of Panola Road and Fairview Road where the McDonalds is located today. In later years the Bellamy family moved to Fairview and raised their family in that same house. We knew that on rainy days, if we made it through Panola Road to the Callaway’s house, we could make it all the way to Sunday School and church. There were no paved roads from Rex to Bethel and actually, not many paved roads in Henry County. Quarterly meetings were held with the circuit churches. At that time it was Bethel, Stockbridge, Union, and Ellenwood churches. The District Superintendent would visit to review each church’s records. The churches took turns hosting the meeting and feeding the visitors from fellow circuit churches. When it was Bethel’s turn to host the meeting, Mama would cook and cook all day. She would always make a caramel cake and brag on how they ate all her cake. Daddy would say, “Of course it’s all gone, you forced it on them!” The Cowan girls were my best girl friends. One Sunday after church the Cowan girls invited me and the Noble

Homecoming was literally “dinner on the grounds.” The children would run down to the spring and play. Members that had moved to Atlanta for work would return to visit their Bethel family. Eventually Bethel left the circuit and began having its own preachers who were student pastors from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. On the first Sundays, church families took turns “feeding the preacher.” We ate in the dining room with Mama’s good china, crystal and silver. Dessert was angel food cake and homemade ice cream. I remember one Sunday Mama was feeding

Margaret Marlow Independent Insurance Agent Long-Term Care In-Home Care Term & Life Insurance


August 1, 2010


Memories Pastor Frank Jenkins and his family. Dinner was cooked before we left for church so the house would not be so hot and the food would be ready immediately after church. A plate of corn was passed around the table. The pastor’s son was heard to say, “Old cold corn!”

friend. We practically lived together during the summer taking turns staying at each other’s home. She lived in the Bethel parsonage so I spent many nights there! I was very sad when her father completed seminary at Emory and the family moved on.

There are so many memories as pastors came and went from Bethel. I remember in 1948, I surprised Pastor Thomas Fowler by picking up his wife and first baby from the hospital while he was preaching on a Sunday morning.

I could go on and on. I have so many wonderful memories growing up at Bethel like joining the choir at age 13, our youth group called “The Fun Factory,” so aptly named by my older brother Gary. I grew up and attended another church for 13 years. I ended up back at Bethel because it was my loving home. God lead me back to a place of love and comfort and it has been a true blessing since I returned in the early 1990’s. I’m older now but the love I have for the people of Bethel is appreciated more than ever!

Many of my family members are buried in the Bethel Cemetery across the street from the church; my husband, parents, grandma and grandpa Swan and grandma and grandpa Thurman. And when my earthly journey is over, I’ll join them for my final resting place at Bethel.

From Kathy Thurman Kerdsomboone:

From Larry Ricks:

I was born in August of 1960. This would have been the Centennial anniversary of Bethel. Homecoming has always been in August so I always thought that I and Bethel had the same birthday month! My earliest memory is of me coming down the steps of the church. I was so small that I was coming down the steps by sitting on the steps and going down one by one sliding down one step at a time. I could not have been more than two or three years old. When I was older I remember the dinners on the grounds that were outside. We children had great fun playing around the roots of the huge old trees that were in the back of the church. We also played freeze tag with the church sign in front as “base”. We had a couple of pastors with daughters my age. Bethel had a student pastor in the early 1970’s named Buddy Strickland. He and his wife Betty had four children. His daughter, Daryl, became my best


The Saturday before a Bethel Homecoming, us boys and daddy would go down to the pig pen and kill a hog. Scald it, dress it out. Throw the ears to the dogs; put the rest in some boiling water. Daddy would cut out a nice tenderloin and mama would put that on the stove, to have ready to take Sunday. Right around day break on Homecoming Sunday, we’d would go out in the yard, grab up a couple of likely looking chickens, ring their necks, pluck the feathers, wash ‘em up and give them to mama. She’d cut them up to fry, making sure there were some pully bones for us children. After the morning chicken run, we would wash up in the wash tub, with me being the youngest the water was always cold and by then, not so clean. Then we would put on our best overhauls, the ones with two straps, starched white shirts and if we had some shoes we’d put those on. If not, we’d just roll up the britches legs so they wouldn’t drag in the dirt. We’d hitch up old Sam to the wagon—he was a really good mule, could gee and

August 1, 2010

Memories haw with the best of them—anyway, we’d load up and off we’d ride to Bethel, for some preachin’ and eatin’. You know, that probably should have been Bethel’s 150 year Homecoming Theme…. “Bethel… 150 years of preachin’ and eatin’”. I can just see it on the sign out front. Y’all believe any of that story? Well, I’m sure it happened to some family in the past 150 years, just not to ours. Except for the hog killing—everybody knows you don’t kill hogs in August! I should have had us killing the fatted calf. Sounds more biblical, don’t you think? You know that Bethel is older than baseball? Like Yogi says ‘you can look it up’. I didn’t grow up at Bethel but my roots are deep here. Sheila and I have been members for about 32 years now. My mother grew up here and there remain plenty of kin folk here and several are across the road in the church cemetery. Y’all be sure and give to the cemetery fund. Seven pastors ago, we were young parents when we started here, with our four year old. There were other parents with young children who had just started here too. We made friends. You don’t get to pick your family, but you do get to pick your friends. And what better place is there than the church to make friends? Friends are the families you choose.

Some friends have gone home to Mississippi. Some have moved to North Carolina. Some have gone home to North Georgia. Some have moved to South Georgia. Some sadly, rest across the road. Y’all be sweet to each other, JIK. And some are still here and we love you all. Sheila and I are still making friends, new friends in Jesus Christ here at Bethel. Making new memories of Saturday morning breakfasts at Chick-Fil-A; enlightening and often hilarious Disciple classes (Pat Deloney with duplicitous Randy), or working the races for the HMT (You know how you feel when you work really, really hard and are as tired as you can be… but have the ‘good’ feeling of accomplishment, like it was worth it? Well, this ain’t nothin’ like that. This is mindnumbing tiredness. The kind that make you wanna say ‘Just shoot me’. Everybody oughta work some of those.). And happily watching babies grow up and having babies. Honestly, there has been blood, sweat, and tears shed through the

I’m sure everyone has told and heard stories with the ‘you just had to be there’ type ending. Well, these are some of my memories and I wish you’d been there.

Family is why we do it all.

Clearing land, building buildings, tearing out walls, then putting them back, cooking chicken (one time for three straight days), cooking a pig all night long for a Sunday School BBQ, (where McDonalds is now), Labor Day weekend retreats at Camp Wesley, Men’s club fishing retreats at Oconee and then West Point Lake (Milton’s Hilton, Edsel’s trout lines and ‘Come on down boys, I know this lake like the back of my hand’). Playing and coaching softball on days when it felt like we were on the surface of the sun (we had some very good women softball teams, men—not so good), teaching Sunday School and children’s church. Singing God’s praises—I could spend an hour just on memories of singing and the 11 choir directors I’ve known here. Being a part of 60 or so cantatas; being typecast as Jesus, (I finally got to be Herod this past Easter), singing acapella with Randy and Tonya; and listening to their three angels sing. I still miss John Webb and singing with my best friend Mike Barnwell. I’m already dreading Joe and Sandy eventually moving away. Alone again. And singing old Southern Gospel with my daddy in the Victory Road Quartet. Now my father was a bass singer, a really good bass singer. I miss hearing that low voice. I miss my daddy.

Shannon Till, Agent 222-B Fairview Road Ellenwood, GA 30294 Bus: 678-284-9432

Seeing and hearing my teenage son give his testimony from the pulpit (ok, it wasn’t as powerful as Joseph finding his young son, Jesus, teaching in the temple—but I was one proud dad) and witnessing the baptism of my daughter-in-law and her acceptance of Jesus Christ at the altar rail in the new church. What memories. 0907504

August 1, 2010

We all feel the same commitment to care for our families. Helping you meet your insurance needs is part of my commitment to you. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.® CALL ME TODAY.

State Farm, Bloomington, IL



years here. But the joy of doing Christ’s work here with people you’ve come to love, is something that can’t be described or measured. It has to be lived. On Homecoming Sunday some may make it back, most won’t. That’s alright, because all are thought of. All are remembered. Especially the Billy Duke plates. And it’s always a joy to see our new friends.

Thanks for listening to my Bethel Memories.

From Charles and Linda Henderson: Get involved in the life of the church. Make friends. Make some memories. Work with the ladies, teach the children, work with the men, join the choir… well not Ron Beavers, and he knows why. August 6, 2000, 10 years ago, a couple of hours after daybreak, I was standing in the parking lot just down the road at Horis Ward’s. My brothers, sister and I had just finished making final arrangements for the burial of our mother. Standing there I looked up the hill at Bethel, it was Homecoming Sunday. My mama had died earlier that Sunday morning. It was truly Homecoming Sunday for her, daddy, grandpa and grandma. And her meeting our Savior Jesus Christ, face-to-face. While we will have Homecoming and a feast here in three weeks, my friends, there is another Homecoming and another banquet waiting for us. Be ready. Don’t miss it, it’ll be the BEST preachin’ and eatin’ yet.


Our family joined Bethel in the early 80’s. We enjoyed the small church atmosphere. Kevin and Kristi grew up at Bethel and were active in the children and youth groups. From Christmas plays, golf tournaments, beach and ski trips, Circle meetings and Disciple classes, it was always fun to “grow” with the groups. Thanks Bethel for providing the foundation and leaders for our Christian growth. It is a rewarding blessing.

From Lynn Bellamy Mitchell: My earliest memory of Bethel is of Robert Johnson, Sunday School Superintendent, changing numbers on the wooden attendance board at the front of the sanctuary. I loved looking at the picture of Jesus at the front of the church and admiring the beautiful stained glass

August 1, 2010

Memories windows. During worship I sat with Claudia Ricks (Brooks) and her parents John and Claudine Ricks. Claudine worked hard to keep me quiet and still, and she and I still laugh about our times at Bethel. Not long before my husband and I got married, we were in worship service when he developed his one and only nose bleed about the time the collection plate reached our pew. My baptism, my wedding, and the baptisms of my children are wonderful memories for me. For several years I taught 5th Grade Sunday School. One week my students, including a set of twins and I, ate homemade soup as we talked about Esau trading his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup or stew. That same Sunday School class collected loose change every week for several weeks in order to collect a “mile of pennies” to retire one of the church’s debts. In my adult Sunday School class, my husband and I enjoyed fabulous fellowship with other couples as we studied. I have many fond memories of music at Bethel. The Chancel Choir, children’s choirs, and quartet were always great. My mother especially enjoyed the quartet, and the current quartet sang at her funeral service last September even though she had been unable to attend Bethel for many years. I have special memories of my daughter’s youth group performing a Christian musical, of Marie Bankston agreeing to play for my wedding when a good friend backed out at the last moment, of Shirley Walden playing the piano with my daughter at her side as the congregation sang “camp meeting” songs, of Charlie and Margo Nichols singing duets, and of one older church member who wasn’t always on key but who “made a joyful noise unto the Lord!”

As a small child, our Sunday School class met in one corner of the old sanctuary with Mrs. Ruby South. Curtains separated the different classes and children sat on little wooden boxes while using the pew seats as tables. When I became older, my classroom changed to another corner of the Sanctuary with Ms. Ethel White as my teacher. Sunday School was held every Sunday. We held Church services with a visiting preacher only on the first Sunday of each month. Some Sundays Mr. Will South preached. It was customary for one of the church families to feed the preacher when he preached at Bethel, and so my mother fed many preachers. The children were always fed in the kitchen, me included. I also remember going to Vacation Bible School in the summer. I don’t remember our transportation; it is very likely that I walked with my siblings. Homecoming was a big event on the first Sunday in August. People who had moved to the city would come back to the church and we had dinner on the grounds. Tables were built under the trees and the women would place food on them. Big tubs of sweet tea and lemonade were also prepared. There was plenty of good food for everyone to share. After lunch the boys, would go down to the spring and play for awhile in the woods. The week after Homecoming brought a week of revival time. The visiting pastor and the regular pastor were fed by a church family each night.

From Lynn Payne: I was called to Bethel by the church bells. I’d hear them on Sunday mornings while having my tea out on my back deck. I’d say to myself, I’m going to have to find that church. When I first visited Bethel, I felt immediately at home. Orin was pastor at that time, and shortly after beginning my visits, I was touched by the Holy Spirit and made Bethel my church home. I raised my two children, Chris and Jasmine, with the assistance of my Bethel family. I love Bethel, and am so grateful to have been a part of the family.

My wedding was a big event at Bethel in 1954. Bobby and I were married in the old sanctuary. It was thought to be the first formal wedding

From Marie Thurman Bankston:

a Residential Contractor

The things I remember about Bethel as a lifelong member: I have always gone to church at Bethel for the 75 years of my life—half of the years the church has been here. The church was heated in the winter with a large heater in the middle of the front aisle.


In Memory of

In Honor of

Richard A. “Dick” Lee and Jimmy Satterfield


The Dirty Dozen

by Sheila & Larry Ricks

by Sheila & Larry Ricks


August 1, 2010



ever held in the church. It was in its original condition at that time. I remember the addition of the two rooms on each side of the old sanctuary and later adding on to the front of the church. The stained glass windows were added, but I do not remember the dates when they were installed. After my wedding the Fellowship Hall was built. This brings us up to more modern times. These are just some of things I remember about going to Bethel UMC from long ago.

From Mary Ann Hill: The year was 1990 and after having been absent from Wesley Chapel UMC for several years I was out looking for a new church home. Living in Dekalb County, I’d normally gravitate towards Decatur rather than Stockbridge and although I’d lived in the area all my life, I had rarely made it into Henry County. Many moons ago when my siblings and I were small children we attended Mt. Zion Methodist—I thought perhaps I’d try them again. For whatever reason I never did. However one Saturday in the spring, when the family was visiting my Grandma’s grave in Fairview Memorial, we happened to notice the small white church across the street. “Oh, look! They have an 8:30am service,” I said to Mother at the time. “Why don’t we check them out tomorrow?” And so we did.

Now it is July 1st. Just days before my vacation began. I’m sitting near the back of the church listening to our associate minister, Randy Kanipe, start the morning’s service. (Apparently Rev. Sampson was on vacation too.) Anyway, all was going to schedule when suddenly one of the ushers walks quickly up the aisle and whisper lowly to Randy. Next thing I know, they’re announcing that there had been an accident and several cars in the parking lot had been hit. I froze in place, knowing that I had parked close to the street. I must have been standing at the time, for when they identified my red car with tag # blah blah blah, I remember sinking down and groaning.

We sat in a padded pew about halfway back and tried to be as inconspicuous as we possibly could but that wasn’t to be. A tall lurking figure in a suit ambled up to us and held out his hand. “Hello! I’m Orin Sampson … and you are?” We chatted briefly and then he disappeared, later to show back up in official garb. We didn’t know we were speaking to the preacher! The sermon captured our attention. But so did the choir, yet not in the same way. Oh, Mercy! What they lacked in harmony, they made up for in enthusiasm. Still, we enjoyed it. We attended regularly for several weeks then decided we had finally found our new church home.


I have no remembrance of whether the driver was injured, nor did I ever lay eyes on him as by the time I and everyone else made it out to the parking lot, all that was left was the wreckage. He was a teenager, I was told. He’d taken the curve too fast (along this busy cosmopolitan highway) and hit my car on the right side, spinning it around to where it hit the car parked August 1, 2010

Memories chocolate at the South’s house on Panola Road, painting the community house for Dan Sewell’s Eagle project for Boy Scouts, Mrs. Elliott’s sweet potato casserole at the Homecoming lunches or covered dinners, the group of us that went square dancing at the old gas plant, Sunday afternoons playing volleyball or putt-putt followed by Sunday evening worship and singing from the Cokesbury hymnal, all the evenings of summer Vacation Bible School both as a student and later as an assistant. My mother’s favorite memory is one Easter Sunrise service across the street at the cemetery. I believe a piano was put on a flat trailer bed and Marie Bankston was playing the piano and the choir was singing and a cow was mooing in the pasture next to the cemetery right along with the choir.

next to me. He had continued forward, across the parking lot and hit another car straight on, and I think clipped one other. I was devastated … I’d only had the car for about 8 months. It still had the “new car smell”! How I managed to keep from crying, I’ll never know. My parents were away for the day so I had no one to call for advice or even a way home. Someone kindly gave me the trash can from inside the church to stash my belongings in and someone else called for a wrecker. A nice man named Mike McLendon offered me, and the trash can, a ride home. The one humorous part to all this is that even today I hear people talking about the time someone took the curve too fast and wiped out the car of one of our visitors. That was no visitor—that was me! And I have the photo to prove it.

Another memory that I have at Bethel is Ellen Thurman making the bread for communion and how much us kids always looked forward to communion just to get that and standing on the front steps after church and getting bites if any was left over. I wish you and your family all the best as well.

From Miranda Swan Kern: I of course have tons of special memories of the Fairview Fun Factory (1975-1979) outings like Christmas caroling to the various church member’s houses and ending with hot

In Memory of

In Honor of


Charles & Saleta Ricks and David & Elizabeth Elder

Adam, Erin and Piper Ricks

by Sheila & Larry Ricks

by Sheila & Larry Ricks


August 1, 2010


Memories From Nell Redding: My earliest memories at Bethel start when Pastor Buddy and Betty Strickland came to Bethel. We had lots of fun working together. I also remember working with Martha Thurman (and then Gary Thurman) with the fourth through sixth grade Sunday School classes. Later Barbara Sanders and I worked with the three and four year old class. What a joy they were! We have wonderful people here at Bethel. I have enjoyed my time here and still do. What a blessing.

From Pam Bellamy Strickland: I have so many memories of Bethel. My mom made sure we were involved and attending. One thing that really stands out in my mind is in the 70’s a group of young people came to sing at Bethel and offered an altar call at the end. My mother, “Bill” Bellamy, was already a Christian. But, that night she made her way to the altar to lay her burdens at the foot of the cross. She was the only person to heed the call. As a young girl this act made an impact on my life because I understood that my mother wasn’t embarrassed to admit she relied on Jesus Christ for her strength. Also, VBS at Bethel was always wonderful. Martha Thurman and Nell Redding would help with the Bible verses and give us stars and prizes as we recited the verses we learned. Katheryn Mitchell and Mrs. Ricks would be serving “Murray” cookies and Kool-Aid (sometimes out of large pots). Mrs. Sanders and Mrs. Cornwell would help with crafts and we all made a cross out of burned match sticks. Those women and all the ones I failed to mention made a tremendous impact on my life. The large tree in the middle of the parking lot provided shade after church and a place to play for us kids. We spent countless hours going around and around that tree. Shirley Walden wearing her wedding dress to church on one of her anniversaries (at least her 20th). She still looked beautiful in the dress. Shirley Walden and Marie Bankston playing the piano. Shirley Walden playing the hymns out of the Cokesbury Hymnal with such joy. Ottie Peterman, sitting next to her daughter Elizabeth, singing “Beulah Land” off key and with complete joy and happiness. The quartet singing a toe tapping version of “Jesus is Coming Soon” and Larry Ricks having the time of his life singing. Kathy Thurman, Gary Thurman and I in MYF and Sunday School together for so many years. All three of my sisters and I were married at Bethel in the old sanctuary. We were also confirmed and baptized there. The picture of Jesus knocking at the door. It hung in the sanctuary and I thought it was the most beautiful painting I had ever seen. Billie Elliott’s pound cake. Wedding showers given by the ladies at our church. As soon as I was engaged, the ladies offered to give me a shower. I still remember Mrs. Nash and Mrs. Berryman as well as Jean Cornwell, Mrs. Elliott, Mrs. Thurman, Mrs. Mitchell, all the ladies I grew up with coming to the shower and giving me the most


lovely gifts. Of course all the Walden’s came as well as the Sanders. I still have the gifts they gave me. Again, I have failed to mention so many of these wonderful women who remain in my heart.

August 1, 2010

Memories I remember when the old sanctuary was updated with a/c. Before that I don’t know what we did, but all the men still wore a coat and tie. Also, I remember when cushions were put on the pews because I was so thankful.  It was hard not to squirm on the hard pews before! Also, the stained glass windows in the old sanctuary always made me curious. I wanted to know the people whose names were there like the Cowarts. Who were those people that loved Bethel so much that they gave those lovely stained glass windows? 

From Pat Bellamy Barrett [written to Ardyth Bankston]

In Memory of

Richard A. “Dick” Lee, Sr.


Forever Loved,

One of my first memories of Bethel is when I helped our mother, Bill Bellamy, place flowers in the old sanctuary. It must have been June, 1960, because that is when the day lilies are in bloom. Families took turns bringing flowers from their homes then. On Saturday we carried a big bouquet of orange day lilies and placed it on the altar. Imagine our surprise when we arrived on Sunday and the blooms were closed! We had never before that lived in one place long enough to have flowers of our own. We did not know that day lilies closed up at night or in the dark. Vacation Bible School was also the big event of the summer. Remember Kool-Aid and cookies? It was so much fun. We even learned something about Jesus and His love for us. I remember great times at MYF. One time we even had a “snipe hunt” behind the sanctuary. I also remember finally becoming a teenager and sitting on one of the back pews with the other young people.

In Memory Of Herschel Haymons Loved and Remembered Always

Always Remembered.


November 17, 1936 – December 9, 2001


by Brenda Lee Sturgeon

In Honor of


Mike and Elaine Barnwell


Charlie, Linda, Kevin, Kristi & Evelyn

Ron and Nancy Beavers


Billy and Jane Duke

In Memory Of


John W. Webb

Jim and Snookie Flood


and his dedication to Bethel

Larry and Sheila Ricks by Brenda Lee Sturgeon

by Rosalind Webb

August 1, 2010


Memories We worked at the Atlanta Food Bank during 40 hours of Famine and slept on the floor at the fellowship hall. We drove the church van, broke down and drove it again.

Bethel is where I joined the church and was baptized. It was just natural that I would get married there. When my husband David and I got married it was a hot day in August, 1971. The following year my sister Lynn married her husband Buddy in late August. Mother exclaimed, “no more August weddings!” So sister Jan’s wedding was in April and by then, I think the sanctuary was air-conditioned. Our baby sister Pam also was married at Bethel. Claudine Ricks and her daughter Claudia hosted a bridal shower for us in the fellowship hall. I still have a list of those precious ladies who blessed us with their loving gifts. Our rehearsal dinner was in the fellowship hall and my motherin-law, Betty Barrett, brought all the food from Alpharetta. Most of it she prepared herself, but the fried chicken came from Bob’s Dairy Barn in Roswell, GA.

These are just a smidgen of the great memories I have of Shane Robbins serving as youth pastor for Bethel.

From Shelley Bankston: Bethel is my church home. I am definitely one of it’s members that can say I grew up at Bethel. The memories of the time I’ve spent at here are numerous. Many are simply stories I’ve heard told back to me as I have grown. There are a number of people still at Bethel, so I’ve heard, that changed my diapers way back before I even old enough to participate in the Cherub Choir, Mother’s Morning Out, or Preschool at Bethel. As I grew older I can recall my anticipation for Chicken Fries, getting to sit with Courtney Godwin at church, being an acolyte, participating in the ground breaking of the New Sanctuary, finally being old enough to collect pennies during the Sunday School hour to help pay for the New Sanctuary, and who could forget the children’s production about angels, lambs, ladybugs and fireflies.

It was a long time before I could bring myself to move my church letter from Bethel. It will always have a special place in my heart even though I have not lived in the Fairview community for many years.

From Doreen Elliott—Shane Robbins [previous Youth Director]: We worked at a widow’s home in Tennessee, painting the entire outside of her house, steps and back porch. Her bedroom was cold and drafty so we added much needed insulation to the outer walls of her home. We shopped at thrift stores for cheap clothes. We even ate bad food that tasted good because the reason we were there was to serve God. AARC, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to reaching children through animal care and responsibilities on the farm, as well as outreach into the community. Teresa Ferguson, CEO writes to us about the Youth Missions trip to Acworth in May 2008. “Words cannot begin to express our gratitude for all the hard work that you and all of the parents and youth from Bethel United Methodist have done for us here at the AARC Farm. All the groups of children who have visited have truly enjoyed the bridge your group built for us! It looks great!” We started “Prayer Pals” where each youth is assigned to a Bethel shutin and serves on the Youth Missions Committee by sending cards, letters, notes, etc. to their assigned member. We performed yard work, house work, or other chores for our community and church members. We started a plastics recycling mission, picking up at the homes of those that weren’t able to get out. We placed a new “awareness” reminding the congregation all items that we could recycle and placed bins throughout the facility for collection of plastics as well as aluminum.


Over the years I have been impacted by many of Bethel’s church members. There are many teachers and adult leaders I have fond memories from—Cheryl Wear, Cassie Parker, Don Lewis, Paul Braun, Pat and Evie Deloney, Laurie Smith, Fred Przystas, Pam and Steve Gay, Mike McLendon and many more. My memories as a Youth at Bethel are truly too many to name, but needless to say, the member’s of Bethel have influenced my life innumerably over the years. Those and other adults leaders in the church have helped to shape, guide, and influence me in my decisions as a young adult trying to figure out what it is I want to do with my life. I am very proud that my family has been a part of Bethel for many generations and it makes this 150th Homecoming even more special. Leaving for Auburn has been the start of a new journey for me, but Bethel is always one of the places that I look forward to when I come home. Of all the memories I have of Bethel, it is its members that have impacted my life the most and who have the ability to always make me feel right at home.

From Tonya Godwin: After being at Bethel for 27 years, I have so many memories. Before Randy and I were married, back in the early 80s, we began looking for a church home. We met Pastor Jim Moore and told him we were

August 1, 2010

Memories engaged and he encouraged us to visit other churches and then visit Bethel before making our decision. What a difference when we came to Bethel! From the moment we walked in the door, we were greeted like family. So we asked Jim to marry us and we would join the church after we were married. We attended several months when Jim said to us, “You know, you might as well go ahead and join the church now. Bethel is already your home. So we did! 

drive over Rex Mill Bridge and see the popcorn on the side of the road and start laughing. One time we had an Ice Cream Sundae party at our house, and I think it was David Meyers who sprayed whipped cream all over my wall and drapes—by accident of course! If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it. 

Another memorable event was when the Joy Circle decided to have an old-fashioned slumber party in what is now the Annex. Orin Sampson In September of 1983 before we were married, I remember the entire was the pastor and the parsonage was vacant, because we gave a church went on retreat to Camp Wesley over the Labor Day holiday.  housing allowance to the pastor instead of offering the parsonage.  I We had a great time and I remember staying up late and talking with won’t name the ladies who were in attendance so as not to incriminate folks and I remember how much I enjoyed rocking Jason Bankston! He anyone, but you know who you are! Anyway, we decided to do a prank was only a couple of months old. Then the next day, the men went to and all piled in my van and started driving around town collecting For play football on the field. I laughed so hard when I saw Jim Moore, the Sale signs out of yards. We thought we were so sneaky. The truth is we pastor, playing quarterback to his team while wearing a pastor’s collar! were all laughing and squealing so hard that I’m sure people heard us coming from a mile away. We joked about what we would say if the I think he had named his team the Revelations. police pulled us over. We had lots of good explanations to give, but the Randy and I became youth counselors for the Junior High.  Some of best one of the night was Patti Rockhold who said she would tell the the youth we had in our group back then were David Meyers, Steven policeman, “My name is Ardyth Bankston.” Ardyth was not in attendance Meyers, Tommy McClendon, Brandy Beavers, Casey Beavers and Adam at our slumber party. What did we do with the signs? We deposited them Ricks. There were many others whose names escape me now. We had an in the Pastor’s yard!  We could hardly sleep that night from laughing old VW bus for the church van that, if you can believe it, was in worse about imagining the look on his face the next morning.  We thought shape than our current church van. One night after taking the youth on we had gotten away with it too, but Orin made sure to include in his an outing, we had to pull over at Rex Mill Bridge because the kids had next sermon that stealing is wrong and that even something small, like gotten awfully quiet in the back. When we pulled over and turned on taking a For Sale sign as a prank, was still stealing. Then on the way out the lights, we discovered they had been having a silent food fight and the door, he took my hand, squeezed it and said, “So, you’re in the real had filled the van with popcorn and candy. We made them clean it out estate business now?” We were caught, but it was worth it. It felt good right there on the side of the road. For several days after that, we would to act like a kid again with some very sweet ladies.

Andrew Jenkins Jenkins Agency Inc.

In Loving Memory of

1229C Eagles Landing Pkwy Stockbridge, GA 30281 Ph: 770-474-2031 Fax: 770-474-2039

s Essie Wilkinson beloved auto • home • business • life

Thank you to the

Bethel 150th Homecoming Team! Co-Chairs: Joan Thurman McElroy and Sheila Ricks Shelley Bankston Troy Causey Faith Cenobio Evie Deloney Kristin Deloney Pat Deloney Doreen Elliott Joe Everidge

Sonia Forster Kellie Frissell Pam Gay Steve Gay Diane Geno Randy Godwin Linda Henderson Margaret Marlow Tracy Redding

Larry Ricks Carolyn Scott Clyde Smith Vennie Walden Eugenia Walters Rosalind Webb The Fidelis Ladies Bethel Youth

grandmother and mother of my daddy

Fred Wilkinson s may they both rest in peace. s Love, Doreen Wilkinson Elliott

August 1, 2010


Memories member Joan and Jessie leading the Fun Factory in worship with Gary, Wes and Mike on guitar… or did Mike play drums… or did we even have drums? I remember Kathy Thurman singing solos. I was never much of a singer. Thank goodness I did not have a microphone! I remember your wedding and rehearsal dinner there. I still think about the frozen fruit salad Marie made. It was so delicious. I got the recipe and made if for a while but have since misplaced it. Mom got me a copy of the Bethel cookbook that came out recently. I am hoping I can find the recipe in there. I also remember Miranda’s wedding at Bethel. It was the first time both Robin and I came back to visit after I moved to Canada… and now we are grown and stay so busy it is difficult to find time for email. Where does the time go!!!! Do you remember all those things? You are a part of all of my Bethel memories. I cherish our friendship (even though we have been out of contact for so long) and the sharing of those times together.

However, my favorite memory for now and forever more, will be seeing Charles and Carol Sinnemon (who are my mom and dad) and Walt and Christine Leonard usher on Sunday mornings. They would color coordinate their clothing and be all decked out all the way down to their shoes! They even had Walt and Dad wear ties that matched their dresses. They were an amazing usher team. Mom and Mrs. Christine are probably the best dressed greeters St. Peter has ever seen and I’m sure they will both be there at the gate to welcome each of us!

From Reta Watson [written to Ardyth Bankston]: I have so many good memories of Bethel: I remember the Fun Factory and just how much fun we used to have. Do you remember the trips to Stone Mountain we used to take? Hayrides in the back of a truck filled with hay, campfires and singing at the base of Stone Mountain and then climbing the mountain. Did we really climb the mountain after dark? At least that is how I remember it. I remember going swimming at either your [Ardyth Bankston’s] house or Sandy Hanes’ house right after church on Sunday’s and spending the afternoon in the pool. We would then throw on shorts and t-shirts and head back to church for the evening service. I remember that we would request singing “The Little Brown Church in the Wildwood” so often they just started singing it every Sunday night because they knew would request it anyway. After church we would pile into Wes Collier or Dan Sewell’s car and head to Hardees up at Wesley Chapel for a late dinner. I remember making the big discovery of finding the bell in the old church tower and then ringing it on Sunday mornings however it seems to me it cracked after only a few weeks of ringing for Sunday morning service. I also re-


From Laurie Smith [written lovingly in “Laurie-style”]: when i came to Bethel in 1987 i began working with the children’s program. 3 years later i moved on to the youth. Randy Kanipe came to bethel as the youth pastor. he was wonderful. friendly and kind and engaged. so we had the pleasure of getting to know he and missy together. what i remember about Randy were the wonderful wednesdays we spent during the summer. they were unknown trips that we would take with the youth. trips to putt putt or the monastery. he loved the monastery. what Randy was known for were his out of the way routes to these places. he would always get lost and it would always end up being an all day affair when in reality it should have been a few hours. i don’t know that we ever went diAugust 1, 2010

Memories rectly to any place. he never lost his cool. i cannot say the same for me. the first trip we ever took together was in the north ga mountains. lets see. Rita Scott, Kristen Smith. those were the only girls on the trip. we had Jeremy Leopard and Phillip Nichols. there were others but i can’t remember. i do know that Missy came up late and we were in a war of jr high versus sr high. it was dark and scary and we knew that the sr high were coming for us in our cabin. so planned a very high tech assault. eggs. in the end, Missy’s very new and very nice leather jacket was ruined. we got in trouble. but we won. ha.... Randy scolded us but i knew in his heart he had a lot of fun. they weren’t married yet so he didn’t have to go home to her. oh yes, and Randy introduced us to the earth ball. or like i called it, the death ball. Missy broke her ankle on that thing. we put it away after that. then came Eric… Eric Brown. i thought he was a new youth the first time i saw him. now he was someone who would get his feathers ruffled. totally different from Randy. when Eric came to us he lived in the trailer on the ball field. his first week with us some of the youth thought it would be hilarious to break into the trailer and turn all his furniture upside down. they did. Drew Kirby and Matt Hallmark and Phillip Nichols. rascals… well, Eric did not think that was funny. it really was. the biggest difference between Eric and Randy was the practical joke element. Eric did not enjoy nor encourage practical joking. it was banned. which made it even more hilarious to do it. he wore shoes at the beach so as not to get sand on his feet. yet he always wanted to go to the beach. go figure. so naturally i would encourage the youth to put anything they found on the beach that had washed up into his bed at night. you could hear him scream for miles. he also was a stickler for being on time. now Randy was never on time nor could get anywhere on time so it was a very difficult transition time for us. we loved Eric very much. he taught us about service to the church. he was totally dedicated to bethel and all of the ministries there. he loved the youth. he served our church very well. Eric was with us for four years. when he left we all were mourning the loss.

trips, lock-ins, and Sunday School. We were the home church for a great group of Cub Scouts that later become active Boy Scouts. Most of these kids are still very close today and continue as best friends. Our son-inlaw, Brannon, was an active Bethel kid all the way through college. He is now the father of our eleven-month-old grandson, Kaemon. Many of the parents sang in the choir or took an active part in the worship service. My job on Sundays was either ushering or sitting in the little room to the right of the old pulpit. Keeping this room full of kids calm was fun! WOW! What a choir! A lot of kids meant a lot of adults in their twenties and thirties. We all spent more time at Bethel than we did at home. Each of us became one big family as we were just getting started in life. We had many great mentors to teach us how to build things, fix things, use things, and give things to others. As young adults we learned that God was in everything that was worthwhile, a lesson that is relearned daily. We built a fellowship hall for festivals and chili cook-offs; a ball field for championship softball teams; revived a men’s ministry not only for support of men but for the building of family; formed the Joy Circle; and became the “church of the covered dish”. Not only did we become the home of the “Billy Duke Plate”, but also God handed us a large plate of memories that serve well today. Friendships that not only raised kids but also raised parents. Relationships that are still very active today holding hands through difficult times and good times. All of these friends helped mature a trust in God that is being passed along and is still building friendships today. Nancy and I just give thanks that Bethel continues to be that place that raises families and builds memories.

all of our youth ministers taught our people about service in one way or another. participation in the church was the most important thing i remember with these youth ministers. any and all parts of our ministries at bethel were lifted up by the youth and participated in by the youth. vacation bible school. all of the plays and special services that we did. the youth were very active in being part of that. we would go downtown and serve the homeless. Eric really liked doing things like that. i think that Shane is the one who took the youth out of the church and into the mission field. all around us. locally and far away. i believe that if you ask any of the youth, young and old alike, Bethel has always loved their youth. i hope that God has been and is being pleased by them now.

From Ron Beavers Nancy and I came to Bethel when our kids were in elementary school. Our son Casey is now almost 36 and my daughter, Brandy is 37. The area was experiencing a growth of young couples with small children and many came to Bethel to stay. We had a super active and energetic children’s program. These kids all grew together and became lifelong friends through church MYF, ski

August 1, 2010


Blessed be the Tie that Binds Celebrating a lifetime of Thurman family ties at Bethel. (Upper left) Glynn Thurman and Marie Thurman Bankston (1935) (Upper right inside) Glynn Thurman, Clyde and Katie Nep Thurman at Jacksonville Beach (1941) (Upper right outside) Glynn and Ellen Thurman (1961) (Middle Left) Clyde Young Thurman (1891-1972) (Middle right) James William Thurman (1861-1919) 2nd Wife Pode Ford Thurman (1880-1932) (Lower left) Mary Martha Knight Thurman (1948) (Lower middle) William White (Billy) Thurman (1948) (Lower right) Ellen Pearl White Thurman (1901-1990)

Bethel UMC 150th Homecoming Memory Book  
Bethel UMC 150th Homecoming Memory Book  

Bethel UMC in Stockbridge, GA recently celebrated 150 years of preaching the gospel in the Fairview, North Henry County area. Enjoy this boo...