Bethel Presbyterian Church (USA) - our history




Bethel Presbyterian Church was organized on June 6, 1818, by a congregation of twenty women and seven men. Through its long life as a continuing worshiping church it has been served by 31 pastors.
At organization, Bethel shared a building above the town of Kingston with the Rittenhouse Academy, staying there until a new white frame sanctuary was built in 1858. The Ladies Aid was organized in 1868 to clean up and refurbish the building which had been used by both Federal and Confederate troops during the Civil War. In 1883, the congregation decided to move the building to a more accessible location; it was dismantled, moved by mule-sled, and rebuilt on its present site. This is the same sanctuary in use today. Some changes in the interior and furnishings naturally have been made, but the building was not enlarged until 1951. The bell is the same one that was installed in 1858.
In 1965 the scope of Bethel's service to its members and the community-at-large was broadened by the completion of the adjacent Educational Building. This building housed the pastor's, secretary's, and Parish Nurse's offices, a library, numerous class rooms, a fellowship hall, a kitchen, and a meeting room for the Scouts.
Our historic sanctuary received major repairs in the 1970’s and ‘80s, culminating in a complete renovation of the interior in 1987, at which time it was "rededicated" for "A Second Century of Service on the Corner". In 2008, after a season of envisioning what the future holds for our church, the congregation decided to move forward once more. The historic building was raised from its old foundation, moved onto a new foundation and joined with the Educational Building. In the process new areas were created for gathering, new office spaces and a spacious library, an elevator and handicap-accessible restrooms were installed, and the building was made accessible to all who wish to worship here. On March 29, 2009 the building was “re-rededicated” as we look forward to a Third Century of service.
In September, 1997, Bethel replaced its smaller electronic organ with a Moler 4-rank pipe organ. In 2009 this same organ was dismantled, rebuilt and re-installed in the renovated sanctuary.
Bethel was the first organized church in Kingston and the second in Roane County, and it has lived up to its heritage -- HOUSE OF GOD.
More in-depth information on the history of Bethel can be read in the booklet "A Church Called Bethel."