History of BUMC

According to early records, in 1804 a log-cabin church was built one mile northeast of Board’s Store on Halesford Road and deeded to the Trustees of Bethlehem Church. As part of the Bedford Circuit, the church was served by a preacher who rode on horseback from church to church.

Model of 1804 log church, created by Ed Watts, on display in church history cabinet

Nearly 50 years later, on a new site nearby, a frame church was built with a wood stove as its only source of heat in the winter and separate doors for men and women. Eventually, the church was remodeled and made to face the “new” highway Route 122.

It wasn’t until 1928 that construction began on a modern brick building which included a sanctuary with two small classrooms on either side, and a small annex with two additional classrooms downstairs, two more upstairs. The cost was a robust $12,000. On the last Sunday in June 1929, the new building was dedicated.

Forty years later, major improvements were made to the church: the annex was enlarged to include a fellowship area with additional classroom space, and a kitchen; indoor rest rooms and air conditioning was also added.

In 1983 construction began on an addition to include a larger fellowship hall, new kitchen, Sunday School rooms and choir room. Ten years later, a new organ and sound system were installed and 1.6 acres adjoining the church property was purchased for a new education building . Completed in the summer of 1995, the education wing included a preschool area downstairs and six classrooms.

With a growing congregational membership—then over 400—Bethlehem struggled with expansion plans in the midst of the country’s economic downturn. Then in 2007, the church welcomed its new Pastor, David Lord. Recognizing Bethlehem’s passion for reaching out to its community, Rev. Lord encouraged church leaders to identify/clarify its vision for growth.

After a year of study and prayer, “Outward Bound, Together With Christ” was adopted as the congregation’s focus for its ministries. With renewed clarity, Bethlehem again embarked on an expansion plan of its facilities, adding a new narthex with additional classrooms, a youth room, mission project room and office space, along with renovations to the fellowship hall, kitchen, nursery and preschool areas. In all, 13,000 square feet of new floor space was added, a steeple, and an elevator for the new two-story building.

Bethlehem Ground-breaking 2010

On Sunday, August 21, 2011 the new facility was dedicated.

Bethlehem’s membership continues to grow—now over 500 members—due in part to retirees and economic growth in the SML community. Consensus, however, confirms our renewed vision to “seek to make a difference in the world around us through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the sake of the Kingdom” is the reason so many individuals come to join this church family.