Our History

Bethel Evangelical Presbyterian Church held its first meeting in 1798. The church was organized by Chartiers Presbytery under the name of Little Beaver Church. It was under the authority of Associate Presbyterian Church of Pennsylvania, commonly called Seceders. The church at this time was located about three miles from our present location, between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Little Beaver Creek, along Scott Wallace Road. As times changed and people relocated it became evident that the church was ready for a move.

In the year 1804 the congregation moved to our present site. We can only speculate as to the reasons for moving, but the presence of a very good spring and the likelihood that much of the congregation lived closer to the new site are two possibilities. Two acres of ground were purchased from John Lecky, (also spelled Lacky) a member of the church, for $6.00. The deed reads, “The ground was purchased by the Trustees of North Beaver congregation; William Lecky (John’s son) John Lesley William Davidson, William Stevenson and John McGeehon, Jr. The two acres can be traced back to the Donation Lands of 1784.

The first structure was called a tent. It was described as having an elevated platform for the minister with boards overhead to protect him from the elements. It was supported by poles, to which a board was attached to hold the Bible. In the year 1804, as the congregation met in the tent, the rough log church was begun. The church was 18 feet by 20 feet and had greased paper windows, a clapboard roof and large fireplace.  As the congregation grew the log church of 1804 became too small and about 1811 a new hewn long church was built. The old log church was used as one of the first school houses and as a storehouse for saddles blankets and riding skirts.

About 1816 the south wall was taken out and the building enlarged. The entrance was from the south and the pulpit was on the west end of the building. The pulpit was of octagonal shape with the most up to date panel work. A song leader would sit with the minister.  During worship the song leader would sing a line of music and the worshippers would repeat the line. It was a hard adjustment for older members as church song books came into being. Who ever heard of singing church songs from a book?

Many traditions have changed over the 200 years of church history.  It was common practice to purchase pews. Preparatory service was held on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.  Each member attending would receive a token. The token was returned when communion was served on the Sabbath. If a token was not presented, one could not receive communion and had to face the session as to why they did not attend preparatory service.

The first frame church was built in 1837 measuring 44 ft. by 56 ft.  The door was being positioned at the south end with the pulpit being on the north end. Glass windows were to be used and the pews were of the latest fashion. Joseph McKelvey is said to have been the carpenter for this structure. At the raising of the church Robert Hopper was hurt so seriously that he died from his injuries.  This building was used by the members for thirty-two years until 1868. It was to have the best of everything. Stain glass windows, a gallery, and a new pulpit.  The new structure was started in the spring of 1868 and dedicated December 22, 1870

The church of 1870 was to face south just as the 1837 church did and it was vote on and approved to take this action. Mr. James Brewster was to bring his team of horses, (some accounts say it was a team of oxen) to the site early in the morning and pull the sill into place facing south. Mr. Brewster was a very influential man in the community as well as in the church. He knew the road was to be changed to go the route it is now, in front of the church, not at the back of the church where it was in 1870. Instead of pulling the sill in place as was voted upon, he pulled them into place so the door was on the north side where it is today. It is said Mr. Brewster was man of few words and if he did or said something not too many people disputed his actions. Old timbers with bark still on them, wooden pegs and building material from the 1837 church can be seen in the rafters of the present 1868 church.

This building was remolded in 1904 and sad to say the gallery which was included in the 1868 building was removed.  1926 a decision was made to move the church 30 feet south and to add a basement at this time.

Worship was held in the 1868 church for 85 yrs. In 1953 the sanctuary was enlarged. The stain glass windows were repositioned on the south wall of the addition.  Other additions were completed in 1973 of an office and conference room, which are now converted into an extensive library which is open the community, 1986 fellowship hall, conference room and offices. A six room education wing was added in 2004.

Worship is at 10:00AM with Sunday School at 9:00AM.  Ministries offered are: AWANA, Edge (young adult ministry), Student Ministry (BPSM), VBS, Adult Bible Studies.

Bethel congregation was part of the United Presbyterian for over 200 years. The congregation voted in 2012 to change denominations and is now affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

History of the Church in Pictures

All former clerks of session . Left to right. Lloyd Raney, Nancy Gibson, Bette McKim, Janice Grim, our new clerk of session, and retiring clerk Pattie Leicht. Missing from photo is Jon Laughner.