By Justin Jones, Staff Writer
Friday, July 27, 2012 —
Bethany United Methodist Church is celebrating a century of fellowship and growth as it turns 100 this Sunday.
Bethany UMC plans to kick off its celebration July 29 with the church’s homecoming service, followed by a covered dish luncheon.
The events surrounding the 100-year celebration at Bethany UMC will continue throughout the summer and into the fall.
As the staff researched the church’s early history, they found that late July seemed to be the most accurate time when the first members joined the church.
Pastor Richard Clough Jr. said 17 people joined as charter members of Bethany, without a building or land to build a church.
Marlene Huneycutt, the church’s historian, said the church has record books dating back to 1912. Records show that three families played a leading role in organizing the church.
According to Huneycutt, Eliza Saphronia Rummage Holt was instrumental in organizing the church, even giving it the name, Bethany.
R.A. Huneycutt and J.B. Thomas were other early members that shaped the church’s history records.
Thomas owned property along U.S. 52, and sold the land to the church for $100. He and his family later sold more property to the church which allowed for expansion.
The land was purchased on Oct. 17, 1912, and a building was constructed that same year.
At the time, it was a wooden frame church, which basic structure is still used today, although the church has been updated with multiple renovations.
Rev. Scott Owens served as the church’s first pastor.
In planning for the 100-year celebration, Rev. Dan Gaddy was selected to preach the homecoming sermon. Gaddy served as pastor of Bethany UMC from 1988-1993.
He now serves as pastor of Central United Methodist Church in Clyde.
In addition to the events scheduled for homecoming Sunday, the church has planned a list of activities to mark the 100-year anniversary.
On Aug. 5, a play titled “Eliza’s Journey” will be shown in the Sunday service which tells the story of how Bethany UMC began based off stories of its earliest members.
Two weeks later on Aug. 19, the church will welcome the best homemade ice cream in a friendly competition. At the end of the month, the church’s revival with Rev. Caroll Flack from First United Methodist Church in Dallas, N.C. will run Aug 26-28.
According to Clough, the church plans to rent a hot air balloon in September courtesy of ReMax and allow members to enjoy rides over Albemarle. The series of events will conclude with a ceremony that even leaves Clough anxious.
“We’re going to have another event in October as we open our time capsule that they had when the building was built,” Clough said.
“No one knows’ what’s in there. I’ve held the box, but didn’t look inside it.”
The box, which Clough believes was either placed in 1912 or 1928, when the church was renovated, may contain early sermon manuscripts or something unique to the church at the time. Clough said no members claim to know what lies inside the box.
“I don’t have a clue, but it looks like a old toolbox, sort of rusty,” Marlene Huneycutt said.
She said the church will fill a new time capsule which can be shared to future members of the church at another centinnial homecoming.
The time capsule currently rests inside the building under a plexiglass covering. The time capsule opening is set for Oct. 14.
More information on Bethany United Methodist Church and its 100-year celebration can be found on their website www.bethany-umconline.org.