Bethlehem Baptist Church
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Pine Mountain Valley, GA

Church History

 
 
Bethlehem's early history is a fascinating study, though hampered by the fact that the records burned in a house fire in 1906. Originally part of Muscogee and Troup counties, Harris County was Creek Indian land until ceded by the Indians in 1827, allowing whites to move in. Bethlehem was one of the first churches in the area, more than likely the first for miles around. Bethlehem probably became an official congregation in 1828 with 134 members, since it was a charter member of the Columbus Baptist Association, created in 1829. At that time, the members met in each others homes. In 1833, the church sanctuary was built. One of the few records existing from early history is the 1833 deed for land on which the church sits given by member Hampton Stevens. In 1889, the Pine Mountain Baptist Association was organized with Bethlehem a charter member.
 
Previous Pastors:
Green Berry Waldroup - c. 1830/1831
G.W. Key - c. 1835
James Fuller - c. 1837-1840
William Ligon - after 1840
Simpson Bartley - c. 1878
Walter Bartley - c. 1900
Ben Harris - 1910-1919
Early Greathouse - c. 1852
W.D. Atkinson - c. 1853
J.T. Culpepper - 1906
W.H. Brown - 1907
B.B. Nelson - 1908
T.T. Davis - 1908
Brady Felton Bartley - 1909-1910
B.R. Harris - 1910-1919
J.A. Funderburk - 1920
E.C. Bentley - 1921
W.H. Rileenhous - 1935
Elia Copeland - 1936
F.C. Hudlow - 1937
J.C. Venable - 1937-1940
Hugh Wheelis - 1942
A.S. Portwood - 1944
W. Lovelace Phillips - 1944-1946
Rufus Morman - 1946-1949
Oliver C. Reason - 1949-1951
C.M. Bullard - 1951-1954
Hugh Clayton Harper - 1954-1959
W. Virgil Shirey - 1960-1963
Oscar Gilbert - 1963-1964
Tom Gilson - 1964-1966
Maurice Thomas - 1966-1969
Robert L. Parsons - 1969-1971
Reuben E. Birchfield - 1971-1973
Dr. David Lockard - Interim
Willis Freeman - 1973-1975
Hugh Clayton Harper - 1975-1984
James D. Matheson - 1984-1986
Otis Bentley - 1986
Paul Martin - 1986-1988
Clarence Younce - 1988
Jim Hickman - 1988-1992
Ray Pentecost - 1993-1995
Malvin Lee Miller - 1995-1996
Joel Chapman - 1996-1999
Wallace Couty - 1999-2003
Marvin V. Enquist - 2003-2009
Sammie Turner - 2009-2019
Bill Strandberg - 2019-Present
 
 
 
Bethlehem Baptist Church has been blessed with a sanctuary that has been here for over 185 years in the same spot, not having burned as so many old churches have. One can look in the attic or under the floor to see huge hand-hewn beams that support the structure. Running the length of the original church floor, through the middle of the structure, is a beam at least a couple of feet in diameter! Every time the doors open, those in attendance feel God's presence. God has blessed us with Bible-preaching pastors and members who believe in traditional "old-fashioned" worship.