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Our History

BETHLEHEM CHRISTIAN CHURCH
(House of Bread)

 

In 1904 there was no place to worship in the community of Williamstown, Suffolk, Virginia. Seeing the need and inspired by God, some of the residents of this small community decided to start a Sunday School in a store front. It was located on the corner of Bute Street and Second Avenue.

 

Rev. Henry Stephen was the first superintendent of the Sunday School. As the school grew, a church service was decided upon due to the vicinity of the school. Rev. Henry Stephen along with Deacon Jake Johnson, a deacon from Antioch Christian Church, and others namely, Mrs. Fannie Saunders, a child at the time, Brothers Henry Bazemore, Bill Wright, Billy Greene and others organized the Bethlehem Christian Church on June 4, 1905.

 

The first pastor was Rev. Parson. Music for the newly organized church was furnished by Mrs. Fannie Saunders, a child who brought her organ from home. She became Bethlehem's first organist. The membership of the church continued to grow until a larger place of worship was needed. In 1905, land was purchased on the corner of Bute Street and Third Avenue where a church was built.

 

A force of nature, a terrible windstorm came and destroyed the original building. Armed with God's promise that he would never leave His children alone, prayerful souls rebuilt the church in which we now worship in 1913.

 

Some of the Early worshippers had no schooling, could not read nor write, but they did great things for God. The first deacons of the church were Brothers Jake Johnson, Herbert Urquhart, Jim Burrell, Henry Bazemore, and Henry Ford. The first secretary was Mrs. Lucinda Stephen. In 1906 Rev. Parson resigned and Rev. J.D.Sparrow became the pastor.

 

Other pastors to follow were: Rev. R.R. Gaines, Rev. Watson, Rev. R.R. Briggs, and Rev. J.O.Lee. Under Rev. Lee's leadership payment of the church was completed and a new dining area was constructed. Rev. James Milteer became the next pastor followed by, Rev. Ronnie S. Skeeter, Rev. Ralph Harris, Rev. S.J. Fladger, and Rev. William Copeland. Rev. Copeland's leadership allowed the church to accomplish much. The most notable accomplishments were many new disciples, adding new ministries, bricking the church, and overseeing laying the foundation for the church's fellowship hall. In 1980 God saw fit to send Pastor Copeland back to his home church because he was needed there.

 

Once again the church was without a pastor. During the next twelve (12) months under the leadership of our prayerful Chairman Deacon, George C. Baker, Sr. God continued to bless. The church received two generous donations, by Mrs. Hattie Jones and Dr. Benjamin Davis. With these additional blessings the Fellowship Hall was completed with work done by Mr. Nelson Copeland and brick work done by Mr. James R. Butts.

 

On December 5, 1982 Rev. William Hampton was installed as Bethlehem's next pastor. Under his leadership God continued to do great things, most notable; sixty- five (65) disciples added, many who were new converts, new ministries added, the church's first baptismal pool was installed, and the first person to be baptized here was a child, Corey Diggs.

 

On February 24, 1985 Rev. Elmer Lee Wood was installed as Bethlehem's next pastor. Pastor Wood was a loving servant of God. Under Pastor Wood's leadership new disciples were added as well as new ministries and improvements to the interior and exterior of the church. Mother and Father of the year and Academic achievement awards were instituted under his leadership. Also during his tenure Sister Mable Riddick became "The Mother of the Church".

 

Pastor Wood went home to be with the Lord on November 14, 1994. Because of his love for the youth, the Wood family established The Rev. Elmer Lee Wood Scholarship Fund in his loving memory. 
 

Bethlehem's current pastor, Emanuel Myrick, Jr. was installed on February 26, 1995. Pastor Myrick has been a part of the Bethlehem family since childhood. By the grace of God, under the leadership of Pastor & Elect Lady Elayne Myrick new converts were added to the Body of Christ, new disciples to the Bethlehem family, new ministries were added, interior and exterior improvements, purchase of vehicles, and purchase of land for future expansion. Also under Pastor Myrick's leadership Bethlehem Christian Church (United) became Bethlehem Christian Church (House of Bread) "Feeding the Body, Soul, and Spirit".

 

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