By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)
What an exceptionally long time: 230 years! That’s just how long Bethel Baptist Church has stood on its grounds. The spiritual home of many over the hill residents and those who live afar, the historic church is reportedly the oldest, continuous Baptist congregation in the country.
Driving onto Meeting Street today was a detour from my original over the hill destination, but I’ve been wanting to briefly feature the church for a while. I therefore intentionally stopped by. There’s a beauty in the all white structure, with its two crosses towering in front against the backdrop of clear blue skies and stained glass windows. Imagine the many services held over these two centuries, the souls delivered, the vows made, the babies prayed for…the closing of caskets.
History tells the tale of a freed American slave from the Carolina shores, named Prince Williams, who landed on New Providence in 1790. He was instrumental in organizing and eventually building the then Bethel Meeting House. The road on which it was erected was later named Meeting Street.
The towering white edifice we see today was certainly not what stood on those hallowed grounds 230 years ago. Williams probably didn’t envision that centuries later, what began as a small band of pilgrims proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, would flourish through multiple ministries, serving as an oasis for the spiritually thirsty.
Two hundred and thirty years later…230 years of faith, family…community.