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Bethany Christian Church

Bethany's Story

Bethany Christian Church was established in 1851 and has a lot of history to share.
View highlights of Bethany's story below. 

Deed to offer land to Bethany Church

Bethany’s beginning is intertwined with a church that was established in what is now called the “powder plant area” and was located where Union Cemetery now exists. Jacob and Sarah Grisamore deeded a parcel of land to David Lutz, Trustee of the German Protestant Congregation in 1810. The property was to be used by the Calvinists as to the Lutheran Profession. Around 1820 the Baptist Campbellites, later called “Disciples,” joined the group, and around 1830 the Methodists moves in–hence the name “Union Meeting House.” 

According to deed record, William L. Crum and John Willey of the Union Church gave rights and claims of the Union Meeting House to William M. Gibson and Amos Goodwin on November 25, 1850. It was sold for $350 (approximately $13,700 when adjusted for inflation). 

On March 20, 1851, Philip Lutz, William Gibson, and Amos Goodwin are elected as trustees for the purpose of securing a building site. The site for a new house of worship was donated by Milas Lewman. Bethany is built on Highway 62–where it remains today. 

The stone above the arched window at the entrance is inscribed “The Christian Church – 1851”. While there’s no official record of where the name “Bethany” came from, it likely came about because C.C. Goodwin, son of Amos and Amelia Goodwin (church trustees), graduated from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia in 1848. Bethany College was founded as a church college.

Black and White Photo of Bethany Christian Church

Communion was originally served with these two chalices. However, due to the dangers and increase of tuberculosis, serving communion changed to instead be served in small individual pewter cups.  While the pewter set has been replaced, Bethany continues to use a similar means of serving communion by using individual cups passed with a tray.

Communion Set from Bethany Christian Church

William Hardin is ordained as Bethany’s first circuit minister. He was ordained on the third Sunday of July 1853.

At a congressional meeting on May 4, 1919, a decision was made to install memorial windows. Electric lights were also added near this time. Prior to this, Bethany had used kerosene lights near the window frames to light the building. 

Stained Glass Window from Bethany Christian Church
Bethany Christian Church 1940

In 1940, Bethany’s property was in danger of being taken over by the U.S. government when the powder plant was being built. Through the persistent efforts of the trustees and because the church was located along the highway, the government finally dropped condemnation proceedings and allowed Bethany to stay. ​

Eleven years later on Sunday, August 5, 1951, Bethany celebrates its 100th anniversary. A dinner was held on the lawn and at 2:00 PM and a special program in honor of the occasion was presented with Mr. Arthur Blythe leading. The group sang “I Love To Tell The Story” followed by specials by the Junior Choir.

During the summer of 1960, the baptistery was built. Before that time, baptisms were performed in the creek at the Lewman farm (the land donor), in the Ohio River, or in other churches.

This photograph of Bethany was taken in the fall of 1940.

In September 1960, Warren and Phyllis Sanders visit Bethany and gave a presentation about their plans for mission work. Bethany decided to give monthly support. To this day, we continue to tithe to various missions.


In 1961, during the ministry of J. Thomas Mauk, the practice of having worship services every Sunday was started and has continued ever since.

This photograph of Bethany was taken in 1974 and sourced from Charlestown-Clark County Library.

Bethany Christian Church 1974
Ammunition Plant Igloo Explosion April 29, 1966

On Wednesday, April 29, 1966, at around 9:00 AM, there was a shattering explosion at the powder plant as an igloo containing 175,000 pounds of powder exploded. Bethany’s glass windows needed to be repaired and a front entrance was added to help stabilize the front wall of the building. The igloo was 26’ x 80’ by 13’ high and had 12” thick concrete walls that were banked with dirt. The explosion broke the concrete into fist size pieces. The crater left behind measured 40’ deep and 150’ in diameter.

This photograph is from after the explosion at the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant in 1966 and sourced from Charlestown-Clark County Library.

In 2015, Bethany expands once again. A new sanctuary is built along with more meeting rooms and a new baptistery. The "2015 building" was built to be connected to the "1851 building" to ensure access to both sides. Today, our Sunday Services and worship are held in the "2015 building" and Sunday School classes for children in the "1851 building."  

Bethany Christian Church 2015
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