The Bethel Presbyterian Church near Port Gibson, Mississippi got its start from the Bayou Pierre Presbyterian Church as its members split to form the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson and the Bethel Presbyterian Church.
A Quick History of the Bethel Presbyterian Church near Port Gibson, Mississippi
There’s a great bit history of the old church and that be found on the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson Bethel Historical Page. I will give you a shorten version and you can check out their page to read the complete history if interested.
In 1824 under the leadership of Rev. Samuel Hunter the Bethel Presbyterian Church was organized. The founding members came from the Bayou Pierre Church, which had been the original church in the area and that was organized in 1807. Rev. Hunter who was pastor of the Bayou Pierre Church left with some of the members to start the new church. From my understanding when the Bayou Pierre Church members spit it was to form a church closer to area where the Bethel Presbyterian Church was established and the remaining members of the Bayou Pierre Church left to form the 1st Presbyterian Port Gibson because they were closer to Port Gibson.
In 1830 the church created Oakland College (campus was sold to the state in 1871 and became Alcorn University). The first classes were held nearby the congregation’s meeting place, which was between Alcorn State and Rodney.
Then in 1839, the churched moved a few miles away at Bethel Cross Roads to tract of 3 and half acres of land donated by Lewellin Price, the grandfather of the late Rev. Robert Price.
Over the years the church had its ups and downs. As the congregation grew smaller whoever was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson, was also the pastor of the Bethel Church.
On November 6th 1943 tragedy struck the area when tornado touched down in the area causing damage and destroyed most of the building. After receiving funding for reconstruction, the reconstruction started in October 1944 and was completed in March 1945. The newly reconstructed building was dedicated to the “Glory of God” on Easter Sunday, April 1st, 1945.
From the old pictures of the damage, The front of the building and one of the walls was left. Everything else was destroyed. During the
During the 1960s the presbytery formally made the Bethel Church to be an “outpost” also called a chapel of the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson. In December 1962 the First Presbyterian Church officially transferred 20 members of the Bethel Church’s active roll to the Port Gibson’s active rolls.
The Bethel Outpost continued to hold services on the second and fourth Sundays every month until the Fall of 1974. At some point they were changed to quarterly services and then eventually services were discontinued.
The Bethel Presbyterian Church near Port Gibson, Mississippi Current Status
Currently the Bethel Outpost still shows its name as Bethel Presbyterian Church and is the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson oversees the preservation of this beautiful and historic old church. They now hold worship services in the outpost in the Spring and Fall.
For more information about First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson and the Bethel Presbyterian Church please check out First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson’s website.
As always, if you haven old images or stories you would like to share of the old church please let me know. I would love to add them to the article.
Vintage images/newsprint were borrowed from the 1st Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson Bethel Historical Page
The church in great shape and I believe it hadn’t changed much since the reconstruction. It has a simple interior design and if you removed the cross and pews you might not even realize you were inside a church.
About the Images
I originally explored and documented this church with an old Canon Point-in-Shoot camera on a sunny day back in October of 2013 and never got around to processing the images until November 2016. I processed the images with Adobe Lightroom and post processed with Topaz Labs Clarity and Google Nik Collection.