Our Rich Methodist History

In Forest Acres, South Carolina

Bethel UMC Rose Garden in Columbia, SC.

In 1835, Bethel was founded by a small group of families living in a sparsely settled rural area that is now Forest Acres.  It was the first church in the area.  A surveying plat dated 1860 shows Bethel on the same site where it stands today.  Though no church records exist of those early years, Bethel’s cemetery bears testimony to members of that early congregation and to the history of Bethel.

A forest fire in 1867 destroyed the original structure, but Bethel was soon rebuilt.  For many years it remained a small church administering to the needs of nine or ten families.  As one of several churches assigned to a circuit served by one minister, it had services only once a month.

Following World War II, steady growth of the area brought a need for a new church, and the first masonry sanctuary was completed in 1948.  In 1951, Bethel was assigned a full-time minister, and was part of the Columbia District of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Continuing growth of Bethel in the early 1960’s set into motion a two-year building-fund campaign.  In May 1963, ground-breaking ceremonies were held for Bethel’s fourth and current sanctuary.  The completed church was first used on Palm Sunday, 1964.

In 2018, Bethel United Methodist Church celebrates its 183rd year.

During Bethel’s long history, God has used His people to sustain a church that draws its members spiritually closer to the Lord and to one another.