In April of 1855 a meeting of twenty people was held by a group of Missionary Baptists at a log schoolhouse. They decided that there was enough people and interest to support a church. Bethel Baptist Church was organized Saturday, May 9th, 1855 by missionaries from Kentucky. Land was obtained in 1857 and the building was built in 1858. The building was constructed of black walnut taken from the trees on the church grounds. At that time the church faced west and had two doors, one for men and one for women.
Like many Missouri Baptist Churches, Bethel was dually aligned with the American Baptist Churches, USA and the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1967 Bethel decided to break ties with the SBC and remain affiliated solely with the American Baptist Churches USA.
The people of Bethel still worship in the same building. There have been many changes. The building now faces south, as a result of adding a basement and turning the building. It has been expanded and an additional building has been added. The church that was once a little country church is now a growing progressive church in a academic town. Bethel was started as a mission and today Bethel has a long history of aiding church plants and missions. Not only do women and men enter through the same door and sit together, a woman has served as the pastor.
Today Bethel is a vibrant community that supports American Baptist missions and ministries. We have sent members to serve around the world including most recently Bolivia, Cuba and The Dominican Republic. At a local level Bethel is involved in many community ministries including; nursing home ministries, Boone County Jail ministry, Central Missouri Food Bank, a community garden, and a partnership with Russell Chapel’s Food Pantry. We remember and honor our history, but we live, work and worship in the present, as we look forward to God’s future.