Bethel Presbyterian Church (Clover, South Carolina)
Bethel Presbyterian Church
|Nearest city||Clover, South Carolina|
|Area||7 acres (2.8 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||80003714|
|Added to NRHP||December 10, 1980|
It was founded in 1764 and is the oldest church in York County, which was still considered part of North Carolina in 1764. Bethel is one of the oldest churches in the region, and is the mother church of many neighboring congregations. The church was established by Rev. William Richardson, minister of the Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church in Lancaster County, South Carolina, to service the burgeoning population on the west side of the Catawba River.
Colonel Samuel Watson was an influential member of Bethel, as well as highly respected in the community. When talk of rebellion became general, Watson quickly rose to the cause. Watson was elected to the South Carolina Provincial Congress of 1775-1776 and participated in the framing of South Carolina's first written constitution. Colonel Watson was the grandfather of Rev. Samuel Lytle Watson, Pastor of Bethel Presbyterian Church for 42 years.
Bethel Church was incorporated by the Legislature of South Carolina, March 22, 1786, with the title, "The Presbyterian Church of Bethel Congregation". Bethel become part of the Southern Presbyterian Church.
The present church building was the fourth house of worship, was erected in 1873.
52 Revolutionary War soldiers buried in its historic cemetery. Among them is Thomas Neel, a War of Independence hero and a founding elder of the church. Many Confederate soldiers are buried there as well.
In 2014 the church celebrated its 250 anniversary.
The current church building was constructed in 1873, immediately adjacent to the earlier church, which was torn down. The current structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The church, a local interpretation of a colonial meeting house. The heavy post and beam, hand-hewn, wooden pegged construction is unusual for so late in the century, especially when lighter, more rapid assembled methods were in common use. The king post truss used in Bethel’s roof structure is an ancient design found in some of America’s earliest churches. Bethel represents an architectural achievement during a time of political and social upheaval and economic adversity that marked the Reconstruction era. Bethel’s congregation constructed a commodious house of worship under severely reduced circumstances, doing so without incurring debt. A large well-tended cemetery covers three acres of a ridge on the property’s east side. Enclosed by a stone wall, it contained some three to four thousand graves in 1887. _ Adopted from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History National Register Properties in South Carolina
List of Pastors
- Rev. Hezekiah Balch 1770-1776
- Rev. Francis Cummins 1782-1789
- Rev. George G. McWhorter 1796-1801
- Rev. James S. Adams (Stated Supply) 1811-1840
- Rev. Samuel L. Watson 1840-1882
- Rev. Robert A. Webb 1882-1887
- Rev. G.S. Robinson 1888-1890
- Rev. David S. McAllister 1891-1899
- Rev. William B. Arrowood 1899-1909
- Rev. Robert Adams 1910-1914
- Rev. R.K. Timmons 1914-1916
- Rev. George W. Nickell 1917-1924
- Rev. A.H. Key 1925-1933
- Dr. Tilden Scherer (Temporary Supply) 1934-1937
- Dr. Tilden Scherer 1937-1950
- Rev. David Coblentz 1951-1961
- Rev. Kenneth L. Newman 1962-1966
- Rev. James L. Moss 1967-1971
- Rev. Vernon N. West 1972-1986
- Rev. John A. Gess 1986-Present
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- Starr, Rebecca; Pamela Zagaroli (June 4, 1980). "Bethel Presbyterian Church" (pdf). National Register of Historic Places - Nomination and Inventory. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "Bethel Presbyterian Church, York County (S.C. Hwy. 557, Clover vicinity)". National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
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