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New Bethel Church celebrates 163 yrs. of worship in Berlin

By Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(April 12, 2018) A communitywide “coming together” on Sunday will conclude several days of celebration marking the 163rd anniversary of New Bethel United Methodist Church in Berlin.

“The church was established in 1855 as Bethel Methodist Church by a group of colored people who were then part of a white congregation, who attended Stevenson Methodist Church in the Town of Berlin,” event organizer Annette Purnell said. “The piece of land was given to us by our white brethren and they built the first church during that same year.

“During slavery we had two white ministers and then, after slavery was over, they turned it over after the Civil War [and] we got our first two black ministers,” she added. [The history] starts all the way back. We’re the oldest church in the [county] area.”

Purnell has been a member of the church for about three decades, wearing several hats during that time including pastor, treasurer and currently chairwoman of the anniversary committee.

She described the church, today, as a place of worship and healing for the community.

“We are the mother church of all the other churches that came out of us, [such as] St. John’s and St. Paul,” she said.

Events at New Bethel began last Sunday, with a concert by The Nichols Family.

A youth night is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 13, with area churches bringing younger members of their congregation for an evening of song and preaching, Purnell said.

On Saturday, the church will host an evening of song dedicated to the hymns of Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley at 6:30 p.m.

“He was one of our homeboys!” Purnell said.

The main event is Sunday, April 15, when New Bethel will feature morning and afternoon services, followed by a 163rd anniversary celebration, starting at 3:30 p.m.

“We’ll be having a church rally, that is where we have captains with a list of people raising money for the church, and we’ll have a service and then we’re having dinner,” Purnell said. “All are welcome – no charge.”

The entire event is free and open to the public.

“The more, the merrier!” Purnell said. “We want people to know that we’re there and come have fellowship with us. We’re very rich in history and we’re very involved in the community, and we hope everyone will come and be part of this great anniversary celebration.”

Visit New Bethel United Methodist Church on 10203 Germantown Road in Berlin.

For more information, contact Purnell at 410-641-0638 or call the church office at 410-641-2058.