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Editorial: Old Bethel

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Earlier this month, a group of Baptists gathered at a remote area just outside Jackson near Goose Creek for a picnic and a groundbreaking ceremony.

The reason: They intend, with help from a pile of 200-year-old logs, to rebuild the historic structure that housed Old Bethel Baptist Church.

It's a worthy effort, considering the rich history of that church and the trials the congregation has gone through over the years. The restoration by the Missouri Baptist Convention is especially significant, organizers say, since Protestant services were banned west of the Mississippi River until the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

In 1806, what would become the Bethel congregation met and agreed to build a church. At that time, historians believe there were probably only 50 Baptists in the area.

In 1861, the church moved to a more convenient site, and the logs used to construct the original building were sold to a local farmer who used them in a corn crib. Several years ago, a developer found the logs and sold them to the Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Mo., where the Rev. John Marshall, a Cape Girardeau native, was pastor.

Now, the logs are ready to be used to rebuild the church, which is slated to be complete in time for the 2006 Missouri Baptist Convention's meeting in Cape Girardeau.

Congratulations to the Baptists for preserving this important piece of history.


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