Old Bethel

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

All religions have close ties with history. For Christians, it is the history of Jesus that is most important, along with the belief that Christ was resurrected three days after his crucifixion.

But no matter the faith or religion, the history of other places and missionaries are important, too. Southern Baptists, for example, honor the history of two missionaries every year. The Lottie Moon Christmas and Annie Armstrong Easter collections go toward domestic and international missions.

The Baptist folks, including a Baptist historical group led by Melvin Gateley, celebrated their history and missionaries of the past last week by holding a dedication ceremony for the refurbished Old Bethel Church. The church was built in 1806 and is believed to be the oldest Protestant church west of the Mississippi. Several churches spawned from the original Bethel, including First Baptist Church of Jackson.

By preserving the building, the Missouri Baptist Convention Historical Commission has added another historical structure for visitors to enjoy. But it has also honored its religious heritage by remembering some of Southeast Missouri's first missionaries.

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