Bethel Church was established just outside Petersburg, WV in 1891 as German Baptist Brethren Church. Known today simply as Bethel Church, we strive to fulfill the Great Commission as Jesus commanded. We offer opportunities for salvation and pray that the Holy Spirit will work in people’s hearts. We also offer various ministries for those of all ages praying that they may gain a closer walk with God. From within we desire commitment from our congregation and from without we desire to be a shining beacon in our community.
Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -- Matthew 28:19-20
The exact date of the formation of Bethel Church is uncertain, but it appears that circuit-riding ministers from the Shenandoah Valley made it a preaching point shortly after the Civil War. The land for the original structure was deeded on April 3, 1891 from Adam and Mary J. (Yokum) Judy and Naoma Judy to the church trustees, Sampson G. Sites, Jacob C. Judy, and Nimrod Ault (Alt). The church of that day was known as the German Baptist Brethren Church.
Construction on the original building was finished in 1891. It had raised seats with the benches facing a pulpit at the north end of the structure. About 1935 the raised seats were removed and Sunday School rooms were added. Later a sizable addition was made to the sanctuary extending it to the rear with the pews facing the pulpit area that now occupied the west end of the church. These improvements and the basement were dedicated in 1961. New padded pews, a new pulpit, and a new communion table were added in 1968. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s more work was done on the church which included central air, paneling in the Sunday School rooms and basement, restroom remodeling, and a new fellowship hall on the back of the church.
Up until this time, the church was land locked and further expansion was virtually impossible. Then the church was blessed to be able to buy some adjoining land that expanded the lot size to approximately four acres. It was at this point that there was talk of perhaps building a new church next to the old one. With all that had been done to the old church there were still structural, roofing, and electrical problems that had to be dealt with. The old building also experienced water and dampness in the basement on an ongoing basis. After much discussion and prayer, it was decided to build a new building in 1998 and to raze the old structure. Everything possible was salvaged from the old building and some was even donated to another ministry. The congregation had their first service in the new building on the last Sunday of January in 1999. In 2007, an addition was added on the back that consists of more Sunday School rooms, a church office, an extension to the fellowship hall, and more restrooms. In 2016 Bethel Church voted to leave the Church of the Brethren denomination. This was finalized in September of 2017 and Bethel became an independent congregation.
Bethel Church continues to see steady growth and seeks to be a lighthouse in the community in which it stands. Some of the early pastors of Bethel included Sampson G. Sites, I. William Sites, and Edward Judy. Peter I. Garber was also quite active in the development of the church. Pastors over the last fifty years have included Rolandus V. Simmons, 1959-1964; Dee C Flory, 1965-1969; Claude Sumner, 1970-1973; Richard Saville, 1975-1976; Connell Chaney, 1977-1981; Myers Kimmel, 1982-1986; and Gregory A. Rotruck, 1986 – 2022. (Excerpts from Grant County Our Heritage)