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Reflecting on a century and a half at Bethany

By Staff | Oct 26, 2016

Planning committee members at Bethany United Methodist Church in Hughesville celebrating the church's 150th year were, from left, Leona Hugh, JoAnn Hall, Barbara Holmes, Sue Weaver, Jeanne Sinsabaugh, and Ken Holmes.

HUGHESVILLE – A time of reunion was one of the highlights occurring during the 150th anniversary service at Bethany United Methodist Church of Hughesville held Sunday, October 16, 2016.

Pastor Jane O’Borski identified former congregates as Bethany’s ministerial sons who shared brief greetings.

“It feels good to be home,” said James McGee, pastor of a five-church charge in the Shickshinny area. “You lose your family but gain another. I’m pleased to see scouts are still a vital part of this organization,” McGee said and went on to challenge all to, “Love God with all your hearts.”

Elimsport UM pastor Michael Hill said, “Let us throw off everything that hinders us.” Those with special significance in Hill’s time at Bethany were Pearl Simpson, Emily Lundy and his grandmother Alva Hill. He also said, “The Christian walk is about persevering in this spiritual journey, it’s about people and people’s souls.” His remarks ended with “Bethany’s legacy is not dead, even if merging.”

Pam Lamb, former choir director, led the congregation in three call-out hymns.

CAROL SHETLER/The Luminary Participants in the 150th anniversary service held October 16 at Bethany United Methodist Church in Hughesville were (front left to right): Pastor Jane O'Borski, Robert Webster, Pam Lamb, (Row 2) Pastor James McGee, Lea Ann Hawk, Karlda Thomas, Joyce Rhodes and Pastor Michael Hill.

Having recently left the area, she said, “Bethany grew me up in my faith. We are told to make a joyful noise and I do. I talk about Bethany so much folks are probably tired of it.”

Special music by vocalist Lea Ann Hawk included “In the Garden” and “The Lord’s Prayer.” Accompanists were organist Karlda Thomas and pianist Joyce Rhodes.

Serving as keynote speaker, Robert Webster’s message was titled “A Look at Bethany Church.” Borrowing part of a quote from Abraham Lincoln, Webster said, “It is all together fitting and proper to spend a few moments to reflect.”

Looking back to 1866 when the church was established, Webster said, “It was a dark period in our nation’s history. Lives lost in the ‘War between the States’ numbered 600,000. A lot of healing needed to take place, and we know the Greatest Healer of all.”

According to Webster, Bethany’s founders were Evangelical. “My definition for an Evangelical is one who believes in teaching and preaching the Bible about God’s son Jesus.”

Webster said that, “After 80 years as an Evangelical Church, in 1946 we merged with the United Brethren which had a similar background and culture. In 1968, we became Bethany United Methodist.”

When the church in Hughesville was established on a site other than the current one, Webster said, “By 1895, numbers had increased and so premier builder William Ball was hired. Ball had also constructed Christ U.M. Church on Main Street and many homes in town. The building corner of Second and Academy Streets was dedicated in 1897.”

In 1924, the cracked bell was replaced, then the Great Depression hit in the 1930’s.

Webster’s personal introduction to Bethany occurred about 80 years ago when age six or so. “My grand-dad Cyrus Aderhold, took me along to Sunday evening young people’s service with my uncle Glen Aderhold.”

Sunday School was held in pews in various section’s of the sanctuary. Teachers of classes scattered about were Alice Croman, Bertha Arthur, Celia Swank, Fay Parker and Artie Bull.

During the tenure of Rev. Paul Lease (1948-1956) ‘Children’s Chapel’ was established and dedicated to Mrs. Don (Emily) Lundy.

“The biggest makeover happened under the leadership of Pastor Benjamin Hoffman (1956-1964). The $100,000 project leveled the slanted sanctuary floor and the old wooden individual attached theatre-style fold up seats were replaced. The new interior included Sunday School rooms, basement, and two additional entrances. During a rededication on December 2, 1962, chairs were added in aisle ways to accommodate the crowd,” Webster said.

Webster noted that Joyce Lundy Rhodes was the musician at both the rededication and the current anniversary service.

Trustees at the time consisted of chairman Gordon McCarty, members Rev. Hoffman, Emerson McCarty, Earl Bardo, Howard Hileman, Glenn Simpson, John Reed, William Myers, Bruce Starr, Sr. and Robert Webster.

Also noted was one of the outreach programs, “My Preschool at Bethany,” now nearly 30 years in progress.

In 1999, Bethany’s first female pastor was called. Bethany A. Wood was followed by Barbara Kaetzel-Row.

On another side of the equation, Webster said, “Through the years, it took the devotion of many special people. Greeters, superintendents, custodians, teachers, you are Bethany.”

In a respectful reverent voice, Webster enumerated those loyal members who have gone to their reward. Recalled were Mr. & Mrs. Earl Bardo, Lynn and Sylvia Foust, Don and Anna Blanche Frantz, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gray, Howard and Lois Hileman, Mr. and Mrs. Warren Holmes, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Houck, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Krause, Clyde and Mamie McCarty, William and Iantha Myers, Paul and Mazie Reed, Clarence and Clara Wheal, Cloyd and Marian Whitmoyer.

Melvin Bay, Mildred Bubb, Viola Bubb, Artie Bull, Beatrice Corle, Viola Crawley and son James, Jack Crist, Nina Foust, Harvey Green, Alta Hill, Hazel Hill, Warren Holmes, Viola Kepner, Lizzie May, George Nace, Clarence Shaner, Marguite Smith, Grace Stolz, Eva Taylor, Richard Thomas, Bessie Trick, Alma Waters, Marjorie Webster, Isabelle Whipple.

Webster concluded with congratulations on attaining 150 years and wished Bethany a “Happy Birthday and many, many more.”