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Bethel Church was formed in 1962 by four families from Presbyterian churches in the Houston area. Dissatisfied with the lack of Biblical teaching, the promotion of political ideas foreign to their understanding of the foundation of this nation, and the exposition of worldly ideas contrary to the Word of God, they decided to form their own church. It would be Presbyterian in government, Calvinistic in doctrine, and Biblical in teaching. It was hoped that obedience to God’s instruction would result in a family of believers that was true to the Word of God in its teaching and life style and an example of God’s grace and love in the Houston, Texas area. Although never completely successful in attempting to accomplish their desires, God used and blessed this congregation effectually which resulted in impacting not only Houston, but Texas, the U.S.A., and the world for the Lord in many ways.
The story throughout is a look at how God can use imperfect men to accomplish His purpose. Time after time, through spiritual, leadership, policy, and financial difficulties, the Lord guided and provided for this one small church as it stumbled along and grew as a significant testimony to His blessings and message to the world.
Preparation for the formation of the church began in late 1961. The official Certificate of Incorporation from the State of Texas is dated July 31, 1962 and is signed by Trustees Dr. T. L. Holland, Bill Kimbro, Jack Brogden and Robert O. Holland. Jim Chenoweth also signed on subsequent documents. Dr. D. L. Holland and Bob Holland evidently acted as advisors to the church since they were never listed as members or attendees in the early directories. A third key advisor and financial supporter, a Mrs. McManis, is listed in later directories.
The stated purpose of the church from the beginning was:
The initial group was primarily Presbyterian and followed most of the Westminster Confession of Faith as a worldly guide to direct the congregation in their day to day activities. They investigated the possibility of associating with a national organization, but decided in the end that they liked the name and position of “Independent and Presbyterian”. It was not until the year 2009 when these two adjectives were quietly dropped from all the church’s written communications. The early church leadership was patterned after the Presbyterian form of government consisting of a Session of Elders as the spiritual leaders and servants, a Diaconate of Deacons as the physical servants of the congregation, and a Pastor/teacher (and future pastoral and office staff.) The Session existed from the beginning, but the Diaconate was not formed until September of 1964. The original elders were Jack Brogden, Jim Chenowith, Philip Blair Jones (the first pastor), Bill Kimbro and Scott Nisbet.
The church rented the abandoned facilities of the American Lutheran Church at the present location of Bering Drive and Sugar Hill Drive. By October, 1962, attendance was between 70 to 100, including all children and college students.
Dick Denney, a long time elder and member of Bethel from the 60’s states,
It is truly amazing and an obvious working of God that Bethel survived. Four families, with limited resources, limited theological knowledge, no church organizational or operating experience, and not even a long list of possible members, were helped by three key people, two of whom were never listed as members or attendees, plus a new seminary graduate, and a few other families and succeeded in forming a church body that has grown into the Bethel of today. Throughout the history of Bethel, there have been events and personnel changes that clearly indicate God is, and has been, truly at work in each stage of Bethel’s development, growth, and influence.
Jim & Patti Fox, Rodney Bohls (Chairman), Mary Kay Coleman, Jonathan Craft, Norman Crook, Bill & Deanna Gibson, Rick Hadley, Cathy Oliver, Linda Robinson
Special thanks to Dick Denney, Bethel elder since 1969, for his written history of the early church and to the numerous Bethelites who contributed facts, figures, and remembrances for the compilation of this report.
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Address: 825 Bering Drive, Houston, TX 77057 [map]
Tel: 713.782.8948 Fax: 832.202.2996
Copyright ©2015 Bethel Church of Houston.