Our church began more than one hundred years ago. It sprang from a prayer meeting in a brush arbor on Margaret Wallace Road in Matthews, NC near what is today Thompson's Child and Family Focus.
Mr. Eli Rushing, a white man, was owner of the property. Mr. Lois Howell, a slave, founded the church and served as its first pastor. He was often assisted by Mr. Marshall Smith who was also a slave.
Bethel was established as an independent church. Mr. Rushing, owner of the property, often worshipped with the members and became one of the church’s most prominent figures. He later gave an acre of land, approximately four and one half miles from the original site, to the church. Today the cemetery is located on that acre of land.
In the year 1908, David Watson, William Montgomery, John Maye, J. B. Warren, E. A. Alexander, John Howard and S. D. Dunn were instrumental in purchasing another acre of land from the Rushing family for the sum of forty dollars. It was at that time the church became deeded to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The Right Reverend George Wylie Clinton was serving as bishop.
On February 14, 1976 the church was destroyed by fire. PTL (Praised The Lord ) Television Network heard of our plight and immediately came to our aid and helped us rebuild the church. On Sunday, January 2, 1977 members of Bethel were able to enter the present sanctuary. The newly built church was dedicated on Sunday, August 7, 1977 at the eleven o’clock worship service.
In 1982, the fellowship hall was added under the pastoralship of Reverend Derrick Anderson. It was dedicated on May 7, 1982 by Bishop Herman L. Anderson and Reverend Lonnie C. Clark, Presiding Elder.
LaKeshia D. McCoy