New Bethel A.M.E. Church
In 1910, Christians in the community known as "the Still" (area near the turpentine still) met to organize the New Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. Their first mission was to locate a piece of land in Geneva on which to build their church.
The Charles Stewarts, the first African-American family to settle in Geneva, donated a lot on which to build the church. He became one of the founders and first members of the church. Construction of a small wood frame church began in the spring of 1910 under the leadership of Pastor Sebron B. Waldon and Bishop J. S. Fippi. The church opened its doors for its first service on August 20th of that year.
Church members chose Brother Charles Stewart, Brother James Ashe and Brother Preston Flowers as their first Stewards, and Sister Ellen Ashe, Sister Louise Stewart, Sister Annie Demps and Sister Minnie Flowers as their first Stewardesses. Sister Ola Thompson was the first Trustee.
The family names of some of the first members of the church were; Stewart, Ashe, Flowers, Galloway, Gould, Burgess, Butler, Witherspoon, Demps, Smith, and Stallworth. Descendants of many of these families still worship and serve New Bethel to the present day.
In the late 1980ís it was decided to build a new church to replace the 75-year-old wooden structure. In applying for a building permit, it was discovered that building codes would not allow a second church to be built on the same lot, therefore, the old church had to be torn down before the new church could be built. The wooden church was torn down in 1988 and construction was begun on the new structure, which was completed in 1989. Construction of this church was under the leadership of Reverend Lucius C. Dorsey and Presiding Elder Henry E. Green.
Also in 1989, an acre of land, adjoining the existing lot on the west side, was purchased; however, construction of the new church had already begun on the old lot.
As noted before, Rev. Sebron B. Waldon was the first pastor chosen to provide leadership to the church. Several pastors who have served since Rev, Waldon include: Rev. Dukes, Rev. Jenkins, Rev. C. Long, Rev. Lincoln, Rev. James, Rev. Butler, Rev. Flowers, Rev. Persaw, Rev. Brown, Rev. Owens, Rev. Watts, Rev. Wright, Rev. Jones, Rev. Hollins, Rev. Lundy, Rev. Holiday, Rev. Jinkley, Rev. Fadden, Rev. Berry, Rev. Stephen, Rev. Sanchez, Rev. Black, Rev. S. Byrd, Rev. M. Molten, Rev. Woodard, Rev. Dorsey, Rev. Smith, Rev. Robinson, Rev. Missick, Rev. R. L. Joe, and Rev. Arnold A. Porter.
Later Stewards were Brothers Felix Witherspoon, Sr., Walter Harper, Eugene Walton, Clifford Brown, Ira Bell Glover, Verlesia McKenzie, and Altamease McKenzie. Church Stewardesses have been Sisters Nancy Steward, Viola Witherspoon, Estella Harper, Viola Levine, Lillie Mae Hillsman, and Altamease McKenzie. The Trustees through the years have been Brother John Frazier, and Sisters Ola Thompson, Emily Oliver, Ellouise Moore, Viola Witherspoon, and Betty Ann Perry.
Note: A more complete history of the church can be seen at the New Bethel A.M.E. Church and also in the Museum of Geneva History.
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