Bethel Mennonite Church is called to demonstrate God’s love to all generations through a clear message of salvation in Jesus Christ; Christ-centered worship; and preparing God’s people for service and ministry.
Who We Are
In 1874 a group of Mennonites left Russia for America. In January 1875 the Bethel congregation was organized with 35 charter members. Jacob Klassen was named Elder of the original church and Heinrich Toews was elected minister. This group functioned as a fellowship without a building of their own until 1880 when the first Bethel Mennonite Church building was erected. It was a humble building, made from adobe bricks (some of which have been preserved and are displayed at the Inman Museum). It was located 2 1/2 miles south of Inman, one mile south of the church’s current location.
Bethel Mennonite Church flourished with the strong faith and devotion of it’s members. By 1897 the congregation had grown and a new facility was needed. A wooden church was built at our current location. As the church continued to grow, so did the commitment of it’s members. In 1913 the first missionary was commissioned from within the congregation. During the following years, missionaries from Bethel Church would evangelize to the American Indians. They traveled to Kansas City, Chicago, parts of Wisconsin, as well as India, Africa, South America, and the Philippines. Bethel Church has a rich Missional tradition that continues today with missionaries from our congregation serving in Russia, Mexico, Peru, Asia, and in different areas of the U.S. serving in disaster recovery.
In 1928 tragedy struck when Bethel Church was burned to the ground as a result of a lightning strike. Eleven months after the fire, the new building was dedicated. It was a labor of love in which many members had directly contributed to the construction. Bethel Church continued to grow and develop. In 1945 Bethel joined the Mennonite General Conference (which has been replaced by Mennonite Church USA or MC USA) and later became a part of the Western District Conference in 1947 transferring to South Central Conference in 2013.
.In 1953 tragedy struck at Bethel once again in the form of a fire. Although the source of the fire was never officially determined, many believe the fire was caused due to a build-up of gas pressure as a result of heavy frost on the pressure regulator. The fire that resulted again destroyed everything. All that remained was a chimney that stood alone amongst the ashes.
The destruction in ’53 was tragic. However, Bethel was growing and many felt needed new space. A dramatic remodeling of the building had been proposed at the previous annual meeting. The proposal was declined at that time, but now the new building would be built. With the help of all of Bethel’s members, as well as help from 16 other congregations, the current (4th ) building was constructed using block and brick. It was dedicated in July of 1954.
Bethel has continued to grow and change adding additional space to the church in 1986.
In 1992, Bethel dedicated a new Rodgers Organ. Today the Organ is still used as well as a grand piano, guitars, bass guitar, saxophone, flute, violin, and percussion. Our worship music has grown to include traditional Mennonite hymns, gospel, and contemporary songs. Today Bethel is made up of a variety of individuals; from retired seniors to young adults, from growing families to single professionals. The diversity found at Bethel is common from our beginning. The original 35 charter members in 1875 came from 9 different villages in Russia, all with different thoughts and traditions. We are still all very different, but we are all brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus who are united as one body in the fellowship of the church.
If you are searching for a church family where you can belong, we invite you to join us for worship. Wherever you are, it is our hope that you know or will come to know Jesus. The price He paid for you that you might live life more fully and that you would be reconciled to the Father for all eternity.