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Bethel was the first Baptist Church organized in the Baptist Mission Union. The organization took place June 20, 1900, with 23 charter members. They were as follows: Mr. and Mrs. C. G. Carlson, Mr. E. Mangsen, Herman W. Mangsen, Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Mickelson, C. J. Peterson, Miss Augusta Peterson, Charles Smith, Edward Svarvar, Miss Ida Wicklund, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Granfors, William Johnson, Miss Josefina Mangsen, Joel Nilson, Miss Alvina Peterson, Mr. and Mrs. C. Victor Sjoblad, Matheus M. Stark, Rev. and Mrs. J. A. Wicklund. Of these only three are with the church today: Misses Alvina and Augusta Peterson, Mrs. Alma Mangsen. Alvina served faithfully as a Sunday School teacher over 40 years, Augusta served as church clerk 15 years.
The Sunday School was organized November 24, 1900, with six pupils. The Young People's Society had its beginning on July 6, 1896, and was reorganized 1900. The Ladies' Aid existed before the church was organized.
|Group of men of the Bethel Church.|
During the years, the Bethel pastors served at several out stations as: East Douglas, Millville, Woonsocket, and Gardner, all in Massachusets. On September 1, 1908, 35 persons received their letters of transfer from Bethel, and organized the Baptist church in West Gardner, now known as the Calvary Baptist Church.
In the course of these fifty years several of the Bethel members felt the call for full-time service in the gospel ministry. They are: Mrs. John Berg (Olga Stone), Hanna Anderson, Edward Flemming (Edward Svarvar), Isak Roy, J. E. Koskinen, Harold Lillbo, and Eric Frykenberg. Isak Roy transferred to Gardner, where he became pastor at the organization of the church in 1908.
Since the organization the Bethel church yearned for a meeting place of their own. This was realized on, April 19, 1914, when our present building of worship was dedicated. The occasion brought great joy to the membership.
During these many years the Word of God has been preached clearly and faithfully, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Word shall not pass away." (Matt. 24:35). The following pastors have served the church: J. A. Wicklund, 1900-1901; Karl Orry, 1901-1903; Matts Esselstrom, 1903-1910; J. A. Kallman, 1910-1913; Anders Rausk, 19131919; J. Isak Berg, 1919-1924; Emil Nylund, 1924-1927; Karl A. Pearson, 1927-1934; Nathan F. Esselstrom, 1934-1935; J. Isak Berg, 19351943. Our present pastor, Alfred Holmgren, has served the church since August 1944.
The church was organized as the First Swedish-Finnish Baptist Church. On October 31, 1933 the church took the name Bethel Baptist.
|Group of Bethel members.|
The first baptism was on August 31, 1900.
During these fifty years 448 persons have been members of the church, and have been received as follows Baptism, 196; by letter, 150; experience, 102. The present membership is 84. The Sunday School enrollment is 51 boys and girls.
We have received support from the Massachusetts Baptist Convention, until June 1, 1934; since that date from the Ciity Mission Board in Worcester, for which we are indeed thankful to God and our friends.
Many and varied have the experiences been, through which the church has successfully passed. It is the abundance of God's grace that made Bethel survive, and humbly its membership looks to the Lamb of God, the Captain of its Salvation, for the days of work until He shall break through the clouds and call His own to glory. Until then He says, "Fear not little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:23).
Meanwhile advance and expansion for Jesus is the aim, and by the help and in His name it can be done.
Published in Fifty Years of Christian Stewardship 1901-1951. Prepared in commemoration of the Fiftieth anniversary of The Baptist Mission Union of America. 1951, p. 21-23.
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