THE BETHEL BAPTIST ASSOCIATION


“What is the significance of anniversaries?  You have only to think a moment for the answer.

He who does not look to the past to see the way we have come, cannot with clarity interpret

the present nor with courage chart the future.”

                                                                 Quote from 

                                                         Dr. Louie D. Newton’s

                                    September 23, 1982 column in the Christian Index


1707-----The first Baptist Association founded in America was the Philadelphia  

               Association in Pa. 


1733-----General James Edward Oglethorpe and 116 people arrived at Yamacraw Bluff on the    

               ship, Ann, to begin the colonization of Georgia.  There must have been at least 1 or 2 

               Baptists on board the ship.


1771-----Rev. Daniel Marshall moved to Georgia from S.C.


1772-----Kiokee Baptist Church, the first Baptist church in Georgia, was  founded by

   Rev. Daniel Marshall.

1784-----The first Baptist association in the state was organized. The Georgia Baptist

               Association had 5 churches.


1801-----First of three conferences was held at Powelton, Ga., which later led to the organization

               of the Georgia Baptist State Convention.


1813-----A Baptist Foreign Mission Society was founded in Savannah.


1818-----Early County was constituted and was 3,750 square miles in size.  It included the    

               present day counties of Early, Calhoun, Clay, Dougherty, Baker, Miller, Colquitt,

               Mitchell, Thomas, Seminole, Decatur and Grady.  There were no towns in the area

               until a small village on the banks of the Chattahoochee was chartered as Ft. Gaines in                            

               1830. Then Albany was chartered in 1838, Cuthbert in 1844, Lumpkin in 1850,

               Georgetown in 1859, Blakely in 1870, Arlington in 1880 and Edison in 1902. 


1822-----The General Baptist Association of the State of Georgia was constituted June 29,

               1822, and was the beginning of the formation of the Georgia Baptist Convention.


1828-----The Columbus Association was organized becoming one of the 17 Baptist

               associations in Georgia at this time.    


1833-----The Christian Index moved to Washington, Ga. from Washington, D.C.  Jessie 

               Mercer was the owner. Due to ill health in 1840 Mercer offered the Index to the

               Georgia Baptist Convention and they accepted the offer. Mercer passed away in

               September 1841.

                    One hundred seventy five years later the Index is still giving Georgia Baptists the

               news of Baptist work at home, across the nation and around the world.


1833-----Mercer Institute was organized in Penfield, Ga.



                GA. Fifteen churches withdrew from the Columbus Association and on November

                23rd at Richland, Ga. these churches were constituted into the new Bethel Baptist 

                Association. The geographical area reached from Columbus south to the Florida line               

                 and east from the Chattahoochee River to Dougherty, Webster and Sumter

                 Counties. Articles of Faith and a Constitution and By -Laws were adopted. These

                 have remained in place being amended or up-dated  when necessary.    


1839-----The question of being a Missionary versus an Anti-Missionary organization had  been                                                                                                                                  

               an issue for Baptist churches for over a decade.  The Association voted at the annual  

               meeting in 1839 to become a Missionary organization. 


1840-----The Bethel Association gave its first offering for Domestic Missions --- $44.12 ˝ .

               The slavery question was a hot topic in both the North and the South.

               The Association sent out its first missionary. Peter Ethridge was to labor in the 

               “destitute region” on our border in Alabama. He traveled 1,123 miles, preached

               130 sermons, baptized 34 and constituted 2 churches.  He was on the field 128 days

               at $1.50 a day and he had to furnish his own horse. 


1841-----All churches were urged to start Sabbath Schools though most small churches had

               preaching only once a month. It was a struggle for many years to really get the schools        

               going on a regular basis. At every annual meeting of the Association the churches were

               urged to start Sunday Schools and in this year of 2007 all the churches, including the     

               New Zion Church (Mission) reported having a Sunday School.                         


1842-----The Bethel Association voted to become a part of the Georgia Baptist Convention.

               There were now 38 churches in the association with a membership of 2,429 made up

               of both white and black people.  Over the first years of the association, as new counties

               were being chartered in the state, many drawing land from the original Early County,   

               new associations were being organized and churches were received and dismissed from 

               the Association.  This was noted in the minutes of the Association every year till 1915  

               when Mt. Ararat was admitted. It was 47 years later in 1962 that Southside Church in

               Blakely, Ga. was admitted. Faith Church in Cuthbert, Ga. was admitted in 1968 and  

               the New Zion Church  in Blakely, Ga. was established as a mission of the Association 

               in 2003.


1845-----The Southern Baptist Convention was organized, in Augusta, Georgia, May 8-

               12, along with 2 boards--Domestic Missions and Foreign Missions. The Bethel

               Association voted to associate with and support this convention. 

1846-----The first offering taken in the Bethel Association for Foreign Missions was $36.33.


1851-----The question of establishing a Female College in the Association at Cuthbert, Ga. for

               the purpose of educating young ladies was discussed and approved. For the next 73    

               years the business and operation of the Bethel Female College was written into the 

               minutes of the Association in great detail. The events of secular history, the Civil War

               and the following Reconstruction period, WW I, economic conditions of the nation,

               crop failures, even epidemics and illnesses affected the college. Conditions caused it to   

               change hands several times and it was finally closed and the property sold in 1924.         

                   The money from the sale of the property was placed with the Baptist Holding

                Commission and the interest of this money was used to pay the tuition and board

                of worthy boys and girls from the Association to attend Norman Junior College at      

                Norman Park, Georgia. 

                    The importance of education has continued throughout the years and an annual

                report is made to the Association of support of the Georgia Baptist Colleges and

                The Southern Baptist Seminaries.                        


1852-----The Association voted to raise $500 by the next session to support a missionary

                in Africa.  

                   There were now 56 churches in the Association.


1853-----The Methodists started Andrew College in Cuthbert, Georgia which is still, in 2007,    

                offering educational advantages to young people of all faiths and walks of life. This

                college has been a great blessing to its denomination through the years, as was the    

                Bethel Baptist College during the 73 years of its existence.                                                                                                                                                                       

                   The question of temperance had been an important issue in the Association since its

                organization.  Temperance Committee Reports were made at each annual session.

                For many years church members were excommunicated for the sale or use of alcohol. 

                After confession and repentance they could be reinstated to the church.


1854-----The Association employed Isaac B. Deavors as an instructor to the black members of

               the Association.


1856-----Just what did it take to attend an associational meeting in 1856? A messenger to the

               Bethel Association in that year writes in the Index of his trip from Morgan, Ga. to

               Blakely, Georgia.   “We traveled two days in horse drawn vehicles. Spent the night  

               with a hospitable brother in Randolph County and found domiciled for the night  a

               dozen other brothers and sisters bound for the Association. Next morning I soon found

               myself a member of a caravan of a dozen vehicles headed for Blakely, which was

               reached Friday afternoon. Services began Friday evening, embraced Sunday, and

               continued through Tuesday afternoon. We left Wednesday morning, spent the night

               with our generous host in Randolph Country, and arrived back home late Thursday

               afternoon.”   A round trip had required eight days and seven nights.         

                    In this year of 2007 a trip from Morgan to Blakely takes about 30 to 40 minutes.



1857-----25th  ANNUAL SESSION OF THE BETHEL ASSOCIATION.                                                                        

                The Association now covered 11 counties, with a total of 59 churches in the

                 Association, 37 ordained ministers and 11 licensed ministers. There was a total

                 membership of 4,498 ( 3,228 whites and 1,267 blacks). The minutes listed the name of

                 each church, the year of its constitution and its pastor. 

                 Dwight Hayes was appointed “missionary to the colored people of the association”.                   

                 Financial report:   $59.90 for Minutes; $236.22 for Associational Funds; Home

                 Missions, $48.20; Domestic Missions, $58.17; Foreign Missions, $15.00; Central

                 African Missions, $586.87; Colporteur, $120.00;   Total $1,152.36. 


1858-----Missionaries of the association:  William H. Clark and wife, Central Africa; J.R.

               Hogue, Choctaw Nation; James Perryman, Creek Nation and Dwight Hayes.


1861-----The Civil War began and affected the people and the churches of the Association in

               every possible way.

                    The churches were urged to contribute to the support of the work of the Bible

               Colportage among the soldiers of the Confederate Army. In 1862, $1100 was collected

               for the continued  Army Mission and Colportage among the soldiers. The purpose

               of the Georgia Bible and Colportage Society located at Macon, Ga. was the printing and

               distribution of religious tracts and materials. This Society sent out men all across the

               South with materials for the southern soldiers and could not keep up with demands for

               more Christian reading materials. They contacted the American Bible Society, which

               was located in the northern states, with a request for Bibles. This Society sent a

               large number of Bibles through the military lines of the northern army to help its

               sister society. One of the most requested pieces of material the southern soldiers asked

               for was the Christian Index.       


1863---- The churches of the Bethel Association were urged to increase the salaries of their

               pastors so that they could visit the families of the soldiers and help obtain relief for the

               more destitute families.

                   The  Indian work was being continued by Bro. Hogue at the Armstrong Academy,

               in the Choctaw Nation. The war had not reached that part of the country. The Mission

               Board continued to pay the salaries of the native preachers. 


1865-----The collections for Mission purposes were at a low ebb.

                   Classes at the Bethel College were being held in the president’s home as the college

               building was being used as a military hospital.  

                   At the annual meeting, for the first time, separate services were held for the white

               and the black people.  The white group met at the Blakely Baptist Church and the  

               blacks at the Blakely Methodist Church.


 1866-----No foreign missionaries were on the field, due to the poverty caused by the Civil War.

                   For the first time there were more black members than white members in the  

                Association; this too was caused by the Civil War.   

                   In the years following the war the South was in a terrible condition. Loss of lives,

                poverty and rules issued to the southern states by the federal government caused

                problems for the states to be readmitted into the union. Georgia was the last of  the

                states to sign the necessary papers for reinstatement in 1870. 


1869-----During Reconstruction days the blacks were withdrawing from the white churches

               and being urged to constitute churches of their own. As a result, our black brethren

               desired to organize an association in Southwestern Ga. Delegates were sent from the                                     

               black churches to the Mt. Moriah Church in Stewart Co in November 1870 for the

               organizational meeting. As their mother association they asked the Bethel Association

               to set up a committee to aid, advise and instruct them in their organization.   


1871-----The only mission work supported by the Association at this time was the Indian work.

                   Construction was begun on a home for orphan children in Atlanta, Ga. Some of the

               women of the 2nd Baptist Church of Atlanta recognized the need for a home for the

               destitute and helpless children who were orphaned by the Civil War. In 1888 a charter

               was received by the GBC, to establish the Georgia Baptist Asylum for Orphaned

               Children. The first campus was opened in 1899 in Hapeville, Ga. In 1940 it became the

               Georgia Baptist Children’s Home and a campus was added at Baxley, Ga.  In 1956 the

               Pine Mountian Campus was added and in 1968 the original campus was relocated to

               Palmetto, Ga.  Over the years many programs and ministries have been added to meet

               the needs of the children of Ga. and again the name was changed in 1985 to Georgia

               Baptist Children’s Home and Family Ministries. Today there are a number of homes,

               for both children and adults with many different types of needs, in several locations

               across the state. The Association has supported this work since its beginning, both

               financially and for nearly 40 years (1920 until 1960) in the loading of 6 or more

               railroad cars of produce every Fall. In this year of 2007, and for a number of preceding

               years, the churches of the Association brought both food and non-food items to the

               Annual meeting for loading trailers or trucks that were then driven to the proper



1873-----Mercer University was moved from Penfield, Ga. to Macon, Ga. and continues in this

               year of 2007 to offer educational advantages to people of all races and cultures. 


1874-----The Sunday School department was authorized by the State Convention.


1875-----A resolution was adopted by the Association asking each church to appoint a

               committee to urge all members to contribute to the General Mission Work. 

               Support was still being given to Brother Hogue and the Indian Work.


1876-----No missionary labored in the bounds of the Association. Bro. L.R. Sims, however;

               labored as a volunteer missionary traveling 1,149 miles, preaching 54 sermons,

               baptizing 4 persons and assisted in ordaining one deacon. 

                   Total gifts given that year was $409.80.  Only 5 Sunday Schools were reported.


1877-----The State Mission Board was constituted. This board along with the now North

               American Mission Board and the International Mission Board have continued

               for all the years of the Bethel Association to give Baptist people ways to serve God

               by both giving and going. We give through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering

               for North American Missions, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International

               Missions and the State Mission Offering each year.   


1878-----Brother Thomas Muse was requested to prepare, at his leisure, a history of the Bethel

               Association from its organization to the present.



                   There were 40 churches in the association with 22 reporting Sunday Schools. 

                Total gifts to all causes were $1,180.  Total membership was 3,573.     


1883-----The Association pledged $3,000 to aid in the endowment of Mercer University.

                   In 1884 the Association gave $1,560 to Mercer.


1885-----The Baptist Young Peoples Union (BYPU) was organized.  Its purpose was for the

                teaching and training of young people to serve God in and through the local

                church and out into the whole world. After two name changes: Baptist Training

                Union, then Church Training Union, the present term now in 2007 is Discipleship

                Training. Sixteen of our 34 churches have Discipleship Training.    


1886-----The minutes reported that a newspaper, The Bethel News, was being printed.

                  Brother Thomas Muse was reappointed as the Colporteur for the Association. 


1887-----The Association was divided into 4 districts:  1. Early and Clay Counties.

               2. Calhoun and Terrell Counties. 3. Randolph County. 4. Stewart and Quitman



1888-----The Woman’s Missionary Union was organized as an Auxiliary to the Southern Baptist



1889-----The Association resolved to build a cottage on the Mercer campus named for J.T. Clark,

               a well respected lawyer, preacher and judge in the Association.

                   There had been a student at Mercer for the last 4 years from the Association. 


1890-----The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary opened promoting Christian Education. 

               Cuthbert, Georgetown and Enon churches reported organization of Woman’s

               Missionary Unions.  


1891-----Brother Thomas Muse turned over to the Executive Committee of the Association the                                   

               minutes he had kept of the Association for over 50 years. Bro. Muse was responsible

               for starting several of the churches of the Association, starting the Executive

               Committee and serving on it for many years, starting The Bethel Female College

               and serving as a trustee for the college for many years. He and his wife had a boarding

               house where the college students lived. He traveled the Association on horse back to

               preach at nearly all of the churches, baptized about 3,000 persons, served as the

               Colporteur across the Association several different times and served as moderator of

               the Association for 25 years. 


1895-----Bro. Thomas Muse passed away April 19, 1895 having lived in the Association for 59

years. Brother Muse was born in April 1810, in Va., migrated to Georgia by way of     

New York and Tallahassee, Fl.  He arrived in Blakely, Georgia, in 1836 to start a third

store.  He started a prayer meeting at the store that resulted in the formation of the

Macedonia Baptist church, presently the First Baptist Church of Blakely.

He is buried in the Cuthbert, Georgia city cemetery.   


 1900-----Woman’s Missionary Union was organized in the association.and the minutes printed   

                in the minute book for the first time.  This was a fast growing organization. More 

                societies were started in the churches each year, gifts to mission causes increased

                and Sunbeam Bands, Girls Auxilaries, and Royal Ambassador groups, for the

                children, were organized in most of the churches.


1901-----In a rented 5 room house the Tabernacle Infirmary opened to offer medical assistance

               to the people of Atlanta, Ga. This later became the Georgia Baptist Hospital and for

               over 100 years it continued to care for the medical needs of all races, classes and

               creeds. A training school for nurses opened in 1902 and was closed in 1992 giving

               way for the opening of the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing in 1989. The hospital

               grew  and changed with the changing times. By the 1990’s the hospital had placed

               medical facilities in 9 different locations in the state. It also had the first Life Flight

               Helicopter Emergency Service in the state of Ga.  In 1995 the Georgia Baptist

               Medical Center merged with HCA and the downtown property, in Atlanta, was sold.

               The people and churches of Georgia have supported the hospital with an annual

               Hospital Day Offering.



                Twenty nine of the 38 churches in the Association reported having Sunday Schools.

                Total gifts: $3,681.22.


 1908-----The Associational Woman’s Missionary Union was divided into 2 districts, with

                20 of the churches reporting having organizations.


 1909-----A Layman’s Movement was organized, the forerunner of the Brotherhood



 1913-----In a survey taken by the Georgia Baptist Convention, excluding towns and cities, 

                there was one Baptist Church for every 40 square miles.


 1917-----During World War I mission work was being done among the soldiers.       


 1918-----The influenza epidemic across Southwest Ga. caused the Association to meet for only

                one day. 


1919-----The Association was participating in the $75,000,000 Campaign of the Southern Baptist

               Convention.  For several years special offerings were taken for this project.


1921-----The Association was divided into 7 districts.

               1. Ft.Gaines, Bethel, Georgetown, Midway, Mt. Gilead and Mt. Vernon.

               2. Blakely, Beulah, Colomokee, Hilton, New Hope, Pine View, Providence,

                   Sowhatchee and Mt. Ararat.

               3. Edison, Enterprise, Morgan, Bluffton, New Bethel and Salem. 

               4. Arlington, Bethany, Damascus (Early), Elmodel, Hillside, Leary and Milford.

               5. Shellman, Dover, Elim, Friendship and Rehoboth.

               6. Cuthbert, Damascus (Randolph ), Enon, Morris, Springvale, Mt. Hebron and


               7. Coleman, Vilulah, Mt. Vernon, Shiloh and Antioch.


1922-----The Bethel Association Encampment was held at Bluffton for the religious training of

               people from all over the state. This Encampment was held every summer for 10 years

               and was attended by large numbers of people; 229 in 1931 with over 200 visitors each

               day. Classes were conducted by preachers and lay people, and missionaries, home on

               furlough, gave great inspirational messages. Churches in the Association supplied

               food and workers in the kitchen. This was the forerunner of the present day camping



1923-----A new Associational Constitution and By-Laws was voted on and adopted. 


1925-----The Cooperative Program was a plan of giving adopted by the Southern Baptist

               Convention. The plan was adopted by most of the churches in the Association and

               continues to the present time.


1926-----Miss Eva Guillebeau was now at work in the Association as an Associational

               Worker, visiting the various churches, teaching classes and organizing the work. 


1931-----Plans were made for the Centennial meeting the next year. 


1932-----THE 100th ANNUAL SESSION OF THE BETHEL BAPTIST ASSOCIATION                                                                                                            

               was held at the Edison Baptist Church. Sermons and addresses were delivered by Dr.

               Louie D. Newton of Atlanta; Dr. Spright Dowell, President of Mercer University; Rev.

               M. L. Lawson; Dr. Carl L. Devane of Alexandria, La.; Dr. Raleigh White; Rev .J. W.

               Framer; Dr. J.E. Sammons, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention; Rev. A

               Barnum Hawkes and Rev. W. D. (Uncle Billy) Hammack, Coleman, Ga. who was then

               in his ninetieth year. The 3 day session was well attended by Association members 

               and many visitors. There were 42 churches in the association with a membership of

               5,507. Cooperative Program gifts were $5,716.83.


1933-----The SBC organized the Hundred Thousand Club. The churches in the Association

                participated in this endeavor as they had done with other projects over several years.

                God’s Acre, Butter, Egg, Pig and Calf projects were offered to help the farmer and his 

                family find money for mission projects in the Depression Days of the 1920’s and

                1930’s. Later programs such as The Every Member Canvass (1936), Debt Free by ’43,

                and A Million More in’54 showed people the advantage of working together to meet

                the needs.

                     It was the 25th Anniversary of the R. A.’s and the 100th Anniversary of both the

                Index and Mercer University.


1934-----The Association gave Miss Annie Sandlin, of Cuthbert, Ga., $100 to be used for her

               mission work in China.   

                  The book entitled “History of Bethel Association Including Centennial Meeting” by

   A. L. Miller of Edison had been printed and was on sale for $2.00 a copy.


1937-----It was recommended that a Workers Council be formed to meet and plan work for the


                   The Head of the State Brotherhood Department visited the Association urging the

               Organization of  Brotherhood  programs in all of the local churches.

                    An appeal was made at the annual meeting for the continued support of the

               Annuity Board program, which was begun in 1916.


1940-----World War II, which began in Europe in 1939, was causing great concern for our

               Foreign Mission work, and by the time the United States entered the war in 1941 many

               of the missionaries had returned home,


1942-----Only 1 missionary was left in Europe, in Spain. In Japan Dr. Maxwell Garrett had

                refused to leave when the other missionaries left and it was reported that he was in a

                POW camp in Tokyo.


1943-----Because of the gas rationing the Association met for only one day.


1944-----The Executive Committee asked for the authority to investigate and be empowered

                to employ an Associational Field Worker and to find ways to secure the funds to pay

                the worker.

                     The State WMU revealed plans for a Camp to be located in North Georgia near

                Clayton, Georgia.


1945-----REV. W.R.CALLOWAY began serving as the first Associational Field Worker August

               15, 1945. He served through June 1946, a total of 10 months.  This position later

               became known as the “Associational Missionary”.


1946-----The second Associational Field Worker REV. LAMAR  BROOKS began serving

               September 1946 and served for 1 year, until September 1947.

                   The Sunbeam Bands had been in operation for 60 years and the Children’s Home

               for 75 years.

                    The first mention of the Training Union event of “M”(Mobilization) Night was

               made. This has been a continuous event. The highest ever attendance for one meeting

               was in 1953 when two groups met in two different towns with 1,377 people present.

               The name “M” Night was changed to Associational Discipleship Rally in 1995.

 1947-----The State WMU Camp at Clayton, Ga., Camp Pinnacle, opened offering summer

               camping for the children, youth and women of the state. This camp has been in

               continuous operation.

                    REV.G. A. COOPER began serving as the Associational Field Worker in

               December, and he served for 2 years and 3 months, until March 1950.

                    The State Brotherhood Department was organized. 


1948-----The war in Palestine forced all our missionaries to leave the country.

                    The WMU observed its 60th Anniversary    

                    The Cuthbert Church organized a Brotherhood group. 

                    The annual report of the Field Worker was included in the minutes for the first

                time. Some of his service and activities included: days on the field, 266; miles

                traveled, 14,515; churches visited, 134; Sunday Schools visited, 31; mission points

                visited, 8; other services visited, 65; visits in homes, 252; soul-winning

                conferences, 25; letters and cards written, 678; tracts given out, 2,955; sermons

                preached, 65;  addresses, 22; committee meetings, 16; group and Associational

                conferences, 25; individual conferences on church work, 78; and community visits,

                168,  plus 18 conferences of various groups both in and outside of the Association. He

                edited and distributed 3 issues of “The Bethel News” (2,300 copies) and he purchased

                a 16mm RCA projector and equipment and showed films on evangelism and soul-

                winning to 50 different groups.


1949-----The churches in Cuthbert and Edison now had Brotherhoods.

                     The Executive committee asked that a separate treasurer for the Associational

                Field Worker’s Fund be elected at the next meeting and that all funds for the

                Associational Field Worker be kept separate from the regular funds of the



1950-----REV. J. R. BOWEN became the fourth Associational Field Worker in September and

               served for 9 years and 6 months until March 1960.

                   The Georgia Baptist Convention established a Brotherhood Department offering

                missionary education and service programs for the men and boys of the church.


1951-----Thirty of the Association Churches cooperated with the state wide Simultaneous

                Evangelistic Crusade. 

                     Nineteen boys and 5 counselors attended R.A. Camp and 26 girls and 7 counselors

                attended G.A. Camp. This was the first camp to be held since the 1930’s. No location

                for the camps was given. The camping experience for the children and youth has

                continued for nearly every year meeting at different locations over the years. These

                included neighboring associations, Camp Hicita at Kolomoki State Park near

                Blakely, Georgia and on the campus of Andrew College in Cuthbert , Georgia.


1953-----Fifty-four boys and girls attended 2 weeks of camp in a neighboring association.

                    Starting in July the Association sponsored a Saturday morning Radio Program

                called  “The Bethel Hour” which was aired over the WDWD Radio Station in Dawson,

                Ga. These programs were led by the pastors with several programs led by Mrs. Harvey

                Jordan, of Leary, Ga., the Association WMU Superintendent. These programs

                continued until December 1954.    


1954-----The question of securing a home for the Associational Field Worker and how to fund

                it was brought up at the Annual Fall meeting of the Association. A committee was

                appointed to research the question and report to the Executive Committee.

                     A Business Woman’s Federation (for the women working away from the home)

                has been organized as part of the Associational WMU. Seven churches reported having

                organized a group. 

                     The summer camp under the direction of Bro. Bowen, the Associational Field

                Worker, was held at Camp Hicita at Kolomoki State Park, with 116 boys and girls

                 in attendance. Pastors and dedicated lay people from across the Association made up

                 the staff. 

                     The first Associational School of Church Music was held at the Cuthbert Church

                 and was conducted by Dr. Edmond D. Keith, State Associate Secretary of Church



1955-----The Association bought the Stewart house in Edison, Ga. as a combination residence

               and office for the Associational Missionary for $5,000.

                     This was the year the name was changed from Associational Field Worker to

               Associational Missionary.

                     A committee was appointed to place a marker in Cuthbert, Ga. at the site of the

                Bethel Female College.


1956-----The Georgia Baptist Convention opened Baptist Village, first home for senior adults,

                located in Waycross, Ga. One of the first people to enter the home was Mrs. H. T.

                (Mary) Singleton of Edison, Ga. This work has continued until the present time with

                several other locations being opened across the state for the caring of elderly people.

                     The R. A. work in the local churches was moved from the WMU Department to the

                Brotherhood Department. 


1957-----125 th SESSION OF THE BETHEL ASSOCIATION. There are now 38 churches in

                the Association with a total membership of 7,072, with 4,718 resident members and

                2,354 non-resident members. Twenty-four of the churches have less than 100

                members. Total Cooperative Program gifts was $21,823. Total gifts to all local

                causes was $238,202.


1958-----The marker for the college site arrived and was ready for placement. A short history

               of the college was included in the annual minute book of the Association on page 29.


1960-----REV. G. L. (Gordon) BROOKS became the fifth Associational Missionary, serving 2

               years and 8 months from April 1960 through December 1962.


1963-----REV. J. V. PITTMAN became the sixth Associational Missionary. He served for 5

               years until sometime in early 1968.

                   The Georgia Baptist Assembly, located at Toccoa, Ga., opened for conferences and

               meetings and has continued to offer programs and events.

                    Southside Baptist Church in Blakely, Ga., requested membership in the Bethel

                Association. This was the first new church organized and admitted in the Association

                since Mt. Ararat was admitted in 1915.


1968-----REV. CARL CULPEPPER became the seventh Associational Missionary, serving for

               16 years until June of 1984.

                    Faith Baptist Church was organized in Cuthbert, Ga. and was admitted in the



1969-----Miss India Everson of the Edison Baptist Church advanced to the second highest rank

               in the Forward Steps program in the G.A. Organization. The next year, 1970, after one

               year of college, she served as a counselor at Camp Pinnacle, the WMU camp located

               near Clayton, Ga.


1971-----Rev. Wallace DuVall, Foreign Missionary to Nigeria for 15 years, spoke at the annual

               Fall session of the Association. 

                   The association held its first R.A. Congress meeting at the Southside Baptist Church

               in Blakely, Ga. with nearly 100 boys and adults in attendance. 


1973-----The Shellman Baptist Church held a service of dedication for Rev. and Mrs. Cleve

               Buttermere for foreign mission service to Costa Rica.


1976-----In the interest of time a motion was made at the annual meeting that all reports, which

               had been being given during the meeting, be compiled into one book and handed out at

               the beginning of the annual session. The motion was adopted.


1977-----The Home Mission Board, of the SBC, established a Sister State Partnership program

               which promoted the opportunity for greater mission work within the nation. New York

               was the first Ga. Baptist state partnership in 1977 and it was renewed in 1985. Others   

               which followed were: Connecticut in 1991, Alaska and the Chicago Metropolitan

               Baptist Association in 1995 and Utah-Idaho in 2000.  These partnerships were usually

               for a three year duration.

                     Donna Blackburn, of the Vilulah Community, served as a State BSU Summer

                Missionary.  This marked the beginning of a long career in Student Work.  At the age

                of 9, Donna accepted the call into full time Christian Ministry while attending the

                Summer Association youth camp at Camp Hicita, at the Kolomoki State Park.

    During her formative years her home church Vilulah Baptist, and the consistent 

    Christian life style of its members, provided the firm foundation of her faith.

                The summer camp program also played a very important part in her faith development, 

                both as a camper and later as a camp staffer.

        In college she was very involved in the Baptist Student Union. After college, at

   Wesleyan and Tift, she served as the Summer youth worker at the First Baptist Church

    in Cuthbert, Ga. From there she moved to Atlanta, Ga. where she began her ministry as

    a State Missionary with the GBC. For twelve and one half years she served as Missions

   Coordinator of the Department of Student Work. During those years she continued her

   education at Columbia Presbyterian Seminary and Georgia State University, earning

   her Master’s of  Education Degree in Adult Education.

     In 1991, she began her ministry as the Associate Campus Minister at the Georgia

Southern University Baptist Student Union in Statesboro, Ga. and also the Campus

Minister of the East  Georgia College BSU in Swainsboro, Ga.

She has taken students on mission trips to Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana,

  the North-Eastern United States, Germany and France. She has served as Special

  Projects Coordinator and President of the Georgia Baptist Student Union State Alumni

  Association and was in charge of the Reunion Celebration to commemorate the 75th 

  anniversary of the BSU in Georgia.                


1980-----All of the Associational Missionaries, since 1955, have lived in the house which was

               bought in 1955 and also doubled as the Association Office building. A study

               committee was appointed by the Executive Committee to look into the buying of a new

               house or the building of a new house as the residence for the Associational Missionary.

                    The Association responded with Disaster Relief to the Mobile, Al. area by sending

               20 tons of ice and hiring the semi-truck to deliver the ice. 

                    The Cuthbert and Shellman churches participated in the Rev. E. J. Daniels

               Evangelistic Crusade, Tell Georgia.


1981-----A World Mission Conference was held with 20 churches participating. 



                was held at the Edison Baptist Church, Edison Ga. on October 12, 1982. Special

               Anniversary Guest speaker was Rev. Ches W. Smith III, President of the Georgia

                Baptist Convention. Dr. Louie D. Newton had addressed the 100th Anniversary

                meeting in 1932 and was expected back for this session. Due to illness he was not

                able to attend but sent his greetings.

                     There were 38 churches in the Association with a total membership of 7,410,

                with 5,170 resident members and 2,240 non-resident members. A number of

                organizations reported: Sunday Schools 35; Church Training Unions 13; Woman’s

                Missionary Unions 27 and Brotherhoods 14. Cooperative Program gifts totaled

                $119,375; gifts to Associational Missions $19,466; gifts to other mission causes

                $216,733. Total gifts to Missions $236,199 and total money given by all the

                churches for all causes $1,530,635.


1984-----REV. MARCUS HICKS became the eighth Associational Missionary serving 14 years

               and 4 months, from July 1984 until October 1998. During his tenure the name was

               changed from Associational Missionary to Director of Missions (DOM) .

                   The Executive Committee accepted a motion from the Board of Trustees to convert

               the missionary residence into an office and conference space. The motion

               was seconded and passed. A DOM housing allowance was added to the Association

               budget. Later in the year the Board of Trustees reported to the Executive Committee

               that the property that was purchased in 1955 was L shaped and that the bottom part of

               the L had been sold to the neighbors next door for $1,200. This money would be

               applied to the renovation of the office.

                    The Georgia Baptist Convention entered into an international partnership with

               Liberia in 1984. Others which followed were: Panama in 1988; Germany in 1990;

               France in 2001; Moldova in 2002 and Mexico in 2006. These were usually for a 3 year


                    Dr. James O. Dorriety, pastor of First Baptist Church of Blakely, Ga., went on a

               mission trip to Zimbabwe.


1985-----The WMU contributed new drapes and other decorations for the newly renovated

               Associational office.

                    Miss Beth McAllister, of the Faith Baptist Church of Cuthbert, Ga., went as a

               US2 missionary to Bakersfield, Ca.

                    The youth group of the First Baptist Church of Blakely, Ga. went on a summer

               mission trip to Puerto Rico.

                    Camp Glenn, the R.A. camp near Brunswick, Ga., was sold and property was

               bought at Forsyth, Ga., for a new camp to be named Camp Kaleo.


1986-----Rev. and Mrs. W. C. Ruchti, retired missionaries from Italy, spoke at the Fall

              Associational meeting. Mrs. Ruchti is the sister of Mrs. Wallace DuVall, missionary

              to Nigeria.   

                  Open house was held at the newly renovated office building February 9th.

                  Twenty-seven churches were enrolled in the Simultaneous Revivals in March.

                  Several churches reported participating in the “Good News America, God Loves

              You” revivals.

                   Rev. and Mrs. Ray Shelton, retired missionaries, served as the Summer Camp



1987-----A decision was made to have two meetings of the Association during the year. The

               election of officers was moved from the Fall meeting to the Spring meeting, so that

               new leaders could attend training conferences offered in the Spring and Summer.


1988-----Twenty-four churches participated in the World Mission Conference. There were

               14  missionaries in attendance.

                    Joy and Art Redding, of the First Baptist Church of Blakely, Ga., went on an 18 day

                Volunteer  Medical  Mission Trip to Tanzania, E. Africa.  Joy, a nurse, and Art, a

                pharmacist, joined 14 other volunteers on this trip sponsored by the Foreign Mission

                Board of the SBC and the Virginia Baptist Convention.        

                    A group, called Baptist Builders, has been organized to go from place to place

                across the state helping churches and organizations with building projects.


1990-----Hurricane Hugo created wide spread disaster across the Caribbean area and the

               mainland USA. The people of the Association responded by sending several vehicles

               of supplies to the neighboring states. Three people went as workers. The people of

               the Association gave $12, 080.70 to be used for Disaster Relief.

                     Central heat and air conditioning was installed at the Associational Office.

                     Twenty-four churches participated in the Simultaneous Revivals.

                     A Missions Fair was held at the First Baptist Church in Blakely, Ga., May 6, 1990.

               Twelve different departments of the Georgia Baptist Convention were represented

               with displays and booths. More than 325 people attended the event.


1992------At the fall meeting of the Association a motion was made, seconded and passed that

the Association adopt a resolution urging members of our churches to take a stand and

vote NO against the Georgia Lottery.      


1993------A World Mission Conference was held in March with 15 missionaries present.  It was

                 reported to be one of the best conferences ever, even though one missionary had to be

                 replaced the day before the meetings started and a substitute had to be found quickly.

                 Another missionary had to leave in the middle of the week because of a family crisis.

                 Everyone said they would never forget the “blizzard of ‘93” that caused the Saturday

                 night service to be cancelled.

                      Mrs. Ruel  Everson, from Edison, Ga., resigned as the clerk of the Association after

                 serving in this capacity for twenty-one years. The Association  expressed its appreci-

                 ation for her many years of service to the Association.

                      The Associational Missionary, Rev. Marcus Hicks, made a proposal that the jobs

                 of the clerk and the office secretary be combined into one job, and that a set salary be

                 included in the budget. This was approved.

                       Fourteen men from the Association went on a work detail to Camp Pinnacle to do

                 repair work on the cabin that is assigned to our Association.


1994-----The flood of ’94, which caused so much destruction in the southwest part of the state,

                became an opportunity for ministry for the people and the churches of the Association.

                Many volunteers went to Albany, Ga. and Newton, Ga. taking needed supplies of food,

                clothing, household items and cleaning supplies. Money was also collected and sent

                through the proper channels.       

                      The Calhoun Correctional Institution (CCI), located in Morgan, Ga., opened in

                 1994. Mr. Mitten Crenshaw, the prison chaplain, spoke at the Annual Associational

                 meeting telling of the opportunities for volunteers at the prison. A number of men,

                 from several of the churches in the association, took the necessary training to be able

                 to go into the prison. They have started a Sunday School class and a Bible Study

                 group. The Association spent $502.50 for new Bibles for the prison. This work



1995-----In January, Articles of Incorporation were placed with the office of the Secretary

               of  State, in Atlanta, Ga., for the incorporation of the Association.


1996-----The WMU ladies filled 1,200 hospitality bags that would be given out to the many

               visitors who came to Georgia for the 1996 summer Olympics. They also collected

               500 personal hygiene items and contributed $500 that was sent to missionary Karen

               Gray in Vetorie, Brazil, for use in her work with AIDS victims. 

                     Two of the pastors of the Association, Rev. Ken Blackwood, Cuthbert First

                Baptist and Rev. Robert  Bracewell, of the Georgetown Baptist church, went on a

                mission trip to India.

                     The churches of the Association donated 2,700 pounds of food and other

                supplies for the Children’s Home.

1997-----The Bethel Association Advisory Council recommended the establishing of an

                annual Associational offering. This would be taken during the annual Associational

                Mission Emphasis Week and the money used for Capital Improvements. Adopted by

                majority vote.


1999-----REV, JAMES HOLLOWAY became the ninth Associational Missionary in April

               1999 and is still serving the Association at the present time, 2007. Note that once

                again the name has been changed, from Director of Missions back to Associational


                      The International Mission Board, of the SBC, sent out a request to all the churches

                for help with a project entitled “Love Gifts to North Korea.” Crop failures had created

                a famine situation and we were asked to send rice, corn, soybeans and peanuts.

                     Rev. Bruce Pafford, Minister of Music at the First Baptist Church in Blakely, Ga.,

                went on a 10 day Mission Trip to Alaska with the Sons of Jubal, a male choral group

                consisting of full time Ministers of Music from the state of Georgia.    

                      The Colomokee Youth Ministries Group went on two mission trips.


2000-----New By-Laws were adopted. Then a motion was made to amend the new By-Laws

                to replace the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message and to incorporate the new 2000 Baptist

                Faith and Message as our Statement of Faith. This motion was to be discussed in the

                local churches during the up-coming year and voted on at the 2001 annual meeting.

                     Our Association began participating in the “Sister State Partnership” with Utah-

                Idaho Convention. Rev. James Holloway presented a Covenant Agreement that was

                drawn up between our Association and the Eastern Idaho Southern Baptist


                      In response to the 1999 IMB request for grains to be sent to North Korea

                our Association collected 20 bags of rice and corn. These had to be bagged in special

                bags, which when filled weighed 110 pounds each. Many tons of peanuts were

                bagged in Colquitt, Ga. The bags were then sent to seaports for shipment to

                North Korea.

                     Preparations were underway to begin a Hispanic Ministry in the Association.


2001-----The Association began its first English as a Second Language (ESL) Ministry at the

               Morgan Baptist Church. Volunteers from four different churches were involved in this

               Ministry.  Several ministers from the Association took part in the group devotion

               time and there were 20 students enrolled in the program.

                      A patriotic musical presentation, “With Liberty and Justice for All,” with a mass

                choir of people from the churches of the Bethel Association, drew around 900 people

                to the Mangham Auditorium in Blakely, Ga. on July 1st.   

                     Eight men from our area trained for, and participated in, the “Operation Starting

                 Line” outreach at the CCI in Morgan.               

                      In March eight preachers from the Eastern Idaho Southern Baptist Association

                 came to our Association and preached in simultaneous revivals. Over the 3 year

                 partnership a number of people from our Association made a total of 8 trips to Idaho,

                 working in several different programs and events.

                      The youth group from the Colomokee Baptist Church made a mission trip to

                 Hendersonville, N. C.

                       The Association sponsored its first ministry at local Fall Festivals at

                 Kolomoki State Park and at “Christmas at the Fort” in Ft. Gaines, Ga.

                       At the annual Fall meeting, the Association voted to accept the 2000 Baptist Faith

                 and Message as our Statement of Faith.

                        Bethel Association created its first website: www.bethelassociation.com


2002-----As a continuing part of the ESL program, to help people be better able to minister to

               our Hispanic neighbors, a six week course in “Conversational Spanish” was taught

               by Dr. Terrell Ruis, our SW Georgia Ministry Resource Consultant. Thirty people

               were enrolled in the course.

                     Several people from the Association took part in Phase1 Disaster Relief training

               in Albany, Ga. More volunteers are always needed but one must have the training

               to be permitted on disaster sites. 

                    Our R. A. boys enjoyed the First Associational Racer Derby that had been held

                in many years.

                    On April 21st, the First Baptist Church of Blakely hosted a joint worship

                service with several of the churches in our Association and the Mt. Pilgrim Baptist

                Church, of Albany. Ga. Mt. Pilgrim was the first African-American church in the

                Mallary Association and they and the African-American Raines Baptist Church of

                Dawson, Ga., partnered with volunteers from 7 of our Bethel Association churches

                in a summer mission VBS outreach to Baptist Branch Homes, in Blakely, Ga.

                There were 42 children and youth enrolled in the Bible school.

                     There was an ongoing effort to start a Southern Baptist African-American

                Church in the Blakely area. A prospective Pastor was found and began the evaluation

                process of the Georgia Baptist Convention. 


2003-----In November 2003 Jimmie Terrell from the GBC led a training session for church

               leaders, especially for Church Finance Committees on how to set-up a ministry-

               based budget. Then in March of 2003 there was a Church Treasurer’s Workshop with

               emphasis on pastor’s compensation issues and IRS compliance.

                    The ESL ministry continued to grow with a second location started at the Arlington

               Baptist Church. A workshop was held in November to train new leaders and 5 people

               participated in the training.

                     A target date of January, 2004 was set for starting worship services for the new

               African-American mission. 

                     The Idaho Partnership agreement “officially” expired but we continued to offer

                help to the Eastern Idaho Southern Baptist Association.  Two of our young people  

                served on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in the summer and 2 pastors preached  

                revivals in September. 

                    The Association began studying the possibility of an International Partnership with



2004-----At the fall meeting of the Bethel Association, Ewell Jarrett presented recommendations

               from the Building Committee that a new office building be constructed on the same

               lot as the existing building in Edison, Ga. Design drawings were included in his report. 

               There was $25,133.78 in the building fund and no construction would begin until the

               fund reached $50,000. At this time local financing could be arranged for the balance of

               the construction costs.

                    Rev. and Mrs. Gary Hadden, from the Arlington Baptist Church, and Rev. James

               Holloway, Associational Missionary, each made fact finding trips to Mexico, in

               preparation for future mission trips.

                     Eight men from the Mt. Gilead Church went to El Salvador to help build a

               dormitory for Salvadoran pastors at Santa Anna.

                     Another group of eight people, from several of the churches in the Association,

                participated in Summer Vacation Bible Schools in Scotland.  Rev. Dan Gillum, of

                the New Bethel Baptist Church, coordinated this trip.

                     Erin House, a young lady from the Cuthbert Baptist Church, spent two months in

                S. Africa on a mission trip with a youth group.

                    Rev. Bruce Pafford, Minister of Music of First Baptist Blakely, went on a Mission

                trip to Moldova, with the Sons of Jubal. This trip was part of the Georgia Baptist

                Convention’s partnership with Moldova. 

                     For nine months the New Zion Church  (Mission) had been meeting at the Baptist

                Branch Homes in Blakely, Ga. Average attendance had been between 12 and 13. A

                store building in the Station West Shopping Center had been under renovation for

                several weeks. A Dedication and Open House was held on November 14. Several

                groups and ministry opportunities had been participated in with good attendance.              

                     In October 2004, six people from our association went to Playa del Carmen, on

                the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, for the purpose of building pews for the Fila-

                delfia Baptist Church. They also taught English as a second language at night,

                handed out tracts in the afternoon, and showed the movie “The Passion of the Christ”

                on two nights. 


2005-----Hurricane Katrina left behind many, many, opportunities for mission service. 

               The Association partnered with the Lilly Orchard Baptist Church near

               Escataupa, Ms.  Several groups made trips helping to rebuild the church.

               Fifteen people from the Association, who had had the Disaster Relief training,

               and were on call with the GBC Disaster Relief food program, made two trips to

               Westwego, La., where they spent a week at a time feeding some of the volunteers,

               who were  working in the clean-up operation. On the first trip, 2 weeks after the

               hurricane hit in late August, they served 10,000 meals a day!!! The second trip

               was in October. The churches also responded by collecting and sending food,

               water, clothing and money. The youth group from First Baptist Blakely made two

               trips to Gulfport, Ms. helping several families clean up their houses.   

                     Nine of the Association churches participated in the Wave Revivals.

                     The Coleman Baptist Church, which had been closed for some time, was making

                an effort to restart.

                     Rev. Tom McClendon, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Cuthbert, Ga., was

                 invited by the CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) leaders of the IMB, to participate

                 in a Virtual Strategy Planning and Training session so that his church might become

                 involved as a partner in church planting. He was given Smolensk, Russia as his

                 target. Bro. McClendon, and his son Tommy, spent 10 days in Russia on a fact

                 finding trip to identify specific ministries and partnerships that might be developed.

                       Rev. Howard Scott, Ft. Gaines Baptist Church, did mission work with Campers on

                 Mission in Kentucky.

                       Rev. Tommy Mullis, from the Transylvania Association in Western North

                 Carolina, spoke at one of the Executive Committee meetings about the mission

                 opportunities in that area. The Association began planning two trips to N.C.; one for

                 youth and the other for adults.


2006-----Relief work continued along the Gulf Coast and 3 teams from the Association

               went on mission trips to the region.

                    Contributions for the new office Building Fund reached the $50,000 goal

               and a ground breaking was held on February 12. It was a freezing cold day!

                     In April 2006, four people from our Association joined with another group for an

               8 day mission trip to Bay St. Louis, Ms.

                     The Cuthbert 1st Church sent a mission team to Smolensk, Russia in June.

                     Eight men from the Association went back to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, in

                September to help build more rooms on to the Baptist Church .

                      The Association had 22 people trained in  Disaster Relief. Fourteen more went for   

                 training, bringing our number to 36 trained people.

                      Totals for 34 of the 35 churches listed in the Associational Minutes for the year

                2005-2006 are:  Sunday Schools, 34; Discipleship Training, 17; WMU’s,  23; Men’s

                Ministry, 21; gifts to the Cooperative Program, $298,894; Associational Missions,

                $113,290; State Missions, $25,000; Annie Armstrong, $41,907; Lottie Moon, $84,053;

                Other gifts, $112,375. Total of all receipts, $4,097,236.


     The minutes of the 2006-2007 year are yet to be written. We have a long, fruitful history.

From early in the 19th century, men on foot and on horse back and families in covered wagons moved into a wilderness territory that had, just prior to their coming, been in the possession of the Native American Indian. It was a land of no roads, no bridges over the streams or rivers and no towns. Yet they came, carving out homesteads, establishing towns, building churches and schools, growing with the changing times until we have reached this fast paced, technological, space age of the 21st century.   

     As we stand on the threshold of the 175th Anniversary Year of 2007-2008 we cannot rest on our laurels. During World War II, at the height of the blitz in Great Britain, someone wrote on  the wall of one of the underground air raid shelters “There is not enough darkness in all the  world to put out the light of one small candle.” As long as there are lost people in the world there is a need for continued mission work to reach them with the salvation message of Jesus Christ,

the light of the world. For many of us the torch must be passed to the younger generation, to keep the work moving ever forward. Twenty-five years from now they will be looking at the up-coming 200th Anniversary of the Association. What will the minutes books of the Association reveal of them as keepers of the faith and the flame?    
















Respectfully submitted

Mrs. Ruel Everson

Edison Baptist Church, Edison, Ga.

Mrs. Henry Herndon

Beulah Baptist Church, Cedar Springs, Ga.

Mrs. J. T. Manry

First Baptist Church, Blakely, Ga.