As one drives north from Spencer along U.S. highway 231 you will notice the picturesque tree covered hills and valleys giving way to great fields of corn, wheat and soybeans with an occasional pasture containing livestock. And if you watch closely, about eight miles up the highway, you will notice a small white church, typical of country churches. What makes it unique is the window over the main entrance with the word ‘Bethany’ etched into the stained glass. Entering the vestibule one may observe hanging from the wall a copy of the original minutes of the church, dated March 20, 1820. This makes us one of the older churches in this presbytery and, we believe, the oldest church of any denomination offering continuous service in Owen County. Entering the sanctuary, perhaps the most striking scene is rows of pews made from native timber with a wide board for a seat and another for the back, a clear indication of the proud heritage felt by the congregation.
Today we are still a small country church. And as one becomes involved in the life of the congregation, you begin to feel both the pride in their heritage and the closeness of a church family. Are we content with where we are? No. Would we like to grow? Yes. Are we waiting until we have grown to become more active? No! While we are too small to even consider such programs as pre-school, we are not too small to make and distribute lap robes and bibs to the residents of local nursing homes. In fact, this year the ladies have made and distributed over 300 bibs and 48 lap robes. And this project is ongoing. We expect to do the same next year.
We are partnering with the Spencer Presbyterian Church’s food pantry to help the needy of Owen County. Toward this effort we collect donations of food at the church, some of our members work in the pantry and we have a produce table where those of us who garden bring our surplus, making it available to those who can use it and excepting donations from recipients.
As I watched on TV the devastation caused by the earthquake in Haiti, and seeing children with no food, no clean water, no one to care for them and considering the possibility of my own grandchildren in the same situation, it became almost too much to bear. What has made it bearable is the money we have raised to send to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to assist in this catastrophe. As of Sunday, September 5th we topped $1,000, pretty remarkable for a small congregation. A few years ago Moderator of General Assembly was quoted as saying ”I’m sinfully proud of the Presbyterian Church”. I’ll paraphrase “I’m sinfully proud of Bethany”.
Bert Brantley, in his report on his triennial visit, called us a healthy congregation and an effective ministry. It is my prayer that we have lived up to his generous assessment of Bethany and that we will continue to do so.
— Dick Poff, CLP