Bethesda Presbyterian Church
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Bobbye C. Winston
On September 30, 1838 the Session met and decided to name the church Bethesda. Some of the early members were: Julia Crawford; Nelson Crawford; Eli T. Going; Martha A. Going; Mahala Going; Rebecca Going; Mrs. Nancy G. Herndon; John Herrington; Sarah D. Lanier; Thomas C. Lanier; Mrs. Jane Lavender; Mrs. Prudence Weir; Francis Weir; Mrs. Sarah Weir; Eliza Williams; and Michael Williams.
Members added from 1844 - 1852 were: Mrs. Margaret Craig; Mrs. Elizabeth Lofton; Miss Sophronia Lofton; Miss Jane Caroline Richard, and Miss Elizabeth Lofton.
The following ministers have served Bethesda: Thomas Morrow; James Somerville; F. Bradshaw; James Porter McMullen; Andrew W. Watson; Cornelius Marion Hutton; Milton James McLean; Milton Calhoun Hutton; John Grant Praigg; Lyttleton Edmunds Scott; John Monroe Munn; Robert Alexander Mickles; John Russell Trett; James Andrew Berry; Alfred Evans Grover; Charles Haddon Nabors; Joshua Samuel Lack; Harry Robert Foster; George Francis Swetnam; George Edward Tucker; Thomas Art Smith; Frank Hamilton McElroy; Malloy Oden Cockerham; George Franklin Johnson; Lemuel Jefferson Kaylor; Millard Dual Sivley; John B. Degges; and John P. Simmons.
Elders having served Bethesda Church were: Thomas Lofton; Dr. W.W. Duncan; S. F. Nunnelee; Thomas G. Lanier; C. I. Eatman; F. Claude Eatman; Dr. George M. Sommerville; E. L. Graham; Luther Teer; A. E. Going, Jr.; Samuel K. Graham;
James Boyd Powell, Lawrence Graham; John S. Knox; James Monroe Jay; Eli T. Going; J. K. Spence; Alfred E. Going, Sr.; E. C. Mobley; John S. Going; Ernest O. Graham; Ernest Chester Graham; Ken Eatman; Louie Pierce; J. Ashley Eatman; Roy Powell; Joseph Cunningham; Andrew Lofton; Dr. J. A. Fulton; Dr. H. D. Boutwell; John B. Knox; John S. Gandy; Thomas G. Duncan; Wallace Powell; Morris (Billy) Carr; Milton Duncan; Charlie C. McGahey; and Lawrence Duncan.
Deacons that have served Bethesda were: A. E. Going, Sr.; Andrew Lofton; E. C. Mobley; J. M. Jay; Thomas G. Duncan; E. Lockart Going; A. E. Going, Jr.; Milton G. Duncan; Lawrence Duncan; Samuel K. Graham; J. H. Pierce; L. C. Teer; Elmer L. Graham; J. Ashley Eatman; Charlie M. McGayhee; F. Curtis Eatman; Will Sanders; Louie Pierce; Ernest C. Graham; Vance Griffin; Price Kenyon Eatman; Wallace D. Powell; Morris E. (Billy) Carr; Roy Powell; and Lawrence Graham.
Dr. M. O. Cockerham was the pastor of Bethesda from Feb. 1, 1938 to March 31, 1946. Dr. Cockerham preached his last sermon in the old church on second Sunday in May 1945. Mr. Thomas C. Duncan, a graduate of Louisville Seminary and a candidate for the ministry preached in the Old Church on the second Sunday in June 1945 that was actually the last sermon preached in the old church.
A new Bethesda Presbyterian Church, a modern brick building, was completed in 1945 close to where the old wooden building stood. The first Sunday School was held in the new church Aug. 19, 1945. First prayer was offered by Mr. Ernest O. Graham and the closing prayer by Mrs. E. L. (Alice Craft) Going. The first sermon preached in the New Bethesda Presbyterian Church was by Dr. M. O. Cockerham, the pastor, on September 9, 1945. The first revival was held in the new church from July 14 - 19, 1946, conducted by Rev. J. M. Partridge. Five new members were added: Claude Earl Eatman, Charlie C. Pratt, Mrs. Margaret Owen Craft, Wallace D. Powell and Earline Griffin.
The cornerstone for the church was laid on Oct. 15, 1946 with the following people present: Dr. N. J. Warren of Selma; Mr. Partridge; E. L. Graham; Joy Graham; Emily Ann Powell; Dr. Fulton; Louie Pierce; Claude Earl Eatman; Dr. M. O. Cockerham; Rev. Thomas Duncan.
Bethesda held its last regular church service in 1983. Bethesda Cemetery adjoins the church and is the burial place of many of the early members of this church and early settlers in this area. The cemetery is well maintained and continues to be used today.
Rev. James Porter McMillen, Pastored Bethesda
Presbyterian Church in Benevola. He
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