OUR BLESSED CHURCH HISTORY

FROM 1870 TO THE PRESENT

In 1870, the Bethlehem Baptist Church was organized by Rev. Green Medlin.  The services were conducted in various homes.  This method of worshiping proved to be quite challenging.  A “Brush Arbor” was constructed and the members worshiped there for an unspecified amount of time.   Rev. Medlin remained as pastor for 22 years.  In 1892, Rev. J. P. Phillips conducted services in the old school house located at what is now 1188 West Broad.  There was still a need for a church facility.  Arrangements were made to purchase a lot by Deacons Ben Wyatt, Link Briscoe, and Jerry Bush.  Later, Mr. J. H. Wright deeded an acre of land to the church.  More land was purchased from Mr. Herman Lawson.  The land is located on what is now East Broad St.  In 1896, a church building and a parsonage were erected on East Broad.  How happy the members were to have a place to worship God.  There was an “Amen Corner”, a “pot bellied” stove, and a post in the center of the building to support the structure.  Rev. Phillips remained with the church until 1914.  Rev. Upshaw presided for a short time.  From 1915 to 1917, Rev. H. T. Wise was the pastor.  In 1917, Rev. W. A. Washington made a brief stay.  He was followed by Rev. Spocks in 1918-1919 and Rev. Banner in 1919-1920.  During 1920 to 1924, it is not clear who led the flock.  In 1925, Rev. James Weaver accepted the pastorate of the church and remained with the congregation until 1930.  Rev. Flowers served until 1931.  Rev. E. L. Pulluam arrived in 1931, stayed until 1932; was instrumental in starting a choir.  In 1932, under Rev. C. C. Carson’s leadership the flock increased; progress was made.  The church joined Zion Rest District Association and later the Elm Grove District Association. Rev. Carson remained for nine years with the congregation meeting every Sunday. In 1941-1943, Rev. C. C. McNeil served as pastor, Rev. N. R. Washington stayed 6 months, Rev. I. L. Smith, 1943-1945, Rev. T. P. Thomas, 1945-1946. In 1946, Rev. L. E. Billingslea accepted the pastorate. Under his guidance the physical plant was remodeled several times; the church was now located on West Broad at what is now McClendon Park.  He is credited for leading the initial effort of the development of homes on West Broad which was an unincorporated area that was called “Harmony Hill.”  Also under his leadership the church experienced growth and several sons came to the ministry. Rev. Billingslea served the church faithfully for 26 years until ill health afflicted him and he died in February of 1972.  In May of 1972, Rev. O. V. Hall became the pastor and remained until June of 1975.  Under his leadership, three sons came to the ministry; all liens against the church were cleared.

In December 1975, Rev. C. D. Sammons became the pastor. With his deep convictions and spiritual fervor, he aided the members in achieving the aspirations of the late Rev. L. E. Billingslea.  During his pastorate the Willie Earl Brown Elementary School was purchased at 1188 W. Broad St. and is now our present worship site. Rev. Sammons served as pastor of this flock until he was called to pastor the Zion Baptist Church of Dallas, TX in April 1991.  Under his leadership there came one son to the ministry. He also led the church through several renovation projects.

In May 1991, with a unanimous vote, Rev. Michael A. Evans was called to pastor the Bethlehem Church family. He was the youngest pastor ever called to serve at the Bethlehem Church, age of 24 yrs.  Since Rev. Evan’s time of service as the senior pastor, the church has been incorporated; offer oversight to the BBC Education Enrichment Inc., which is a non-profit organization designed to enhance area children’s ability to study and achieve educational goals.  The church has initiated the creation of the “Historical West Mansfield Community Development Corporation, “a non-profit corporation dedicated to the continuing economic and community development of the Western Sector of the City of Mansfield. Also throughout his pastorate liens against the church have been cleared on several occasions.  Pastor Evans has made it clear that “as you work for the up-building of God’s kingdom it doesn’t matter who gets the credit because, “GOD IS THE MAIN ATTRACTION” at the Bethlehem Baptist Church.”  Under his leadership the church has grown spiritually. In 2000, believed together and completed the construction of the Community Education Center, which serves as an incubator for educational enhancement for residence of Southeast Tarrant County. In that same year the church provided space for the City of Fort Worth’s Community Resource Center; providing basic essentials for the well-being of people who have fallen victim to harsh economic times. In 2005, the church began the planning and development process for the erection of the T.M. Moody Gymnatorium, named after Deacon T. M. Moody, who served as the Chairman of Deacons under the pastoral leadership of Rev. C.C. Carson, Pastor L.E. Billingslea, Rev. O.V. Hall and Rev. C.D. Sammons. Deacon Moody was known as a local trailblazer who led the fight to desegregate the schools, in Mansfield, in August 1955. He was a leader and one of the founders of the Fort Worth Citywide Brotherhood. The facility has served as the temporary worship venue and permanent recreation and community gathering place for church members and community members. The debt on the Gymnatorium was retired June 2018. Pastor Evans has been entrusted with a vision to advance the West Broad Community beyond its rural heritage to include residential facilities for the “Seasoned Saints” of Southeast Tarrant County with the goal of constructing Bethlehem’s Pioneer Place (an independent living facility for senior adults). The date of the groundbreaking was April 29, 2018. The long term goal is to build an adjoining memory care facility for aging residents.

Under the present administration, thousands of dollars have been awarded to worthy high school graduates aspiring to attend college and post-secondary training.  Our church has expanded the concept of Baptist Training Union to Discipleship Training; an educational program for our children, youth and adult members that have helped to equip people for ministry beyond the walls of the sanctuary.  The program has proven to be a source of spiritual strength for our church and community.  The Bethlehem Baptist Church is swiftly moving to become a church that is known for her missions and ministry endeavors geared toward meeting the calling of the great commission of our Lord in accordance to Acts 1:8.

Since 2000, we have sent missionaries to West Africa, South Africa, Spain, Japan and Austria. Locally, we have partnered in the construction of the “Caring Place” Free Clinic, we developed the Hope House Community Service Network; helping 100’s of people rebuild their lives physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually through our Christian Women’s Job Corp and Health Care Ministry. We also partner with the local homeless shelters and Women’s shelter organizations.  We serve together with the Common Ground Community Service Network. We serve our future leaders through our T.M. Moody “After School Program” and through our Bethlehem Children’s Academy.  Through our combined efforts God awarded BBC with the privilege to restore dignity to the “Old Colored Cemetery”, now known as the “Mansfield Community Cemetery”.

A new era in children’s ministry was celebrated with the dedication of our new “Kidz Zone” facility. The grand opening with a ribbon cutting was held on April 27, 2014. The Kidz Zone provides a location for the children to worship, conduct weekly activities and houses our Children’s Academy were children have a great time learning. This extraordinary facility offers children a place to explore the life God offers through His amazing love.  We are excited to see where God is taking our children’s ministry.

The next major project includes constructing a sanctuary complex that will include a larger worship facility with an expanded nursery, children and youth education space. The goal is to break ground on the project by 2020 (The 150th anniversary of the church.).

 It is with much humility and recognition of the guiding hand of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ that our future as a fellowship of baptized believers is brighter.

Together we realize that the road will be tough, the battle will be hard fought, but with God, “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”  As a unified church body, bound by the Father, challenged by the Holy Spirit, and encouraged by Jesus the Christ, we look forward to tomorrow with great promise. During the span of almost 150 years, the Bethlehem Baptist Church, has kept The Almighty God as the Main Attraction.

We endeavor to move forward by faith!

According to the information given by various persons to the best of their knowledge, the church has been under the leadership of nineteen pastors, including the present administration. 
 
May God Bless Bethlehem and may God Bless You!