|Bethel Free Will Baptist Church History
In 1953 God called Bro. Wallace and Sis. Eunice Malone to the Granite City area to start a church. It was also about this time that several of our founding families with Free Will Baptist backgrounds had moved into the South Roxana area. Clarence Buster hearing that the Malone family was coming to this area called them and asked them to come to South Roxana . Meetings were first phase of providing a building for Bethel was begun. A small white structure was built with 2 additions added in time. Several families joined Bethel in the early years and some of them; as well their descendents are still a part of Bethel today.
In 1973 under the leadership of Pastor Jim Walker Bethel entered into a 2nd phase of building with a program to relocate and build a newer and larger building at 1417 Herbert St . The building was completed and our 1st service was in April of 1977. This building was large enough to meet the needs of our congregation as well as provide a home for Bethel Christian Academy , which was started in 1980.
Bethel Free Will Baptist Church has enjoyed many victories in her history as well as endured hardships. One of the greatest hardships was in August of 1996 when, due to maintenance repairs to the roof of the building, a fire totally destroyed it. The building that took so long to build was gone in a few hours. All records were lost and everything materially was gone. God did teach us a lesson in that a Church is not a building or the things that go into it, but his people are what makes up the church. With this in our minds and hearts and with the leadership of Pastor Bill Crank the Lord has brought us through reconstruction to the place we are today.
As we look back at our history and reflect on the events of our lives, may we never forget that God has his hand on us and he is not finished with us yet? Let us look to the future and be happy in the fact that He holds it and will one day take us to the greatest homecoming of our lives.