September 9, 2023 at 12:15 a.m.

Celebration will be held for church

Letters to the editor


To the editor:

Driving through town and along country roads, we often see old churches and schools that have closed. Yesterday, one church we passed was very special to us. It was the Bethel United Methodist Church. Its two signs were blank. It just recently closed.

This was not an easy decision, but so many people who had been members of Bethel United Methodist Church had died or moved away. Many of their homes are even gone. It was time, and it was needed.

Bethel is also known as Ridertown. That is the little community that was located at the intersection of Indiana 167, Division Road in Jay County and county road 100 South in Blackford. Bethel is on the corner in Blackford County.

The church has a very long history. It was first organized in 1851 by the Rev. L.S. Farber and William Whetsel. There have been several different buildings, and the present building that was built in 1916 has been remodeled and built onto. Families from Blackford, Jay and Delaware counties attended.

William Whetsel’s ancestors continue to live on some of the land in Ridertown. Marie Whetsel makes her home there and will turn 100 soon. She was still active at the church through its closure and was the organist for years.

It was especially hard for me to see the church closed. My family moved to the Dunkirk area when I was 3 months old. We started attending there shortly after. I grew up attending Bethel. They were our church family. We found so many friends there and had so many activities at the church to be involved in. The church also reached out into the community. One special event was the Glass Days booth where we sold hamburgers and homemade pie. We also had an annual ice cream social, revivals and Vacation Bible School.

Randy and I held our wedding there. Our boys were born while we attended there. Randy also got his call to the ministry while there. We then moved to other churches to serve, but Bethel remained our home church. It does feel like a member of the family. I know that it actually was the family of Christian people who made it so special.

On Sept. 24, 2023, from 2 to 4 p.m., there will be a Celebration of Life, not for a special person, but for a special church. We will have time to visit and share downstairs with a finger food carry in. Then we will move upstairs for a short service with favorite music and sharing. It is an open invitation. Please bring your special memories.

Rose Taylor Davis

Redkey

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