Bethlehem UCC celebrating centennial through the year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

This year – 2004 – means something special to Bethlehem Christian Church United at 312 Bute St. Along with family and friends, the members have been celebrating the church’s centennial since January, and will continue until December with the theme, &uot;One Hundred Years – Serving God and Serving Man.&uot;

The Rev. Emanuel Myrick, pastor, said he thinks this special anniversary is too important to recognize with just one service or event. &uot;We also want it to bless others and bring people together,&uot; he said.

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One way was to bring people together with a boat ride aboard the &uot;Spirit of Norfolk on June 5.

The church had booked the entire bottom floor of the boat, and church members invited family and friends from other churches to join them. About 220 people were aboard when the boat departed from shore. Among the guests were the Rev. Joseph Copeland, pastor emeritus of Union United Church of Christ, and the Rev. Ronnie Boone, pastor of Missouri Baptist Church. Both ministers also still have strong ties with Bethlehem and its members.

Included with the dinner was a special program of entertainment and recognition, and Elder Kecia Reed served as worship leader.

During the recognition period, Kelly Lewis Sr. presented nine members plaques representing over 40 years of consistent service at Bethlehem. Mable Riddick, the mother of the church, was presented a plaque for over 80 years of service. The nine additional honorees were Alice Daniels, the Rev. Kenneth L. Daniels, Judy Daughtrey, Jean Manley, Pastor Emanuel M. Myrick Jr., Jean Palmer, Shirley Johnson, Roland Wilson, and Jessie Mae Wilson.

Attendees enjoyed mini-concerts of gospel and contemporary music by baritone soloist Gregory Lawrence, and saxophonist Luefras Robinson. Robinson was accompanied by Avron Wiggins on the keyboard and James Parker-on the drums.

Bethlehem is known as &uot;the friendly church on the corner where everybody is somebody and where Jesus is high and lifted up.&uot;

One hundred years ago in 1904 a few residents in the community had this motto in mind when they started a Sunday School in a storefront located on the corner of Bute street and Second Avenue, one street over from where it sits today.

Responding to the need for a place of worship in the Williamstown Community of Suffolk, a group of persons inspired by God organized Bethlehem Christian Church on June 4, 1904. The original building was built in 1905. However, this building was destroyed by a terrible windstorm. But with determination and prayers, in 1913 these dedicated souls rebuilt the church, which is still being used for worship today.

Church congregations that have stepped on the bandwagon of celebrations with Bethlehem since January have been Mt. Nebo Baptist Church and the Rev. Daniel Baltimore of Surry; Bethel Outreach Center and Bishop Richard Cross of Suffolk; Rising St. James Pentecostal Church and Bishop Dwight Whitfield, Dr. Anthony Copeland and the Oak Grove Baptist Church, and the New Hope United Church of Christ and the Rev. James Anderson of Norfolk.

Minister Cynthia Daniels is the 100 Year Anniversary Committee coordinator.

&uot;These services and spiritual cruise have been planned to take place throughout the year of 2004 to celebrate how God has blessed us in generations past, how He’s blessing us right now, and how He continues to make us ready for His prepared future,&uot; she said.