Bethel's History - The Short Version
Over one hundred years ago, on November 22, 1888, the Swedish Baptist Church of Galesburg was organized. O.F. Carlson became its first pastor, at a salary of $25 a month. At first they conducted services in another Baptist church, then an uptown hall. Then, in 1898, a plot of land on North Chambers Street was purchased and a tent erected. Services were begun, as well as plans for a building, which was dedicated on December 18, 1898. The cost? $6600. Swedish was the language of the church until the 1920’s, when English was used for the evening service. By 1930, Swedish was used only on the first Sunday of each month. The conversion to all English was completed in 1937, and on June 2nd, the church also voted to change their name to “North Chambers Street Baptist Church.” The name changed again to “Bethel Baptist Church” in 1950.
As the church grew, they eventually made plans for a new building, and after World War II, purchased land at Fremont and Academy Streets, breaking ground in 1952. On May 27, 1956, the doors of the new Bethel were opened. Dedication took place on September 7-9, 1956. The Christian Education Building was added in 1975.
Bethel continued to grow, and in October, 2000, we opened a new Worship Center with a city-wide Open House. Shortly after that, a new state-of-the-art Learning Center was added. Through everything, the Lord has blessed Bethel, and today we dedicate ourselves to furthering His mission, to reach our community for Him.