From the Pastor’s Pen:
“Blessed...” (I Kings 18:3-4)
“Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.”
(1 Kings 18:3-4)
194 years ago, Jackson was a dream, Vicksburg was a dock, but Bethesda was a destination. Zebulon Butler received a letter in 1825 from the hands of the beloved Dr. Archibald Alexander of Princeton Theological Seminary. Vicksburg needed a pastor, and Butler was their man. David Calhoun notes: “Butler rode on horseback to Mississippi [from Princeton, New Jersey], where he became one of the pioneers of the Presbyterian church in the old Southwest.” Instead of Vicksburg, Zebulon landed in Natchez, presumably surviving “The Devil’s Backbone.” After planting a church in Natchez, Zebulon Butler led a revival among the slave community in Bethesda.
Thomas Wells and seven other members joined hands with Zebulon Butler to organize one of the first Presbyterian churches in our area.
In 1828, the church met in a log school house, but the congregation erected their own sanctuary. Adorned with hand-sewn poplar boards, hand-made nails, and hand-split cypress shingles, Bethesda Presbyterian Church was a sight to behold. The original structure stood for ninety-eight years until decimated by fire. However, God’s faithfulness would not be aborted, for the current building was rebuilt in time for the 100th homecoming.
Truly, Bethesda Presbyterian Church has born witness to much hardship in the national and religious life of our nation. With the Civil War ravaging the nation, God’s mercy marked this house. When theological liberalism divided many congregations, God’s mercy marked this house. When the yellow fever and other natural calamities struck, God’s mercy marked this house. Bethesda lives up to its namesake as a “house of mercy.” Many individuals have passed through these doors to find rest for their wearied souls in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Even today, Bethesda Presbyterian Church continues as the second oldest Presbyterian church still worshipping in the state of Mississippi.
As we approach the 194th anniversary of Bethesda Presbyterian Church, we would be delighted to have the community share in our joy. Join us at 6688 Canada Cross Road for services held by Pastor Zach Byrd on October 9, 2022 at 11:00 A.M. We will have fried catfish and homemade desserts galore on the grounds immediately after service. As your local pastor, let me make one disclaimer. Go support your pastor first. If you have an early service, go and then come worship with us. If you don’t have an early service, just come eat with us!