From the Pastor’s Pen:
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming
glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.”
195 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, being preserved by God’s mighty arm as he likely traveled “The Devil’s Backbone” (The Natchez Trace). 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. With famine and pestilence knocked on the church doors during the Yellow Fever Epidemic, God’s mercy marked this house. When theological liberalism divided many congregations, 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. Still today, Bethesda Presbyterian Church continues as the second oldest Presbyterian church still actively worshipping in the state of Mississippi.
We all need this reminder, don’t we? I constantly find those who wonder if this is the last generation. Will the light be snuffed out? But we are reminded: “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). As long as Jesus Christ remains King of kings and Lord of lords, we need not fear if His church will continue. I invite everyone to come worship with us on this special occasion as we see multiple generations gather, as we see the sister churches in Edwards, Learned, and Raymond gather, as we see Jesus Christ Himself gather among His people. Come! Be encouraged.
Join us on Sunday, October 8, 2023, at 11:00a for our joint worship service at 6688 Canada Cross Road where we can celebrate God’s faithfulness together. After service, fried catfish will be catered by Goldie’s Express.