History of Bethia

Today, as the Bethia United Methodist Church family stands on the brink of great things, we are inspired with the records of the past and our hopes for a fruitful future. In the last quarter of the 19th century, the area of western Chesterfield County at the present intersection of Beach and Winterpock Roads was a thriving community of coal mines, farms, sawmills and railroads.

In 1885 a letter was sent to Rev. H.G. Cowan, a minister serving the Hallsborough Charge (located in the present vicinity of Midlothian Turnpike and Huguenot Road), requesting that he help several families form a Methodist Protestant Church in the Winterpock area. On November 16, 1886, Rev. Cowan and the Rev. S. C. Orhum formally organized the Bethia Methodist Protestant Church.

In 1892 the church purchased the Bethia Baptist Church building and one-half acre of land for $75! The building had been used at various times as a school, sheep barn and shelter for travelers and their horses. Over the next fifty years the building would undergo several renovations.

With the merger of the three Methodist denominations in 1939 that created The Methodist Church, Bethia became part of a seven-church Charge. In 1957 the Winterpock Charge was formed with Centenary and Bethia Churches. In addition to sharing a pastor, the two churches shared also shared men’s, women’s and youth groups.

In 1968, The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Bretheren Churches merged to form the present-day United Methodist Church. This coincided with rapid growth in the Winterpock area.

In 1976, the decision was made to purchase land for a new church home and a groundbreaking service for phase one of the building program
was held on November 20, 1977. Bethia also became a station church in 1977. The first worship service was held in the new building on June 17, 1979. A residence adjacent to the new church property was purchased for use as a parsonage, and consecrated on August 19, 1979.

The original Church building was sold to another denomination to become a house of worship; it has been sold several times since, but remained a house of worship. The cornerstone and memorial windows were removed and moved to the new location. The cornerstone is on display in the Narthex and three of the memorial windows hang behind the chancel area of the sanctuary and smaller windows hang in the Sanctuary and Prayer Chapel windows.

In 1984, a note burning service was held for the phase-one building. On April 9, 1989, ground was broken for the phase two building (the current sanctuary and education rooms). The first service was held in the new sanctuary in June 1990, and it was consecrated on October 14, 1990. A new asphalt driveway was paved in the summer of 1998 and dedicated on October 25, 1998 as the Robert F. Johnston Parkway in honor of the pastor who secured its funding for the project. On July 22, 2000, ground was broken for the Carmen P. Jolly Memorial Parsonage, which was built in the northwest corner of the church property. Construction began in November and a service of dedication was held on Sunday, May 6, 2001.

pThe original parsonage was renamed The Bethia House. It was renovated for office and meeting use in the spring of 2002. New stained-glass windows were added in the Narthex in 2003.

On Holy Thursday, April 8, 2004, a double-note burning and dedication service was held for the phase two Sanctuary building and the Carmen P. Jolly Memorial Parsonage. In March, 2010, Bethia opened its doors to a brand new social hall, gymnasium, state of the art kitchen and two floors of classrooms and meeting space. Progress is our legacy and with God’s help we will approach future expansion (sanctuary) projects with courage, trusting in the One who has brought us this far!