Church History

The Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church was organized by representatives of the American Baptist Home Missions Society. During the dark days of slavery men and women of the Baptist faith assembled in a small building on the grounds of the First Baptist Church (White) on the corner of Highmarket and Queen Streets. This was called the ‘Lecture Room/Hall' where they worshipped.

What a day of rejoicing for these believers in 1865 when all slaves were declared free. The Rev. Edward G. Rhue, the 1st pastor, was ordained and installed by Rev. Carey {pastor of the First Baptist Church, (White)} on April 24, 1865. A short while after the Emancipation Proclamation, a special meeting was called. The purpose of the meeting was to make plans for a temple of their own, so that their children and their children's children could worship God according to the dictates of their heart.

Their church, a wooded structure, was consecrated in the year 1867 and was designated "Bethesda" which means "House of Mercy."

Our Land

Because this land was very low and partially a pond, women carried dirt on their heads in "fanner baskets" (large flat baskets used for winnowing rice) to fill in the land area where Bethesda now stands.
On Saturdays, men and women from Winyah, Waccamaw Neck, Sampit, Rhems, and the Plantersville sections also helped to fill in dirt and build up the land.

It was purchased from a locksmith and his wife by the pastor and the trustees on May 14, 1867, but this was only the beginning of a long struggle and great sacrifices before their dream would become reality.

The Church's Balcony

Before the church was erected, the 'Lecture Room/Hall' from the First Baptist Church (White) with a seating capacity of approximately 100 was rolled to the present location as a place for the members to worship. The pews that were given since 1867 remain in the balcony of the church today. Some were carted by a sainted church member and the rest were carried in turn by the builders of the church.