The Old Meeting House

 

The church is used for occasional services during the year, such as Women’s History Week, but particularly during the summer months, when Bethany Memorial Church conducts services there on Sundays. Visiting religious groups have also used the old church on special occasions.

The church was used for regular worship services from 1851 until 1915. It was a simple, rectangular building without adornments. In 1912, the congregation voted to tear the old church down. Meeting resistance to this plan, it was ultimately decided on Feb. 1, 1914 to abandon the idea of demolishing the church in deference to the wishes of Decima Campbell Barclay, youngest daughter of College founder Alexander Campbell. After the new Bethany Memorial Church was built in 1914-15, the meeting house was only used on special occasions.

Prior to 1900, the claim has been made that almost 800 ministers were ordained in this church. On commencement each year from the opening of Bethany College until 1955, elders of Bethany Meeting House, professors of Bethany College, and graduating seniors who had committed themselves to the Christian ministry, gathered in the first Bethany Church and later the Bethany Meeting House in the early morning for a service of commitment and ordination.

In the summer of 1984, historic restoration began on the old church. Since the restoration, it has been used for occasional services during the summer months for the congregation of Bethany Memorial Church and to commemorate special occasions.