Our Story

How it all started...

On February 20, 1966, Dr. Vernie Barnett made the 160 mile trip from Vandalia, IL to Columbia to officiate the inaugural worship service of the Bethany Methodist Church. Originally begun in the chapel of the Schmidt Funeral Home in Columbia, members were drawn by word of mouth and a simple newspaper ad, "Have Bible, will travel." At the time of its founding, Bethany was the only Methodist Church in Monroe County.
As the church grew and moved twice to accommodate its members, 5 acres of land were purchased on Hill Top Road and a new church was built. Historically, Bethany Church has been led by 12 pastors (including our current pastor) and a number of lay ministers who have poured their time and energy into the life of the church.

The history of Bethany Church has involved many men and women who worshiped with heartfelt devotion and participated in the life of both the church and our neighbors. It has become a testament to God's activity in the world around us.

Expanding the vision...

Bethany Church originally began as part of the Methodist Church, following in the footsteps of John Wesley and eventually circuit riders like Peter Cartwright. In the years that followed its start, the church served faithfully until theological differences with the United Methodist Church forced the members of Bethany to make a choice. Choosing to honor Christ and follow scriptural teachings, Bethany left the United Methodist Church and became an independent church, paving the way forward.

The church sought and found a pastor who likewise left the United Methodist Church and a new "partnership" was formed. Pastor Steve Barrett and his family moved to the area and became Bethany's pastor in August 2023. Together, the leadership of the church has been discerning our future and is looking forward to what is in store for us. Others have been joining us as we serve together with a focus on "hearing the Word" and "doing the Word." Prayer, small groups, and discipleship are our low-level focus of the church and are intended to help our families grow in faith as we continue to discern God's plans for us and how we can live out that plan through our church in both our local communities and the world.

Where we are headed...

Our goal here at Bethany is to provide a place that enables everyone, young and old, to connect with Jesus Christ. As we move into the future, our mindset is that of ministry and mission, providing space for each person to live out their calling in service to God and our community. If you feel called by God into a specific ministry that isn't in place yet, we are happy to help you achieve your calling as it aligns with the mission we have here. Young and older, we want to see everyone connected in ministry as we reach out with Christ's love into our communities.

What the future holds is only known to God and we stand ready to live into that! Will you join us?

Be a part of our story...

Join us every Sunday as we gather to worship together at 10:00am.

1608 Hill Top Road Columbia, IL 62236