|Mariner’s Bethel Methodist Protestant Church,Penns Grove, NJ
Bethel eventually became a part of the old Bridgeport, Pedricktown, and Penns Grove circuit with Rev. J Wilson being the Pastor. He took an
active role and did much work in building the first church. Joseph Guest, who owned the ground, became responsible for all material and labor,
although considerable material and labor was donated. Preaching services were held on Sunday afternoons, and Sunday School in the morning.
On January 28, 1868, the trustees bought the ground on which the church stood from Joseph Guest.
In September of 1871, the trustees bought the building and Joseph Guest held the mortgage. The church at this time had a hard struggle to exist
and the future looked dark, but there were a few faithful ones who made many sacrifices, and by their united efforts and the Lord’s faithfulness,
the Bethel Church was saved.
In 1873, by a vote of the members and the approval of the Annual Conference, Mariners’ Bethel Methodist Protestant Church became a regular
station on the plan of appointments, and received its first regular Pastor, Rev. Jacob K. Treed, who served the church two years. A resident
Pastor did much to unite the people and had a good and lasting influence. He was appointed for two years.
On March 8, 1886, the trustees bought the lot on Pitman Street for $160.00 from Mrs. Guest, and gave her four feet of the church lot on
Harmony Street for her adjoining house. The parsonage was built under the pastorate of Rev. James W. Grant. In 1893, the mortgage of the first
church was burned. This was a red-letter day in the history of Bethel. Several ministers were present on this occasion and made some
encouraging remarks. Brother Belford G. Wood arose and said he would give $500 toward building a new church. Rev. Daniel Thackera of
Woodbury subscribed $100. William F. Yeager, Superintendent of the Sunday School at this time, said the School would give $300. All of these
promises were kept.
In March 1894, the old church was torn down and the cornerstone was laid in April. Jesse Claypoole donated this cornerstone, and on August
26, 1894, the second building was dedicated to the service of Almighty God. Rev. Thomas T. Tagg, D. D. of Baltimore, Maryland preached the
dedication sermon to a crowded house. Rev. James H. Clark was the pastor in charge at this time. The contract price of the building was $5000.
After the dedication, $3000 was paid on the building, leaving a debt of $2000. On August 29, 1902, $500 was paid, on April 2, 1913, another
$500 was paid, and on January 10, 1924, the $1000 balance was paid.
On March 2, 1932, a blacksmith shop in Penns Grove caught on fire. Due to high winds on this day, the fire rapidly spread to other nearby
buildings. The Bethel Church was totally destroyed. About all that was saved was the pulpit, some hymn books, the church bell, and several other
pieces of furniture. Only $4,000 of insurance had been carried, which was paid in full, but this would not cover the cost of rebuilding. However,
the members set to work, zealously soliciting friends and others, and by the Lord’s help about $5,000 was collected that year, which happened to
be one of the worst years of the Great Depression. Plans for a new building got under way at once. The new structure was brick veneer and
construction was started during the summer of 1932. The cornerstone was laid in September, and the building was finished in January of 1933 at
a cost of about $11,500. In addition to cash donations, much donated labor was given in lathing, painting, cementing, and other skilled labor.
During construction, meetings were conducted in Odd Fellows’ Hall.
The new church was dedicated on January 22, 1933. Rev. George C. Jones of Ventnor, New Jersey, and President of the Conference preached
the sermon. This was another great day in the history of Bethel. A number of members had left during the building project, and others lost
interest. The future of the church looked rather uncertain, but God was faithful, and with the completion of the new building, fresh interest was
awakened and the church began to experience growth. The day after the dedication, the total debt was $1,900. There was $1,400 owed on the
church building, and $500 owed on the parsonage. This debt was reduced yearly until 1937 when the total debt was only $575. A gift of $500
was received in 1936.
In 1939, there was a split in the Methodist Protestant Church. A decision had been made to merge with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and the
Methodist Episcopal Church, South. This new Methodist Church (now the United Methodist Church) was very liberal in their doctrine and practice.
Bethel had a strong belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures, and consequently, could not be a part of the Methodist merger. Thirty-four
churches, Bethel being one of them, chose not to take part in this merger. During the Annual Conference in September of that year, these thirty-
four churches walked out of the Conference in Atlantic City, and continued their meeting in Scullville. Following some litigation, legal assistance
was given by Judge S. Rusling Leap of Woodstown. The Bethel Methodist Protestant Church, along with other separated churches established a
new Conference called the Bible Protestant Church. At the time of legal guidance by Judge Leap, the Methodist Conference decided to permit
Bethel to retain the church property if the name “Methodist” were no longer included as a part of the church name. The name of the church was
officially changed to Bethel Bible Protestant Church. More recently, the Bible Protestant Church changed its name to the Fellowship of
Fundamental Bible Churches to better reflect its beliefs. The name of our church was changed shortly thereafter to Bethel Bible Church.
On March 23,2003, The First Baptist Church and Bethel Bible Church merged their congregations forming the Bethel Bible Baptist Church. The
new congregation holds services in the building on S.Elmwood Ave in Carneys Point.
In 1860, Joseph Guest and a number of others
withdrew from the Emmanuel Methodist Episcopal
Church and decided to organize a society of the
Methodist Protestant Church. Much of their
decision to begin this new church was to minister
to the mariners who were working along the
Delaware River at the time. These men were very
poor, yet they needed to hear about the Savior,
Money was very tight, but Joseph Guest was a
wealthy man and was determined to see a church
established to minister to these fishermen. In the
early days, Mr. Guest was the owner, preacher,
and financier of what was then known as Mariner’s
Bethel Methodist Protestant Church.