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IX. A Fine Country Church

(Reprint from The Christian World, January 13, 1923)

Reprint from The Christian World, January 13, 1923

The Bethel (also known as the East Beech) reformed Church is five or six miles from Alliance, Ohio and with the Reformed Church at Maximo forms a Charge.

It is served by Rev. J.S. Keppel, who has had a useful and happy pastorate here for nine years.  While he resides in Tiffin, the Charge has not received “absent treatment” at his hands.  Most of his pastoral work is done on Saturday and Sunday, as he spends the weekend at one or the other church – always ready to respond to other calls for pastoral help.

This is one of the “paid up on apportionment”  Charges of which East Ohio Classical Treasurer Martin Coy makes his modest boast.  It was fitting that he should be present at Bethel dedication to tell the people to their faces what he brags about behind their backs.  Many of the Maximo congregation were present at the dedication so that Mr. Coy could “point with pride” at the entire Charge.

We are presenting our readers with two pictures (see history for pictures) which show Bethel “before” and “after”.  In the edifice pictured below, the dedication took place Sunday morning, December 17, 1922.

At the Sunday School service a former Bethel girl,  Miss Frances Everhart, now Primary Supervisor of the Alliance, Ohio public schools, expressed her appreciation of what this Sunday School and church had meant to her, and then told the story of “When the Chimes Rang.” Alliance Superintendent of Schools, Mr. B.F. Stanton, followed her in an address, paying his tribute to the service rendered by smaller Sunday Schools to the nation.  He is one of the many school men who believe that the work of the day schools must receive a moral supplementing and undergirding from the church schools.

At the time of the church service, following Mr. Coy’s address, The Christian World editor (Rev. J.H. Geckler) preached the dedicatory sermon.  Preceding these two addresses, Pastor Keppel conducted the formal dedication service.  In connection with it, Mr. J.S. Yaggi, the Sunday School Superintendent and chairman of the building committee, made his report and turned the building over to the congregation, Rev. J. A. Seitz, a former pastor, was prevented by physical indisposition from being present.

Before the first of these two buildings was erected the pioneer congregation was housed in a log church.  The congregation is now a Reformed Church, it was organized as a  union church, Reformed and Lutheran, both however, in a single organization.

Even while it was a union church it always had Reformed pastors.  This is one of the large circiut of churches that Rev. Peter Herbruck served or founded.

The main part of the present building was planned in the winter of 1858, during the pastorate of Rev. Gottlieb Zigler.  It was resolved to build a church 30’ x 50’.  But a killing frost the next June compelled a revision of that plan.  “Ten feet were frozen off the church”, is a saying that comes down from that incident.  The church was completed in the fall of 1860.  In a vault, up in the front gable end of the church were placed papers—including poems by Bradford Miller, Jacob Yaggi, Pauline Clement Borton and others.  This vault will likely be opened this coming summer, its precious contents examined and the story of the present building placed in it for safekeeping.

The church was remodeled and re roofed in the pastorate of Rev Jacob Zumpe in 1888.  In the pastorate of Rev. G.E. Metger, 1900.  Then in 1904, during Rev. Calvin Foster’s pastorate improvements were made, including the installation of a furnace.  In the second year of Rev. J.S. Keppel’s pastorate, the building was again renovated.

The addition made in the present building is a wing 20’ x 30’ and tower containing a spacious vestibule 10’ x 10’. A basement is under the building 50’ x 30’, suitable for social gatherings.  The walls of the present edifice were made uniform in external appearance by the use of stucco.  The entire cost, $4,500, payment does not , however, include the excavation, hauling and framing timber, all of which was donated, besides a little other labor.

We saw enough of Superintendent Yaggi’s school, 226 enrollment, which he has superintended for a quarter of a century, to know that a Sunday School out in the open country may be doing first-class work.,  “All the church in the school and all the school in the church” – That’s the kind this superintendent and pastor Keppel can congratulate themselves on.  On alternate Sundays, when the pastor cannot conduct worship service, the work of the school goes on.

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