Mill Bethel Church

Stewart County
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Org Est 1910
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Photography by Wolfgang Enneker

Mill Bethel AME in Stewart County is a fascinating site that, unfortunately, we have little information about. Small church congregations like this one once dotted the rural landscape and served their communities as central places to gather, worship, celebrate, mourn, and live out life in the country. Oftentimes, churches like this one also served as school buildings for African American students before public education was offered to them. 

Places like this are so important to help us understand the full picture of Georgia’s history. And while we don’t have the whole story of Mill Bethel AME yet, we think it is important to hold this place to create a small memorial in hopes that more information will emerge. If you know anything about this church or the community of people it served, please comment below.  

Again, we have reached another mile stone in the history of the Church, its pastors, deacons

We are very thankful to God for allowing us to assemble ourselves together and to mingle our voices in praise, and thanksgiving for the many blessing that God has bestowed upon us through these (111) years. (I think this says 111 years but not certain)

We do humbly admit that in war torn world of sin & greed, we have had many sorrows and successes mingled with failure.

But in the midst of them all God has kept a few of us to witness this occasion.

We can’t tell the history of our Church without naming the pastors, and deacons that labor so hard to have a place to worship.

The land was donated from Mr Edward Barlow ½ acre in the North East Corner of his Mill lot. In 1865 colored people were freed. In 1866 through 1868 prayer meeting was held in the homes. In 1869 the white people gave permission to have meeting at Elem Chapel and County Line.

The men cleared this ground cut the timber, and began to build. It took them some time to complete the Church. But they began to worship in it before they finished flooring it. The families would bring chairs in order to sit and hear the Gospel in an unfinished Church.

 

Our Church have had 17 pastors and 27 deacons. Some of the pastors and deacons that served here has been called from Labor to reward, some of them are still preaching and teaching, telling men and women That the ways of sin is death and the Gift of God is Eternal Life.

The history would be incomplete today without mentioning our very own pastor Rev J F Beauford. He has served 15 years. He is preaching the Gospel and trying to teach men that they must be Born again.

Three deacons has been added under Rev Beauford administration. He also baptized a few converts.

To you Rev Beauford, may I say, you may not been too happy with us these 15 years. I am sure some have not followed your leadership. But we love you. Continue to preach the Gospel to us lifting up Jesus to us and pray for us that we may have open hearts to accept the truth, hearts to respect and follow true leadership.

To the membership may I add let us come together and do better in the future days than we have done in the pass. Let us try to follow in the foot print of our courageous fore fathers. We don’t want to be men and women drowning in material substance. Let us study our Bible and stay afloat on the word of God, live together, work together toward one common goal of eternal life in a land of peace and happiness, when we will hear the welcome voice Come ye blessed of my father inherit the Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world

 

Notes: The first pastor shown with this document was George Bull, 1872-1898. The 1870, Stewart County, Georgia census records show:

George Bull, male, black, age 65, born SC, occupation Baptist preacher, value of personal estate $500

Dolly, age 54, born SC

Harry, age 17

William, age 14

Angeline, age 15

Hannah, age 17

 The 1880, Stewart County, Georgia census shows:

George Bull, black, male, age 80, occupation Pastor, born in Georgia, Father born in Georgia, Mother born in Africa

Penny, age 40

Stewart, age 19

Katherine, age 17

Muzella, age 14

Virginia Myers, age 84, Mother-in-law

Eddy Johnson, age 1, grandson

Sallie Thomas, age 7, niece

 

George Bull married Penny Johnson on Nov. 4, 1871 in Stewart County. The 1870, Stewart County census shows Samuel Johnson, age 32, Penny, age 30, Stewart, age 14, Catherine, age 8, Mozell, age 4. The children shown with George Bull in 1880 would have been the children of his second wife, Penny.

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