We recently celebrated 100 years of worship, since the original foundation stone of the church building was laid on 20th October 1915, by the first pastor, Mr F R W Heath. More than 100 members and visitors enjoyed a memorable day, poring over displays of photographs, the register of members, the original church minute book, the superb history of the church by Mary Austen, a Sunday School presentation Bible – and even the engraved trowel presented when the church was first built.
Hymns and children's songs which would have been sung in 1915 were enjoyed in a modern setting, and special memories were shared from two previous pastors who could not be present, Mr Alford and Mr Murray, as well as by Peter Croft who retired in 2010 and now serves as a church elder.
A wonderful lunch was provided for all, by Fiona Fisk and her team (one visitor to the church remarked that the fruit crumble was "the best I've ever tasted!").
André Beck, now Bethesda's 10th minister, said, "A healthy church is one which does not boast, because we are not any more special or clever or good than anyone else at all; but all we do is hold onto God who has proved His faithfulness to us as a church over the last 100 years. And so we want to keep preaching faithfully that God's Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross, to take on Himself all that we have done wrong, and to give us all that He did perfectly right. We need to tell this good news in a way that people can still understand today, but never changing that message."
Built during the first world war, the church also lived through the second, as well as the devastating floods of 1953, and more recently was given an award-winning extension.
In memory of the tragic Armenian genocide that took place in the same year as Bethesda's foundation, 1915, the church members offered a gift to Armenian Ministries in that poverty stricken land (between Turkey and Russia).