college with this in mind. Finally, in 1958, over a century later, Miss Shirley Bell Taylor (Mrs. Duane Saylor), a former organist at Bethel, graduated from the seminary at Louisville, Kentucky, and became the first lay member to go officially into fulltime Christian service. (She presently is the organist and music director in one of the Peninsula churches.) The first trained minister to go out from Bethel in all of the church's history was Robert C. Emerson, who was licensed to preach in 1959 and was ordained September 8, 1963. Now, in 1964, two other men answered the call to go into fulltime ministerial service and to go to college to prepare themselves even though they were older men with families. Licensed to preach at the same time that our pastor, Mr. Estes, answered the call to evangelistic work, were Robert (Bob) Baker and Lester Boyd.
Reverend N. D. Blackman, being retired, returned to be interim pastor until Bethel could fill the vacancy created by Mr. Estes' resignation. The church was fortunate, however, to find a pastor only two months later. In November, 1964, Rev. David C, Anderson accepted the call to come to Bethel. This would be the fourth pastorate he had served in the Peninsula Association since first coming to Virginia in 1939.
Bethel's building program became one of the first needs which received the attention of the new pastor. Because Mr. Covington had been working on the program, the church was ready. As a result, construction began in April, 1965, for the building of a sanctuary to accommodate 600 people and for an educational building to care for a fully departmentalized Sunday School of 750 in attendance. The overall cost of these units was approximately $206,450. Bethel had come a long way from the one-room buildings used for the first eighty-seven years. The membership in 1964 had grown to 521, and the church budget for that year was $52,00, of which forty percent was given to missions.
As indicated before, the entire Peninsula had grown following World War II. The Newport News Shipyard and NASA at Langley Field, with increased opportunities for employment, had caused people to establish permanent homes in this area, while the military families were more temporary residents. York County was greatly affected because people coming to Tidewater preferred to locate in a rural community and commute to work, since now the highways were good and every family owned at least one car. Farming land around Bethel began to disappear, as housing developments spread. As the county grew, so the church was growing. Today, the Tabb or Bethel district of York County continues to become more and more populated. The challenge to our church thus becomes ever bigger. Jesus said, "Lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." (John 3:35)