CHAPTER VI: THE NEW BUILDING -- BETHEL'S SIXTH
On October 15, 1965, the Bethel membership celebrated the 125 years that their church as a constituted church had been in existence. At the same time an open house was held for all of the current and former Bethel members and their friends. The membership had moved into the new sanctuary only a few weeks before the eventful day, making this the sixth regular church building.
Former pastors--Blackman, Connely, Crute, Estes, Nichols, Sweet--and their families attended, some from many miles away. Peninsula pastors from nearby churches also attended one or more services. All had parts on the program, while Robert Louis Crute was the guest soloist.
The services extended for a whole day with dinner provided by the church. Members from far and near attended at least one of the three services. The beauty of the new sanctuary filled everyone with joy and pride. The fact that all of the church furnishings had been donated by individual members, often in memory of loved ones, increased the membership's feelings of personal involvement. (The cushions for the pews were given later by Mrs. Susan Newton in memory of her husband, Willie Newton, who, before his death, had often spoken about the hard pews in the church) On this day of dedication, the Bethel membership experienced a quickening of the spirit and with deep gratitude gave praise to God for His many blessings to Big Bethel down through the years.
Foremost among the blessings was the sending of Rev. David Anderson to guide Bethel at this particular time. In addition to he building program, Mr. Anderson expanded the members' vision of the mission fields. He emphasized the need for giving to al three mission offerings, but mainly Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, and Bethel responded as never before. Also, during his pastorate, Bethel sponsored a fourth church--Menchville Baptist in Newport News--which was constituted May 2, 1969. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson worked together: she later was appointed a home missionary, for a time in charge of Friendship House, a mission field in Newport News.
During the next five years Bethel continued to increase in membership and in giving, By the year 1970-71 the budget was $75,400, and the membership was approximately 600. In November, 1967, the church building across Yorktown Road that Mr. Little had loved (Bethel's fifth building), was sold for $40,000. First used for a private school (Yorkshire Academy), it is now the Christian Life Church (1977). Then, in August, 1968, the parsonage was sold for $16,500, since the pastor preferred a housing allotment. The membership agreed to this sale because the parsonage needed repairs, and the church could in this way help their pastor obtain a retirement home in Poquoson.
Over these years the church felt led to give greater attention to the youth at Bethel. In the summer of 1969, Mark Pullen, who had been ordained in Bethel for fulltime pastoral ministry and who had just finished his seminary education, was employed with his wife, Nancy Call Pullen, to conduct a special youth program. (She is the daughter of one of Bethel's deacons.