Our Church History
Bethlehem Baptist Church began in the year 1885 with nineteen (19) members who met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Fillman of Sumneytown Pike, near Spring House, Pennsylvania. These members were Brothers James Fillman, Philip Woods, Benjamin Knox, John Gordon, Franklin Smith, Joseph Cooper, Alex Thomas, Robert Wingfield, Samuel Dean, Henry Askins, Cornelius Hopson, James Fillman, Jr., and Sidney Campbell as well as Sisters Mary Fillman, Jane Gordon, Mattie Cooper, Anita Jones, Lucinda Jones, and Sister Rosie Knox as treasurer.
Old ChurchAfter three (3) years, they decided to move to a more suitable location. In 1888 they leased and later bought a building on Old Penllyn Pike in Penllyn, Pennsylvania, between a blacksmith shop and a gristmill. The church was set apart the same year by the Reverend James Brooks of the Enon Baptist Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania.
The first significant year of the young church was in 1891 when the first pastor was called, the Reverend Caesar A. Edwards. He was ordained and began his ministry August 9, 1891 with a body of twenty-five members. In April 1896, Rev. Edwards was married to Miss Nellie Young. To this union, five (5) children were born: Virginia, Maude, Nellie, Bertha, and Harvey.
In June 1899, a building fund was initiated for the enlargement of the existing church to accommodate the growing congregation; however, the membership grew so large that the church body began to consider the idea of a new church. The older and more conservative members clung to the landmark idea, desiring to maintain the first place of worship. This debate continued for several years. Finally, in February 1904, the church body voted to have plans drawn for a new church to be attached to the existing building as a compromise.