On this day, Dec. 16, 2018, as we gather to decommission the church building at 111 North Cherry Street, we give honor to God with gratitude for all those who have served at Bethel AME Church of Lebanon in the past, those who are serving now, and those who will serve as we continue the ministries into which we are called.
Newsfeed from Dec. 13, 2017 reads as follows:
Firefighters had to battle bitter cold, an icy parking lot and flames as the 156-year-old Bethel A.M.E. Church at 111 N. Cherry St. caught fire overnight. The two-alarm fire sparked off at about 3:40 a.m. Wednesday when a patrol officer noticed smoke and fire coming from the building's second floor, according to Lebanon Fire Chief Steve Johnson. With temperatures hovering around 17 degrees, water froze almost instantly on the church parking lot, making a tricky job even more treacherous. Five additional departments lent extra manpower, and salt trucks were called in to treat the pavement. The flames were out in an hour. They were met with heavy fire conditions as soon as they opened the door, Johnson said. They were pushed back by fire. With nobody inside the building, there were no injuries. Firefighters have not yet determined a cause for the fire. Fire investigators said the building will be saved even though the second floor collapsed. [We have since learned that this last statement is not correct.]
Over time we have learned that the structural damage to the building is beyond our means to repair. Therefore, it is with great sadness and resolve that we say goodbye to the historically significant building that served as a sacred gathering place for worship, fellowship and ministry for a century and a half. Nevertheless, on this Third Sunday of Advent one year after the fire, we thank God for the capacity for joy as we praise God for bringing us through this experience stronger and better prepared to build up God’s Beloved Community in a new sanctuary that by faith we will build as we continue to serve in Jesus’ Holy name.
The mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church is to minister to the social, spiritual, and physical development of all people by spreading Christ’s liberating gospel through word and deed.
Bethel AME Church
Temporarily Located at
550 Mound Ct.