History: This church is located on Bethlehem Church Road, just south of the Town of Due West and a few miles from the county seat of Abbeville. The area was known as “Groggy Spring” for many years. There had been a preaching point here for as many as sixty years prior to the organization of the church. Because the preaching point was so close to Due West, it was supplied by ministers of the ARP denomination who were professors or students at Erskine College or Erskine Theological Seminary.
In 1868, a Sabbath School was organized to serve the preaching point. The church was formally organized in May 1889 with seven charter members: W. T. Ellis, S. P. Pressly, Mrs. Nannie E. Pressly, Miss Corrie Ellis, M. T. Ellis, T. Sloan Ellis, and Rebecca S. Ellis. The organization of the church was by a committee consisting of Dr. Robert Lathan and three elders from the Due West church. The first elders were W. T. Ellis and S. P. Pressly. It is noted that charter member T. Sloan Ellis served as an elder for 54 years and Superintendent of the Sabbath School for 34 years until his death in 1948.
Almost all the earlier ministers for the Bethlehem church have served in a part-time capacity in addition to their work in Due West. These include Rev. Robert Lathan, Rev. W. M. Grier, Rev. F. Y. Pressly, Rev. D. G. Caldwell, Rev. G. G. Parkinson, Rev. J. S. Moffatt, Rev. C. B. Williams, Rev. E. B. Kennedy, Rev. Will Faires, Rev. Robert H. Smith, Rev. Langdon A. Erwin, and Rev. James Loughner.
The early services were held in private homes, a school, and the Groggy Spring Meeting House. Shortly after the church was organized, a house of worship was built in 1892. The present church is a small brick church building built in recent years.
Written and contributed to R&R by J.M. Gettys – 2015
Centennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, published by the General Synod, 1905.
Sesquicentennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, published by the General Synod, 1951.
Bethlehem Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was located 3 miles south of Due West on S.C. Hwy. 20. Religious worship at this site, or very near it, dated from the late 1830s when a Baptist church named Bethlehem met in a log building with a frame extension which was also used as a school. From the 1880s, the Due West A.R.P. Church had a mission at this point which as then known as Groggy Springs. In 1889, the Bethlehem A.R.P. Church was organized with the Rev. Robert Lathan as its pastor and with 10 charter members. At that time the current building was built which was of rectangular frame construction with a seating capacity of about 300. In 1939, the pastor as the Rev. Ebenezer Bogues Kennedy of Due West, and the membership had reached 67. (Ben Carlton’s 1939 WPA Sketches & Notes, compiled by Lowry Ware)
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