Bethel Missionary Baptist Church is halfway between Richlands and Jacksonville, just off Highway 258, in the Rhodestown Community of Onslow County. Since its establishment, Bethel has had its share of building programs and weathered some storms. Here is the story!


    Some of the residents in the Rhodestown community wanted a church. The Brotherhood of Bethlehem  Baptist Church heard the desires of the people. They sponsored Bethel as a mission church.

    Mrs. Lucy Rhodes donated some land to the church. The Bethlehem Brotherhood purchased some camp buildings disposed of from Camp Lejeune for the building material. They worked diligently with the materials and completed the church in a  few months. (Pictured Below)

     The single-room building had a wood heater centered close to the front of the room. Cloth curtains were used as room dividers between classrooms. It had no bathroom, but it did have a hand pump outside for water.

      Bethel held its first service on Sunday afternoon, December 11, 1955. Bethlehem Baptist Church sent teachers to fill in for Sunday School and guest speakers for the worship hour until Bethel got established. The first pastor was Rev. L.L. Barnes.  

   Bethel obtained the land deed in December 1959. In 1960, the church voted to join the New River Baptist Association.  


     November 21, 1965, the church dedicated a new church building. The guest speaker was Rev. L .L. Barnes, the first pastor!

     The members sold plate dinners and tended a tobacco crop for two years to pay for the new building. The new church was a white-cement block building with a new sanctuary, classrooms, and bathrooms. In 1975, a fellowship hall was built onto the existing structure.

      On January 6, 1976, a fire destroyed the sanctuary of Bethel Church. The fire was determined to have been caused by faulty wiring. The sanctuary and its contents were a total loss. Bethel had no insurance and no funds to rebuild. Word spread quickly over the local news stations about the fire and the church's lack of insurance, and donations came in to help Bethel rebuild. 



     Two weeks after the fire, the men of the church cleaned up the debris left from the fire. They started working to rebuild the church. They raised the walls of the new church. The next day, a storm came through and tore the walls down.

     Feeling defeated, the men gathered around the destroyed walls of the church and prayed. The men cleared the debris again and started rebuilding the walls. The men of the church worked every Saturday to rebuild the church. The ladies of the church provided meals for all of the workers. Every member sacrificed their time, money, and energy to rebuild the church.

         Through the fire tragedy, we drew closer to God and each other. As a result, God equipped us to build a much larger and more beautiful building for our worship services. That is the church we are in today. Two Bibles were found among the ashes, still intact. The covers were not even scorched!! When the church was under construction, we were blessed to use our fellowship hall for our worship services. The new sanctuary was completed within a few months, and the church owed no debt on the building.  

       The church has been through several renovations and additions. We've added two offices, a choir room, and redesigned a new kitchen. In 1984, a new classroom wing with handicapped bathrooms was added to the church. God has been good to us!!!