Our History

"We are not makers of history. We are made by history."

-Martin Luther King Jr.

How it all started...

Over one hundred years ago, on November 22, 1888, the Swedish Baptist Church of Galesburg was organized. O.F. Carlson became its first pastor, at a salary of $25 a month.

In 1898, a plot of land on North Chambers Street was purchased and a tent erected. A new building was dedicated on December 18, 1898. All services were conducted in Swedish until the 1920’s, when an evening English service was added.

By 1930, Swedish was used only on the first Sunday of each month. The conversion to all English services was completed in 1937.

On June 2, 1937 the church voted to change their name to “North Chambers Street Baptist Church.” The name changed again to “Bethel Baptist Church” in 1950.

After World War II the church purchased land at Fremont and Academy Streets, breaking ground at the new site in 1952.

On May 27, 1956, the doors of the new Bethel were opened. Dedication took place in September 1956.

The Christian Education Building was added in 1975.

The most recent building projects in the early 2000’s resulted in the new worship center and learning center that both were constructed debt free. Through everything, the Lord has blessed Bethel to be a blessing to those in our community.  

In June of 2014, Pastor Scott Wilson was installed as the new Senior Pastor after the retirement of Pastor Lee Johnson who served faithfully at Bethel for 26 years.

In May of 2015, the Executive, and beloved, Pastor Kirk Kendall passed away suddenly, shortly before he was to retire.  Pastor Kirk and Pastor Lee began ministry at Bethel at about the same time.  The church has benefited from their stable leadership.  While the sudden loss of our Pastor and friend has been difficult for our church and community, the staff and volunteer leaders have rallied together to care for the needs of the church and to set our sights on a new season of embracing God’s calling in this community and around the world.

Bethel has a great reputation in Galesburg for being a family Bible Church that serves those around us well. Bethel also holds a deeply rooted commitment to participating in and supporting missions and missionaries around the world for the glory of God.