By Stephanie M. Mangino
The Winchester Star
MILLWOOD —An appreciation of the past and fellowship are set to meet at Sunday'sannual meeting and traditional service at Old Bethel Church.
The 11 a.m. meeting and service will feature Michael M. Foreman of Winchester as guest speaker, music from organist Peg Albritton and soloist Gerald "Chip" Connelly and a sermon from the Rev. Karin MacPhail of Cunningham Chapel Parish, an Episcopal parish, as the officiant.
With so much attention recently focused on history through the commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, it seemed appropriate to address the subject at the meeting, said Ian Williams, president of The Bethel Memorial Inc., as he explained why Foreman was selected as the year's speaker.
The organization Williams leads, Bethel Memorial, maintains the church and opens it for two events each year - the annual meeting/service and a Christmas Lessons and Carols service.
Foreman, a local historian and retired Winchester Circuit Court clerk, will offer a presentation on "Resting in Peace in Winchester, Temporarily."
It is about the many cemeteries in town that have disappeared, were destroyed and had their bodies moved, Foreman said.
He chose the topic, "because it is something I know a little bit about and it punctures the myth that you can rest in peace once you are buried." Foreman is president of the Mount Hebron Cemetery board of managers.
Even though his subject matter isn't specific to Bethel, Williams said any opportunity to have Foreman speak is a good one, because he is so knowledgeable about not only history, but also the personalities that created it.
Bethel has quite a connection to history itself.
It's a 19th-century church off Swift Shoals Road, situated on the site of an older Quaker meeting house.
The Bethel tradition stretches back to 1733, Williams said.
Although the church held a Baptist congregation at one time, it has been non-denominational since the 1940s.
No matter the era, people have gathered at Bethel for similar reasons - to be in a beautiful spot together in fellowship and prayer, said Williams, who has helmed Bethel Memorial for 20 years and attended its annual events every year since 1989. Before that, his attendance was more intermittent, beginning in 1954.
The church is as it was in the 19th century without running water or electricity, but bathroom facilities are brought in for the annual event, Williams said.
The service, meeting and presentation are fairly short, lasting just about 50-55 minutes. "It's kind of fun and lively," and combines a smattering of church, entertainment and Bethel business, he said.
When that's complete, people head outside for a picnic to follow the service.
"You end up under the oaks, having tea and homemade ice cream and all is right with the world," he said.
The Bethel board provides the basics, like ham, plates and utensils, and "everybody who comes is invited to bring something," he said.
"It's a fun day and it's a fun afternoon," said Williams, a veteran of many August services at Bethel.
For those planning ahead, the Christmas Lessons and Carols Service is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Dec. 18.
Bethel can be reached from Winchester by traveling east on U.S. 50 to Kennel Road (Route 625) opposite Mountain View Motel. Turn right, then make another right onto Swift Shoals Road (Route 622) before making an almost immediate left on Bethel Lane. The church is on the left at the top of the hill.
- Contact Stephanie M. Mangino at
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