(Adapted from The History of Gethsemane United Baptist Church as found on the Bethlehem UBC Association site.)
History of Gethsemane United Baptist Church
On several occasions, through prayer and informal gatherings, the need for a United Baptist Church in the Booten Creek area became evident. Through the summer of 1968 a group of dedicated Brothers and Sisters in Christ from the Bethlehem United Baptist Church met at one another’s homes and discussed at great length what would be needed to bring this dream to a reality. It was at one of these meetings in the home of Bro. Robert Bills, it was discussed in detail the basic steps needed in establishing a Church and the ramifications of such a great undertaking. First and foremost, Christ would always be kept in the lead and the Church be established on a solid foundation, Christ being the chief cornerstone. Present at this gathering was the pastor of the Bethlehem United Baptist Church, Rev. Herman Smith, his wife Juanita; Deacons of the Bethlehem United Baptist church, Bro. Harold “Buddy” Merritt, Bro. Robert Bills, Bro. Zach Bills, their wives respectively Sis. Eathel Merritt, Sis. Louise Bills, Sis. Roberta Bills, Bro. Walter Baker Bro. Donald Adkins and his wife Vivian and the children of these families.
From that afternoon meeting until early fall of 1971, discussion and prayer had not ceased being offered up for this church. The Barboursville Elementary School Gym was secured for the first meeting of the Church, November 28, 1971 at 2:00 pm. There were 37 people in attendance. At this meeting Bro Walter Adkins was appointed as Chairman of the preliminary meetings, Sis Roberta Bills appointed as Recording Clerk and Bro. Zach Bills appointed Treasurer. A committee was appointed to secure a building for services and a location to build on in the future. The next meeting was held December 12, 1971 there were 22 at this meeting. Pledges were taken at this meeting to see how much money was readily available and $2000.00 was pledged.
The next meeting was held February 7, 1972 with only 6 present at this meeting; some discouragement began to creep in, but through prayer and determination the little band marched on toward their goal. Bro. Decker Bills and his wife Gail opened their home to the little church to use their basement as a sanctuary. With prayer and a great desire for this Church the announcement was made that the first service would be held Sunday February 27, 1972 at 10:00 am.
Rev. W.E. Bills had agreed to accept pastorship. There were 37 people at this first meeting. Bro W.E. Bills brought the first message; his text was “Building A House For The Lord”.
After five weeks of services in the basement of the Bills’ home, with the Spirit of the Lord high, we had our final preliminary meeting. There were 26 Christians that desired to be members of the new church. The lot for the church to be built on would be purchased for $3600.00.
On Saturday April 15, 1972, after much prayer and deliberation 16 members of the Bethlehem United Baptist Church petitioned the mother church for an arm to form the Gethsemane United Baptist Church. They were: Bro. Zach Bills, Sis. Roberta Bills, Bro. Robert Bills, Sis. Louise Bills, Bro. Harold “Buddy Merritt, Rev. W.E. Bills, Sis Naomi Bills, Bro. Bradley Bills, Sis. Gracie Baker, Sis. Judy Merritt, Sis. Judy Bills, Bro. John Gilkerson, Sis. Sandra Gilkerson, Bro. Kenneth Maynard, Sis. Edna Maynard and Bro. Herman Maynard.
The church has grown in strength and membership under the following Pastors: Rev. W. E. Bills, Rev. Zach Bills, Rev. Homer Hatfield, Rev. Robert Burns, Rev. Billie Kopsolias and our present Pastor, Rev. Sherwood Thompson.*
*(Update 4-22-2015 Since Sherwood Thompson’s departure, we have had two other pastors: Rev. Jonah Adkins and our current pastor Rev. Danny Dailey)
Through the years God has richly blessed this body of Christians. The love and commitment is still very much alive and well. God blessed us with opportunities to buy property and expand, to build a beautiful fellowship hall and when we out grew that one He blessed us to again build and expand. We were blessed to have Brothers and Sisters who worked and striven to see the Kingdom of the Lord grow, many have out stripped us and entered into that rest that is promised to the faithful, but with their passing He has blessed us with other Brothers and Sisters willing to work and strive to see the Kingdom of the Lord grow and prosper.