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The Pastors of Bethlehem

From its founding until 1859 Bethlehem shared its pastors with other churches in an itinerancy arrangement. Each year at the fall meeting of the North Carolina and Virginia Christian Conference a Committee on Itinerancy would be appointed, generally consisting of elders, licentiates, and lay delegates. If the pastors and the committees could agree on an arrangement for the following conference year, the matching of pastors to itinerancy circuits would be listed in the committee report, which was published as a part of the conference minutes. If no arrangement was reached on a particular itinerancy circuit by the time the report was submitted, the report was silent on that particular circuit and the committee merely acknowledged that the arrangements were incomplete. Such committee reports are the primary sources for information about the early pastors of Bethlehem. In latter half of the nineteenth century the committee name changed to the Committee on Ministerial Supply.

With a few exceptions, the earlier annual conference minutes listed only the name of the circuit, not the specific churches comprising it. Bethlehem, when it was specifically listed prior to 1854, was always a part of the Haw River Circuit. Therefore the following list is based on the assumption that prior to 1854, the itinerant for the Haw River Circuit is the pastor for Bethlehem. Occasionally the committee report listed two ministers for a given circuit. Also, there were sometimes two pastors listed for two circuits. In each of these cases, the names of both pastors are given.

In the 1850s the North Carolina and Virginia Christian Conference minutes began to include Statistical Tables for the member churches. Among the data in these tables is the pastor for the year in which the conference met. Since these are after-the-fact reports, rather than predictive assignments like the itinerancy committee reports, they are relied on where available. Also useful are the Ministerial Reports made by the ministers to the annual conference, when they happen to mention the names of the churches they served that year.


1832 George Swift
1833 Lewis Craven
1834 John Petty & Shubal Evans
1835 Daniel Kerr
1836 Shubal Evans
1837 Alfred Apple & Alfred Iseley
1838 Alfred Apple
1839-1840 Joseph Murray
1841 Alfred Iseley
1842-1845 unknown 
1846 Joseph Murray
1847 Alfred Iseley
1848 James Turner & Robert Tinin
1849 Alfred Iseley & Levin Madison
1850 Robert Tinin & Alfred Iseley
1851 Alfred Iseley & George Walker
1852 Alfred Iseley & Josiah McCulloch
1853-1854 Alfred Iseley
1855 Robert Tinin
1856 James Hobby
1857 Josiah McCulloch
1858-1859 Alfred Iseley
1860 Robert Tinin
1861-1876 Alfred Iseley
1876-1878 Frank Iseley
1878 David Jones & Frank Iseley
1879-1880 Albert Anderson
1881-1890 Jeremiah Holt
1891-1894 William Herndon
1895-1896 C. C. Peel
1897 Jeremiah Holt
1898-1900 Peter Klapp
1901-1906 Jeremiah Holt
1907-1908 Thomas Strowd
1909-1922 Jeremiah Holt
1922-1928 Frank Apple
1928-1933 John Patton
1933-1942 Gaither Crutchfield
1942-1948 Joseph Neese
1948-1950 Ervin Crutchfield
1950-1956 Gaither Crutchfield
1956-1959 Dwight Moore
1960-1964 Charles Bell
1964-1970 Dolan Talbert
1970-1973 Charles Bell
1973-1978 John Wilder
1978-1979 Millard Stevens
1979-2014 David Gilbert
2014-Present Todd Felkel

In the papers of Rev. J. W. Holt, he mentions that Lewis Craven, D. W. Kerr, Shubal Evans, R. S[tephen] Turner, Joseph Murray, George Swift and John Walker preached in the log church.

We know of ten men who have gone out fromthis church to become ministers:



Joseph Murray 1835
Peter Klapp 1875
Sanders Klapp 1882
Silas Madren 1929
David Shepherd 1932
Weldon Madren 1943
Thomas Brown 1964
Jerry Moore 1970
Fred Madren, Jr. 1995
Kevin Thomasson 1999
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