In the year 1924, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Craig, of Philadelphia, moved with their family to Palmer Township, Easton PA. One Sunday morning, as Mrs. Craig and her two children were on their way to Sunday School, a little girl came up to her and said, “Will you take me to Sunday School, too?” Mrs. Craig answered, “Dear, we’ll miss the trolley car now, but you get ready next Sunday and I’ll take you.” The next Sunday, Mrs. Annie Craig took the girl with her on the trolley. As the weeks passed, other children joined them until between thirty and forty children went with her to the Second Methodist Church of Easton, PA. Mr. Harvey Mack became interested in the group and for a while he and other members of the church came out and took the children in their cars. Then, a trolley car was hired to wait for the children; this continued for three years.
Mrs. Craig began seeking a place to worship in Palmer Township, and after several churches denied her request to hold Sunday School in the afternoons, she asked the school board for the use of one room in the 4-room Lincoln School on Freemansburg Avenue. The board requested a paper with 100 signatures, so going door to door with her daughter, Ruth, Mrs. Craig obtained the board’s reluctant permission — getting over 200 signatures from Palmer’s surrounding residents. April 28, 1927 marked the opening of Highland Park Sunday School in the Lincoln School Building. There were 124 on the roll with a Sunday attendance of 85 to 90 each Sunday. Church services also began Sunday afternoons with various speakers and pastors bringing the messages.
In the year 1953, Rev. John Tomlinson came as Bethel’s first full-time pastor. With 50 members of the Highland Park Sunday School, the nucleus of Bethel Memorial Church was formed. From 1954 to 1964 services were held in the basement of the Lincoln School, while Sunday School classes took over the entire building. In 1960, the church parsonage on Blair street was built on donated land. In 1961, ground breaking for the new church took place at our present location of Chestnut Lane and Virginia Avenue, and services were held in the basement of the unfinished church the next year.
On May 26, 1968, Pastor Tomlinson announced his resignation after 15 years of faithful service. Rev. Merle Young was unanimously elected as the new pastor on September 18, 1968, and began his duties as Bethel’s second Pastor on October 6, 1968.
In 1970 a faith program was instituted to finish the upper main floor for a sanctuary for an estimated cost of $20,000. Promissory notes from friends and members raised the funds and after months of hard work, Bethel moved “upstairs” to the present sanctuary. On April 15, 1974, the church changed from a non-denominational Protestant Church to an Independent Baptist Church and changed the name to Bethel Memorial Baptist Church. A radio ministry began on November 2, 1975 and continued until the year 2006.
In mid-march 1978, Pastor Young resigned to serve another church, having served almost ten years, and on November 1, 1978, Dr. Earl M. Hosler became the third man to pastor this church. On October 7, 1981 the congregation voted to extend the existing sanctuary and add the pastor’s study, front side rooms, and the present nursery and preschool rooms.
In mid 1985, Dr. Hosler retired having served for 7 years, and in February of 1986, Rev. Daniel Bergstrom became the fourth pastor of the church. Todd Henley joined the staff as Youth Pastor from June 1989 – 1994. In November of 1996 Rev. Brent Robinson was hired as Pastor of Christian Education and then became the Pastor of Ministry & Development in 2002.
In mid 2006, Rev. Bergstrom retired from Bethel after 20 years and is living in West Grove, PA, where he and his wife attend their son’s church and are near many of their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In November of 2006, Rev. Brent Robinson was called to be the fifth Pastor at Bethel.
As we minister in an ever-changing culture, we pray that we remain true to the Lord and His word as our ministries adapt and expand. We rest in His love and power so that we may speak “the truth in love, [and] in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).