A little flock in the wilderness, without wealth or any of the luxuries of life, and with very few of its comforts, had no place to hold their religious meetings. This little flock began the Lord’s work in 1814, with their first meetings in a log school house and maple grove near the site of the present Murdoch Cemetery.
In 1823, a house of the Lord was built near the site of the present church on ground owned by Mr. Samuel B. Walker. The walls were made of logs taken from the surrounding forest and heat was provided by a hearth in the center upon which a charcoal fire was built. In 1839 a more permanent brick church was built, with the majority of the labor donated, on land give by Mr. Samuel B. Walker.
In 1869 Professor James Murdoch, a well-known Shakespearean actor of the era, offered financial assistance to build a new sanctuary, thus the name Bethel Murdoch Presbyterian Church. Mr. Murdoch also gave as a memorial the bell which he brought from Switzerland. Its chimes ring out each Sabbath morning. In November 1872, the new brick church was dedicated. It stands today as the house of the Lord for His flock.
In 1927 the congregation raised money and installed modern heating equipment and planted three pine trees in front of the church. Over the years, many faithful members worked and gave money and time to keep the church in existence. In 1949 the congregation dug a basement out by hand for Sunday School classes and meetings. Ground was broken in 1994 and the modern addition, which included space for classrooms, an office, a fellowship hall, kitchen, and indoor plumbing, was dedicated in 1995. Bethel Murdoch was named Historical Site of the Year by the Loveland Historical Society in 1997. In 2002 the congregation completed a major face-lift to the church’s interior and exterior.
Since 1831 the Bethel Presbyterian Church has been a member of the Cincinnati Presbytery. Over time, the church has fluctuated from a small following to the more than three hundred persons registered for the one hundredth anniversary on September 9, 1914. For that special occasion a hymn, “O Bethel Church” was composed by Robert Wylie. The Strength of our church stems from its rich traditions, enhanced by the pioneers who struggled through the hard times, prevails as much today as it did back then.
Our flock’s strong faith and nurturing nature can be seen throughout history, beginning with the organization of Sunday School in 1817, prayer meetings in 1827, and a society known as the “Bethel Charitable Association” in 1828. As early as 1879 the ladies of the church organized a missionary society and Ladies Aid that grew through the years and became “The Lookout Circle” in 1957. Today our congregation is constantly striving to serve the Lord and glorify Him. We do this through our traditional worship services, Christian education for all age groups, and local, national and international missions. We also have multiple fellowship events with an abundance of delicious food to feed our flock and outreach through our Ice Cream Socials. Our annual Ice Cream Socials have been held in June, July and August of each year for over 103 years. These events combine community support, evangelistic opportunities, good fellowship, and homemade ice cream in a traditional, family friendly atmosphere.
How wonderfully God has blessed us through the past years. From the good times to the hard times, through sixty-one pastors and 207 years, God has been with us throughout it all. May we say a deep and heartfelt thank you, and may God bless you greatly for your part in the life of Bethel Murdoch Presbyterian Church.
"O Bethel Church" Composed by Robert Wylie September, 1914
To praise the blessed Lord of Hosts, And Thank Him for Centennial Day, This time we love, as long we may. CHORUS: O Bethel Church, sweet Bethel Church, They name is ever dear to us. We've come today with-in thy walls, To hear the Saviour as He calls, and thank Him for Centennial Day, The time we love, as long we may. We honor our Centennial Day, The day of days the angels say, The time when we are glad at heart, And all with rapture do their part. Tune: Beulah Land