BETHEL LUTHERAN CHURCH
Point Clear Alabama
The founding of Bethel Lutheran Congregation and the building of their church and school are another example of God’s continuous blessing upon faithful labors given intensive mission work. The church was formally dedicated on Sunday, September 26, 1954 in Point Clear, Alabama under the leadership of Rev. Albert Dominick, hundreds of Lutherans and friends were assembles from various parts of Alabama for this occasion. Rev. J. S. Montgomery preached the dedication sermon on the theme. The Christian Love for the True Church”, Ephesians 19:20.
As early as 1943, the Bell family of Faith Lutheran Church, Mobile, Alabama moved to Point Clear, a summer resort on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay. Later, Mr. David Bell’s mother and her husband, Mr. Aaron Fisher from Mt. Olive Lutheran congregation in Hybert, Alabama followed them. The Durgin’s Family and the McCants family soon followed them. The nearest church was at Montrose, about eight miles northwest toward Mobile.
The Bells, Fisher and Mrs. Florida Durgin transferred their membership to Concordia congregation in Montrose. Because of the distance and lack of missions work in the areas, Pastor Dominick very willingly added extra services to his schedule and Sunday School service were held in the Durgin’s home in 1947. Twice monthly for more than a year, this class was instructed by the pastor, while his wife taught the children. During this time children of other families began attending the Sunday School and adults began attending the Pastor’s class.
On August 22, 1948, five of the children were baptized. In December, three children and one adult were confirmed. In April 1949, another adult was confirmed. Thus by the Word of God, Faith took strong root in the hearts of the people and more members were gained for the Kingdom.
In 1950 members began asking about the possibility of organizing a congregation at Point Clear as distance kept this member of Concordia from being as faithful as they otherwise might have been. Finally on April 15, 1951, a service was held in the house of Mr. Zannie Durgin to discuss organizing a church. Gulf Coast Superintendent William G. Kennell was present for the meeting and pointed out the purpose of organizing a congregation was not merely for the convenience of the members but also to spread the kingdom of God among others in the community. Mr. Arnold Brodbeck and Mrs. Hattie Pfeiffer from Redeemer Congregation in Fairhope encouraged The Point Clear group to proceed with organizing and promised their personal assistance. Mrs. Pfeiffer began teaching the primary department every Sunday morning while the Pastor instructing the upper class.
In the summer of 1951, the Missionary Board gave the members and community a “Bible” School teacher, Miss Idonia Dale.
On December 30, 1951, the congregation was organized. Thirty-two grateful souls raised “BETHEL” as a memorial to God’s earthly and heavenly blessings upon His people. The constitution was adopted and the church received the name “BETHEL” meaning “HOUSE OF GOD.”
The membership pledged a substantial amount to the Pastor’s support and gave one-tenth to the Missionary Board for providing a “Bible School during the past summer and furnishing a Missionary to serve them for several years.
Regular services were held two Sunday evenings a month in the Durgin’s home .Four acres of land were purchased at a desirable site on the highway. This purchase was made possible with help from the mission treasuries of the Gulf Coast churches and of the Alabama Conference.
Work was begun on Bethel Church and School on Easter Monday, April 19, 1954. The Congregation decided this building a tile chapel school, patterned after the Camden, Alabama and the original Pensacola, Florida frame type building. The corner stone was laid Sunday, June 27, 1954. Rev. William Jones of Mobile spoke from1 Corinthians 3:33 on “JESUS THE CHURCH’S ONLY FOUNDATION.”
Mr. Jim Edwards and wife, Mrs. Rosie Edwards and their children moved into the Daphne, Alabama area and later moved to the Loxley, Al area. Rev. Albert Dominick began to traveling to Loxley to give them class instruction in their home. He taught the adults and his wife taught the children. The Edwards decided to move to Point Clear, Al to be closer and to join Bethel Lutheran Church.
A Christian Day School was also established in 1955. The school provided Christian teaching along with the circulation of the Baldwin County School system, sending Ms. Katie Dale (Wiggins) as their first teacher (1955-1959). The school was blessed with many others teachers, Ms. Hilda Berry, Ms. L.M. Kidd, Ms. Bernice D Hunter, Ms. E. Brown and Ms. Sophia J. Robinson. In 1967 the school enrollment started to decline, forcing the closing of the Christian Day School.
Rev. Albert Dominick served the congregation faithfully during the planning process, the dedication and the next thirty-three years, until April 1984. He and his lovely wife provided guidance, encouragement, along with the all-important word of God. The congregation is indebted to him for his dedicated service and his love for God’s children.
Rev. Ulmer Marshall Jr., of Trinity Lutheran Church, Mobile, Alabama filled in as vacancy Pastor until September 16, 1984 when he was extended as official call to serve the congregation as its pastor. On October 7, 1984, Rev. Ulmer Marshall became Bethel Lutheran Church second pastor. Under his leadership the congregation is steadily growing both spiritually and financially. Pastor Marshall has serves 30 years in His vineyard in this community and we give thanks and praise to God for allowing His faithful servant to serve in this community. On May 23, 2014 Pastor Ulmer Marshall received a Doctor of Divinity Honoris Causa Degree from Concordia Theological Seminary, whereby giving him the title of Dr. (Rev) Ulmer Marshall. We are very proud of him and this great achievement.
In 1987 plans were begun to renovate and enlarge our present site. The Building Committee worked enthusiastically and faithfully on many plans for our church for over a year. In 1988 the congregation settled on building a new sanctuary and renovating the old church building into a fellowship hall.
On February 19, 1989 Groundbreaking service was held with all of the church members marching to the location of our new sanctuary and taking an active part in the Groundbreaking service. Rev. Ulmer Marshall preached on the theme: “STANDINGON HOLY GROUND.” Exodus 3:5.
Work was begun on Bethel’s new sanctuary and renovation of the old church building into a fellowship hail February 20, 1989. The cornerstone was re-laid October 8, 1989 and on October 15, 1989 Bethel Lutheran church new sanctuary and fellowship hail were dedicated by Rev. Dr. Richard C. Dickinson, Executive Commissioner on Black Ministry, L. C. fill. S., St. Louis, MO, preached the dedicatory sermon, speaking from Matthew 7:24-25, on “BUILD ON THE ROCK”
What a glorious day of Thanksgiving and Praise with over 500 Lutheran’s and friends giving praises to our God for the wonderful things he has done for the members of Bethel. We shall forever praise Him, for we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was God’s hand of mercy that brought us thus far, and we believe that He will lift us to higher opportunities to serve Him, as we put our trust in Him, and Him alone.
Vicar Carl Brown was assigned as delayed Vicar to Bethel Lutheran Church on June 1, 1996. He and his family join us from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he studied the Masters of Divinity program at Concordia Theological Seminary.
On June 29, 1997, Rev. Carl Brown was ordained here at BethelLutheranChurch.
Vicar Ibrahim Timbo was assigned to Bethel Lutheran Church on July 26, 1997. He and his wife, June Timbo, also join us from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Again, a third Vicar, Sean Ballard was assigned to Bethel Lutheran Church on July 2, 2001. He and his loving, wife, Krystal and family join us from California.
After starting a congregation, New Hope Lutheran Church, Andalusia, Alabama, The Dr. Rev. Merlin Pohl and his wife, Doris, retired to Foley, Alabama. Rev. Pohl came out of retirement for the sixth time to join Bethel Lutheran Church. On December 2, 2001, he was installed as Assistant Pastor of BethelLutheranChurch.
In July of 2003, Bethel received their Fourth Vicar, Demetrius Garrett, of Memphis, TN.
In January of 2014, Bethel began exploring the possibilities of improving the grounds of the church by adding a parking lot and upgrading the sanctuary. They reach out to Mr. Bruce Carnahan for his expertise and assistance. Work began on parking lot and upgrading the sanctuary with the help of Mr. Bruce Carnahan overseeing the work and doing majority of the work with the help of some of the members. We are indeed grateful to God for sending Bruce to us at our time of need. He is definitely a Godsend.
Bethel has many Organizations that are very active and growing, they consists of the Gospel Choir, Children’s Choir, Anointed Voices, LWML, The Usher’s Board, Social Ministry, Evangelism, Board of Education, Stewardship and our Praise Dancers.
No one can deny that God has brought us a long way. While some have gone from labor to reward, we are truly blessed to be a congregation that is “ÁLIVE AND WELL”. We give praise to God for the many blessing He has bestowed upon us throughout the years.