Bethel Baptist Church

By: Helen Gomer Schluter

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: May 1, 1995

Bethel Baptist Church was organized in an area referred to as the "dark corner" of Sabine County, between the settlements of Milam and Sexton. It was constituted on February 7, 1841, in the home of Theophilus Harris as a Predestinarian Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ under the authority of Daniel Parker and his Pilgrim Church at Elkhart, Anderson County. The Bethel group had met earlier and asked to be aligned with the Union Association of the Pilgrim Church, but it appears that it never did in fact join the association. Bethel Church was among the five East Texas Missionary Baptist churches that met at Union (Old North) Church four miles north of Nacogdoches on November 11, 1843, and organized the Sabine Baptist Association. They were the Union and Mount Zion, Nacogdoches County; Border and Bethel, Harrison County; and Bethel, Sabine County. The action of the Bethel Church in aligning itself with the Sabine Association naturally aroused the ire of Daniel Parker, his Predestinarian brethren in the Pilgrim Church, and the Union Association, who were opposed to missionary societies and boards, Bible societies, Sunday schools, and secret organizations, all of which were claimed to be purely devices of man with no scriptural authority for their existence. Parker's Pilgrim Church, in regular conference on August 17, 1844, called upon the Bethel Church to surrender its authority as a church, since it had "departed from the faith and order." At a meeting held at Bethel Church from October 6 to 13, 1845, thirty-six persons were baptized into the Missionary Baptist belief. The site of the old Bethel Baptist Church was deeded to the church on November 17, 1878, by Mrs. Julie R. Mason, widow of William Mason, who had obtained the land from the Republic of Texas in 1838. The white frame building and old cemetery are located in an opening of a heavily wooded forest. The oldest Baptist church in Sabine County, it has remained in continuous operation since it was founded, although the name has been changed to New Hope Baptist Church.

Zenos N. Morrell, Flowers and Fruits from the Wilderness (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1872; rpt. of 3d ed., Irving, Texas: Griffin Graphic Arts, 1966). William Tellis Parmer, A Centennial History of Sexton Lodge (Milam, Texas: Sexton Lodge, 1960). Papers of the Pilgrim Predestinarian Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. "Records of an Early Texas Baptist Church," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 11, 12 (October 1907, July 1908). Sabine Baptist Association Collection, Texas Collection, Baylor University. San Augustine Red-Lander, October 26, 1844.
  • Religion
  • Baptist
  • Architecture
  • Churches and Synagogues

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Helen Gomer Schluter, “Bethel Baptist Church,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995