Photos and story by Tommy Banks, edited by Mac Harris

After salvaging a sill from the burned sanctuary (see bottom photo), Tommy Banks discovered that the 8″ x 8″ by 24′ timber was cut from the heart of a yellow pine tree.

Tommy counted 75 visible rings (see top photo), and says it is logical to assume that there were at least 25 more rings. Each ring represents a year’s growth, so the tree was at least 100 years old when it was cut for construction of the sanctuary in 1912, 95 years ago.

That means the tree that died to help support our sanctuary for the past 95 years would have been about 200 years old, so it was a mature tree when Bethany was founded 167 years ago!


Rebuilding is built on organization. The office of Bethany Christian Church is organized and ready to begin the step by step process of rebuilding a church home for Bethany Disciples.

Have ideas or suggestions?

The church office has a venue and forms for each Bethany Disciple to share and submit iseas about the future of the home for Bethany Christian Church . Stop by the church office to share your input.

Bethany Disciples Meet with Disciples Church Extension Representative

Compiled by Mac Harris


Dee Long of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Church Extension
met with the Bethany Church Board and other church leaders Tuesday night
to let the church know what services they can provide. Long explained that
the main purpose of the meeting was to introduce the board to Church
Extension and how it can offer assistance and direction in dealing with
the aftermath of the fire as well as working through the rebuilding

“God has called us (Church Extension) to be partners with congregations,”
she noted. “I want you to know that you’re not by yourselves.”

Long briefed the board on the how to work with an insurance company in
obtaining a settlement and how to approach the construction process. She
urged Bethany to “take your time” in dealing with both tasks, but stated
that while a committee is working toward obtaining a fair insurance
settlement, a building committee can begin the building process by getting
to a consensus on our construction “dream,” then working with contractors
to gain cost estimates. In doing that, she reiterated, “take your time,
because when a building is built, it is too late to decide that it’s not
exactly what you wanted.”

Church Extension also can help with construction loans and fundraising,
Long said. She added that once an insurance settlement is reached and
“dream” plans are made, fundraising capacity can be estimated, then loan

In answer to questions from board members, Long said now that she is more
familiar with Bethany and our mission, she soon will send Bethany more
information, stating that “building needs grow out of your mission
statement.” She ended the meeting by advising the church leadership that
Church Extension will “work with you to the end.”

Tommy Banks, a member of the church’s communication committee photography team, submitted this photo from the visit by Dee Long.

Communion Cloth from Bosnia Presented to Bethany Christian Church via Week of Compassion

On Sunday, July 15, Bethany Christian Church held its first services at Camp Caroline since the fire that destroyed the sanctuary. Just prior to partaking of communion, Carolyn Broughton presented to the congregation a communion cloth hand-crafted by women of Sarajevo Phoenix, an organization of women in Bosnia who have banded together to recover from 44 months of war that have torn that country apart. Sarajevo Phoenix is a Week of Compassion partner and through the efforts of Johnny Wray, this communion cloth was donated to Bethany because of our losses from the fire.

Gary Edge used the teamwork of a flock of geese flying south for the winter as a metaphor for the teamwork that Bethany will employ to rebuild the sanctuary, class rooms, and fellowship hall. When the lead goose has tired, he will fall back to be replaced by the next in line, while all the ones in the rear honk encouragement in this ongoing and repetitive process.

Bob Kennel to Speak to Disciples General Assembly

Following is the text of a speech by Bob Kennel to be delivered to the General Assembly which meets July 21-25 in Fort Worth, Texas.


My name is Bob Kennel, and I work on the North Carolina Regional Staff on New Church Development. Six years ago I spoke out at the Kansas City General Assembly on behalf of St. Luke’s Christian Church in Princeville, NC which was destroyed by floods from Hurricane Floyd. They have since rebuilt with great help and honor.

Today I speak out for Bethany Christian Church in Arapahoe NC which burned to the ground four weeks ago. It’s a little harder today because that is the church in which I was born and raised. I am so proud of them in the way they are showing what being church is all about. They had recently completed the “Faithful Planning” process which has helped them deal with this tragedy on a structured and committed basis. They were underinsured but plan to build back immediately. Interestingly, Bethany had just expanded beyond themselves to start a new worship fellowship at a new site the day before the fire.

I am also proud of Week of Compassion which had a starter check in the hands of our Regional Minister John Richardson to meet with the church two days after the fire. If you want to see the anatomy of a tragedy and the response of a faithful people just go to the Week of Compassion website where they have a link to That web site also allows you to send a note of condolence or a credit card donation.

Every year there are Disciple churches which are damaged or destroyed by flood, tornado, earthquake, or fire. It is good to know we belong to a denomination, indeed a latter day brotherhood and sisterhood of churches with helpful arms such as the Week of Compassion and with faithful individuals who pray and share with those in need.

600 Campers Welcome Bethany to Sunday Evening Vesper Services at Camp Seafarer

Twenty-three members from Bethany Christian Church were welcomed to Sunday Vesper Services at Camp Seafarer, Sunday, July 8. From California, New York, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and even as close as New Bern – scores of campers filed past members of Bethany, offering words of welcome, condolences for our church, and messages that they were praying for us.

Each member of Bethany present was asked to take a bookmark made by campers. One bookmark echoed the theme on the banner in Taylor Lodge where a reception honored Bethany Disciples just prior to the waterfront worship service.

One speaker spoke of events that influenced lives, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the assassination of John Kennedy, the explosion of the Challenger, and for members of our church, that Monday the fire destroyed the church halls. Several inspirational messages followed about individuals seeking to be positive influences for doing God’s work.

One camper asked if we would be back to see them again. It was apparent that our church family has a dominant place in their hearts. Their summer at camp will be remembered not only by camp experiences, but also by the fire that destroyed a church near their camp and their efforts to reach out to us. It is a beckoning call that in our rebuilding, we will influence others by reaching out to them as others are reaching out to us.

Sunday Morning Worship – July 8, 07

“We will not rebuild Bethany based on our faith in a building, we will rebuild Bethany based on our faith in Jesus Christ.” Gary Edge

Using a simile, the church right now is like a flat balloon, Christine Beeman helped Parker Watson and Kaley Tijerina demonstrate to the congregation how working together we would rebuild the church. Over and over, the emphasis of this mini-sermon was that “we will rebuild the church with God’s help and guidance.” When a balloon filled with air was set free, it flew off in all directions and went flat again. Christine made the point that with God’s help, we would find the right direction to rebuild Bethany.

While away with their children at a camp for autism, Simon and Sara Spalding returned with an unbelievable gift to Bethany. Simon composed a moving tribute to the church and its rebuilding. He could not be present Sunday to sing it but Sara left hardly a dry eye in the congregation when she had finished her rendition of Simon’s wonderful, beautiful, and lasting tribute to the ongoing life of Bethany Christian Church, the “Church at the Crossroads.”

Click here for Simon’s words.

Please note that this moving piece of music is now copyrighted.

Click here for Simon and Sara’s website.

Gary Edge concluded the service by calling the names of faithful members of Bethany Christian Church who now live with the Lord. He said, “They are speaking to us now, they are saying ‘Stand tall …'”

Camps Sea Gull & Seafarer Send in the Troops

Campers and counselors from both Camp Seagull and Camp Seafarer were on hand spending their July 4th holiday helping Bethany Christian Church. Ward Russell from Asheboro, NC, led a contingent of campers from Sea Gull to retrieve and stack bricks. Iris Glace from Charlotte and Taylor Sullivan from Wilmington were part of a group of campers from Seafarer helping inventory books and other items salvaged from the fire.

These young people, willing to spend their Independence Day holiday hard at work in the hot sun for a church they don’t know is an uplifting gift to the people of Bethany. On the other hand, Bethany is obviously a church they do know, for it is simply another church worshipping Jesus Christ, the Son of God.