Bremen Bethel Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterians came to the Rushcreek early in the settlement of this part of the country. In the year 1806 a log church was built on the William Thompson farm in Sec. 5, Rushcreek Township, just south of the cemetery, and adjoining that lands settled by the Shaws. The cemetery is taken from the Shaw and Thompson farms in sections 4 & 5. This location was near the junction of the trails and roads that crossed Rushcreek to the north and south of this location.
Rev. John Wright was the first pastor being sent from the Presbytery of Pittsburg to serve Lancaster, then Hockhocking and Rushcreek. He was pastor until 1835. About the year 1825, the Rushcreek Church was moved to West Rushville and a church erected in the northeast corner of what is now the West Rushville Cemetery. In about 1824, the Bethel Church was organized and in 1827 a church was built on the lands of Abel Everitt. The original contract was preserved by Edward B. McCullough and was given by him to Rev. J. A. McEwen for deposit in the safety box of the church. The members of the Rushcreek Church lived as far north as Thurston and south to several miles beyond Maxville. For this reason, the Bethel Church was organized and a church was erected south of Middletown in about 1838. On October 20, 1844 the records of the Licking Presbytery record that the Bremen Church was organized with some of the officers of the Bethel Church as charter members. The first Bremen church in the village was erected on the south-west corner of Broad and Walnut Streets. In 1887 the second church was erected at the north-west corner of Fort and Marietta Streets. In 1907 the congregation, having outgrown this church building, construction was begun on the present building.
In May of 1932 talks between the Bethel and Bremen churches resulted in the merger of the two churches and on June 13, 1932, when the Columbus Presbytery finalized the merger. Presbytery was invited to meet to hold the September, 1932 presbytery meeting at the Bremen-Bethel Presbyterian Church. Rev. J. A. McEwen was called to be the minister of the combined churches at a yearly salary of $2,000, $200.00 was returned by Rev. McEwen as his tithe. That same year on October 29, a sugar maple tree was planted on the west side of the church in honor of the George Washington Bicentennial. 150 people attended the event after the morning service.
The 1932-33 annual report to presbytery listed additions of 30 new members, 4 dismissals and two deaths for a total membership 375 and a Sunday School membership of 310. (Church officers were to greet all visitors and to see that there was no crowding in the pews.) The 1934 the total budget was $2,643.00. In October of the same year, the church celebrated the 90t anniversary of the Bremen Church and the 110th anniversary of the Bethel Church. In April 1935, the bank balance of the church was $2.32. The 1935 price of the annual Turkey Supper price was $.50 with Elmer Baum as Chair of the event. In April 1936, we reported 392 members with 301 in Church School. (Today, our per capita would be $14,000!) In February, 1936, the church was in arrears in the pastor’s salary.
In 1937, a committee was appointed to investigate the union of the Rushville and Bremen Churches. Also in 1937, Madge Elizabeth Mericle (Betty Mowry), Lloyd and Richard Nixon, Betty Lou and Ruth Kincaid and others appeared before session for membership examination. The Kincaids were baptized by immersion at a later time. In 1938, the officers favored an annual chicken dinner and the organ fund was started. Session met at the home of Jefferson R. Shaw, who was examined, baptized and received into membership at age of 84. Charles M. Thompson appeared before session and asked that he be considered a candidate for the ministry.
In September 1940 at the congregational meeting, permission to buy a Hammond organ for $2,395.00 was approved. In September 1943 the Annual Turkey Supper was suspended, however, in October ladies of the church asked to have the turkey supper, a congregational meeting was called to discuss the previous action. A motion was made to have the supper which passed.
In 1952, Bremen-Bethel welcomed its first female ruling elders, Miss Margaret Holcomb and Mrs. Grace (Walter) Mericle.
In 1969 the congregation authorized improvement to the choir loft area and new sanctuary lighting was approved. Later that year, a study commission recommended that the present four boards, deacons, deaconesses, trustees and session be combined into one board known as the session.
December 1977 was extremely cold and morning services were held in the church basement and/or cancelled.
In 1980, average church attendance was 98 with 188 members on the roll. The church savings account stood at $6.03
We belong to the Scioto Valley Presbytery which extends from Marion to Meigs and Scioto Counties covering 21 counties and includes 97 churches with about 17,000 members. Headquarters is in Columbus.
Scioto Valley belongs to the Synod of the Covenant which extends from the UP of Michigan to Northern Kentucky and is headquartered in Toledo.
GA includes all of our denomination and is headquartered in Louisville, KY.