Bethel Christian Church History

Bethel Christian Church is an exuberant, Spirit-filled church that focuses on the life transforming power of Jesus Christ. The church is characterized by contemporary worship, Bible preaching, outreach locally and globally and ministry to individuals and families. Bethel is a place to rejoice, a place to find peace, a place to find truth and a place to experience love, healing and restoration from God. In 1972 Rev. Harold Hidle and his family journeyed to Bristol, Connecticut based on the call of God. They came from Boca Raton, Florida with a vision from God for a new church in New England. God had spoken to him through a particular scripture: “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:14 This is a portion of the Bible where the prophet is challenged as to whether revival can come to a people as he is asked the question, “can these bones live.” Thus, Bethel was begun with the anticipation of revival for Bristol, Connecticut and New England. This is something that will be done by God and His servants, believers here in this region. Bethel is an independent congregation that conducts it own affairs. For purposes of fellowship, credentialing and cooperative connections; the congregation is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, the largest Spirit-filled church group in the United States. The congregation began in November of 1972 in the Hidle’s home, moved to the Edgewood School in 1976. Land was purchased on Stevens Street and construction of the church facility was done on the basis of all volunteer labor. The sanctuary was completed debt free and dedicated in October 1984. The sanctuary facility was enlarged and a full gymnasium/banquet hall with modern kitchen and classrooms was added in 1999. Over the last three years Bethel has refurbished the original building, expanded its entry foyer and added a conference room, media center and cafe. Rev. Hidle was elected to a significant position in the Assemblies of God in southern New England and was replaced by two short term ministers followed by the arrival of Rev. Joseph Timberlake who pastored for fourteen years until May 2005. He was succeeded by the current pastor, Rev. Howard Renker, who had planted a church in Cheshire prior to his arrival. Bethel has a tradition of evangelism in the community, support for other outreaches and ministries in the area, and connections to many missionaries around the world. A sister church was planted in Newington by Rev. Bruce Fletcher together with a group of people “sent out” from Bethel, Bristol. The Bristol congregation frequently sends teams around the world to do ministry, medical and construction work. Buildings have been underwritten in Ecuador, Ghana, Uganda, India and Peru. More than ten percent of the church income goes to other ministries locally and overseas. The church has a strong spiritual fervor based in prayer and in faith in God for miracles, healing and transformed lives. The church offers counseling and encouragement to those seeking a more victorious life. In its history the congregation has experienced the wonderful moving of God’s Spirit on a regular basis. Hundreds of people and families in the region can attest to the impact that Bethel Christian Church has had in their lives. The current congregation has great expectations and is as excited as ever about the future. Bethel holds firm to the conviction of its founders that revival in Bristol and the surrounding area is an imminent reality.  For Bethel, the future promises to exceed even the rich blessings God has bestowed upon this church in the past.

Updated June 2012