What We Believe
Old Hartslog Church 1787
A Very Short Overview . . .
Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him.
Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there, the Reformed movement spread to other parts of Europe and the British Isles.
Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England, Scotland and Ireland. The first American Presbytery was organized at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same city in 1789. The first Assembly was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.
The Petersburg Bethel Presbyterian Church has a most interesting history which can be traced from the Hart's Log Presbyterian Church which was established in 1786.
In 1848, Miles Lewis conveyed a tract of land to the three trustees of "the Presbyterian Congregation at Shavers' Creek Bridge"
The building did not stand empty, for a Sunday School was organized, and on May 6, 1866, 43 persons attended Sunday School. The Sunday School records indicated occasionally "there will be divine service or preaching this afternoon." Interest continued high and on November 27, 1866, the Bethel Presbyterian Church was organized.
Since then we have grown into an active and thriving community church built on supportive and shared leadership.
Our Present Day Facility & Grounds
Our Core Theology
Some of the principles articulated by John Calvin are still at the core of Presbyterian beliefs; among these are the sovereignty of God, the authority of Scripture, justification by grace through faith and the priesthood of all believers.
What these tenets mean is that God is the supreme authority throughout the universe. Our knowledge of God and God’s purpose for humanity comes from the Bible, particularly what is revealed in the New Testament through the life of Jesus Christ. Our salvation (justification) through Jesus is God’s generous gift to us and not the result of our own accomplishments. It is everyone’s job — ministers and lay people alike — to share this Good News with the whole world. That is also why the Presbyterian church is governed at all levels by a combination of clergy and laity, men and women alike.