In November 1953, the Bethel United Methodist Church began in the home of Robert Hall at 200 Nebraska Drive in Lower Burrell. Mr. Hall saw a need for a Methodist Church in the local area.
Mr. Hall arranged a meeting with representatives of the Pittsburgh Conference of the Methodist Church. The outcome was the establishment of a Methodist Church in Lower Burrell. The first worship service was held in the Stewart Elementary School auditorium with 15 prospective members.
Organization Day for the new church was set for September 12, 1954. It was named the Bethel Community Methodist Church. The name was drawn from the second oldest church in Westmoreland County. Old Bethel Church, organized in 1843, was located near the present Lower Burrell City Hall (Schreiber Street). The church was destroyed by fire in December 1923 and never rebuilt.
The fledgling congregation ventured forth in faith and purchased a parsonage in May of 1955. The property at 3084 Ben Davis Ave. cost $14,100. One year later, in April of 1956, the cornfield at 150 Alder Street was acquired from the Methodist Church Union for $1.00.
Ground-breaking for Robert Hall Chapel, the present Sanctuary, was held on December 8, 1957. The cornerstone was laid on June 15, 1958; two months later construction was complete. One week later, the building was consecrated with all 44 charter members present. Cost of construction was $57,000.
The original building consisted of a kitchen, restrooms, two Sunday School rooms, and the Sanctuary itself. Instead of pews, worshippers sat on folding chairs. This enabled the congregation to use the Sanctuary for many purposes.
The need for an educational unit became apparent almost immediately. On April 24, 1960, just 20 months after the Sanctuary was completed, ground-breaking occurred for the construction of an educational wing valued at $30,000. Many volunteers performed much of the labor so construction costs were kept at a minimum. Shaffer Hall, named in honor of Rev. A.H. Shaffer, was consecrated on November 27, 1960.
On April 26, 1972, a ground-breaking service was held on the Alder Street property to build a new eight room parsonage. Rev. Donald Cook’s family was the first to occupy the home.
Limited space continued to plague the congregation through the 1970s and into the early 80s. In 1985, a task force was appointed to determine if there was a need for expansion: the response was a resounding “Yes!”
Ground was broken on April 2, 1989. The project added Friendship Hall, a new kitchen, pastor’s study, and church office, and revamped Shaffer Hall to provide three additional Sunday School rooms. New handicapped accessible restrooms were also added. The cost of construction was $231,000.
Membership stands at 300. The congregation continues to attract individuals and families of all ages, seeking God’s blessing and guidance.