In the late 1940’s early 50’s, God found favor in the life of one of His warriors, Brother Mose Simmons, who was living a life that shone the light of God’s salvation through his daily walk. This warrior was an ardent member and a faithful deacon at New Jerusalem FBH church, which is located in the Camel Thicket section of Ridgeville, South Carolina. God called Deacon Simmons to preach His Gospel and to spread it to all nations, “...teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded, and lo, I am with you always…”.
And “He” was.
While serving as a local minister at New Jerusalem, Rev. Simmons reverently “visioned” the building of a Church, in Jedburg. Not knowing where this church would be, but knowing that God would provide, he stretched out on faith, along with his wife – Mother Eva A. Simmons and family, to do God’s will; and in 1949, a “mission” was accomplished , established in a small one-room house then known as Murray Methodist Church parsonage. Thanks be to God and the members of Murray Church, we were able to worship God there until an epidemic of the Holy Ghost broke out in Jedburg, and God moved as never before. God promised to bless abundantly, and people would become saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost.
And “He” did…
One of the first persons to become saved was Bro. Willie Hilton, who also became the first deacon of the church. He and Rev. Simmons worked hand-in-hand, as friend and brother, diligently witnessing for Christ and “bringing them in”. The mission grew larger and larger, and those who came stood strongly on their beliefs that this was where God had placed them.
And “He” had…
When the time came to move on from Murray’s parsonage, Gad gave another place of worship, through Sis. Frances Scott. The “vision” was not forgotten, but was held intermediately, until God would will it to materialize. At God’s bidding, Rev. Simmons discussed the “vision” with Bro. Hilton and the members of the mission, and it would be that they would build a church which would be called, “New Bethel”.
And “it” is…
Along with Pastor Simmons and his family, and Deacon Hilton, those first members of the church were Sis. Estelle Hilton, Sis. Margie Rivers, Sis. Georgia B. Newton, Sis. Alternease Norris, Sis. Mary Palmer, Sis. Hattie Williams and others. “New”, meaning having been made for only for a short time, recent. “Bethel”, meaning a holy or hallowed place. So there would be a recent holy place, in which these members could worship the God of their salvation.
God saw fit to move our place of worship again. This time we were given usage of a tent known as the “Spur Track”, donated to use by a well-loved neighbor and a devoted cousin of our Pastor, Mr. Wesley Norris. Each time God’s blessing flowed our way, the “vision” became manifested, more and more.
The “vision” became fully realized when one day, Rev. Simmons was riding along Old Orangeburg Road, a bright light was shown, and he was led by the Spirit of God to stop, because “this is the spot”, where the ministry would be built. He immediately confronted his cousins, Mr. Levi and Mrs. Elouise White, who owned the land. It was so easily done because God had already prepared their hearts and they were very receptive to the idea. Mrs. White and her husband refused to sell the property – they gave the property to the church. However, out of love and appreciation, Pastor Simmons and the members gave them a donation for the land. Thank God for another miracle.
The church membership continued to grow, and members came from far and near. God sent us the Late Rev. Jesse Quattlebaum who was a carpenter and builder. With his knowledge, and the assistance of the members and friends, the church was built in one year.
Despite satan’s attempts to stop God’s progress, we kept the faith, and believed in the “vision” to complete this task. After the completion of the church, we were blessed, and marched from the Spur Track to this spot of ground, praising God, “from whom all blessing flow”.
Through the years there were many changes to come about – with new pastors, new members, and many ups and downs, but through it all, we continued to be faithful, and God continued to bless. After several years of pastoring other churches, Pastor Simmons returned to us, and at that time, Satan destroyed the church. When this trial came we were stronger than ever. Pastor Simmons had the support of his devoted Deacons: Deacon Mose Simmons, Jr., Deacon David Shuler, Deacon G. Melvin Wright, Deacon Daniel Bowman, and Deacon James Washington. Fellow ministers of the community worked along with the members until the church was renovated, including the installation of new pews, carpet, etc.
In October of 1975, God called our Founder, our Pastor and Father, from labor to reward. Our hearts were heavy ladened and it seemed that the lights of our lives had all burned out, but God was faithful, and had another plan. Through much prayer and fasting, He brightened our corner, and gave us courage to move on, to keep the “vision” alive.
Satan tried to make this a “mission impossible”, but God would not have it that way. He sent us a “Joshua”, Rev. Allen H. Simmons, who served for a year in our Founder’s shoes, and was then sent to pastor in another area. We kept on moving and we kept on growing.
We have had other pastors to come in who did their utmost to keep the “vision” alive. They were, Rev. Fred Holmes, Rev. Fred Robinson, Rev. Haskell Williams, and Elder Patrick Frazier. We shall always cherish the love of all of our former pastors – with a special thanks to the late Elder Patrick Frazier. It was under his leadership that our renovations begun, and almost completed, which consist of an additional front, a balcony and educational building, and some brick work.
Our Deacon Wright was given a “vision” after the death of our Mother and Co-Founder, Eva Simmons, in 1986. In this vision he saw “Mama’s Garden”. Those of us who knew her, realize how much a part of this garden portrayed her life, because of her love for flowers. It seems that after all of the children had grown and gone, she turned most of her attention to her garden. This garden is dedicated to the memory of a “very special lady” and you can see the beauty of all the love New Bethel gives, through “Mama’s Garden”. We shall always cherish the memory of our founders, because he established our goings. They were the “Moses” of our time.
After many years, God sent back to us our “Joshua”, Apostle Allen H. Simmons who returned in 1986, doing a magnificent job in leading us through the paths of righteousness. Having the cooperation and support of not only the church family but a very beautiful First Lady, who works very diligently by his side, and in any and every capacity needed in the church. We thank God for “Lady Jan”, and pray God’s blessings upon her for her continued dedication.
Under Pastor Simmons’ administration, we have had our parking lot paved, purchased a Van for the transportation of our members to and from services, refurbished the floors, repaired the ceiling, replaced the carpet, replaced the lighting in the sanctuary, replaced the organ, installed office equipment and other major and minor repairs.
In 2002, we were blessed to move into our newly built sanctuary, which seats 1200; complete with administrative offices, media and sound rooms, a store, and reception suite, to name a few. Our parking lot was expanded, additional lighting was added to the grounds, security equipment was installed, and a host of office, sound and technical upgrades were completed. Our radio ministry was expanded and our television ministry was implemented.
We could not have met any of these great challenges without the efforts of our wonderful Pastor and the great men of our church. We say to you, “Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the works of the Lord…” Look around! Your labor has not been in vain. We really appreciate and love you because God gave you the wisdom, knowledge, and strength to complete and fulfill.