First Church of Bethlehem, UCC

First Church of Bethlehem was established in 1739, founded by the Reverend Joseph Bellamy. Pastor Bellamy, along with the Reverend Jonathan Edwards led and preached the Great Awakening of 1780, a revival of Christian faith and practice in a time when church participation had waned. Travelling preachers, Edwards and Bellamy journeyed throughout New England and as far as Virginia, calling the faithful to repent of their sinful ways and deepen their faith in Jesus Christ.

Reverend Bellamy, as the founding Pastor of First Church began his Bethlehem preaching in a barn on property adjacent to his home. The first meeting house/church was erected in 1768 on the corner of Main Street. The present Church building dates from 1833. Although he never preached in this building, his pulpit stands at the focal front of the sanctuary. A room in the church narthex is dedicated to some of the relics of Pastor Bellamy’s ministry in Bethlehem.

Reverend Bellamy also began the first Protestant Theological Seminary, mentoring and teaching students, housing them in his own home.  That home is now the museum house located at the top of the Bethlehem Green.  The Bellamy-Ferriday House is open seasonally for tours of the house and gardens.  The present church community continues to expand the original outreach mission of First Church. The legacy of service to the people of Bethlehem has always been the hallmark of First Church’s mission. Through active participation in programming, financial and personal support to those in need, as well as providing a loving, welcoming, and creative atmosphere for town functions, special events, and gatherings, First Church remains a central source of life to our wonderful town and its people.  Wherever you are on life’s journey, whatever your religious and spiritual experience, we celebrate your uniqueness and welcome your gifts.

The First Church has published a history of their church in the book 250 Years of the First Church of Bethlehem. It is an excellent resource full of details and photographs of early Bethlehem. It can be found at the Bethlehem Public Library.