The property for the church was purchased on December 10, 1908 by Rev. Walter and Sister Mary Jackson for $25.00. The original name of the church was Missionary Baptist Church of Washington County in the State of Florida. At one time Bay County was part of Washington County. It was changed to Bay County in 1913. The original landmark was across the street in front of the present church. The church was built December 7, 1913 at its present site. The pastor at that time was Reverend P. W. Andrews.
On December 18, 1958 New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church was renovated. The renovated church included parts from the original church building. The land was purchased from Tump and Nina Long by officials from the Church. The officials at the time was Rev. P. L. Glover, Pastor; Sister Lena Jackson, Clerk; Deacons C. C. Brown, J. H. McDonald, Lewis Palmer, J.T. Barnes Sr., J. Henry Williams, Leroy Sims, Motel Wood, C. C. Brown, T. J. Harris, J. T. Barnes Sr., Mozel Nealy Sr., and Fred Jones.
New Bethel has been under the leadership of several ministers, over the 100+ years. The first known minister was Rev. Walter Jackson. Rev. P. W. Andrews in 1913, chairman of the trustees was G. G. Hawkins. Other ministers included, Rev. F. Byrd, Rev. W. M. Gypson, Rev. G. W. Prow, Rev. B. A. Allen, Rev. W. J. Johnson, Rev. D. F. Battles, Rev. W. M. Sutton, Rev. W. M. Jacobs, Rev. Dr. Paul L. Glover, Rev. James Bush, Jr. and Rev. Parnell Smith, Sr.
We have little known history on the early ministers of New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. However, Rev. Glover, Rev. Bush and Rev. Smith accomplishments include the following.
Rev. Paul Glover was called to New Bethel on January 6, 1953 and he served until his death in 1981, over 25 years. Under his pastoral leadership the present church was constructed as well as the education building. Central air and heat was added as well as additional land was purchased. He was married to the former Iola Costella Gray and they had one son, Rev. David Glover. Also under Rev. Paul Glover, the Starlight band was formed, the Jr. Church and the Willing Workers. Rev. Glover ordained several deacons, James T. Barnes, Sr., Rudolph Breland, Fred Jones, Mozel Nealy, Motel Woods, Leroy Sims, Lewis Palmer, Sr., J. H. Wilson, Cause Holmes, and T. J. Harris.
Rev. W. J. Johnson was acting pastor from September 1981 until April 1982 when Rev. James Bush, Jr. was called to serve along with his wife Sister Betty Bush. During Rev. Bush pastoral leadership the church mortgage was paid off and additional land was purchased. Also, the pews were covered and carpet was laid throughout the sanctuary, as well as other renovations. Rev. Bush ordained two deacons, Linward Barnes, Sr., and Robert Barnes. The P. L. Glover Memorial Scholarship was established. Rev. Bush served for 21 years.
Rev. Henry Harper and Rev. Rawlis Leslie served as interim pastors from 2003 to 2004. Through fasting and fervent prayers the Lord heard the Deacons and the New Bethel congregation’s cries and Rev. Parnell Smith, Sr. answered the call to be the next pastor of New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Parnell Smith, Sr. was called to serve along with his wife Sister Donna Smith.
Under Pastor Smith pastoral leadership, the membership has grown from approximately 35 members to over 400 members. He has ordained seven (8) deacons, Victor Dillard, Lewis Meyers, Adrid Johnson, Carlos Thomas, Elwood Bolware, Tyrone Bolware, Larry Johnson, and Johneal Nealy. He has issued two licenses' to preach to Rev. George Hamilton and Rev. William Cromartie. Five (5) Additional properties have been purchased under Pastor Smith leadership a bus Ministry was started, two (2) buses were purchased as well as many other improvements. Bathrooms, dining room renovations were completed, ceiling fans have been installed throughout the church. The church parking lots were paved. Many more ministries have been established, such as: the Asset Ministry, the Broadcast Ministry, the Praise Dance Ministry, the Outreach Ministry, the New Members Ministry and many more. In April 2012 we opened the new Education Building which included, a new pastor study, conference room, mens and women bathroom, secretary/finance office, a storage room, and (6) classrooms.
Through God's grace and tender mercies we will continue our mission, which is to tell the good news of Jesus Christ. His birth, death and resurrection.