Community Christian Church, first called the Christian Church, is the third oldest congregation in Bethel. The church grew out of the two great movements to restore New Testament Christianity.  On November 3, 1821, Mathew Gardner organized the Bethel Christian Church and served as her first preacher. The first chapel (called the Old House on the Hill) was built on the southeast corner of Charity and Cherry (Hill Street) Streets and the original brick walls are still contained in the residence there. This building was erected shortly after the initial organization, as the deed to the lot is dated September 17, 1823. The trustees of the church purchased this lot for $20 from John Denham.

 

      From 1826 to 1836, 160 persons belonged to the church which dissolved its connection with the Southern Ohio Christian Conference and became connected with the teachings of Walter Scott and Alexander Campbell of the Restoration Movement. Tradition says that Thomas Campbell, Alexander's father himself, visited Bethel on one of his travels. The name " Church of Christ" first appeared in the minutes of the Bethel Church for January 10, 1852, and in August 1852, the name was chosen by the congregation to be filed with the state as an incorporated religious body.  A new chapel was built in 1866-67, on the southeast corner of Plane and East Streets. Elder William Pinkerton and Dr. James Hopple assisted Pastor J. H. Lockwood at the dedication of the new chapel. The cost of the building was $4,100.  Thus we find all Bethel congregations building new Houses of Worship at very nearly the same time--the Baptist in 1853, the Methodist in 1860, and the Church of Christ in 1866.

 

      Between 1950 and 1955, the church engaged in two building programs. During the ministry of Thomas C. Key, an addition was built in 1950 that cost $28,000. The addition included restrooms, a storage room, secretary's office, men's class room, rooms for high school and primary department. A new furnace for the whole building was installed at this time.  James Walters led the church to some of her finest achievements during his period which coincided with tremendous growth in Clermont County and a surge in spiritual interest nationally. The Sunday School often brought more than 700 adults and youth to study. One Easter Sunday saw 1,000 worshipers attend to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  In September 1954, a Bible School addition was built onto the first addition. This was a one story and basement 40' by 70'. The cost of this addition was $50,000. The new building included: a large storage room, a 350-seat dining-recreation hall, two large adult class rooms, and rooms for four Bible School departments. Also included were restrooms and closets for children.  The dedication service was held on August 28, 1955.

 

      A new chapel/sanctuary was built in 1963-1964. Dedicated on April 5, 1964, it was the largest worship center in the community.   Jack Martin came to the pulpit in 1964 bringing an evangelistic spirit that impacted the community. Hundreds made commitments to Jesus Christ during his eight year ministry.  The "Well" was a coffee house style youth center located in the second floor of an old building on the northwest corner of charity and Plane Streets. High school and college students under adult supervision provided recreation, musical entertainment and scripture teaching three nights each week in an attempt to reach the street youth of the community. The building burned in the mid 1970's and the coffee house scene was not replaced.  Dan Pence was called to lead the church in 1973. The congregation continued her emphasis on youth by calling specialized ministers to work full time with children and teens. Teen choirs took tours in the area and a decade later, throughout the eastern part of the nation and into Canada. She continued to send her youth to Christian Camps and Bible Colleges ordaining qualified young men in the ministry. "Solid Rock" was a Wednesday night youth program developed in the '80's and 90's that attracted many children from the community as well as the church.

 

      Now, nearly some 185 years from her humble beginnings, Community Christian Church is once again preparing to build.  In September 2004, fifty acres of land were purchased two miles west of Bethel on SR 125.  Utilities were installed on the property and site development for a new campus is in progress.  What does the future hold for Community Christian?  Only the Lord knows for sure, but if her future is anything like her past, we can count on many more opportunities to change thousands of lives for Christ in the surrounding communities of southeast Clermont County.