A Bethel Love Story
The series, “The God in Me See the God in You,” is an idea that counters some of the separation and isolation we felt during the pandemic by getting to know each another better. In this first episode, we'll hear members share why they love the church, and what keeps them coming back week after week, year after year.
We asked our panelists "Why did you first come to BIUMC and why do you keep coming back?" Their answers tell a friendly story of BIUMC.
I was new to Columbus in late 1984, along with my 2 elementary school aged kids, Joey and Becky. We started church shopping right away and targeted those close to our home. Within a couple months, I had narrowed down the choices to Bethel UMC and Linworth UMC. While I didn’t yet feel a strong connection to either, both had things to offer for all three of us. The deciding factor was a Sunday School teacher at Bethel named Shirley Baker. Fourth grader Joey was rambunctious and didn’t like to sit still and had sometimes been a problem for his Sunday School teacher in Virginia. So when he declared that he liked the Sunday School teacher at Bethel, and agreed he would listen and behave, that clinched the deal. Bethel UMC and Shirley Baker it would be! The next step was for the three of us to become involved and form connections. Becky joined a Children’s Choir and easily made friends. Joey wasn’t much interested in music, but he found two friends, Josh Beale and Eric Peterson. The three boys went to different schools so only saw each other at church. That meant Joey eagerly went to church to be with Josh and Eric. I joined the Disciple Sunday School class and started singing in the adult choir. Because of these connections, we were soon regular attenders.
I came to Bethel because I grew up here. Both of my parents were attending Bethel at the time, so it was natural that I started coming to Bethel. I was baptized here, so it was second nature to attend Bethel, especially as I got older when my mom took over the Children’s Ministry position at Bethel. It wasn’t hard for me to come back each week because of how much our family was involved, and the close connections we had to others attending made it even easier. It was somewhat of a challenge when my mom took a job at Hilliard United Methodist Church, and from about 4th grade into my high school days, my appearances at Bethel were sporadic, but I tried my best to come back as much I as I could. I still come back to this day because of the people involved at Bethel and the memories I have made. It would be hard to ignore the growth and the way Bethel has impacted me.
Maria Mathews & Lisa Robinson
Maria had attended Bethel in years past. We had been praying for guidance in finding a new church home that would be truly accepting of our family. Right about that time Sarah DeWees sent me a message about possibly giving BIUMC a chance. I felt very comfortable, since Sarah already knew our kids and our family make-up, that the kids would be in safe hands to focus on learning about God. We keep coming back because we feel loved and accepted by many members of the church. It is an amazing feeling to feel genuine love in a place of worship, especially with our non-traditional family make up. Too many times in our lives, we have felt judged because of who we love. I, Lisa, did not attend church regularly for 15 years because I was always made to feel like an outcast. And after attending another local church for 5 years, it became apparent that some people were merely tolerating our presence. It is very difficult to find a church where the love feels genuine. But we feel welcomed, wanted and loved at BIUMC.
I started coming to BIUMC when I first moved to Columbus in August 2014. At the time I had two criteria:
- I wanted to look for a church that had a traditional service which was the type I was most familiar with, and
- not too far from where I was living, to make sure that I would show up to church every Sunday.
After my first service at Bethel, I remember Kathy Young introducing herself, welcoming me to Bethel and providing a bag of popcorn as a Bethel thank you for "popping in." I remembered this sense of feeling very welcomed at Bethel and that feeling of being welcomed kept me coming back. A close second were the donuts after Sunday worship!