History of Bethlehem (Union) Church

Bethlehem Presbyterian Church was organized by a commission of Concord Presbytery in the year 1832, and was received into Presbytery and enrolled at the fall meeting at Unity Church, October 3rd, of the same year.

This article on the History of Bethlehem Presbyterian from 1832-1942 is part of a typed history, unsigned, on file in the Historical Foundation, Montreat, NC. Submitted by Miriam Clontz Williams. (Miriam found a copy of this article in the Ray Clontz Family Bible; Ray Clontz is the father of Miriam.)

Its name was changed from Union to Bethlehem by the Presbytery at Providence Church, April 9, 1852. It was transferred from Concord Presbytery to Mecklenburg at the time of the Organization of the latter in 1869. No record has yet been discovered covering the history of the church from 1832 to 1849, a period of seventeen years. For some years, probably about eighteen, its location was near the spot now marked by the old Union cemetery near the Henry Long or Doc Long place, a mile or so east of Brief.

About 1850, the building here was sold to Henry Long, who used it in making a barn and other out buildings. A new building was erected on the Concord Road, on the south side of Duck Creek, in the Clontz settlement, where there are now a few graves. Among those who were active in rebuilding were: Kern Long, George Long, John Henry Long, and D. B. Culberson. The organization remained here until 1894, and was then moved to its present site and the present building erected. Those most actively connected with its removal to the present site and its rebuilding were: Rev. Jonas Barkely, Dr. James A. Austin, I.C. Long, Green Russell, W.W. Duncan, Andrew Crowell, C.W. Long, R.W. Long, J.A. Long, and others.

CGS, XXVI, 4 p.73 (Spring 1990)

1832 – 1942

October 3, 1832

“A petition was received from Union Church in Mecklenburg County, requesting that inasmuch as they have been regularly organized, according to the usage of the Presbyterian Church, by the ordination of four Ruling Elders, and consist of twenty five members and a number of persons who are willing to support the Gospel; they be received and recognized as a church under the care of this Presbytery. Whereupon resolved that said Church be, and it is hereby received under our care. Mr. N.H. Craig, a Ruling Elder duly authenticated to act as the representative of said church, being present, was enrolled and took his seat as a member of Presbytery.”

Records of Concord Presbytery, Volume 1825-1836, p. 6-7, in second part of the volume

Note—This is the first mention we find of this church in the records of Presbytery, and no actual date of organization is given.

April 9, 1852

“A request was laid before Presbytery asking that the name of Union Church might be changed to that of Bethlehem. This request was granted.”

Records of Concord Presbytery, volume 1847-1854, p. 609

In the Session Record of Bethlehem Church, volume 1894-1924, p. 3, we find the following entries:

“The Register of Deacons…Jas. A. Austin, when ordained or installed March 26th, 1893. The Register of Elders…James A. Austin, Oct. 1900 Dismissed to 2nd ch Charlotte 1902.”

In the same volume, p. 175, we find that James A. Austin was received as member Sept. 1, 1891 and dismissed 1902.


The Historical Foundation, Montreat, N.C. July 30, 1942. The date of the purchase of Communion Set is not known