JESUP – New Bethel Baptist Church in Altamaha Baptist Association celebrated 100 years of ministry at the morning worship service on Sunday, Jan. 31. Pastor Dennie Waters has been pastor of the church since 1993.
When Waters went to New Bethel the church was struggling to survive with less than a dozen people attending Sunday School. However, Waters began to patiently and lovingly care for the folks in the community. The church began to grow largely through the efforts of Waters’ ministry and due to the efforts of a faithful remnant the doors of the church have remained open to meet the needs of the community.
Waters worked as a machinist in the pulp mill near Jesup until his retirement in 2009, but his devotion to his congregation has been noteworthy.
In 2010 The Christian Index published an article entitled “Waters walking what evangelism conference is talking.” Although New Bethel has been a relatively small church, Waters’ attentiveness to the needs of families in the area propelled the church to experience seasons of significant growth. He was privileged to baptize 19 new converts in both 2008 and 2009.
During his 23 years as pastor Waters has supervised several renovation projects at the church and spent many nights working late to complete a variety of projects.
Through the years New Bethel has also had a ministry to nearby Happy Acres Campground. The church sponsored worship services at the campground at 9 a.m. on Sundays during the camping season and through the years many campers attended the worship services at New Bethel. Consequently, Waters would get to meet people from all over the country.
The Centennial celebration at New Bethel was marked by extraordinary joy and thanksgiving, because the attendance exceeded the church’s expectation. The membership had prayed for an attendance of 100 members and guests, but God answered their prayers by sending between 140-150 people to the special anniversary festivities.
The 100th anniversary service included testimonies and special music by the New Hope Singers and Pastor Waters, who sang “He Touched Me.” Robert Anderson, state missionary for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, presented a commemorative plaque to the church and brought the message.