After trying Rock City Church, we decided to aim for something a little more traditional and mainline. So we visited Bethel International United Methodist Church in Columbus.
Bethel International UMC is an interesting church because it has worship services in more than one language. Every Sunday there are two worship services in English: a traditional service at 9 and a contemporary service at 11. But there is also a worship service in Korean at 11 and another worship service in Nepalese at 1. Korean services are held Monday through Thursday at 7 am. An international service is held on Fridays at 7 p.m. following a fellowship dinner.
With all these different services, the church stresses diversity and acceptance. After Rock City Church, I found this a refreshing change. There are many ways for the different congregations at Bethel International to mingle with lots of small groups. Most of these small groups meet outside of Sunday morning, giving me the impression that there is always something going on at Bethel. Another ministry that appeals to the younger crowd is the Upward sports ministry with basketball and cheerleading in the winter.
When we visited we entered the main entrance, following several Korean families. Rev. Miran Lee directed us to the Family Life Center for the contemporary service. Because the Family Life Center is at the other end of the building, the two services do not conflict with one another. They have separate ministers, music teams, and worship leaders.
The contemporary service featured an excellent praise band and praise choir led by Mark Fox. Rev. John Henderson, the Young Adult Pastor, served as worship leader. We enjoyed the music very much. It wasn’t too loud or too flashy, and it was easy to sing along with the praise choir. The Christmas decorations were beautiful and understated. The church’s senior pastor, Rev. Mike Pratt, preached on Joseph. The sermon was thoughtful with things to think about through the week. Rev. Pratt’s style is very conversational. We took communion by intinction to finish the service.
After the service people were stationed by a welcome center and Rev. Henderson stood by the back door. About a week later I got a nice handwritten card from Rev. Pratt and a gift card for $5 to Dunkin Donuts. It was a nice bonus for a first time visitor and a good way to encourage us to attend again.
Bethel International Church recently celebrated its 175th anniversary. That’s a long time for a church! They started out as a country church adjacent to the new railroad tracks in 1842. Now they have a sanctuary that can seat 200 and the Family Life Center which can be used for sporting events or for worship that seats 350. In 2011 they added the Korean ministries and changed the name of the church to Bethel International. Currently the Sunday services have an average attendance of 350 but the church has set a goal of having 500 in worship each Sunday by 2020. They are working on growing through their outreach ministries. It might be an old church but it has a young heart for Jesus.
We really enjoyed our Sunday at Bethel International United Methodist Church and plan to return again soon.