Guest blog by Caleb Jackson.
On June 16th, 1923, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in the small town of Dollar Bay, a group of 11 Swedish speaking, Finnish immigrants joined hands and committed to one another and to the Lord that, “Should He tarry, that they would hold fast, and live their lives to His glory.”
One hundred years ago, together with witnesses from Calvary Baptist Church in Negaunee, and Felch Baptist Church, this small congregation prayed and committed themselves to the Lord. Then the whole group joined hands and sung, Blest Be the Ties that Bind.
A new local church, a visible representation of the Bride of Christ, Bethany Baptist Church was established. They wouldn’t have probably used the same terms that we do today of “church planting”, but in the truest sense, that was the nature of the beginnings of this fledgling church. For a few years prior to their founding, the Lord wasn’t only preparing hearts in Dollar Bay, but He was sending His messengers.
One of those men, Axel Edwards, came to the area selling subscriptions to Missionsposten magazine, a Swedish Baptist periodical. As he grew to know the people here, the Lord burdened him, he realized that they hadn’t heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Axel preached the gospel, and the people came to know the Lord.
In the last one hundred years, the flock at Bethany Baptist Church has been led by fifteen pastors. There have been ups and downs, unity and conflict, but the resounding assurance that we’ve had every step of the way is that God has been faithful to His people. The Lord has seen fit to use this small church in the far northern reaches of the Keweenaw peninsula for His glory, not only at home, but on 5 of 7 continents. It’s amazing to see the faithfulness of our God as He uses us in our weakness to display the power of His gospel.
On the weekend of June 16, 2023 Bethany Baptist Church, joined by Calvary Baptist Church of Negaunee, as well as Doug Crawford – the executive director of the Bridge Fellowship – gathered together to celebrate God’s Faithfulness. The weekend was full of fun, fellowship, and recounting the faithfulness of our God and King.
My hope and prayer for the church at Bethany, and the church around the world echoes the hearts of those founding members, that should the Lord tarry, that we – as brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ – would hold fast to Jesus, that we would proclaim His Name among the nations, and we would live our lives to His glory.
Caleb Jackson serves as Pastor of Youth & Missions at Bethany Baptist Church in Dollar Bay, MI