South Bethel Church: The "Oldest" Parish in Cedar County
South Bethel was the longest continuously operating Methodist church west of the Mississippi until the last service, held Thanksgiving weekend 2008. The parish was organized by Col. Henry Hardman, one of Cedar County's first settlers. Col. Hardman and his family plus four others made up the parish, founded July 12, 1837. Within a few weeks, membership had increased to 10, including Washington Rigby, who lived 12 miles to the northwest (at Red Oak), yet never missed a service.
For six years services were held in the Hardman home. They were on the Methodist "Rockingham" circuit, which was about 200 miles - from the mouth of the Iowa River on the Mississippi to the Wapsipinicon in the north, and "as far into the interior as any white settlers were to be found." On these circuits up to 300 people came to hear the Word when the minister was preaching. The church itself was built in 1856, nearly 20 years after the parish formed. The church bell (which is no longer in the tower due to safety concerns) was originally from the Moneeka church in the northwest corner of Farmington Township in southeast Cedar County. Charles Gabriel, who went on to write between 7,000-8,000 hymns, grew up in the Moneeka church.
In the future, the South Bethel church will be available for weddings, funerals, and non-denominational church services.
Make South Bethel the Venue for Your Event
The non-refundable fee for renting the church is $200 per day with a $50 per hour additional fee for set up and clean up taking place the day before the event or after the event. There is also a refundable $75 deposit that will be returned upon confirmation the church and grounds have been left clean and undamaged.
Sunday School Room to the side of the Sanctuary
Handicapped Parking Space
Please contact Sandy Harmel at 563.886.2899 for additional information and to make reservations.