Bethlehem Methodist Church

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The Bethlehem Methodist Church of Dolomite on Warrior River Road in Hueytown is the oldest Methodist church in Alabama. It was founded in the area called Possum Valley in what was then the Alabama Territory in 1818 by missionaries led by the Reverend Ebenezer Hearn from Tennessee. It first met in a one-room log cabin donated by James Rutledge and built by slaves. One belonging to Rutledge, named Adam, hewed the logs by hand. The first pastor was the Rev. James Tarrant.

The logs were re-used in the floor structure when the church building was rebuilt in 1890. The building was raised eight feet in 1954, when Warrior River Road was widened to four lanes.

The church maintains a pair of cemeteries - one alongside the church and one across the road. Notable burials include Mortimer Jordan and Moses Fields.

In 1993, the membership was dwindling, but the church was able to absorb congregations from three other declining churches, Cottage Hill Methodist Church, Midfield Methodist Church, and Forest Hills Methodist Church. The current enrollment stands just over 150, with about one third of those attending on any given Sunday. The current pastor is Timothy New II, who succeeded Ivan Trusler III in 2010.

After many years in unincorporated Jefferson County, the church was annexed into Hueytown in 2006.

Cemetery

The Bethlehem Methodist Church Cemetery was established in 1818, due in part from a donation of land by James Rutledge. Rutledge and his family are buried in this cemetery. The earliest marked gravestone in the cemetery belongs to Martha Rose Sadler Rutledge, who was born January 18, 1794 and died May 1, 1829. Other notable burials include James Tarrant, Mortimer Jordan and Isaac Sadler.

The cemetery's "Decoration Day," when descendants pay respects to their deceased family members, is held on the fourth Saturday in May.

References