John Calvin laid the theoretical foundation for the Presbyterian Church. In 1536, at the age of 27, he published his “Institutes of the Christian Religion and thus the sect was formed.”The early Presbyterian Church faced many religious and political struggles as the ministers of that time went about their tasks with a gun in one hand and a hoe in the other, staving off enemies and Indians alike. The original meeting house (circa 1734) was built of logs and of crude construction materials.
The first page of the oldest Session book records our church as “English Presbyterian Congregation of Upper Mt. Bethel organized in 1813. A deed dated June 21, 1823 turned up wherein Valentine and Catherine Stine sold a tract of land containing two acres and 20 perches for $190.00. Later, Squires Hagerman sold a tract for $75.00. These two parcels constituted the church and cemetery. The congregation was incorporated and chartered in the Pennsylvania legislature on January 22, 1839 and signed by the ruling elders and trustees of the time.
In 1880, 36 persons requested certificates of dismissal to form the Portland Presbyterian Church. Throughout the years, both churches grew exponentially and remained active in the communities they were situated in. In 1963 Portland Presbyterian Church and Mt. Bethel Presbyterian Church joined congregations to become Community Presbyterian Church of Mt. Bethel and Portland.
Having outgrown the quaint brick church in Mt. Bethel a search committee was formed to seek a new location and construct a new building. The new church sits on 18 acres of land on Route 611 in Upper Mount Bethel Township.
Built in 2004, the church facility meets all standards for handicapped accessibility. The centerpiece of the facility is the church sanctuary enhanced by original antique stained glass windows brought from the Portland Church during construction in 2004. A second floor balcony is included in the design. The church building includes a dual-purpose fellowship hall/instruction area, a full commercial kitchen, pastor’s office, church office, choir room and handicapped accessible restrooms. A blacktop parking lot includes spaces for 65 vehicles and a walking trail, meant as a place for solitude and reflection, exists in the midst of church-owned woodlands directly behind the sanctuary. Church members oversee the maintenance of the interior of the church and surrounding acreage. Volunteers do much of the work in keeping the grounds neat and attractive.