Bethel Chapel History
In 1908, Ralph Cook, son of an alcoholic father and a devout Roman Catholic mother, committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Later, after hearing the Pentecostal message when it first was preached in Granite City around 1915, he carefully read the Scriptures finding that these things were true. Soon after this, he received the baptism in the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
On Christmas Day 1917, Bro. Cook and his wife, Lena, attended service in a store-front mission. During this service, Bro. Cook was given a vision from God in which he saw a group of people in a natural frame of mind formally worshipping God. Just above this group was another moved by the Holy Spirit in worship. A hand appeared pointing to the upper realm of people and God spoke to him, “This is the way I want my people to worship."
The Cooks went to work heart to heart; and in the spring of 1918, they opened a mission on 19th Street on the second floor above Maggie Moellenbrock’s business.
Bro. Cook often said, “I don’t recall a direct call to preach, but there’s no doubt about my call to pastor.” Not everyone agreed with him on this convection. One woman said, “It’s perfectly absurd to think a young man like you would start a mission.”
Bro. and Sis. Cook were 31 and 27 years old and Eulah was 6 years old when the mission opened with seven committed members. Soon the “Little Upper Room” was overflowing with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and there was not room for the crowds that gathered. Sensing God’s direction toward West Granite, a move was made to the store-front building in the 2000 block of Illinois Avenue in the fall of 1919. Services were held on this location for five years.
God placed his approval upon this congregation in many ways. In one particular incident, a man was mocking as the people were yielding to the effects of the Holy Spirit. He jeered as a woman shook her head under the influence of the Holy Spirit when suddenly his own head began to shake uncontrollably and his blood was slung from one side to the other.
From this group of Pentecostal worshippers, plans were formulated to erect a permanent church building. In a message of tongues and interpretation, the name “Bethel Chapel” came forth as the name for the new church. Bethel Chapel was built at 21st and Dewey Avenue in 1924.
Change Of Leadership
In later years of his pastorate, Bro. Cook began to seriously consider who should be the next pastor of Bethel Chapel and host pastor of Sunset Hill Campground. During campmeeting 1960, he approached Bro. Kenneth and Sis. Vera Brand and said, "I want to speak to you children." When he told them what was on his heart, Sis. Brand immediately replied, "Bro. Cook, I wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole." Her response shocked him and he said, "Why, Daughter? It is a good church." He asked them to promise to pray.
This conversation came as a surprise to Bro. and Sis. Brand even though an unsettling spirit had lay upon them in recent weeks and continued even though they were successfully pasturing the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Paducah, Kentucky. The Brands resigned their church in September 1960 and evangelized for two years. On April 1, 1961 and again in March 1962, while preaching revival services at Bethel Chapel, Bro. Cook approached the pastoral subject.
Bro. and Sis. Brand took care of Bethel Chapel from June 5 until mid-July, 1962 while Bro. Cook was caring for his wife, Sis. Stella, who had complications from a stroke. At the age of 27, Bro. Brand was elected as pastor of Bethel Chapel on July 21, 1962. They pulled their mobile home on the campground on the first day of youth camp to assume the pastoral duties of Bethel Chapel. Sis. Sue Cox (Cole) was the evening speaker and Bro. John W. Sullivan the campmeeting speaker.
Under the leadership of Bro. Brand, Bethel Chapel relocated in 1967. Five acres of land were purchased for $15,000 at 25th and Ohio, Granite City, Illinois. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new church was on Easter Sunday. Six months later, the first service was held at the new location.
Bro. Brand has often said, "Bethel Chapel is a church with great respect for the ministry." He resigned in January 1972, ending 10 years of another successful pastorate. The Brand family left with a burden to give a portion of their ministry to Peru, where they became pastors in Lima.
Bro. Brand and Bethel Chapel tarried before the Lord to know who should be the next pastor. In the meantime, the Lord dealt with Bro. Clifton Galiher of Fairfield, Illinois, while he was in prayer late one night. With bold assurance, he told his wife, "Bessie, we are going to be called to pastor Bethel Chapel." At first, it seemed unreal, but she too began to sense it must be an unction of the Spirit.
A call came from the Bethel Chapel board. Before being told the reason for the call, Bro. Galiher said, "I was expecting you to call." The Galiher family began their ministry at Bethel Chapel in February 1972. In July 1972, Bro. Cook passed away and was buried at the Sunset Hill Cemetery on the first day of campmeeting.
During the course of Bro. Galiher's pastorate, the church debt was paid in full and the mortgage burned. Also, a successful bus ministry and van service for the elderly was started. Bethel Chapel began an extensive addition on the church, including an educational wing and fellowship hall. The church built this on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Passing The Torch
Bro. and Sis. Galiher served the church and camp for 13 years. Their pastorate ended in May 1985. Bro. Galiher says, "Bethel Chapel is a strong church with a good foundation. We consider it a privilege to have raised our children with families who are solid Christians."
After Bro. Galiher's resignation, the Bethel Chapel board contacted Bro. Leon Belt, asking him to meet with them on Easter Sunday, April 17, 1985, to discuss the possibilities of assuming the Bethel Chapel pastorate.
Bro. Belt began pastoral duties May 20, 1985. His wife, Velva, is the granddaughter of Bro. Ralph Cook.
In 2003, Pastor Belt resigned as the pastor of Bethel Chapel. In September 2003, Bro. David and Sis. Ruth Brimm became pastor at the age of 39. Bro. David and Sis. Ruth both were raised in Bethel Chapel. Ruth is the daughter of former pastor Clifton Galiher. They had recently resigned the church they had pastured for 16 years in Vandalia, Ohio.