Description: Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church is a historic African-American congregation. It is located at 801 W. Grand Ave (Hwy 80) in Marshall. The church was established in 1867, making it one of the oldest surviving congregations in Harrison County. It was founded by Rev. A. E. Clemmons, pastor of the white First Baptist Church, and Rev. William Massey, a black religious leader who led 450 persons to form the congregation. Throughout its history, Bethesda's membership has included pastors and members notable not only in Marshall but far beyond. Among the founders was David Abner, who was Harrison County treasurer, state legislator, and delegate to the 1875 Constitutional Convention. Another was Andrew Gross, father of Frederick Gross who became president of Houston College. The congregation also had a leading role in the founding of Bishop College, which was an African-American Baptist institution located in Marshall from 1881-1961. In its beginning the congregation was known simply as "Colored Baptist Church," the name on the deed. When the name was changed, the members chose "Bethesda" to identify with the healing pool of Biblical Jerusalem. During the 1980's, the word "Missionary" was added to reflect denominational affiliation. Bethesda's first dedicated church building was a one-story ...
Contributing Partner: Marshall Public Library