The first edifice devoted to religious
purposes in Bethlehem seems to have been built by the Congregationalist
and Methodists about the year 1825.  It was erected a little east of
the ground on which the Centennial House now stands, and then known
as the common.  The inhabitants, previous to this, had worshipped in
barns, in the school-house, private dwellings--any place, in fact that
could be made use of conveniently.  Shortly after 1830, the Methodists
erected a church of their own, where their present edifice now stands.
This was disheartening to the Congregationalists, who had suffered many
vicissitudes since the establishment of their society, October 15, 1802,
and the result was that in the course of time their church building
became so dilapidated that in 1853 they decide upon resigning it,
and made arrangements with the Methodists to occupy their church,
after needed alterations, upon alternate Sundays, which agreement was
in force until 1865.  Eventually, in 1876, the Congregationalists
decided to erect a new church. The severe vicissitudes to which this
denomination has been subjected, the lack of a church of their own,
and the continual falling off of members by death and otherwise, had
reduced their numbers to such an extend, that in January 1876, there
were but eight members left of the congregation. Two of them were over
seventy years of age, another was unable to attend, and consequently
there were but five members able to assist in the duties of the church.
  In that year, however, these eight and four more, making twelve all
told, came together and resolved to build a church and perfect an
organization.  Isaac F. Cruft, of Boston, owned some land near the
"Street," and he offered to make the society a present of the land
and $150.00 in money if the members would built the church. He also
promised to open a road to the church. The promises he carried out to
the letter. Another gentleman, a former resident of the town, 
Mr. J. Pierce of Littleton, gave $1,000, others signed in smaller
amounts, and the balance was assured by the Home Missionary Society.
George T. Cruft, nephew of Isaac S. Cruft, aided in many ways in laying
the foundation and raising money.  Messrs. Mead, Mason & Co. of Concord,
took the contract for the foundation and building at a cost of
$3,000 and the building was opened for public worship in the summer
of 1877.
  The first Congregational minister ordained here was the Rev.
William Hutchinson on January 27, 1830. He resigned on January 12, 1833.
He was followed by the Rev. Edmund Burt, who was ordained at Franconia,
January 13, 1841, and resigned August 20, 1845. The Rev. 
Daniel McClenning, his successor was ordained April 28, 1852, and
dismissed, at his own request, August 15, 1854, when he was succeeded
by the Rev. Thomas Hall, who commenced his ministration on December 15,
1854. The Rev. Charles W. Richardson and the Rev. Mr. Esty devoted
several years to this congregation at the time when it was without a
regularly ordained preacher.  There is no minister in charge at present.



Sculptures created by Phil R. Contact: