Bethel UMC was founded in 1830, by Abraham Eason with the assistance of his friend James Tillman. They were among the first settlers in this area. Abraham is also thought to have assisted in the formation of 14 other Methodist churches in this area. It was first called the Crooked Branch Methodist Church as part of the Appling Mission with the South Carolina Conference. Rev. Jeremiah T. Freeman was the first pastor. The first crude building was the first church in Appling County. In 1840, the name was changed to Bethel, "the house of the Lord." In May 1840, Felix Eason organized a Sunday school.
Church services were held once a month until 1960 when a parsonage in
Surrency was bought for the charge and preaching was held twice a month. From the earliest listing in the Annual Conference minutes of individual churches on the circuits in 1919, Bethel has been listed with Surrency. The present church building was built in 1958 and dedicated in August of that year
. At that time, Raiford Tillman was the chairman of the official Board and Malcolm Tillman was the Sunday school superintendent.
There is a written history of the church included in High Fly the Banners
by Rev. Curtis Tillman. Rev. Tillman grew up and entered the ministry from Bethel. He also served as pastor from 1980-1981. The History covers the years 1830-1962.