Bethel UMC was founded in 1836 by Jordon Flanders with the Rev. Sumner acting as Presiding Elder. The Flanders family came to Georgia from North Carolina following the Revolutionary War. They settled along the Ohoopee River near Crawford and Jordon's father, Richard, began preaching in his home and under brush arbors. Jordon's father and uncle were killed by Native Americans in 1802. When Jordon was 36, in 1836, he started the Bethel Church, known as the Father of Methodism in Emanuel County. Chess Flanders donated the lumber and Mr. Fulgham sawed the lumber at a water powered mill in Lida. The sanctuary was built with long, wide boards and square nails. The pews are made from boards that are 16 feet long and 15 inches wide. The walls are tongue and groove pine boards and the flooring is made of boards that are 20 feet long and more than 10 inches wide. The windows are made of thick, crinkled glass and they have been replaced due to rot. Jordon Flanders died in 1878 while preaching in the pulpit of Bethel UMC. He is buried in the Flanders Sumner Cemetery three miles away.
Marshal Flanders preached the first sermon in the present church structure.