Bethel Church was founded in 1837 on land granted by Chief Gazela by Pastor JL Dohne of the Berlin Missionary Society, whose members were the first group of whites to settle in the area. The early years were marred by the unrest that accompanied the various frontier wars. The church was destroyed three times – and rebuilt twice by Dohne’s successor Pastor A. Kropf – before the consecration of the present church building in 1865. Interestingly, Kropf was chief translator of the Bible into Xhosa, published in 1887-89 and he also compiled a Xhosa-English dictionary published in 1899, a copy of which was recently acquired by the Stutterheim Historical Society and is on display in the library. One of the dilapidated outbuildings is the school – where Pastor Kropf is thought to have started teaching the Xhosa people to read the Bible in their own language. No nails were used in its construction and the roof beams are lashed together with thongs.
The Bethel Mission complex consists of the church, cemetery, school, Rectory and the old Rectory and there is much involvement in community development activities.