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Bethel Baptist Church was built in 1926 and served as the meeting place of many civil rights activists during the 1950s and 1960s. It also endured many attacks by angry whites during those same years. The most notorious of those attacks involved a series of bombings that led to the destruction of the parsonage that was home to Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. Today, Bethel Baptist church stands as a Civil Rights Historic Site and has regular use. Right next door to Bethel Baptist church marks the home of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. Although his house was bombed and currently not erect, this historic site is still commemorated and marked.

  • Built in 1929, the old Bethel Baptist Church is one of the most important sites of the Civil Rights movement.
  • On Dec 25, 1956, Fred Shuttlesworth and his family survived an explosion when white supremacists attempted to destroy the parsonage.
  • J.B. Stoner
The church buildings were bombed on three separate occasions, first on December 25, 1956, again on June 29, 1958, and lastly on December 14, 1962. The first attack destroyed the parsonage, which was then located on the west-side of the church and nearly killed Reverend Shuttlesworth and his family. He and several hundred members of the church led a protest against the city's segregated busses the very next

The 1958 bombing of the church was at the hands of the segregationist from Georgia, J.B. Stoner (4).  Stoner was arrested in 1977 (5) and found guilty of this bombing in 1980, and although it was believed he was involved in many other attacks, he was not convicted of them (4).  He was sentenced to 10 years in jail but only remained there for 3.5 of those years.  Stoner was a passionate segregationist not only speaking against African Americans but also Jews.  He reestablished a section of the Ku Klux Klan in Chattanooga, Tennessee and was the leader of the National States Rights Party. He passed away from pneumonia in 2005 still holding on to his segregationist beliefs (5).

"Church History of Bethel Baptist Church, Collegeville." Bethel Baptist Church. Accessed May 3, 2014.

Salvatore, Susan C. "Bethel Baptist Church, Parsonage, and Guardhouse." National Park Service - National Historic Landmark Nomination Form. November 13, 1996.

(4)"J.B. Stoner, 81, Fervent Racist and Benchmark for Extremism, Dies." New York Times. Accessed September 18, 2017.

(5) "Virulent Segregationist J.B. Stoner Dies." The Washington Post. Accessed September 18, 2017.