BONHAM, Texas (KTEN) — Bethlehem Baptist Church is set to celebrate its 151st anniversary this Sunday. The oldest African-American church in Fannin County continues to look to the future for growth and to add to its legacy. 

The congregation's roots in Bonham go all the way back to the 1870s.

"It really is about always staying connected to history," said Senior Pastor Stuart Courtney. "The legacy of this church being founded just six years after slavery — in the house of former slaves — speaks to the confidence, courage and then the dedication to those in the beginning, and those still carrying on their legacy."

Celebrating 151 years is an honor and a great remembrance of how far the church on Franklin Avenue has come to its members. 

"The current membership is always excited about our anniversary celebration because it just speaks to what we took, what the pandemic had, we have taken what the economy and we continue to do ministry," Courtney said.

Joe Dale, a church deacon and a lifelong member of the congregation, put it this way: "It symbolizes where we have been, and the struggles we had to make it to where we are today."