Restored church dedicating bell

Bethel AME celebrates restoration of the oldest house of worship in Chico

Bethel AME bell tower.

Bethel AME Church will celebrate the first phase of its renovation Saturday morning (March 13) with a public dedication of the bell in its new tower.

The oldest church in Chico, under the auspices of the African Methodist Episcopal denomination, Bethel AME Church was built in 1867 and moved twice. It’s been at Linden and East Ninth streets since 1956. The original tower and steeple got lost during relocation, but the bell—known as “Lizzie”—has been kept safe at Trinity Methodist Church, where it was displayed until being returned to Bethel AME in December (see “Church bell returns”).

Through a fund at the North Valley Community Foundation, Bethel AME raised over $100,000 to rebuild the bell tower per historic plans and repair other elements of the main building, such as the roof and flooring. The church plans to continue renovations. Saturday’s ceremony, at 10:30 a.m., will recognize community partners who donated construction labor and materials, as well as donors.

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