In 1840, pioneer missionary pastor Isaac Reed started Bethel Church at Reed Settlement, about two miles west of Clayton. Reed’s Settlement was one of the earliest Anglo communities to be established in Panola County, and at the time, Mexico only permitted residents to practice Catholicism. Reed was one of the first Baptist ministers in the state, and his Panola County church was the second Baptist church to be founded in Texas. Church membership was composed of the settlers and their slaves. Bethel Church continued in the area until Reconstruction and in the 1870's most of the white residents moved southeast and erected a new church in Clayton. They left the Reed Settlement Church house to the African-American members that stayed. Today that church is known as Old Bethel Baptist Church. "On Saturday before the fourth Lord's Day in September 1843," Reed officially organized the Old Bethel Church in his home."
The church was moved in 1874 to its present location and a new building was dedicated on Sunday, April 10, 2018. Today Bethel fellowships with the Mt. Olive Baptist Association, the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas, and the Baptist Missionary Association of America.