Bethlehem's History 1954-1978

Pastor H. E. Bentrup accepted a call to Elk River, Minnesota and left in June 1955.

Pastor Berthold Hein of Hancock, Minnesota was installed on October 2, 1955. In December of that year the starting time of the English services was set at 9:30 a.m. and it has remained at 9:30 to this day. The communion rail was made and installed by Mr. William Jans. Poor health forced Pastor Hein to resign on October 15, 1956. At this time it was decided not to have any more services in the German language.

Pastor Martin F. Rische of Mayer, Minnesota was installed on July 28, 1957. His Pastorate was cut short by his death on March 18th of the following year.

Pastor Werner C. Barlau of Lester Prairie, Minnesota was installed in October of 1959. He wasn't a stranger to Bethlehem as he had filled the vacancy pastor's duties after Pastor Hein's resignation and again after Pastor Rische's death.

The stained glass windows were releaded. In 1965 new shingles were put on the church building. Smoke damage necessitated a new interior paint job in 1966.

The cemetery fund was started in 1966 to provide funds for the perpetual upkeep of the cemetery. It's nice to know that no matter what happens to our church the cemetery grounds will be maintained for years to follow. Pastor W. C. Barlau accepted a call to Elgin, Minnesota in October of 1966, leaving a vacancy until June of 1968. This was the longest period of time that Bethlehem was without a full time pastor.

In June of 1968 Pastor David A. Likeness accepted our call from the seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He was installed on July 28, 1968.

The very popular Ebenezer Thank Offering, collected all year long in 1967 on birthdays, brought in $3,192 for missions. Prior to Pastor Likeness' coming extensive repairs were made to the parsonage, necessary in part, because of vandalism which occurred while the parsonage was empty.

The ladies aid purchased gold carpeting for the altar area and aisle in the spring of 1969. The chimney was shortened. In July of 1969 the Cascade Pictures of California, Inc. came with their TV motion picture camera to film a commercial for Land O' Lakes Ice Cream Company. Many of our members were seen on TV in this commercial.

In April 1972 Pastor Likeness accepted a call to Washington, Illinois where he preached at Our Savior Lutheran Church. Pastor James Shears, from the seminary, accepted our call and was installed on July 23, 1972. At this time the north porch of the parsonage was remodeled. The church steeple was fixed and new siding was put on the bell tower. In February 1974 the constitution of our church was revised and clarified. Also while Pastor Shears was here, Vacation Bible School was started.

The parsonage was insulated, the cemetery fence was removed and a projector and loud speaker system was purchased.

Pastor Shears resigned in May of 1976 to go into the chaplaincy of the United States. Pastor Ronald Stehr of Immanuel, Silver Creek filled the vacancy.

Pastor Allen Mack was installed on December 5, 1976. Pastor Mack conducted a number of Bible classes during the week both in English and German. In preparation for centennial celebration the church floor and pews were refinished. Donald Woolhouse put new north steps in. Our first cookbook, "Recipes from Bethlehem," was produced with Pastor Mack doing much of the printing and binding.

The 100th Anniversary (Centennial) of Bethlehem was celebrated on Sunday, August 13, 1978. Rev. David Likeness (Washington, Illinois) was the guest speaker for the morning worship service. This was followed by a centennial dinner, reminiscing program, and German hymn sing. An evening service at 8:00 p.m. featured guest speaker, Rev. James Shears (Powell, Tennessee).