Bethel Lutheran celebrates 100 yearsPublished 10:48am Thursday, October 25, 2012
From its small beginning in 1912, when a small group of people began meeting, Lutheran Brethren Christians felt a strong burden for spiritual revival. This group went on to organize at Bethel Lutheran Church in July 1912 with 11 members, and was accepted into the membership of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren at the 1913 synodical convention.
The congregation rented the First Presbyterian Church and conducted services in Norwegian and English. When the church was destroyed by the 1919 cyclone, Bethel members voted to build their own church on the corner of Cascade and Junius, where the present Somethin’s Brewing and Trendz Hair Lounge is located, which was ready for use by the fall. This new church seated 150 to 200.
When the Lutheran Bible School came to Fergus Falls, the church found the need to expand. The church was sold in 1946, and for several years worship was conducted in the LBS gym. The Bible-seminary building on East Alcott was remodeled and the site served the congregation for the next decade.
In 1956 the synod donated land for a church and parsonage, which was located on the southeast corner of the school campus. The new church served students and faculty of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy and Lutheran Brethren Seminary as well as church members for the next 15 years.
Rapid growth in the 1970s and increased enrollment at LBS, creating the need for more space. In 1979-1980, the present sanctuary, able to seat 600, was built.
In 1999, a large education addition was added on the north side of the building, and in 1912, the entryway was enlarged, which included “the living room” as a hospitality area, along with other areas.
Through the years, the church has stressed Christian education, evangelism, world missions, a fellowship of believers, and expanding its outreach to others through church and personal witness. It has a radio broadcast on Sunday, conducts Bible studies and through cooperative inter-church evangelism. It also includes a daughter congregation, Good Shepherd Lutheran Brethren Church, also located in Fergus Falls.
In keeping with its emphasis on missions, the Church of the Lutheran Brethren recently adopted the Bagirmi people from Chad, Africa, supporting them in prayer and other ways.
The church also supports Inspiration Point Christian Camp and Retreat Center, where people of all ages have come to meet God or accept Christ into their hearts.
Members of the church have also served God through volunteer work and in other capacities at LB Homes.
In 1992, a parish nurse ministry and food ministry was established to coordinate meal delivery to families in crisis or with new additions to their families.
C.J. Bruns served the church in its first years and over the years, 16 pastors have continued to lead the church in its missions and community outreach.
The Rev. David Foss has served as pastor at Bethel Lutheran since 2005. Dr. David Veum, former pastor at the church, serves as president of Lutheran Brethren Seminary and the Rev. Joel Egge is the synodical president.
The Rev. Steven Brue is president of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy and Greg Anderson is the executive director of Inspiration Point Camp. Overseeing LB Homes is John Zwiers.
Assisting Foss, are Bethel staff: Rich Iverson and Ed Monson, associate pastors, Allen Aase, youth pastor, Jenny Mathiesen, children’s director, Erika Lundberg, contemporary worship leader, Krista Newman, office assistant, Amy Cornell, church secretary, and LaWayne Rogness, church administrator. Parish nurses are JoAnn Gundersen and Sandy Edwards.
Present worship services are held at 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m., with Sunday school and adult ministry at 9:30 a.m. For more information about the church or its missions, call 736-5654.