Bethlehem Lutheran Church


History of Bethlehem Lutheran Church 1948 to 1967

Bethlehem Grows

  • 1948 In October 1948, Bethlehem’s congregation observed its 40th anniversary with a one-day jubilee.
  • 1952 Pastor Blikstad re-submitted his resignation in November 1952. During a special farewell in January 1953 a free-will offering was held, and Pastor and Mrs. Blikstad were presented with a new Pontiac. It became evident during Pastor Blikstad’s last years that there was a need for a larger church as the congregation was growing.
  • 1953 A special meeting of the trustees was held in October 1953 to decide on one of three options: build a balcony in the present church, expand the present building, or build a new church. The decision to build a new church was made, and a building committee with Ole and Arne Fossum serving as co-chairmen was selected. The church purchased 3.6 acres north of 7th Street for $2,000. Architectural plans for the church were presented and approved. The women of the church were asked to assist the architect in planning the kitchen.
  • 1954 Ground for the new church was broken in September 1954 following a fund-raising drive. Construction was done with a lot of donated labor under professional supervision. A special Sunday service was held in the old church in May 1954 when Dwight Ellefson, son of Bethlehem,was ordained into the ministry.
  • 1955 The cornerstone of the new church was laid on September 25, 1955. A copper tube was placed behind the cornerstone, and it contained a current membership list, a bulletin of the day, a list of building committee members and present church officers, a history of the church from 1908 to 1955, and a souvenir shovel from the ground-breaking. Pastor James O. Pederson from Our Savior’s officiated at the ceremony along with Pastor Christian. Construction on the church continued under the Fossum Brothers supervision. The first worship service in the new church was held on Christmas Day 1955.
  • 1956 Pastor Christian tendered his letter of resignation in February 1956 to accept a call to organize a new congregation in California. Seminarian, Herbert Groettum, served the church during the summer. Pastor Elof Nelson accepted a call to Bethlehem in September 1956. Two goals were set in 1956, to obtain a full-time janitor, and to dispose of the old church building. Ralph Fleischer offered to buy the old church and in partial exchange of $50 a month, agreed to take care of the janitorial duties. The selling price of the old church was $2,500. In June 1956, after only 11 months at Bethlehem, Pastor Nelson resigned to enter a new profession in psychiatric counseling.
  • 1957 Pastor Wayne Moquin was called in September 1957. Many changes took place at Bethlehem as we became part of the American Lutheran Church. A new liturgy was put into use, a new constitution was written to coincide with the merged Lutheran churches, and new hymnals were used. Bethlehem took an agreement to participate in buying a Bible Camp on Lake Vermillion. Morris Sorenson represented the congregation.
  • 1958 In October 1958, an afternoon service celebrated the 50th anniversary of Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
  • 1959 Pastor Moquin submitted his resignation in January 1959, and Pastor Herbert Groettum took over the duties in May 1959. A secretary was hired and paid with special pledges. The secretarial position later became salaried, and Dorothy Peterson was Bethlehem’s first official secretary.Greeters were established and the YES program was adopted for youth. The Parish Profile began with Marie Holmstrand as the editor. The Parish Profile was published twice a month for the first two years, and published monthly later on.
  • 1960 The Canyon church was no longer associated with Bethlehem. Improvements were made to the new church. The basement floor was tiled, the furnace was changed from oil/coal combination to natural gas, a hand-operated mimeograph machine was purchased to aid the secretary, and a neck mike was purchased for the pastor. Organizations included Men’s Brotherhood, five circles for women, and the Young Mother’s Cradle Roll, which provided activities for young children.
  • 1962 The first Yule Fest was held in December 1962 with music by the church choirs and other groups. Yule Fest included a congregational sing-along, and coffee and Christmas goodies followed the program. Yule Fest became an annual kickoff to the Christmas season.
  • 1963 The congregation invested in stained glass windows beginning in 1963 because the sunlight that was coming through the clear windows was damaging the pews. Some of the stained glass windows were promised by Christmas of that year. The Golden Age Corporation showed sketches of Hillside Gardens which was to be built on land donated by Bethlehem. In 1963, the old parsonage was appraised at $9,800, and bids were requested for the building of a new parsonage next to the new church. Fossum Brothers bid on the construction project and their bid of $28,361 was accepted. A loan with 5½ % interest over a 20-year period was taken out. Payments on the loan were $200 a month, and the old parsonage was put up for sale.
  • 1964 The congregation welcomed the burning of the paid church mortgage on May 17, 1964 with a special ceremony.
  • 1965 Laymen assisted with communion for the first time in 1965. Additional stained glass windows were added and paid for with memorial funds. A dedication of the stained glass windows was held on May 1, 1966. Youth remained active in Luther League, and six leaguers and two counselors were sent to the Luther League convention in Detroit.The old parsonage which is the corner house located across 3rd Avenue from the present church was sold for $9,858 in 1966. The Bethel Bible series was adopted and training began for leaders. Two new pianos were purchased, one for the balcony and one for the front of the church. The sanctuary and the entire outside of the church were spruced up and repainted.
  • 1967 On July 15, 1967 Hillside Gardens, a 45-unit senior citizen rental unit, was ready for occupancy. A 20-foot easement was allowed for the new Hillside Gardens driveway which was to be blacktopped and maintained by the apartment managers. The cost of the building, $692,000, was financed by the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. This building filled a housing void in Proctor for seniors age 62 and older. Apartment rentals were $65 - $115 per month. Bethlehem member, George Molstad, headed the Golden Age Corporation which was the developing group.