Bethlehem Lutheran Church


History of Bethlehem Lutheran Church 1968 to 1978

History 1968 to 1978

  • 1968 Pastor Groettum accepted a call to Detroit, Michigan in 1968. A special meeting was called to elect a call committee. Pastor Pederson, who had retired from Our Savior’s, was called to serve as interim pastor for the next nine months.  
  • 1969 In April 1969, Reverend Leland Steen was installed as pastor at Bethlehem. Plans were made for the first pictorial directory. A couple’s club was formed for younger couples, coffee after church was started to encourage members to become better acquainted, and a folding machine was purchased for the church secretary at a cost of $283. Sunday school was becoming crowded and discussions about installing dividers for the church basement began. Mrs. Esther Magnuson resigned as the church organist, and Mrs. Ruth Larson took her place. In September 1969, the congregation consisted of 626 baptized members, 207 families, and 115 single individuals.
  • 1970 The Koinonia Klub was formed in 1970, and the House of Bread singing group was organized and directed by Pastor Steen. This active and popular singing group was formed from the Bethlehem Youth Group, but it also had members from other Proctor churches. A chapel choir, children’s choir, several trios, and other singing groups were also active. A supervised nursery was established in 1970,
  • 1971 a library was set up in the church basement in 1971. The parking lot was blacktopped in 1971 at a cost of $4,219.60 with a sealer later applied for $250. Bethlehem signed an agreement with Bay View School allowing the school to use the church as a bomb shelter in the event of a bomb scare. Bethlehem was listed in directories that were placed in area hotels and motels.
  • 1972 Changes continued from 1972-1975. The age for council members was changed from 21 to 18, and children were brought to the altar for blessing during communion. Children continued to be enthusiastic about attending Camp Vermillion. Bethlehem sent 18 youth to camp, and a full-time camp director was hired.
  • 1973 New carpeting was ordered and March 25, 1973 was designated as “Carpet Fund Day.” Women of the church served at wedding receptions and a closet for serving supplies was built adjacent to the basement stage. The Key 73 program was started in 1973 with an emphasis on effective witnessing in the community. This program involved 70 other area churches and climaxed with the Leighton Ford Outreach in November.
  • 1974 Bible study classes began at Hillside Gardens in 1974 with Don Norr as the leader. Bethlehem became involved in the World Mission Appeal. Lutheran Social Services was in need of a new building for Bethany Treatment Center, and area churches were asked to make a priority of supporting this effort; Bethlehem committed to that project. The age to receive communion was lowered to 8th grade, and Betty Slattengren was chosen as the new choir director.
  • 1975 Hanging lights were installed in the sanctuary in 1975 at a cost of $3,000, and lay readers were first used at Sunday services. Lenten skits were introduced under Ruth Steen’s direction, and flowers were presented to new members. In December 1975, Pastor Steen resigned to accept a call in Rockford, Illinois. The call took effect in 30 days, and Pastor Steen’s resignation from Bethlehem was accepted with regrets.
  • 1976 Reverend S. Jerome Elness was installed in May 1976. Counseling sessions on marriage and baptism were initiated. A family festival was held in October 1976 and again in 1977. Mary Towers became the new church secretary in April after Carole Gerjets resigned. There was a great deal of discussion about making the church larger and accessible but plans were abandoned.
  • 1977 Birchwood dividers were installed in the basement in 1977 in order to separate the Sunday school classes. The cost for this project was $24,000. Worship services were initiated at Railview Apartments on Wednesdays.
  • 1978 In 1978, Bethlehem members manned a booth at the Proctor Fair. The purpose of the booth was for members to hand out New Testaments and tracts. The fair booth continued for several years with members volunteering their time. Ruth Larson resigned as organist and Betty Slattengren replaced her. The organ was moved to the balcony, and the choir moved to the upper left choir loft.