Bethlehem Lutheran Church


History of Bethlehem Lutheran Church 1985 to 1990

  • 1985 In 1985, the Search Bible Study program was organized and run in semester-like segments over a three-year period. Bethlehem had five active circles. The church women held their successful and entertaining Christmas luncheon under the leadership of Betty Slattengren. The women sponsored a Lenten tea in February, a mother/daughter dinner in May, a Thank-offering service in November, and a Yule Fest in December. The women of the church also made their famous lefse for the annual bazaar, and voted to give a $50 gift to any student attending a Lutheran College. In May 1985, the men organized and served a “Thank God for Ladies” night at Bethlehem; it was a time of fun, fellowship, and appreciation with men cooking and serving dinner.
  • 1986 In 1986, Jeff Eckstrom and Reg Southerton agreed to take over the clinic property books. LuAnn Sletten asked to step down as Youth Director, and Kathy Nelson and Scott Norr replaced her. A successful Bible school was held for 75 children, with 25 adults and teenagers helping. Steve Hall became the new leader of Troop 84, and Ed Rote received a Certificate of Charter that was hung in the church. An Accessibility Committee was formed, and members of the committee met to discuss ways to meet the goal of church accessibility. Church youth beganattending Youth Days at Concordia College.
  • 1987 In 1987, ACT sponsored a community men’s Bible study on Tuesday nights at St. Rose, and a Sunday morning Bible study began again at Bethlehem. The new church merger became effective in 1987. The merger joined the Lutheran Church in America and the AmericanLutheran Church into one body known collectivelyas the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Pastor Dirksen announced his retirement in August 1987, and the congregation gave him a farewell retirement party on August 30. A call committee was elected to hire a new pastor. In December 1987, the call committee recommended that Pastor Jeffrey Holter be called to Bethlehem, and his call was accepted.
  • 1988 Pastor Holter was welcomed in March 1988 with his first service on Palm Sunday. After finishing their initial duties, members of the call committee became the Mutual Ministry Committee. This committee was formed to act as a liaison between the pastor and the congregation,and to make quarterly reports to the council. The Mutual Ministry Committee became a permanent body at Bethlehem.New carpet was installed in the church in 1988,the phone system was upgraded, and ceiling fans were installed. In May 1988, changes were needed to meet fire code regulations. The church council suggested incorporating those changes with accessibility. The Building and GroundsCommittee was authorized to hire an architect to provide the council with feasible options that included the needed changes and addressed the issues of accessibility, without limiting future expansion. New pew racks were installed, and new windows and a door were installed in the King’s Kids room in order to meet fire code regulations. In July 1988, the Education Committee proposed adding a third year to confirmation. The third year was intended to be a “growth area” in which church attendance and involvement in church activities were stressed.Council approved adding a third year. Boy Scout Troop 84 posted a new plaque honoring all of the Eagle Scouts. The Koinonia Club which had been dissolved was reorganized. During October and November, seven members of Bethlehem trained to become part of “Earthen Vessels.” The focus of this lay ministry was to share the love of God in a non-judgmental way, and to assist the minister when needed. On October 23, 1988 Bethlehem celebrated its 80th anniversary. In December 1988, members agreed there needed to be more emphasis on accessibility, and the installation of a screw type elevator was explored. It was later determined that a medical lift was not feasible for our church, but that something needed to be started by summer.
  • 1989 1989 would be the year of the elevator. Another meeting was set up with the architect to determine how to proceed; plans were changed and the task force opted for an elevator at a cost of $120,000. Architectural plans still noted the installation of a ramp as a possibility. In 1989, communion was changed to a continuous table using two lines. The youth group changed their name to ROCK (Reaching Out for Christ’s Kingdom). A task force was selected to write a new constitution which was the first change to the constitution in 25 years. Camp Vermilion and Camp Hiawatha became one corporation. Bethlehem began sponsoring Chili lunch Sunday in order to help offset the cost of campers going to camp. Ruth Larson retired as church organist after 20 years. A joint council meeting with Immanuel Lutheran Church was attended in May 1989 by several Bethlehem council members. The two councils met to explore a vision of shared ministry in the Proctor area. Talks continued for several months regarding a merger and shared confirmation. This was a time of critical financial problems at Bethlehem, and Immanuel was going through their own crisis.
  • 1990 Beginning in June 1990, the fourth Sunday of the month was designated as alternative worship service. Susannah Circle organized a nursery forsmall children for use during services.Improvements were made to the church building including, a new roof, space heaters, and new entry doors. The kitchen was upgraded and remodeled.