Bethesda: A Brief History Since 1907
On March 29, 1907, Bethesda began with 23 members without a church building. They met in members’ homes until 1915 when they purchased a building at Fourth and Irving. This church building had been built in 1915 by Congregationalists and due to its unique steeple design was known as the “toothpick church.” At this time Bethesda was part of a four point parish including Chippewa Lutheran of Brandon, Lands Lutheran of Hoffman, and Trinity Lutheran of Ashby. The first pastor was Rev. Chris Ytrehus serving from 1907-1909. Services were held in Norwegian until 1928 at which time it was decided to rotate between English and Norwegian.
In 1954, land was purchased on the north side of Alexandria and a parsonage was built: total cost was $12,000. In 1957, a parish education building was constructed for $48,000 and used for worship until 1972, when the round sanctuary was completed. In the early 1960s, Bethesda affiliated with the newly created American Lutheran Church and partnered with Our Savior’s in Nelson.
In 1980, needing more room, an education annex was built at the west end of the fellowship hall. In 1990 the congregation added Sunday School rooms, offices, a family room and remodeled the fellowship hall and kitchen. We celebrated our 100th anniversary in 2007. In 2012 the family room, offices, restrooms and fellowship hall were updated with new furniture, fixtures and carpet throughout.
Since 1907, Bethesda has had 43 different pastors serve the congregation. Membership at Bethesda has changed through the years . . . starting at 23 in 1907, and currently having around 500 baptized members and 225 households.
There are a lot of things going on at Bethesda and we happily celebrated Pr. Jerry Lanes’ first year anniversary with us on September 1, 2013.
|1914-1919||John S. Paulson|
|1919||L. T. Hanson (Interim)|
|1921-1924||H. A. B. Winther|
|1924-1925||O. M. Bakke|
|1925-1929||John A. Peterson|
|1936-1937||H. A. B. Winther (Temporary)|
|1937-1948||L. B. Sateren|
|1954-1959||Calvin J. Storley|
|1959||Earl A. Dreyer|
|1959-1964||James A. Schwarz|
|1968-1969||William Bigott (Interim)|
|Vernon Holte (Assistant)|
|1974||Brad Stienstra (Summer)|
|1975||Philip F. Strain (Summer)|
|1976-1980||Herbert Malm (Emeritus)|
|1979-1986||Magnus “Bud” Peterson|
|1979-1980||Stephen C. Norby (Intern)|
|1980-1981||David E. Nelson (Intern)|
|1981-1982||Lawrence D. Becker (Intern)|
|1982-1986||David E. Nelson|
|1986||Irvin Tweet (Interim)|
|1986||Elmer Anholt (Interim)|
|1986||Paul Trenne (Assistant)|
|1986||Daniel E. Zielski (Interim)|
|1986-1992||Karen Soli (Team Pastor)|
|1986-1990||Paul Swenson (Team Pastor)|
|1990-1991||Roger C. Claxton (Half-time Interim)|
|1991||Truman Daniels (Interim)|
|1992-1993||Bill Simpson (Interim)|
|1992-Present||Neal Olson (Visitation)|
|1993-2004||Peter J. Martinson|
|1999-2000||Theodore Carlson (Visitation)|
|2000-2008||Marilee J. Bergerson|
|2009-2011||Don Reisig (Interim)|