Our History

Bethesda: A Brief History Since 1907

structureOn 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.

Bethesda’s Pastors:

1907-1909 Chris Ytrehus
1909-1911 Peter Eidsaa
1911-1914 O. Dahle
1914-1919 John S. Paulson
1919 L. T. Hanson (Interim)
1919-1921 E. Christianson
1921-1924 H. A. B. Winther
1924-1925 O. M. Bakke
1925-1929 John A. Peterson
1929-1936 Rudolph Larson
1936-1937 H. A. B. Winther (Temporary)
1937-1948 L. B. Sateren
1949-1953 Sigrud Berg
1953-1955 Burton Hushagen
1954-1959 Calvin J. Storley
1959 Earl A. Dreyer
1959-1964 James A. Schwarz
1968-1969 William Bigott (Interim)
Vernon Holte (Assistant)
1969-1979 Paul Ranum
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)
2011-2012 Kent Stillson
2012-Present Jerry Lanes