BLC Traditions & History

churchcrossBLC Traditions

This cross stood at the top of our church steeple from 1906 until it was damaged in the 1980s.   Time  passed  and  it  disappeared, but  it was  found recently and  returned to Bethlehem Lutheran Church.   This cross has become the church’s  symbol of love and endurance.
The Bethlehem  Star has  become another symbol for the church. It is a hand-crafted wooden cross with built-in lights created by Jerry Volin.  Church members and many others display Bethlehem stars in their homes to show their love for Jesus  as they celebrate the Christmas season. 

Saint Lucia Festival
– During the Christmas season the Swedish festival of Saint Lucia is celebrated.  Our high school youth serve coffee, Swedish tea rings, and read more…

Ice Cream Social – Every summer at the closing of Vacation Bible School and Day Camp, BLC holds an ice cream social event also serving hamburgers on the grill.  More information at VBS & Day Camp.

Chili Cook Off – This is a new tradition at BLC promoting hunger relief.  It takes place during the cold of winter.  Watch the calendar for date and time.

Lenten Meals – The high school youth host meals for families during the Lenten season. It is a time for fellowship and an opportunity to support BLY mission trips through a free will offering.  The meal is served every Wednesday starting at 6:00 pm in Fellowship Hall and the Lenten Service begins at 7:00 pm.

BLC History
Bethlehem Lutheran Church was found­ed by a group of Swedish immigrant farmers.  In 1880, the first Lutheran services were held in Wahoo in the N.J. Anderson Photo Studio.  These services were conducted by Pastor Nels Nordling of Edensburg Church in Malmo.   In early 1883, Luther Academy, a two year college, was founded. In July of that year the Luther Academy President Martin Noyd took charge of the Bethlehem Church worship service.  

Bethlehem Lutheran Church was formally organized on December 25, 1883 with 17 charter members and 9 children. Reverend Martin Noyd served as the first pastor.  Over the years, professors from Luther Academy and College were vital to the early growth of the congregation. Professor S. M. Hill served as interim pastor on several occasions. He also served as deacon, Sunday School Superintendent, Sunday School teacher, organist, choir director, and janitor.

historyluthercollegeLuther College students were also active in the congregation.  The Bethlehem congregation continues to maintain a relationship with Luther College graduates. Every two years, Bethlehem Church hosts “Lutherfest,” a Sunday worship service and dinner. About 300 Luther alumni and friends participate in the reunions.   Luther College was closed in 1962 and merged into Midland Lutheran College in Fremont.

Old Main on the campus of Luther College

Expanding our Ministry Through Facility Development
The first church was dedicated on September 2, 1888. Professor S. M. Hill of Luther College was shepherding the congregation.  The cost of the first building was $3,300.  In 1893 the first parsonage was obtained and renovated.  The second church building was built in 1906 and remains the main worship center for the congregation.  Additions to the frame church were added in the 1950’s. In 1999, with a strong commitment to expanding our ministry, the congregation added new Sunday school rooms, fellowship hall, and offices costing just over 1 million dollars.

Strong Pastoral Leadership


Parsonage today

The first church building and parsonage

During the first 122 years of the Bethlehem congregation, 15 pastors have served the worshiping community ranging from as short as 1 year to over 23 years.  This is an average of over 8 years per call.  In addition, Bethlehem has served the greater church by training 13 interns, supporting one Parish Ministry Associate and sending two of its own into the ministry.