A Brief History
A brief history of Bethel Church -- By Mr. Emil Rinsch
The Bethel Congregation consisting of fifteen to twenty members was organized in a primitive log school house that stood near the present electric sub-station, one-half mile east of Freelandville on October 27, 1847, by Rev. A. Toelke.
ln 1848, Herman Wagner gave the congregation permission to build a church on one-half an acre north of the present church. It was a log church 20x 25. In 1851, ten acres were bought for $70.00, from Carl Volle, Sr., who had bought Herman Wagner's farm. The next year a brick church 30 x 50 was built on the site of the present church and the log church converted into a school house.
Rev. Carl Hoffmeister (1857) in cooperation with the members wrote the Constitution that was signed by 163 persons, on August 3, 1857. The brick church burned and it was re-built for a school house. A brick church 40 x 60 was built; it cost $5,000.00, and was dedicated in 1859. ln 1900, a beautiful Gothic church was built and the 1859 church converted into a parochial school and a confirmation room. On June 24,1934, the 1900 church was struck by lightening and burned. Within a year and a week the present church was dedicated. It had a basement and an addition for Sunday School rooms. Later more rooms for Sunday School were built.
The Sunday School, according to some sources, pre-dates the organization of the congregation. Its original purpose was to teach the children to read the German Bible. At present it is a very important part of the congregation. It contributes to benevolent projects, furthers the knowledge of the gospel, is well organized, adequately housed and solidly co-ordinated.
The parochial school (1850 to World War l) indoctrinated the children in moral, religious and practical education. The Confirmation School served as an intensive training period in Christian living. At present, the Bible Summer School and the Saturday Confirmation School is a replacement of the parochial school and the three morning sessions of the Confirmation School. The first confirmation class in 1851 consisted of fourteen children.
ln 1854 the old part of the cemetery was laid out; the new family lot part in about 1900. The five acres across the road were bought for $250.00 in 1869; the neat cottage erected in 1882. The first parsonage was a log building, the second one, brick, the third one (1878) brick and the present one (1934), brick veneer.
The Guild (Ladie's Aid) founded in 1863 has performed an outstanding service to the community, the church, and the world at large. The United Church Youth (Y. P. L.) founded in 1893 provides for wholesome religious meetings. They all contribute to benevolence, aid in Christian service and are excellent training for leadership. The Choir enriches the beauty of the service. Its rendition of anthems does much for the honor and glory of God.
The Bethel Congregation has about 725 members and a $40,300.00 budget for 1972. Thirty young men have dedicated their lives for Christian education and furtherance of the gospel and seven women have become Deaconess. The spiritual heritage of fore-fathers has been carried on and many names of signers of the 1857 constitution are still leaders. It is a stable congregation; it has been visited by disaster, time and again, however, their faith in the Triune God has never faltered and the congregation's contribution to the welfare of humanity has been magnanimous. The member's ideal is not what the church can do for me but what can I do to promote the glory of the Triune God. May the spirit of dedication be carried on in the future as it has in the past.
Sunday school: 9:00 am eastern † Sunday Worship: 10:00am eastern † Office hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am to 2:30pm