Bethany’s Walk Through The Decades Begins in the Early 1900’s
-Reverend George Burger, Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Sheboygan, learned that a small group of Lutherans lived in Riverside, when conducting a baptism on August 23, 1908. Riverside became the Village of Kohler in 1912.
-The first worship service, lead by Reverend Burger was held November 20,1908 in a wood frame building occupied by an Episcopal congregation.
-With the assistance of Reverend George Wildermuth ,Pastor of St. Paul’s, Sheboygan Falls, services were held every other Sunday.
-Fifteen voting members organized Bethany Evangelical Lutheran church by adopting a constitution on April 11, 1909
-The Episcopal property was purchased by approval of the voter’s on April 17, 1910 through the Mission Board of the Wisconsin District
-Reverend F. Wolbrecht , retired pastor at Trinity, Sheboygan conducted worship services every other week from 1913 to 1917. The last German class was confirmed in 1914.
-Sunday school began in 1920 with 20 children taught in German only.
-The church building was moved to a basement foundation facing Grafton Court in 1922.
-Reverend John Biehusen of Sheboygan Falls conducted morning and evening Sunday services for 50 communicant members until the summer of 1924. Sunday school grew to 72 children.
-Reverend Albert Huber was installed as the first resident pastor on August 10, 1924.
-First class was confirmed in 1925.
-Plans were proposed and postponed in 1927 for construction of a new church and parsonage.
-Communicant membership reached 300 by the end of the decade.
-The interior of the church was redecorated in 1931.
-Building plans were again considered and postponed in 1934.
-A Christian Education Saturday school was established in 1939.
-Available space became inadequate for worship and Sunday school . Seating capacity of the church with additional chairs for overflow was only 150.
-Voter’s approved construction of a new church and attached parsonage on the present site on March 18, 1941.
-The existing wood frame church building was sold and removed from the site in late 1941.
-Laying of the corner stone for the partially constructed church building took place at a special outdoor service on November 9, 1941.
-Dedication was on August 9, 1942.
-Membership in 1942 was 415 communicants and 106 children in Sunday school.
-Reverend Huber accepted a call to Iowa in October 1946. Reverend Eric Keller, of Sheboygan served in vacancy.
-Reverend Edwin Burfeind was called and installed on January 15, 1947.
-The mortgage was burned in August 1947 on the 5th anniversary of the church dedication.
-A two manual pipe organ was dedicated on June 13, 1948.
-Three electronically equipped bells were purchased and installed in 1950.
-Records on 1953 Sunday worship attendance show English services numbering in the 200’s and German services over 50. Palm Sunday total attendance was 314.
-Reverend Burfeind accepted a call to St. Paul’s, Grafton, Wisconsin in May 1955.
-Reverend Keller again served in vacancy until Reverend Herbert A. Baker was installed on August 14, 1955.
-The Constitution and Bylaws were reviewed and revised in 1962.
-Church records for January 1964 reported 446 communicant members and 567 baptized souls.
-The roof of the church and parsonage were replaced in 1966 at a cost of $8,000.
-The 25th anniversary of the dedication of the church was observed on September 10, 1967. Carpeting was installed in the Mother’s Room and narthex.
-Baptized membership totaled 543 in 1970.
-All members over the age of 18 were eligible to vote as per a June 29, 1971 amendment to the constitution.
-Architects proposal for a 6200 s.f. church addition which included eight classrooms, two offices, library, reading room and lobby was turned down by voter’s on November 15, 1973
-Renovations and Remodeling of the church in observance of the 70th-75th anniversary took place from March to May of 1979. The improvements included dry walling and painting and refurbishing the woodwork in the Nave, Chancel, Loft, Narthex and hallways. Relocating the alter, pulpit and lectern and adding reredos and paneling to the Chancel area. Also carpeting of the Nave, Chancel, and Trancept.
-An anniversary Thankoffering of $1000 for mission purposes was submitted to the Synod.
-Reverend Mark Krueger , fourth resident pastor ,was installed on September 13, 1981. and served until September 13, 1987.
-Construction began in mid July, 1984 on a building addition to the south end of the narthex including an access ramp for physically impaired, offices for pastor and parish secretary, and a multipurpose room on the basement level. Construction was completed in December and dedication
took place in June 1985.
-Reverend Kenneth Loehrke was called and installed on June 5, 1988.
– A video library was established in the lower narthex in 1993.
-Reverend Loehrke’s 25th anniversary of his ordination in to the Holy Ministry was observed on July 21, 1996.
– Bethany’s ten year celebration of it’s 100th anniversary began on April 11, 1999 . The theme for the celebration is A DECADE OF CELEBRATING WITH PRAISE AND REMEMBRANCE.
-Reverend Loehrke served until September of 2000.
-Reverend Mark C Wilkens was installed on November 4, 2001 and served until January 30, 2006.
-Phase I of a major renovation project in observance of Bethany’s 100th anniversary began in January of 2005. The work which included painting, refinishing, lighting ,carpeting and sound system improvements in the nave and narthex was completed by mid April. Phase II of the project which included replacing ceiling and lighting, carpeting in the entire basement area, providing handicapped parking, purchasing hymnals, projection and power point equipment was completed in 2007.
-Reverend Robert Steele of Our Savior’s congregation in Sheboygan served in vacancy beginning in March 2006.
-Reverend Steele was called to be the 7th resident pastor of Bethany in August 2006. Pastor Steele was installed on October 1, 2006