How it all began and where we are today . . .
Bethany Lutheran Church has a history dating back to Dec of 1880, beginning as the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Bethania Church. In 1882 it was decided to erect a church building up on Norway Hill, which was then literally lifted and moved to a location on Iron Street, Norway. At some point in the early teen years, the Norwegian Church unified with the Swedish Church, but that relationship terminated at some point in the 1920’s (apparently over a money issue). The Norwegian Church members built their own church building just up the road. It is uncertain to the exact year and situation, but either in the joining or splitting of the two congregations, the church was renamed Bethany Lutheran Evangelical Church of Norway.
In the 1990’s, Bethany began discussing the issues of the church structure needing extensive work and the limitations of growth in such a small building with limited parking as well. A seed was planted with the idea of building a new structure. In 1999, the possibility was becoming a reality when land was gifted to the four Protestant Churches of Norway. The “Cornerstone Ministries” corporation was established to manage and oversee this land gift.
A neighbor church, Grace United Methodist, also began considering a new building but were also concerned about the financial burdens involved for their small congregation. The necessity for thinking out of the box caused a new, intriguing possibility of both Bethany Lutheran, with Grace United Methodist, to construct and share the same building.
Primarily with volunteer labor, together Bethany and Grace built a Phase 1 of 2 building project to include a multi-purpose room with chancel/banquet hall/sports activities, classrooms, offices, kitchen, storage, youth space, a community food pantry, a conference room and bathrooms. The building and the two congregations were consecrated and celebrated the completion of the $1.2 million church construction project, known as ‘Crossroads Alliance’ in September 2009. The Crossroads Alliance Corporation is managed by 8 members - 4 from each congregation and pastors from each church, to manage the logistics and oversee the sharing of the facility schedules, maintenance and foresee the future of building Phase 2 (separate or a shared sanctuary).
The volunteer help from both congregations included construction, finishing details, bringing meals to the work-site daily and lots of prayer. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and shared vision. Both skills and friendships grew. A bounty of gifts poured in, taking many forms, from an outpouring of time and talents, to monetary contributions, corporate grants, discounts on materials, equipment use, words of encouragement and many, many prayers.
The congregations of Bethany Lutheran and Grace United Methodist Churches of Norway know beyond the shadow of a doubt that with God, all things are possible! It has truly been a pilgrim journey for both churches whose histories date back to 1879 and 1880 when they were established to nurture the faith of the area's Swedish, English and Norwegian immigrants.
The road has not always been easy, but we have discovered that our oneness in Christ far exceeds our differences. We sincerely believe that God called us to take these bold and innovative steps. We have built together on a firm foundation of faith.
Division within the Bethany congregation, led to devastating circumstances in the spring of 2010 that nearly destroyed the existence of Bethany Lutheran Church, ELCA. A great number of the people along with the pastor of that time, left the remaining Bethany members and the new facility, to start their own independent church. But today, Bethany Lutheran Church, ELCA continues to grow and remain strong and steadfast in faith and trust in our Lord and His Will for the people of this congregation! With dedication and commitment and the Lord's blessings, we will continue to move forward with our mission and vision; to bring the good news out into the community and to extend our love and service beyond the walls of our church building. We are firm in our belief as an ELCA congregation, that ALL are loved and accepted without judgement in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. ALL are welcome!
What we believe as Lutherans . . .
This church confesses the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This church confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the Gospel as the power of God for the salvation of all who believe Jesus Christ is the Word of God incarnate, through whom everything was made and through whose life, death, and resurrection God fashions a new creation. The proclamation of God's message to us as both Law and Gospel is the Word of God, revealing judgment and mercy through word and deed, beginning with the Word in creation, continuing in the history of Israel, and centering in all its fullness in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God's Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God's revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God's Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world. This church accepts the canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the inspired Word of God and the authoritative source and norm of its proclamation, faith, and life. This church accepts the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds as true declarations of the faith of this church. This church accepts the Unaltered Augsburg Confession as a true witness to the Gospel, acknowledging as one with it In faith and doctrine all churches that likewise accept the teachings of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. This church accepts the other confessional writings in the Book of Concord, namely, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles and the Treatise, the Small Catechism, the Large Catechism, and the Formula of Concord, as further valid interpretations of the faith of the Church. This church confesses the Gospel, recorded in the Holy Scriptures and confessed in the ecumenical creeds and Lutheran confessional writings, as the power of God to create and sustain the Church for God's mission in the world.
The Confession of Faith is published in the Constitution of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
As Christians of the Reformation tradition, we believe that the Sacrament of the Altar is the Real Presence of Christ’s body and blood, instituted by Christ Himself as a sign of unity. All baptized and confessing believers are welcome to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion at Bethany Lutheran Church.