The founders of Bethel congregation too were christian pioneers engaged in the matter of making a living for themselves and laying the foundations for posterity, on the wooded hills and valleys of the area, but they were not dead to their spiritual needs nor those of their children; and so it was that two of their number, namely: Jacob and Louis Spindler, apparently as delegates for the group, approached Dr. H. A. Muehlmeier, pastor of Immanuel church near the Mission House, with the plea that he would also be their spiritual leader according to the measure of his time. Dr. Muehlmeier heeded their plea and held services in the various homes from time to time.
The number of worshipers apparently increased, so on Feb. 10, 1862 a congregation was organized, and a constitution adopted; followed by incorporation as a member of the Reformed Church on May 31 of the same year.
The names of these founding Fathers are as follows: Jacob Spindler, Louis Spindler, Conrad Humke, Martin Roethel, Andrew Papendick, Karl Koeser, George Arnold, Henry Glaeser, Henry J. Schneider, George Maurer, Fred Staeffler, August Wickesberg, George Roethel, and Ernestine Gerlach.
When the private homes became too small for the congregation to worship in them, services were held in the public school in Ada, until opposition necessitated the erection of a house of worship, on a piece of land donated by Jacob Spindler, in the summer of 1863, amid the hardships of the civil war and rumors of Indian unrest.
In 1880, while professor J. W. Grosshuesch Ph.D., was serving the congregation a parsonage was built. As in the case of the church building, so also here, the members furnished the materials and the labor.
Apparently during all this time the worship services were conducted without the aid of a musical instrument, for the records tell us that in the year 1887 the first organ was purchased for the house of worship.
In 1894 the church building was dignified with a tower and a bell, while the parsonage was enlarged by the addition of a kitchen. During this time the congregation was affiliated, with the Reformed church in town Rhine, but after a few years it became a separate unit again.
The pastorate of E. G. Krampe D.D. was a period of decided growth for the congregation, so in 1908 the present house of worship with a basement, a furnace, a balcony and a tower with two bells was erected on pretty well the same spot where the former had stood. It was dedicated in the fall of the same year by the new pastor, the Rev. H. W. Schroer.
The organ, purchased in 1887, was replaced by a new pipe organ in 1912 when the congregation celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.
By 1919 the need for a new cemetery became urgent, consequently an acre of land, approximately one mile northeast of the church property, was purchased from Mr. Louis Voss.
That very important commodity, known as the telephone, was installed in the year 1928, and the following year the entire inside of the church received a covering of fine tin, while the parsonage was again enlarged by the addition of a room on the north side of the kitchen.
To keep up with the trend of the times, electricty was brought into all the buildings in 1931.
In the year 1942 the present water pressure system was installed in the parsonage which also brought running water into the church kitchen. The pipe organ mentioned above began to show the wear and tear of the years, so it was replaced by a new Hammond Electric organ in 1948.
With the passing of the years, the need for more choir room, for indoor facilities in the church basement, along with other improvements began to make themselves felt more and more. This led to the decision at the annual meeting in 1957 to undertake a major improvement project. By fall of that year there was a new choir loft with room for a good sized choir and the organ. The old light fixtures had given way to new ones, the floor gleamed with new luster, the old rugs were replaced by new ones, the walls and ceiling glowed with a new coat of pleasing green paint, while the whole front of the church was highly beautified by a new pulpit, lectern, altar and baptismal font. In the basement beneath the choir loft there were indoor toilets, a bubbler and a storage closet. Later that winter a choir-robe closet was also added.
Parking space had been a matter of concern for some time too, so in the summer of 1958 a little more land was purchased and with the aid of modern machinery the parkng problem was soon solved.
During all these years the parsonage had begun to show alarming signs of old age, and to keep oneself warm on a cold windy day was pretty well beyond the possible. The problem was brought to the attention of the congregation at its 1959 meeting, and a motion was approved whereby the necessary steps were to be taken in order to remedy the situation. By the time winter set in again, new shingles, white-enamel aluminum siding, modern combination windows and doors, a picture window, a canopy, a new porch, and a new stone covering over the old stone walls of the basement made the old, tired-looking house, glisten and sparkle like new.
During the summer of 1961 the brotherhood installed an acoustical-tile ceiling in the dining-room of the church, while the Ladies Aid, the Sunday school and the Youth Fellowship furnished the funds to have plastic-covered panelling put on the walls, install new light fixtures and get the woodwork painted.
These, my dear reader, are the peaks, or milestones in the history of Bethel congregation. To mention the lesser purchases and necessary projects would only serve to bore you. It must be mentioned, however, that by means of memorial monies an appreciable number of items have been bought which serve to enhance not only the beauty and efficiency of the church building itself but also its worship services, and we herewith convey our gratitude to all donors again.
The property of the congregation consists of approximately two acres of land (including the cemeteries) a church and parsonage with modern facilities and a double garage with a loft that offers ample storage room.
Over the past one hundred years 626 children were baptized, 509 were confirmed, 235 couples were joined in marriage and 271 persons were laid to rest.
The present membership consists of 198 confirmed members and 48 baptised but not confirmed members; constituting a total of 246 souls.
|MUHLMEIER, H. A.||1862-1875|
|VRIESEN, D. W.||1875-1876|
|GROSSHUESCH, J. W.||1880-1883|
|KRAMPE, E. G.||1898-1908|
|SCHROER, H. W.||1908-1922|
|Prof. Ernst (Supply)||1927-1928|
|REPPERT, C. H.||1945-1948|
|KOEHLER, W. C.||1949-1953|
|FRIED, C.||1957-present |
The purpose of the organization is to bring the men within the hearing of the Word of God and to further the spirit of good fellowship.
The organization meets monthly, the second Wednesday evening in the month. The present officers are Oscar Neuhaus, President; Armin Krestch, Vice President; Rienold Roethel, Treasurer; and Lester Nohl, Secretary.
On January 2, 1918 six ladies of the Bethel E & R church had their first meeting of the Ladies Aid, the charter members were:
The first officers were President - Mrs. Gottfried Olm; Secretary - Mrs. H. W. Schroer, Treasurer - Mrs. Ferdinand Schneider. Three of the charter members have passed away.
The present members is 35. The officers are: President, Mrs. Louis Wehrmann, Vice President; Mrs. Carl Fried, Secretary; Mrs. Milton Schneider, Treasurer; Mrs. Reinhold Roethel.
The present teachers are Gordon Epps, Mrs. Merlin (Gladys) Schleunes, Mrs. Lester (Violet) Dirks, Mrs. Elmer (Hilda) Kraemer, Mrs. Ernest (Betty) Huber, Miss Mary Ann Marx, and Mrs. Martin (Darcella) Huber. The officers are Mrs. Merlin Schleunes, Secretary; Mr. Donald Schneider, Treasurer; and Mrs. Martin Huber, Superintendent.
The records of the first young peoples' group in Bethel Church date back to the year 1925, when Rev. Carl Theile called a group of young people together to consider organizating a youth society. The organization disbanded in 1948, but reorganized in 1952. Officers: Roger Bub, President; Randall Moioffer, Vice President; Carolyn Huber, Secretary; and Paul Fried,Treasurer.
Mrs. Alma Stauss: The oldest lifetime member of the congregation. Born in 1885, baptized in 1886, and confirmed in 1900. She is now 76 years of age.
The oldest living confirmand of the congregation: Mr. Wilhelm Mahloch, who was confirmed in 1889. He now resides in Chicago, Ill.
Oldest member of the congregation: Mrs. Helen Eickhoff. Age 89.
Source: 100th Anniversary (1862-1962) Church Centennial booklet.
*** Officers listed and anything referred to as "current" refers to current at the time - year 1962
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