Bethel’s History consists of two parts: the first is in story-format; the second, a list of events and their dates. If you like the story format, read on. If you prefer the list of events and dates, click here.
Like individual homes, all houses of worship have a unique personality. On Sunday mornings, Bethel Lutheran Church is full of energetic, smiling, talkative people many of whom are children and teenagers. One group of people is leaving a worship service, and another group is preparing to play in the band or do a puppet show for the next service. There will be parents herding children to Sunday School and perhaps a family gathering for a baby's baptism. There will be grandparents, parents, and children meeting for worship and fellowship. The atmosphere is friendly, busy, and a little noisy!
Our church family was born over 40 years ago when a small group of Christians allied with Lutheran Church - Canada to form a neighborhood congregation in the Ottewell area of Edmonton. They chose the name of Bethel from the Bible story of Jacob. In a dream, Jacob saw angels on a ladder reaching from earth to heaven. He made an altar and chose Bethel as the name for a place where God and His people met.
From 1960 to 1990, the people of Bethel built a sanctuary for worship, an education wing for classes, and a fellowship hall for pot-luck dinners, receptions, and Oktoberfest. Four good pastors led us in prayer, praise and Bible study. Many talented men and women taught classes, led Vacation Bible School, directed choirs, and brought Sunday worship to the Jubilee Lodge. Then the congregation made two significant decisions; we would focus our future ministry on families with children and youth, and we would relocate the church to Sherwood Park.
In 1997, we rented office space in the Park and began holding Sunday worship services in Festival Place. As a congregation "in transition", we felt free to experiment with varieties of worship. Some of the innovations included a praise band leading contemporary worship and the use of power point for hymns and readings. But everyone was eagerly waiting a new and permanent place of worship.
Finally, our new church building with the distinctive white steeple was dedicated in May 2000. We began with 2 Sunday services - one with more traditional style music and one with contemporary music. Within the first several years on Bethel Drive, our ministry has grown in many exciting ways. After just five years in our new building, we added classroom, office, and storage space. Then we have called a youth director and director of children’s ministry. We started a weekday preschool program as well as mission trips for both youth and adults.
But what continues to be characteristic of the congregation is the excellent and innovative leadership of the staff, the extensive involvement of lay people in dozens of ministries, and the overflowing blessings of God on our Christian family.
For the history by dates, click here.