Home
About Us
History
Worship
Christian Education
Our Pastor
News and Events
Related Websites

 

History

Bethel's Pastor Shepherds
Rev. Frederick Riess 1939-1946
Vicar Theodore Vogel 1945-1946
Rev. Herman Mueller 1946-1951
Rev. William Lohman 1952-1954
Rev. E. W. Cohrs 1954-1956
Rev. James P. Maier 1957-1964
Rev. John D. Reehl 1964-1968
Rev. Kratzke Vacancy Pastor
Rev. Kasimir Kachmerek 1968-1977
Rev. Norman Brauer 1978-1983
Rev. Don Hinrichs 1983-1984
Rev. Rollin Schaleger 1984-1998
Rev. Edwin Rumerfield  1999-2000
Rev. Arnold Abel  2000
Rev. Philip Ebert  2000 to present

Bethel's History

Early Pastors
In the 1920s and 1930s the Lutheran families living in the Sweet Home area were served by pastors O. A. Schedler, Schulenburg and R. Heins from the Albany and Lebanon congregations.

Pre-Bethel
Services were held in the homes of Jack Brandt, Bernhard Galster, Joseph Boeckel, Mrs. Danger and Grandma Juhnke and her son, Henry, who were the original members in those days.

Rev. Frederick Riess
In 1939, Ministerial Candidate Frederick Riess laid the ground work for a mission in Sweet Home. Ten communicant members were here. Reverend Riess served the Bethel congregation from 1939 to September 1946. He served both Bethel and Bethlehem in Lebanon.

In 1942, the first Bethel Lutheran Church was erected in Sweet Home. The building was originally a chapel for the military base at Camp Adair.

1939-1946
Members disassembled the chapel and rebuilt it at 13th and Nandina. The old church is now known as the Church Mouse. Bethel's constitution was written in 1942 and accepted by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. In 1944, Bethel Lutheran church became an independent congregation in Sweet Home. The first officers were E. J. Brandt, president; Pastor Riess, secretary; Kenneth
Moe, treasurer; Albert Galster, O. B. Severson, and Gordon Smith, elders.

Bethel's first church, a renovated military chapel. The building, now known as "The Church Mouse," is still in existence and lately
housed an art gallery.

Vicar Theodore Vogel 1945-1946
September 11-16, 1945, the Trailer Mission under the auspices of Bethel Lutheran came here to Sweet Home. At 8 p.m. people could gather to hear messages of Christ presented by means of sound motion pictures, charts, words and songs. The Trail Missionaries
presenting this were Reverends W. Janssen, Nicholas May and Theodore Vogel, who was a Theological student from Concordia Seminary in St, Louis, Missouri at the time. Mr. Vogel remained in Sweet Home to become Vicar of Bethel Lutheran Church till August 1946.

First Confirmation Class
The first confirmation class of Bethel Lutheran Church, June 30, 1946, as taken from a picture in Sunday School Room, were Mr. and Mrs. Merrit Grooms, Mrs. Reinhold Boeckel, Mr. Leon Cline and Miss Rachel Mealey.


Vicar Theodore Vogel helped operate a tent ministry in Sweet Home during September, 1945. Vogel is on the left.

Rev. Herman Mueller 1946-1951
Reverend Herman Mueller served our congregation from September 1946 to November 1951.
In 1949, the congregation became entirely self-supporting, no longer needing a subsidy from the Northwest District.

On November 12, 1950, the congregation burned the mortgage on the old parsonage.
The Mary and Martha Society was formed with officers: Mrs. Eugene Hipp, president; Mrs. Richard Lucas, vice president, Mrs. S. M. Alanen, treasurer, and Mrs. Harley Johnson, secretary.


Rev. Herman Mueller stands next to Bethel's first church. The parsonage and garage are in back of the church. Note the graveled
Nandina Street.

The Young Peoples Society became active. First officers were: Ronald Alanen, president; Donald Jacobson, vice president; Vivian Brandt, secretary. An average of 60 children were in Sunday School.

Rev. William Lohman 1952-1954
Reverend William Lohman served Bethel from May 25, 1952, to May 1, 1954.

Rev. E. W. Cohrs 1954-1956
Reverend E. W. Cohrs took over from December 19, 1954, to December, 1956.
Cohrs, now 66, is retired from the ministry due to poor health. He has fond memories of the people and congregation of Sweet Home. "We had a Church League Basketball and we placed 1st place and won a trophy." Bethel also won trophies in other years for basketball and for floats in the Sportsman's Holiday parades. We can't find any. According to one source, some were stolen when the church was robbed in years past. Another thought, possible any trophies remaining may have been stored in a member's house, thinking they might be safer. Exactly how many we had and were or what happened to them all is somewhat of a mystery.

Rev. James P. Maier 1957-1964
The Reverend James P. Maier became our pastor from June 9, 1957 until August 9, 1964.
We were still at the old church (known as the Church Mouse). We went from 22 baptized members in 1939 to 170 baptized members in 1950. The old military chapel was inadequate because the church kept growing. In 1960, eight acres of ground were purchased and in 1961 our new church was built on Long Street. The church was built mostly by volunteer labor from the congregation. A one ton steeple, 58 feet above the ground, was put into place by a crane. The present church seats 250. It cost an estimated $55,000. Dedication of the new church was in April, 1961. About 500 people attended. Pastor Maier said the dedication prayer and Reverends Riess and Boss of Salem addressed the congregation with brief sermons. In 1964, a nearby parsonage was constructed. The west end of the property was used for Little League baseball in the 1960s and 1970s. Moneys from the concession stand helped furnish the church, parish hall, and Sunday School.
From left to right: Rev. Frederick Riess; a representative from Briscoe & Mizell Architects, Eugene, Oregon; Rein Boeckel; Henry Nielsen and Rev. James P. Maier. Pastor Maier led the dedication prayer before the assembly moved inside the new church building.
In April, 1961, Bethel's new church building at 3000 Long Street in Sweet Home was dedicated. About 500 people attended.

Rev. John D. Reehl 1964-1968
Pastor John D. Reehl became our pastor in November, 1964. During the 1960s Sweet Home's economy was booming, the lumbermills were going strong and the Foster and Green Peter Dams were constructed. This contributed to the church's growth. Church attendance was often over 100 and we had about 55 in Sunday School. Pastor Reehl also served as Chaplain for the National Guard for a number of years. The church hosted the Oregon Pastoral Conference. We had evening Vacation Bible School for the entire family, with songs, and a flannel board of Bible memory verses. VBS ended on Friday with a potluck.

The church hosted the Community Youth Sing-along on a regular basis with other local churches. In 1965, Pastor Reehl served as Vacancy Pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lebanon. The Sunday School Teachers and other interested persons took part in a Teacher Training Course "Our Church and Others." The Walther League (youth group) was very active in the early years. They went to skating parties and retreats to the coast, made floats for different local parades, and went Christmas caroling. They attended Zone Rallies with other churches' Walther Leagues, held about twice a year. The league raised money through car washes, collecting newspapers and selling Christmas cards. They also were in charge of Wheat Ridge Seals sales for world health care. Some youth went to Walther League National Convention, where the Leaguers got together from all over the county.



Bethel's Walther League entered a float in Sweet Home Sportsmen's Holiday parade in July, 1957.

On May 23, 1965, the Walther League turned 72 years old. The Leaguers at our church bought a cake for "Fellowship Night" held on the same date. A drawing was held for the names of two Leaguers to go to the International Walther League Convention at Squaw
Valley, California. Sunday evening of October 31, 1965, the Walther League held "Fellowship Night," a family program which included a 6:00 p.m. dinner. Then the adults saw the Martin Luther Picture in the church while the children attended a party in the parish hall provided by the Leaguers.

On Sunday, March 31, 1968, and Sunday, October 27, 1968 Mission festival services were held. In March, a former Philippine Missionary spoke in the morning service, slides were shown and a lecture given in the evening service. In October, a former Missionary from Africa spoke and showed slides in the morning and gave a lecture at the evening fellowship.

Rev. Kratzke, Vacancy Pastor
Pastor Kratzke faithfully served us as vacancy pastor in 1952, 1954, 1957 and 1964 when we were between pastors.

Rev. Kasimir Kachmerek 1968-1977
In 1968, Pastor Kasimir Kachmerek was installed as our new minister.
On June 24, 1977, Pastor Kachmerek presented Mary Severson, the Bethel Lutherans Congregation's certificate of recognition for teaching Sunday School for 37 years. In 1977, Bethel Lutheran celebrated the Year of the Sunday School with a Year of the Sunday School Banner hanging at the front of the church. There was a special opening devotion and order of service, with Sunday School children singing songs of praise. The celebration included a potluck picnic, games for the children, release of giant balloons promoting Sunday School, and special movies. Pastor Kachmerek left December 1977, to be installed in Idaho. Pastor Rein filled in.
 
The women of the congregation finally get to vote. From left, Rev Kasimir Kachmerek, Lillian Beech, Anne Boon, Alice Rueb and Irene Hipp.
In 1977, Bethel Lutheran celebrated the Year of the Sunday School. Note banner hanging at the front of the church.
The Santhon Saing Family pictured in the Hipp home, Irene Hipp, center. Bethel helped sponsor the Cambodian family in the early 70s. Later, some of the Cambodians joined Bethel congregation.

Rev. Norman Brauer 1978-1983
We installed Pastor Norman Brauer on may 21, 1978. In July, E. J. Brandt died, one of our first and longtime members. His funeral service was held July 12, 1978 by Pastor Brauer.
Mrs. Brauer, wife of pastor Norman Brauer, was Education Editor of the Lutheran Woman's Missionary League quarterly.

The Mary and Martha Circle
The Mary and Martha Circle was chartered by the Lutheran Women's Missionary League on October 10, 1955. Mary and Martha has been going on for many years, they have been involved in helping out different worthy causes. They donated money to Fairview Hospital and Training Center, which fed, clothed, provided shelter for men, and helped them find jobs so they could eventually make a decent living for themselves. Mary and Martha also donated money to the Dakota Boys Ranch. The ranch provides a home for and counsels troubled boys.

In the 1960s, the Bethel Lutheran Women hosted a public dinner at the high school. Tickets were $1.25 for adults and $0.75 for children. The dinner consisted of turkey, dressing, corn, salads, herb bread, and homemade pies. Proceeds went to building a new parsonage.

May 8, 1980, the Mary and Martha and the Priscilla Circles of Bethel Lutheran hosted dinner at Bethel for 14 residents of the Oakhurst Nursing home. The residents enjoyed the feast and entertainment provided by the Ladies Circles. Mrs. Brauer came up with the idea, called "Project Compassion," while talking to a woman in the nursing home, who told Brauer about going to the Sweet Home
Diner for Christmas dinner and how she enjoyed it. Members of the Mary and Martha Circle sew quilts and gather clothes for Lutheran World Relief which helps people in desperate need. They also make up kits for World Relief which include school kits, health kits and layettes.

Pastor Brauer retired in 1983.

Sadie Brooks, center, serves dinner to two unidentified Oakhurst Nursing home residents in Bethel's Sunday School room. The two women's circles, Mary and Martha and the Priscilla Circles, held a dinner called "Project Compassion" for 14 Oakhurst residents.

Rev. Don Hinrichs 1983-1984
Pastor Don Hinrichs filled in as vacancy pastor after Pastor Brauer retired and until Pastor Schaleger came to Sweet Home.

Rev. Rollin Schaleger 1984-1998
Pastor Rollin Schaleger was installed into office on January 22, 1984. Pastor Schaleger and his wife Gretchen have five children. When the Schalegers came, three of the children were still at home and at school and two grown and married.
Four of the Schaleger children raised guide dogs puppies for Guide Dogs For the Blind, Inc. in San Rafael, California. Pastor Schaleger worked with the Police Chaplaincy Program for the City of Sweet Home, and counseled people in time of crisis. In 1985, Bethel Lutheran Church held a Spring Fair, where homemade food, gifts, and other items were sold to help pay for expenses.

Martha Schaleger, daughter of Rev. Rollin and Gretchen Schaleger, presented "Paz," a German Shepherd Guide Dog, to Jon, a blind-man, living in Folsom, California, at graduation ceremonies held June 23, 1990, at Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., San Rafael, California. Bethel members encouraged Martha to bring Paz to church services. The dog usually behaved in church. When he lay out on the floor, he stretched under three church pews.

Early Bethel Statistics:
The first entries in Bethel's church records begin in 1945. No records before this were found here. According to long time church members there were baptisms, funerals, and weddings before this. The first marriage recorded in Bethel's church record book is Keith Lucas to Martha Swager on February 16, 1947, in the Lucas home with the Reverend Herman Mueller officiating.
The first baptism recorded is Gerald Dean Boggie baptized on September 30, 1945, by T. H. Vogel.
Some earlier Bethel area records were recorded by Pastor Riess at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lebanon. Some of Bethlehem's recorded church information was destroyed by a flood in their basement. During the past 50 years, Bethel Lutheran has had 302 baptisms, 285 confirmed, 150 marriages, and 78 funerals.

Bill Langdon, one of Bethel's church musicians, discusses wedding service music with Janet, David Schaleger's fiancee in May, 1991.
Bill leads the congregation singing with the piano music.

Bethel, in recent years
Our church has been involved in many community service projects. We operated a kindergarten for a few years before kindergarten
was incorporated into the public school system. The parish hall is used by the Linn Benton Community College Parenting class. Bethel
members donate food and money to the Sweet Home Emergency Ministries (SHEM) and filled Christmas food baskets. Bethel is used
as a polling place for the local precinct.

Members clean two miles of highway 20, as part of the Adopt-a-Highway program. Arlene Burks heads this project. Because of the current environmental emphasis on clean air quality and preservation of animals and birds, volunteers from the congregation, with help from a local Brownie and Girl Scout troop, planted 300 trees on the old Little League field.

 
Bethel members clean up two miles of Highway 20 west of Sweet Home as an "Adopt-a-Highway" program.
Bethel church in summer of 1992.

Credits:
50th Anniversary Booklet Committee

Jill Edwards, Historical research editor
Pastor Schaleger, Layout and graphics
Pictures, Various people

Bethel Lutheran Church 2004