History of Bethany Lutheran Church

© Photographed September 20, 2015
Erected by Bethany Lutheran Church
Ephraim, Door County, Wisconsin

Many of the Lutheran faith arrived in Ephraim as early as 1855. Peter Peterson (per Hagen) arrived in 1856. He became a prominent merchant and dock owner. Although he was associated with Andreas Iverson and the Moravians, he cherished a dream of establishing a Lutheran community and, with his contacts, made it possible for Pastor Blorn to come to Ephraim occasionally to conduct services, usually in his home, or in those of Martin Olson or Thomas Goodletson.

As one of these gatherings on January 24, 1882, a Lutheran congregation was organized. The plan was to consolidate all Scandinavians of the Lutheran faith in the northern end of the Penninsula [sic] into one fellowship, and to name it the Free Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Sixty families indicated their willingness to cooperate, all originally from parishes in various parts of Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Articles of incorporation were filed on April 4, 1882 in Vol. 1, page 20 of religious documents at the courthouse in Sturgeon Bay. This site was purchased from Mrs. Marie Olson, and construction began immediately. By October 23, 1882 the building was completed at a cost of $1,569.14. The first official meeting of the congregation took place on October 28, 1882. At this time it was decided to call the Reverend Johan Olson of Chicago to be the pastor at an annual salary of $400 plus the Easter and Christmas offerings.

The Reverend Olson was a gifted musician, poet and writer. During his ten years in Ephraim, he organized congregations in Juddville and Ellison Bay, baptized 245 children, confirmed 80 people, performed 65 weddings and officiated at 86 funerals. In 1883 the parsonage and lot (with a purchase of $800) was deeded over to the church by Mr. Peterson who had by then returned to Norway to live.

On January 4, 1898, the name of the church was officially changed to Bethany Scandinavian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The marker is located at Bethany Lutheran Church, on the northeast corner of the intersection of Moravia Street and Church / County Highway Q, Ephraim, Wisconsin 54211.

Bethany Lutheran Church

The marker is on a post to the left of the entrance doors.

With Eagle Harbor visible in the distance to the left.

Bethany Lutheran Church is located in Ephraim, Wisconsin.

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