Mission and Objectives

Bethlehem Church is a worshiping and witnessing community, centered in God’s grace, growing together in faith, putting that faith into action.

  • Activate the Faithful (Personal Spiritual Growth)
  • Express Ourselves as a Grace-centered Community (Discipleship)
  • Strengthen and Develop Spiritual and Physical Outreach Partnerships with the Community (Evangelism)
  • Conduct a Comprehensive Review of Our Location and Physical Plant in terms of Our Ministry (Stewardship)
  • Optimize Worship Centered Identity – Broaden and Enrich Our Worship-Centered Community (Worship)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church was founded and organized on April 3, 1873, from roots sown as early as 1869 when the Rev. E.P. Erickson of Chicago visited Grand Rapids while calling on other Swedish Settlements in Michigan. He would gather the Swedish people together, about 100 in all at that time, for services in Mr. and Mrs. John Hemple’s home on Ottawa Street. Soon after, other Lutheran pastors, chiefly from Chicago, made visits to Lutheran Missions in Grand Rapids. Fourteen people met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Newberg on April 3, 1873, and organized the Swedish Lutheran Congregation, adopting the constitution of the Augustana Synod that had been organized in Clinton, Wisconsin, in June 1860. The congregation was incorporated a year later on April 25, 1874. The first church building was dedicated on April 20, 1880, on Sinclair Street NE, just north of Michigan Street. Within a few years it was determined that this building was inadequate for the needs of the congregation and a new building was built on the corner of Scribner and Blumrich, NW, and dedicated in 1890. In 1927 new property was purchased on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Crescent Street. Several years passed before building plans were approved and the new building was dedicated on May 28, 1933.

Our Roots

We are a congregation of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America).

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