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died in 1960. His widow, Eunice Johnson, is still serving with C.E.F., although now resident in Canada.
We thank God for the dedication and sacrifices of all those pioneers who laboured here for Him in years past and we pray that this Church and congregation will continue to be used of the Lord in this community.
HISTORY OF BETHEL CHURCH
by Harriet Lee
It was in the last decade and a half of the nineteenth century that the first families settled in what became the Danvers district, and the locality of Bethel Church. We are grateful today that those first families, in their struggle to establish their own homes, were equally concerned with the building of a church home. One of them was a Danish layman, Mr. P. Miller, and under his leadership a Lutheran congregation was organized about 1893 and a little log church named Bethania was built near Tales school. Only a year after Mr. Miller had brought his family out from Denmark, he was laid to rest in the little cemetery behind the church. Here also are many of the first graves of the settlement. Because of his death and because some of the families later moved away, the congregation was discontinued.
About 1900, the farm on which the church was built was bought by the Rev. B.O. Berg, pastor of the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation of the Augustana Synod in Scandinavia. As some families of this congregation had settled in the area, Pastor Berg gave the church to Bethlehem and he served both the Scandinavia and Danvers districts.
The turn of the century saw many new settlers arrive in the area, and these have formed the nucleus of the Bethel Church. Several of these had been members of the Lutheran Free Church in Minnesota, U.S.A. During the summer of 1905, the Rev. P. Winther, president of the Board of Home Missions of the LFC visited the new
settlement. That summer also, Pastor Rosenthal of Bethlehem resigned, thus leaving the entire district without a pastor. Rev. Winther felt that, because several Norwegian families had settled near Clanwilliam, it would be possible to form an LFC parish here. During the winter of 1906, a call was extended to the Rev. S.O. Vangstad by the Board of Home Missions and he arrived later in the year to begin his work. The first service was held on September 30, 1906.
On January 14, 1907, the Bethel Lutheran Congregation was organized with the following mem bers: Mr. and Mrs. Abel Hjelmeland, Mr. and Mrs. P.O. Berg and family, Mr. and Mrs. John T. Lee and family, Miss Marianne Stone, Mrs. Katherine Stone, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Danielson and family, Mr. and Mrs. Olai Strand and family, Mr. and Mrs. P. Gronback and family, Mr. and Mrs. A. Rognan and family, Ole O. Lee, Theo Lee and L.B. Gusdal.
Others joining later that first year were: Mr. and Mrs.
P.A. Paulsen and family, Mr. and Mrs. R. Hjelmeland and family, and Mr. and Mrs. E.A. Hall and family. The first confirmands were Sophie, Anna, Ole and Albert Lee, Bertha and Emma Hall, Olga Danielson, Johanna Peterson and Ole Berg, their confirmation day being August 25,1907.
Rev. Vangstad was well chosen for the task which lay before him those first years. He is remembered as a man of steadfast and unselfish devotion to his calling. For a period of about four years after Rev. Rosenthal's departure, the Bethlehem church was without a pastor and Rev. Vangstad was called upon for baptisms, marriages, and funerals throughout the district. Thus, he made many friends outside his congregation and he was always highly respected.
Social functions were necessary for many years for the raising of funds, but they also served as a means of fellowship, not only among local residents, but also between sister congregations. The highlight of the summer was the annual picnic and preparations for it required days of work. The first picnics were held at the homes of Berg's, J. Lee's or L. Strand's in their spruce groves. For a while Ditch Lake was a favourite spot and finally the area on "the Baird place" east of the church was the picnic ground until picnics ceased to be. Here there was room for baseball games between Danvers, Erickson, Clanwilliam or Smoland as well as food and fellowship.
Although the little log church sufficed for the time, plans were soon under way for their own edifice. A timber permit was available without cost for church construction so this was the first step. During the winter of 1909 these logs were cut and sawed by volunteer labour. Funds were raised by subscription lists and social events. Two acres of land donated by Mr. P.O. Berg were dedicated in June 1910, and the church was ready for dedication on July 26, 1914. The cemetery was first used in 1909. The church stands today with very little change from the time it was built. In 1941-42 a parsonage was built in Erickson and in 1944-45 a chapel was built on the same property, chiefly for Sunday School use.
Norwegian, of course, was the heavenly language in Bethel until the early '20's when English began to be