Bethlehem Evangelical Free Church

The Reverend H. F. Josephson began to hold evening services in the hall above the Bateman Drug Store in 1907.  About that time the Saron Evangelical Free Church started a branch Sunday School on Sunday afternoons in the Bateman Hall.  R. S. Lunde was the Superintendent.  The evening service and the Sunday School continued in the Bateman Hall until 1909 when the Saron Church purchased the electrical building for a reading room.  The Sunday evening service and the Sunday School were then conducted in the reading room, which became known as the Mission Hall.

During this time a number of people were meeting in homes for a mid-week service and a number of women were active in mission aid work.  Reverend H. F. Josephson left Cooperstown in 1916 and Reverend L. R. Lunde of the Saron Church continued to hold services in the Mission Hall on Sunday evenings.

In 1920 Reverend Krag Wuflestad organized the "Cooperstown Skandinaviske Missions-forening" and the services continued in the Mission Hall for a short time.  On April 28, 1920, a resolution was drawn up to organize the Scandinavian Mission Society with Reverend K. P. Wuflestad as Pastor.  A constitution was accepted, a membership list of the Society was made up, and nine members joined.

They were allowed to use the Baptist Church in the fall of 1920 for a series of special meetings.  The building is the oldest church in Cooperstown, and was built in 1887, five years after Cooperstown was founded.  The inscription on the bell in the steeple reads: 

"Cast by H. Stucstede & Company, St. Louis, Missouri, 1887, Victor Memorial Baptist Church, Cooperstown, Dakota " The society bought the building in 1921, and has since made several changes.

The tower has been removed, a basement added, and various improvements have been made to keep up with the times.  An organ was purchased in 1959, a piano in 1963.  A new parsonage was built just south of the church in 1952.

The name "Bethlehem Evangelical Free Church" was adopted in 1921.

In 1922 it was resolved to dissolve the Cooperstown Mission Society and change it to a congregation.  Christian Haaland, K. P. Wuflestad and Emma Skaar drew up a constitution.  Charter members were: 

K. P. Wuflestad, R. S. Lunde, Mrs. Inga Anderson, Mrs. R. S. Lunde, Mrs. M. R. Wagle, Miss Hilma Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. Christ Seldahl, Mrs. Clarence Lunde, Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Thompson, Miss Emma Skaar, Christian Haaland, Miss Elise Wuflestad, Miss Nora Wuflestad, Miss Cam Wuflestad, and Mrs. O. M. Otteson.

Early members were: 

Mrs. N. P. Nelson, Miss Emma Dahlbom, Ole Herigstad and Elise Roisland.

The congregation was incorporated February 28, 1929.

From 1929 until 1931 Bethlehem Evangelical Free Church shared Pastor Larson and Pastor Mars with the Swedish Mission Church west of Cooperstown.  On January 23, 1931, the Swedish Mission Church voted to affiliate with Bethlehem.  Their church was sold to the Methodists at Sutton and is still in use there.

In 1949 the congregation voted to join the Evangelical Free Church Association, and voted to join the Cooperstown Bible Camp Association February 14, 1955, when the Association was organized.

Since 1938 the Christian Fellowship Church has shared the pastor with Bethlehem.  When Pastor Haglund left in 1968, Saron Evangelical Free Church joined Fellowship and Bethlehem in making a three-point parish with Howard Matson the first pastor.

Bethlehem's present membership stands at 52.

Source: Griggs County History 1879 - 1976 Page 49

 
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