Our congregation was formed in 1953 when some members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (ELS) in Santiago (rural Princeton), and some other ELS Lutherans in the area, established a congregation in the city of Princeton.
For 5 years they had held services in borrowed facilities, served during that time by Adolph M. Harstad, the pastor of Our Savior’s. The Rev. Stuart Dorr accepted a call to serve as pastor of Our Savior’s and of Princeton Mission in June 1953, and later that year, 6 days before Reformation Day, the members unanimously approved the name “Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church.”
In April 1958, the congregation broke ground for its own church building on land donated by Ingolf Teigen. After much volunteer labor and the grace of God, by October 1 of the same year, they had completed construction of the 60-by-24-feet white church with frame construction, laminated arches, and a full basement. It was dedicated to the glory of God on February 8, 1959.
In 1980-81, the congregation undertook a remodeling of the sanctuary and addition of a fellowship hall with a new kitchen. The dedication service was held on May 31, 1981. During the construction, the congregation enjoyed the hospitality of the nearby Princeton South Elementary School, in whose gym our services were held.
In 1993, Bethany joined Our Savior’s in establishing Princeton Evangelical Lutheran School, later joined in the endeavor by Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church (WELS) of Cambridge, Minn. Our school offers preschool and kindergarten through 8th grade.
Since the late Pastor Dorr (1953-63), those who have served our congregation as pastors are Rev. Walther C. Gullixson (1964-72), Rev. Herbert Swanson (1972-75), Rev. Wayne Dobratz (1975-81), Rev. David Nelson (1981-91), Rev. Robert Lawson (1991-2005), and our current pastor, Rev. Jerome T. Gernander, who has served as our pastor since August 2005. Our congregation also was served by various vicars who were completing their seminary education, including the current ELS president, Rev. John A. Moldstad Jr.