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Decades 1930s On June 24, 1930, the Synodical Board of Home Missions of the Pittsburgh Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church instructed the Rev. John J. Myers, D.D., Missionary Superintendent, to lease a lot in this district, and to erect thereon a frame Chapel. The land was leased from Mrs. Louisa Braun, who was to become one of the early members, for the nominal sum of $1.00 per year. She later made a gift of this lot to her Church. The Chapel was erected during the summer of 1930, and is now the home of American Legion Shaler Post No. 785. The Chapel was first used on August 10, 1930 with Sunday School Service at 9:15 A.M. There were 26 present, 12 of whom were adults and 14 children. The first offering amounted to $5.19. The Dedication Service was conducted the same day at 3:00 P.M. by Rev. E. B. Burgess, D.D., President of Synod, assisted by Rev. John J. Myers, D.D., Rev. Elmer A. Ortner, Rev. W. Blair Claney, Sr., and William B. Claney, a student at Mt. Airy Seminary. The Congregation was formally organized on September 14, 1930 with 62 members and the name Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church of Shaler Townships was approved. The congregation agreed to extend a call to student W. B. Claney r. to become first pastor at the close of his seminary year at a salary of $1600 per year plus $20 per moth for room rent. . Congregation was incorporated Feb 20, 1931. 1931 Budget (Apr-Dec) $1330.75 1933 – Pastor’s salary was $890. A total budget of $1416 was approved ($26.38/Sunday) 175 Baptized members, - three funerals of family members outside of the church membership. 4 Baptisms 18 new members received, 14 youth receiving catechetical instruction, and despite the depression, all bills were paid and a small balance left over from the $2000 contributed during the year as a free will offering. 1934 – total budget was $1912.00, one funeral , eight baptisms, 22 new members, 101 services (only 4 with communion) with average attendance of 74 at morning worship and 18 at vespers. 80 Communicant members. 4 weddings. 1937 – Budget – deposits = $2187.32 – disbursements $2142.07. Congregation grew from 294 to 350 (+56) , a confirmed membership of 226 (+47) and communing membership of 179 (+48) . 6 communion services, 67 sermons and 39 committee meetings attended by Pastor Clancy 1940s The 1940’s started off with a rocky start. Pastor Schulze was summoned to service in the US Army in December of 1940, precipitating a vacant pulpit and lack of leadership for several months during this critical depression/pre-war time period. Rev. Theodore Althof was eventually called and assumed leadership for congregation with a “huge list of inactive, non-communing, non-supporting members” on the church rolls. In his pastoral report in January 1942, Rev. Althof also noted a “great obstacle, namely, ANTAGONISM, between various members and different groups of the church. (emphasis in original)” Pastor Althof called for a special service of re-consecration and revival to move beyond the grievances and unforgiven wrongs. The lots (8, 9, & 100) in Mt. Royal Village were approved for purchase in 1943 and fund raising, with a loan guarantee from the American Board of Missions was commenced in September 1944. In order raise the $12,000 needed by the congregation, 480 shares of $25.00 each were proposed (A share could be purchased through a $0.50 /Sunday contribution for one year) . Was there controversy about the relocation of the church? A meeting was held in August 1945 regarding a pet ion to reconsider the site. 46 members voted to reconsider, 59 voted against reconsidering. 1940’s Organizations: Sunday School, Cradle Roll Women’s Missionary Society, Faithful Bible Class, Bethlehem Girls class. , Luther League Joy Class, Daughters of Ruth, Mary of Bethany Altar Guild. Crusader’s Class, The Bethlehem works was organized in March, 1946 for the purpose of serving suppers to the Kiwanis club. All profits turned over to the church. Crusaders Class was organized in 1946 for young people, 18 years of age and older, charged with the publication of the church bulletin and entertainment at the Annual Congregational Picnic. In 1946, the congregation approved the purchase of the Carl Hoberg Property on the corner of Mt. Royal Blvd, and Glenshaw Ave as a parsonage for the sum of S13.000.00 1947 – approval for purchase of lot 101 in Mr. Royal Village for $1900.00 Construction of the new Church was deferred because of war efforts and high building costs until May 18, 1947. The Congregation then authorized the Building Committee, under the Chairmanship of Mr. Charles L. Kammer, Sr., to proceed with the erection of our new Church, known as the Chapel Unit. Ground was broken on August 2, 1948, and the Corner stone laid September 26, 1948. Construction was completed in time to hold the 1949 Easter Services in the new building. The formal Dedication Service was held April 3, 1949. A new church was contemplated as early as 1938, but the building restrictions of World War 11 forced postponement of any actual plans. On January 2, 1944, a new site of four lots on Mt. Royal Boulevard at Campbell Place was purchased for the new building. Ground was broken on August 2, 1948, for the Chapel Unit of the church, and the formal dedication was held April 3, 1949. 1949 Dedication of the new Chapel Unit on April 3, 1949. Sunday School, Cradle Roll, Anna Kugler Missionary Society (put up 50 gallons of fruit and vegetables for the Bethesda Orphans home, sold Plum puddings and purchased new Hymn Boards), Minerva Baker Missionary Society, Faithful bible Class, Bethlehem girls, Crusader’s Class, Betheverans Class, Altar Guild. Luther League. Sunday School enrollment set all time high (167 record attendance on one Sunday) activities include: Children’s Day Sunday School Picnic, Rally Day & Promotion Sunday, Christmas Program, Christmas Pageant, Vacation Bible School. Faithful bible Class, activities : White elephant sale, Baked Ham Dinner. Dedication Dinner, Mother & Daughter Banquet, Picnic, made 113 plum puddings in the Church kitchen for sale to the public , Crusader’s Class activities = skating parties, Easter sunrise service and breakfast, Youth night social, Roast Beef supper, Corn Roast, , Play “My Wife’s Family, prepared Church Directory, Raised $800 toward building fund through act ivies and sale of paring knives, dishcloths and candy. , Betheverans Class – from Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran – organized Jan 1949. – activities – Strawberry festival, candy sale, hayride, bowling party Altar Guild - conducted two rummage sales, an organ recital and movie& lunch; purchased paraments for the new chapel, recovered the seats of the chancel chairs, made the communion rail pad. 1950s 1950’s Organizations: Old parsonage at 1502 Mt. Royal Blvd. needed $3-4000 of repairs, debate whether to repair the old, or sell it for ~12,000 and build a new on the purchased lot for ~13,500. that summer the old parsonage was sold for 12,500 and a new one contracted from the Clarence A Bittner for $15,300. In 1950 a parsonage was built at 1814 Park Circle Drive, a short distance from the church. An addition was added in 1959 to make the home larger and to provide a new kitchen. A new class introduced in 1950 – the Altruistic Class stated with 8 members. 1951 Budget $9244 (pastor’s Salary at $3,800 and debt retirement 1,650) +$3,529 in Benevolence set by the Synod. 1951 Sunday school enrollment of 255. average attendance 132. (included 6 classes of adults) 1951 – Bethlehem Class takes over the sponsorship of the Girls Scout troop. Boy Scout troop 154 was added. 1952 – Sunday School adds use of audio-visual materials to its curriculum and purchase a 16 mm projectors for the church. End of 1952 the different women’s Missionary societies united to form “The Women of the Church.” 1954 Sunday School enrollment up to 353 with average attendance of 191 Crusaders activities included Donut Festival, Strawberry Festival, Corn Roast, Square Dance at North Park The Women of the Church created circles call by Bible names – Miriam, Ruth, Dorcas, and Mary Martha 1955 - Our Church has prospered during these 25 years from a beginning with 62 members, 19 of whom are still active members, including the first signer on the Charter-, Mr. R. R. Williams. The present Communing Membership is 385, and the Baptized Membership, 633. Our Sunday School also has grown from 26 at the first service to the present enrollment of 310. The present size of the Congregation and Sunday School, as indicated by this growth, taxes the facilities of the present Chapel Unit, and we are confidently looking forward to the early construction of the Main Church. Anyone passing the Church seldom sees it unoccupied and must wonder to himself how Worship Services, Sunday School activities, Choirs, Luther Leagues, Women of the Church, Women of the Church Circles, Crusaders' Class, Altar Guild, Men's Group, Brownies, Girl Scouts', Boy Scouts, and Cub Pack can all find space to meet every week. From 1945-1955 in size of the congregation doubled from 297 members to 652 members. In order to accommodate the worshippers at our Church Services, two Services each Sunday have been held since the first Sunday in October 1954. The Congregation continued to grow and burst at its seams, and in October 1954, two services each Sunday were begun in order to accommodate all the worshipers. There was serious concern about the growth of the Sunday School in particular. The average Sunday School attendance in 1950 was 131 and had grown in 1954 to 184. By 1955, the year of the 25th Anniversary of the Congregation, the baptized membership was recorded at 633 and the Sunday School enrollment at 310. The congregation was confidently looking forward to the early construction of the Main Church. 1956 –The Church council established a Building Committee to begin planning the main church addition to the chapel Unit,. BLC contributed $5000 to the Theil College development fund. Sunday school teachers attended the annual conference at Theil College. The women’s group changed with name from “Women of the Church” to United Lutheran Church Women” or ULCW – They created and contributed more than 1200 items to Lutheran projects in Zelienople and Passavant plus an unreported number of plum puddings. UL CW p ro je cts 19 58 13 pr paj ama s 38 pr. Sh orts 90 va le ntin e fa vors 90 wa sh cl oth l ambs 90 than ksgi vi ng favo rs 90 Ch ri stmas favors 44 ho spi tal g own s 90 ea ster b ookmarks 25 pr bed socks The Luther league held regular weekly meetings on Sunday evenings. In addition they had a swimming party, corn roast and attended a Pittsburgh Pirate Baseball game. In the fall they attended the Pittsburgh Synod Day at Theil College in Greenville, PA where they toured the campus and received free tickets to the Theil –Westminster football game. The intermediate leaguers received a complete ping-pong game as well as participating in several rally’s and skating parties. Starting with forty charter embers, the Bethlehem Brotherhood affiliated with the Brotherhood of the United Lutheran Church in 1956. The Brotherhood assumed the responsibility for the maintenance of the park lawn and sponsored the Nativity scene which was displayed in front to the church . the group also sponsored a Father and Son banquet, a picnic meeting at Spang’s Farm and the showing of a Martin Luther film in October. 1957 – Sunday School conducted contests for Camp Lutherlyn Scholarships. The Bethlehem Brotherhood had 11 meetings and sponsored both a Father and Son banquet and a Boy Scout troop. The Brotherhood also made visits to home-bound congregational members and seven hospital trips where they called upon approximately 200 Lutheran men and “several hundred non-Lutheran patients.” 1958 – the Church was devastated by the lost of its beloved Pastor H. J. Schmid on August 12, 1958. He was laid to rest in Wilkinsburgh PA on Friday, August 15, after a services in Bethlehem Church conducted by Dr. L. L. Himmelman, Dr. P. E. Daughtery, Rev. G. E. Little and Rev. C. W. Hankey. Forty-three clergy members attended the memorial Service. Rev. Daugherty stepped in and coordinated the supply of guest pastors. Rev. Wentz of Sharpsburg took over the teaching of the 41 catechetical students. The Altar Guild voted to supply solid brass cross, vases, candlesticks and Missal stand to the new addition as a commemorative to Pastor Herman J. Schmid. A special Mortgage burning Service was held on Sept 14 at which time the mortgage on the chapel unit was burned. Dr. Himmelman and Dr. Daugherty officiated and 275 members attend this service. The congregation completed paying for the Chapel unit 12 years ahead of the mortgage requirements. 1959 Mr. Mickley was elected President Pro-tem for 1959 due to the pastoral vacancy. A special congregational meeting was held Sunday Feb 1 following Morning worship to extend a call to Rev. Walter C. Koehler Jr. who had the unanimous endorsement of the both the Pulpit Committee and the Church Council. His call was approved of by 264 to 4. Pastor Walter C. Koehler, Jr. was installed in April On July 5, 1859 a special congregational meetings was called to address some “Inadequacies” in the parsonage – a Philadelphian minister had noted that the parsonage laced a full size dining room. The council recommended to the congregation that a dining room be added at a cost of $4800. The ULCW made 564 plum puddings. The ULCM worked about the building and grounds and sponsored a dinner for Husbands and wives. In addition to preparing the ten communion services, the altar guild supplied palms and ferns for Palm Sunday and Easter The Sunday school emphasized “Teacher Training” that included systematic departmental preview of coming quarters’ lessons and a series of classes on the use and appreciation of the Bible conducted by Pastor Koehler. Sunday school enrollments were “bursting the seams” and the Superintendent , F. A. Wilson, emphasized the need for the church addition or rental of additional classroom space. 1960s 1960 - The women voted to discontinue making plum puddings and instead create items for the Lutheran Service Society. The United Lutheran Church Men (ULCM) had a busy year as a service organization. They repaired the folding chairs for the Church school and the chairs in the nursery, visited shut-ins with taped recordings of Sunday services, constructed six Lecterns, arranged for grass cutting and landscaping of Campbell Park, set up and removed Christmas trees and lawn display, and they purchased and installed steel shelving in the basement storage room. The 1960 budget was amended at the congregational meeting to increase the Pastor’s salary from $4440 to $5000 per year. The Pastor’s report (Koehler) noted that 25% of the confirmed membership did not receive the Sacrament even once during the year (although there were six communion services) A special congregational meeting was called in June 1960 to discuss funding for the proposed new addition (authorization to borrow up to $325,000). Discussion included installation of a Pipe organ and whether the new pews should include kneeling benches. 1961 – Jan 1, Ground breaking for the new Sanctuary - first worship in new sanctuary on Nov 12 and dedication service on Dec 3. The United Lutheran Church Women were active in the Lutheran Service Society and Passavant Hospital – The women made many gifts for these organizations including: Bed Jackets, bed socks wash cloth dolls, bibs, placemats, cross book marks, lap robes, draw-string bags, scrap books and 14 dozen colored Easter Eggs. 1962 – Bethlehem became part of the new “Lutheran Church in America” and completed its first full year in the new church. Sunday worship saw an 11% increase, reaching an average attendance of 321. Events in 1962 included: Jan 3-7 Community week of Prayer Services held at BLC Mar 17, Hamma Divinity School Choir April 15 (Palm Sunday) 32 young people were confirmed. June 10 Allen Dietz and Stanley Gardner participate in Sunday service. They are ordained on June 13 as the third and fourth “sons of Bethlehem” to enter the Ministry. June 17 New pipe organ used for the first time. – it was dedicated Oct 21 as the H. J. Schmid Memorial Organ June 28-30 Constituting convention of the Lutheran Church in America held in Detroit Sunday school attendance averaged 252 children /week. The Luther Leagues (junior and senior youth groups) averaged a weekly attendance of 35 and included activities: Rallies of the central conference, attendance at baseball and football games, picnics, bowling and miniature golf, collection for UNICEF and Christmas caroling. 1963 church budget stood at $60,300 including $24,400 for debt retirement (1/3 of budget). Council recommended that Special Offerings and Communion envelopes be given to Benevolence cause over and above the regular minimum goal, because the congregation has been blest and should show its appreciation by giving to others. Lenten services were moved from 8:00 pm to 7:30 to accommodate families with young children. In June of 1965, our Congregation helped to establish Nativity Lutheran Church as a Mission Congregation in Allison Park, thus passing along the support and assistance which was given us when we were first established as a Mission Church. 1970s In the 1970's Bethlehem's vibrant ministry continued. A particular focus was with the youth. Each summer Pastor Steve Myers and a team of adults and youth would travel to West Virginia to do improvements on homes and even a church building that needed repair. These trips had such impact that they live on in stories told today around the congregation. 1980s Mark Nurnberger, current Director of Music and Christian Education, first came to Bethlehem as our part-time organist/choir director in the fall of 1979. Also, a new pastor arrived in 1980, the Rev. Gerald Huhn. The demands of the congregation's ministries grew, the mortgage was paid off, and so Bethlehem grasped the opportunity to call Mark, as he has been known by young and old alike, to full-time service in 1982. He continued his work in music and took on the responsibility of all of the aspects of the Christian Education ministries, as well. A new area of ministry that developed was drama. The highlight of this was the presentation of Amahl and the Night Visitors on Epiphany Sunday, January 10, 1988. As we celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, it is with a deep sense of gratitude for all that has been accomplished through the faith and vision of the members who have gone before. This year also marks the completion of the mortgage on the Main Church and the Congregation will again be debt free. We look to a future of expanded ministry and pray for God's continued blessing as we seek to serve Him in His Kingdom with zeal and enthusiasm. HISTORY OF THE CHURCH SUNDAY - February 10th The 50th Anniversary celebration was begun with "The History of Our Church" Service. The Rev. W. Blair Claney, the first pastor of the congregation, participated and told about the beginnings of the congregation and his pastorate. Pastor Myers recounted the ministries of the other six pastors who have served the congregation. The presentation was highlighted by the use of slides illustrating the history of the church. Another highlight was the Alumni Choir made up of former and present members who provided special music. WOMEN OF THE CHURCH SUNDAY - May 4th Members of the Lutheran Church Women conducted our worship this Sunday to celebrate the contributions of women to the history of our church. Mrs. Ruth Maloney served as liturgist and the following women presented the history of the women's organizations of Bethlehem: In a candlelight ceremony, the special services of several members of LCW were recognized. Certificates in honor of 50 years of service were presented to Mrs. Bertha Swartz and Mrs. Margaret Maier. Certificates in recognition of over 25 years of service were presented to: Mrs, Ruth Large, Mrs. Althea Johnston, Mrs. Lillian Kern, Mrs. Ruth Schmid, Mrs. Margaret Wilson. Mrs. June Mickley, Mrs. Marie Liberto, Mrs. Betty Jane Miller, Mrs. Loma Haughton, Mrs. Rita Pfeiffer, and Mrs. Dorothy Saling. ACTIVE CHARTER MEMBERS Mrs. John (Amelia) Ott Mrs. David (Althea) Johnston Mrs. George (Lillian) Kern Mrs. Walter H. (Margaret) Maier Mrs. Edward G. (Dorothy) Saling Mrs. Charles (Bertha) Swartz Mrs. Merrill (Ruth) Large INACTIVE CHARTER MEMBERS Mrs. James (Florence) Donnelly Mr. Harry IIch Mrs. Russell Cricks, Sr. 1990s The 1990's brought the opportunity to reach out to people new to the North Hills. Established neighborhoods were changing from older generations to younger ones. Some new housing was being built. Bethlehem also called a new pastor in 1990, the Rev. Blair Morgan. Going beyond the church building, a sister congregation [Trinity?] was aided, homeless shelters were served, community serves received aid and numerous volunteers gave of their time. Strengthening the ministry of Bethlehem took place in different ways to better reach these new people. Regular long-range planning helped us in our ministry focus. We worked at being a congregation concerned for the homeless. This began a close relationship with Northside Common Ministries, an agency which runs the Pleasant Valley Shelter for Men. We started a Family Retreat Weekend in which all ages of people from Bethlehem, whether single or as families, spend a weekend at Lutherlyn, our Lutheran camp in Butler County. We hold an annual Tent Service weekend on the street in front of the church (Saturday night includes an ice cream social and entertainment; Sunday morning we hold one service outside under the tent). We expanded our music ministry by expanding the number of vocal choirs and bell choirs. We worked to strengthen our ability to effectively disciple all ages. Pastor Morgan began to offer a retreat weekend for discipleship training based on the faith disciplines of Word, Sacrament, Prayer, Fellowship and Witness (WSPFW). We expanded our staff over a period of years. At first, we had a part-time Youth Director in Glenn Sauer. Later we tried a full-time position called a Director of Youth and Small Group Ministries, which was served by Mary Browne. 2000s On Sunday, October 29, 2000, Bethlehem Lutheran church celebrated its 70th anniversary with a special service. Pastor Blair Morgan and former Pastors C. Gerald Huhn and Walter C. Koehler, Jr. participated in the worship service. The Rev. Edward Saling, the son of charter member Dorothy Saling, gave the address. The Rev. Anthony Schneck accepted the call to be our Associate Pastor in 2001. With a second pastor available, the Worship and Music Committee worked to develop an additional worship service. In the Fall of 2002, a third service was begun on Saturday evenings at 6:00 PM. It was designed to be a spoken service (no music) with Holy Communion offered each week. People have been encouraged to "come as you are." Dressed up or dressed down, it doesn't matter!
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