History of Bethel Lutheran Church
In late 1945, the Lutheran Mission in Lander was begun. Services were held every Sunday afternoon in the old American Legion Hall (now the Odd Fellows' Hall) on Washakie Street by Rev. Walter Haag of Trinity Lutheran Church - Riverton. Later, services were held in the home of member Mary Heller. After this, they were held in the Episcopal Parish Hall at the corner of 3rd & Garfield St. From 1951 to 1956 services were held in the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 2nd & Eugene St. This worked out very well because of the different days of worship.
Included in the small group were Nonie (Wagner) Nirider, Irene (Gehrt) Brodie, and Gus and Esther Scheele. Nonie Nirider was the first confirmand of the mission.
In 1948, Rev. Frederick Niedner of Mt. Hope - Kinnear began serving the Mission and Diana Brodie was the first infant baptized in the new mission. The Rev. Ed Schmidt of Trinity - Riverton also served the Mission.
In June of 1950, the Rev. James Mack was called by the Northern Nebraska District Mission Board to be a missionary-at-large in the Lander area. The Mission grew and on January 7, 1952, the Mission was organized into a congregation and chose Bethel Lutheran Church as its name. A constitution was adopted and officers were elected.
In 1954, four lots were purchased on the corner of 6th and Shoshone streets. A new church building was dedicated on April 8, 1956. The parsonage next to the church was completed in August of 1958.
The Rev. Elmer Schomberg was installed as Pastor on August 31, 1958 and served until October of 1965. The Rev. Rollin Behrens was installed as Pastor on August 7, 1966 and served until 1972. An educational wing and parish hall was added to the present church and was dedicated on May 16, 1971.
The Rev. Arnold Fischer was installed in October of 1972 and served until 1978 when Rev. Floyd Schweiger was installed. In August of 1982, Vicar Ronald Garwood was inducted and on September 11, 1983, he was installed as Pastor of Bethel and served until 1986.
In April 1987, Rev. Donald Johnson was installed as Pastor of Bethel. In 1989 during the time Rev. Johnson was pastor, a new organ was purchased.
In 2000, the building of a new chancel was begun and completed in 2001. The architect was Bethel member, Jerry Voigt. The construction of the church was with the assistance of Laborers for Christ. the first service was held on January 28, 2001 and a dedication was held on March 18, 2001. A mortgage burning was held on July 15, 2007. Just 7 years into a 30 year loan. In 2002 Fred Schroeder was inducted as Vicar. In 2003 he was installed as Pastor and served the congregation until April 2015, when he had to retire for reasons of health. The church was served by Rev. David Magruder of Trinity, Riverton as they sought another pastor. On June 12, 2016, Pastor Noah Fremer was installed and serves the congregation at the time of this writing.
The Lord has blessed us with faithful people, faithful ministers, and many years of serving Lander and Fremont County. We pray that He will continue to make us faithful to His mission.
Contributors: Irene Brodie and Harvey Andersen (primarily), JoAnn Schroeder, and Pastor Fremer.