A Firm Foundation
THE BEGINNINGS OF BETHEL
The founder of the Bethel Congregation wrote on the occasion of our ‘Silver Jubilee’ that many were surprised when the German-speaking Bethel congregation was called to life on February 6. 1949, so soon after World War II. German immigrants, who came from fourteen different European regions, would join together to become “Bethel Evangelisch Lutherische Kirche”.
The congregation grew at a frantic pace as seen here in the picture outside at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Kitchener. The use of St. Paul’s congregation’s facility sufficed only till 1953, when the influx of D.P.s (displaced persons) from the bombed-out and unemployment-plagued Germany crested. The young congregation bought an old Mennonite Church building on Church Street in Kitchener in 1952. In 1956, now a congregation of approximately 1000, plans were made to build a new larger church to serve the congregation for many years to come.
On June 23, 1963 the Bethel congregation moved into the brand new church with 16 Sunday School rooms and a large auditorium. A German-Language School, theatre groups, choirs, bands, and youth group were all running from this beautiful new location at 47 Sheldon Ave North, in Kitchener. Below is some vintage 8mm footage of the construction, dedication, and first service. We continue to operate from this location today!
Around the time of celebrating our forty years of blessed service to the Lord as a congregation, there were already signs that the need to preach the Gospel Message in the English language for the younger generation. Around 1982, English services were held with the help of seminarians in another room of the church, and by 1986 regular English church services were held in the sanctuary in addition to the German service. Bethel now had two ministers meeting the needs of the congregation. We continue here at Bethel with a focus on God’s word, fellowship, and missions. We welcome visitors and new members of all ages. As one of our Pastors often said “Come on home to Bethel!”
PASTORS SERVING BETHEL
Rev. Christian Wetzstein – 1949-1956 †
Rev. Pruefer – 1956-1982 †
Rev. Otto Bischoff – 1982-1998 †
Rev. Orlowski – 1985 – 1991
Rev. Bill Mundt – 1991 – 2000
Rev. Fred Rink – 1998 – 2004
Rev. Mark Haessig – 2002 – 2005
Rev. Jayanta Das – 2009 – 2013
Rev. Aaron Rubach – 2005 – 2014 †
Rev. Walter Hambrock – 2007 – 2014
Rev. William Gillissie – 2005 – 2016
Rev. Perry Hart – 2016 – 2019
Rev. Gilvan de Azevedo – 2017 – 2021
Rev. Allan Scharlach – 2022 – 2023 (interim)
Rev. Davi Schmidt – 2023 – present
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Bethel’s current location on Sheldon Ave N, Kitchener