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author of this document was Mrs. Lilli Varga (~1923-1993),
who, for unknown reasons, chose not to list her authorship.
paper is intended to be a thoroughly researched, but brief
history of the Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church of Georgetown,
Connecticut, from its founding in 1908, to the present time.
It will be an attempt to cover the actual organization of
the church and the various societies within its structure.
A description of the Sunday School and its function will also
the Danbury, Connecticut Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
has had close ties with the Georgetown church and finally
merged with it in 1955, Trinity Church will not be included
except as it interrelated with the Georgetown congregation.
church owes much to its spiritual leaders and the dedicated
people who founded the church and worked over the years to
support it and improve it, also to help it to grow, These
aspects, too, will be covered as competently as possible.
ONE: FOUNDING OF THE CHURCH.
hearty group of Swedish speaking immigrants to the United
States from the Russian dominated islands of Aland, Finland
came together in the small community of Georgetown, Connecticut,
in the district of Redding in Fairfield County, to found the
Swedish-Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church. Although their
political background had been varied because of military acquisitions
and treaties, their cultural heritage was firmly Swedish.
the fifty-two charter members, (See Appendix I) only two came
from Sweden, itself. The largest two sub-groups came from
Sund and Saltvik in Aland. They arrived in America during
the late 1890's and early 1900's, One of the earliest emigrants
a Mrs. Anna Olivio Johnson Leiberg from Sweden, came in 1882,
but she lived in Brooklyn, New York, until 1906. This group,
far from its native land, yearned for a religious organization
similar to the one they had known from childhood. Meetings
were held in the private homes of interested Lutherans from
time to time, and visits were made by pastors from the Seaman's
Mission in Brooklyn, New York, on an infrequent basis.
H. Gustafson and John Carlson were asked to go to the Finnish-Lutheran
Seaman's Mission Church in Brooklyn, New York, to try to arrange
for a minister to come to Georgetown to conduct religious
services. Also, a member of the community was ill and desired
to receive Holy Communion from a Lutheran pastor.
momentous visit appears to be the initiating step out of which
was to grow a strong and well supported Church, Pastor Torsten
Hohenthal, of the Brooklyn Seaman's Mission, visited Georgetown
regularly and encouraged the group to form a Mission Society.
January 20, 1908, the people met formally and under Pastor
Hohenthal's ,guidance organized as the "Finska Sjomansmissionsforeningen"
(Finnish Seaman's Mission Society). Officers were chosen with
Charles (Karl) Gustafson, George Anderson, Johan Karlson,
Karl Johnson, August and Fred Sundquist filling the first
slate. Mrs. Alma Ronnholm, Mrs. Hulda Nordlund, August Johnson
and a Mrs. Englund were selected as leaders for the singing.
Arrangements were made with Pastor Hohenthal to hold regular
prayer meetings. He was also to buy the organizational materials
such as a secretary's book, a treasurer's book, membership
cards and other sundries.
front room (living room) in the home of Mrs. Edla Petterson
was rented at a cost of three dollars a month as a meeting
place for religious services and business meetings.
several enthusiastic gatherings, Pastor Hohenthal, in June
of 1908, encouraged the society to form a full fledged church
in affiliation with the Augustana Synod of the Lutheran Church.
The Reverend Doctor Gustaf Nelsenius, President of the New
York Conference which had jurisdiction of the churches in
New England at the time, expedited the organizational details.
July 7, 1908, a special meeting was held and the Swedish-Finnish
Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church formally came into being.
Officers and deacons were elected. Dues of fifty cents per
man and twenty-five cents per woman per month were agreed
upon. The fifty-two adults who became members on this specific
day were considered to be the charter members.
leaders present on this inspirational occasion were Doctor
Nelsenius, Pastor Hohenthal, the Reverend Doctor Peter Froeberg
and John L. Benson, a divinity student from Upsala College
in East Orange, New Jersey, who had been engaged to conduct
religious services for the newly formed congregation.
TWO: ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH.
their new church formally established, the energetic congregation
proceeded with the writing of a constitution which would govern
all functions of the church, religious and business, The duties
of Deacons, The Board of Trustees, the minister and other
officers were specifically categorized. Moreover, it delineated
the moral values the members considered paramount.
group, on August 1, 1908, made practical arrangements to house
their new congregation. It was voted that a building lot should
be purchased for seventy-five dollars. By September 2, 1908,
this deed had been accomplished and the new communicants owned
a quarter of an acre, for the seventy-five dollars, on Portland
Avenue in Redding, Connecticut. One interesting stipulation
in the deed gives the northwest boundary as a small oak tree.
land was obtained from David E. and Mary E, Smith, who were
large landholders in that district. The church members decided
to ask Reverend Froeberg of Bridgeport, to serve as vice-pastor
in order to have an ordained minister officiate at the Holy
enable them to meet their financial obligations, many and
varied projects were carried out. Besides the regular donations
and collections of the membership, a public canvass for the
building fund was begun, $279.81 was raised from non-members
in the community and $269.00 from the congregation. A continuing
effort was the coffee and cake sold at all meetings by the
young women who had organized as a Sewing Society. The ladies
also arranged lawn socials, basket suppers and auctions. Suppers
were packed in baskets and auctioned off to the men. Whoever
made the highest bid on an individual basket, paid for the
supper and shared it with the young lady who had furnished
the meal. Of course, no one was supposed to know who the feminine
donor was, but this was probably the most poorly kept secret
in the congregation, Some spirited and profitable bargaining
went on especially if two young men were rivals for the same
fledgling church group, ambitiously working toward their goal,
contracted with Mr. Michael Connery to build their church.
Mr. Connery and his brother, James, owned a general store
in Georgetown and provided almost anything one needed from
materials to construct a church, to grain to feed a horse.
Research into the church treasurer's book showed amounts paid
to Connery Brothers for lanterns, oil to run them, construction
materials and also payment on the principal and interest of
a loan the congregation obtained from "Mike" Connery in 1909.
The parish members borrowed $1000 at 5% interest, in January
of 1909. As collateral they handed over to Mr. Connery, on
a Mortgage Deed, the ownership of the land and the newly constructed
this time, however, as the church had been completed, the
congregation gathered together for its first service in their
new building on November 28, 1908. Holy Communion and dedication
ceremonies were celebrated that day. Among the celebrants
were Doctor Nelsenius, Doctor H. L. Beck, President of Upsala
College, Pastor Froeberg and Reverends Hohentha1 and A. J.
Ostlin. A student from Upsala College, Carl Lund, played the
musical renditions to "everyone's satisfaction" on the organ
which had been purchased and installed for the triumphant
occasion. What a remarkable achievement in such a short time.
Truly, these people were inspired.
further consolidate their position, the congregation voted
to become a corporation, On January 18, 1909, they filed a
Certificate of Organization in Hartford, Connecticut, as a
Corporation Without Capital. In July of 1913, after four and
one half years of zealously raising money and judiciously
making payments of principal and interest, the congregation
was able to completely pay off their debt to Mr. Connery and
again the land and building belonged to them.
is interesting to note, also, the financial arrangements the
members had with the ministers and the people in other paid
positions. The student pastor was paid ten dollars a month
for weekend services. Travelling expenses, room and board
were also reimbursed. Members of the congregation would house
him for a reasonable sum. Visiting ministers had transportation,
room and board, if needed, compensated for by the parishioners.
The monetary collection from the service of the day was usually
given to the minister who officiated at special ceremonies
such as Holy Communion.
weekly collection every three months was paid to Gustaf Johnson
who was engaged as the organist in 1908 and was to continue
in that position for about forty years. As the collections
varied, so did the pay until 1912, when thirty-six dollars
was set as the organist's annual salary and was raised to
fifty dollars a year in 1916, with a drop to twenty-five dollars
during the 1930's, the stipend was again upped to fifty dollars,
and in 1949, was still at that level.
THREE: THE SUNDAY SCHOOL.
adult communicants followed the established Lutheran religious
services under the spiritual guidance of Doctor Peter Froeberg
and the student pastor, John L. Benson. They were, however,
naturally concerned about the religious instruction of their
children and immediately proceeded to organize a Sunday School,
At the first annual meeting of the church members in 1909,
Mr. Karl Gustafson was selected to begin a Sunday School as
soon as possible. Beginning on Sunday, February 28, 1909,
with nine children and three teachers, (see author's note)
the year ended with ten pupils and four instructors, not counting
the Bible Class which started at the same time. Mr. John Rosendahl
became the assistant superintendent and also served as a teacher.
Later he became superintendent and gave long and faithful
service until he resigned the positions in the late 1930's,
but he remained an industrious worker for the Church for a
good many years after that. Shortly after the origin of the
Sunday School, Miss Esther Johnson and Mr. Alfred Karlson
were voted in as additional teachers.
Hjalmar Letzler, a student from Upsala College, was nominated
to act as Bible Class instructor and financial records of
the church show he taught one and a half years.
the Confirmation Class, only two young people, Estelle and
Eric Liedberg, were old enough to join and they were confirmed
on April 29, 1910.
Sunday School was gradually set up along the grade level lines
of public secular schools. The beginners would use the "Forsta
Lasee Boken", (The First Reading Book) and as they moved to
the higher classes they would use the ''Lilla Katekes",(The
Little Catechism), The Reading Book comprised simply written,
easy to read, bible stories. The Catechism consisted of The
Lord's Prayer, all of the Ten Commandments, The Apostle's
Creed and a few other of the biblical exhortations with explanations
and interpretations. When a pupil was finished with the seventh
class, or about thirteen years of age, he entered the Confirmation
Class. Although in the early years the classes were all using
materials written in the Swedish language, the confirmands
were given the choice of using English or Swedish bibles.
Until several years had passed, the majority used the latter.
Regular classes for the confirmands were held each Sunday
with the minister's wife often called in to be the instructor.
Once a week, usually on Saturdays, from September to the following
late Spring, the Confirmation Class had to attend religious
instructions. These classes were the direct responsibility
of the minister. After about a year of classes the confirmands
had to pass an oral examination with the congregation as an
audience. They were then permitted to partake of their first
Holy Communion and were received into the church as members.
Sunday School paper "The Olive Leaf" was added at a later
date and a perusal of the Sunday School Secretary's minutes
show the teachers received new materials to revise the instructional
methods and curricula at regular intervals.
more English influences were added to the church school program.
The faculty voted to sing songs, using English words, from
the Junior Hymnal when and if they were so inclined. Bible
picture charts were used as visual aids and the teachers made
illustrations depicting the Ten Commandments, English text
books were reviewed by the teachers and the Biblical A.B,C.
was introduced to create greater interest for the younger
recent years the "Christian Growth Series" was an innovation
so that the local Sunday School would be using materials in
line with the rest of the Lutheran Churches in the United
States, This trend has continued and the Swedish language
is no longer used for any of the Sunday School program.
FOUR: ADDITIONS TO THE CHURCH PROPERTY.
the middle of 1913, the church had been completed and was
debt free. Except for minor repairs and usual upkeep, the
congregation put off further improvements until after 1915,
when a platform was built to provide for a pulpit and altar
with a kneeling ring, It was between 1915 and 1918, that pews
were constructed in the church and the beautiful stained glass
windows were installed.
need for a parsonage was evident. Student and visiting pastors
had to be provided with room and board at a weekly cost which
was a continuing expense with no chance to build up an equity
in any property.
eventful date was May 26, 1926. The land and buildings immediately
adjacent to the church were purchased from Harry E, Reed of
Norwalk for four thousand dollars, His deceased parents had
owned the property. This project was made possible by a loan
of three thousand dollars at 6% interest from two church members,
Mr. and Mrs. Axel Ranholm. The collateral was the parsonage
new furnace and other minor improvements were added. Because
of the economic conditions after 1929, further expansion proceeded
at a slow pace. The next major objective began with the excavation
of the basement under the church and the partial completion
of a parish room in the late thirties. Almost all of the work
was done by members and friends of the church with the costs
being shared by the Men's Brotherhood Society, the Young People's
Society and The Naomi Sewing Society. In 1952, the room was
renovated and kitchen facilities were added. The Brotherhood
and Naomi Societies were largely responsible for this improvement.
the war years of the 1940's, the parishioners worked faithfully
and diligently, and on the 23rd of November, in 1945, the
parsonage was fully paid for and the mortgage was burned.
surgery" was performed on the parsonage in 1955, with a new
furnace installed, rooms, doors and porches changed, and wiring,
painting and papering done throughout the house.
having completed the refurbishing of the parsonage, attention
was again turned to the church, It was agreed by the members
that the enlargement of the church was not only desirable,
but necessary. Plans by an architect were accepted and a contractor
was hired. The work was completed and the beautifully constructed
addition was dedicated in March of 1958.
last major accomplishment to date, was the acquisition of
a modern home, in a beautiful setting, in Ridgefield, Connecticut,
to serve as a parsonage. The house was purchased from Mr.
and Mrs. Ernest Sturges. The former parsonage was changed
into classrooms for the Sunday School and serves that function
at the present time, as was noted on a personal visit by the
author of this paper.
FIVE: SOCIETIES OF THE CHURCH.
the Swedish group first met to lay plans for the organization
of their church, the ladies of the assemblage decided to form
a Sewing Society, later named the Naomi Society, in affiliation
with the Seaman's Mission. They wanted to work toward the
financial realization of their church building goal. To say
they were successful is a complete understatement of fact.
Report after report, book after book gives evidence of their
tremendous earning ability and the continuing siphoning of
funds to the various church projects. When they were not making
actual cash donations to the congregation, they were buying
such items as a one hundred piece set of dishes for the kitchen
in the church, screens for the parsonage and covering for
the altar and pulpit.
ladies used many ingenious methods to raise money including
coffee and cake for fifteen cents, served after every meeting.
Naturally, the men were invited to increase the profit. The
suppers and auctions mentioned previously in this paper, cake
sales, concerts, bazaars, and especially the annual Midsummer
festival were held.
practical task undertaken by the women was the weekly cleaning
of the church. Two women a month volunteered to be responsible
for the chore. The Society is still flourishing today and
some of its original members, although perhaps not as active,
are working with the younger generations to support the current
church projects as they arise.
Young People's Cultural Society got an early start, also,
but was not as durable as the Naomi Society. They organized
as the Young People's Cultural Society of the Bethlehem Congregation
in Georgetown, Connecticut, in 1908. Their goal was the spiritual,
intellectual and cultural advancement of the young people
of the church.
of their most noteworthy accomplishments was the collection
of books written in the Swedish language and the initiation
of a Swedish Book Department in the Georgetown Public Library.
Unfortunately for everyone, this Library is no longer in existence.
In 1912, the Young People's Society had only eighteen members
and the 1913 annual church meeting minutes does not include
a report for this society. Again in 1920, the young people
attempted to become functionable and their organization seems
to have lasted about a year on this try. Refusing to give
up, the Young People's Society #3, as the members called themselves,
organized with an enrollment of thirty-two, increasing to
fifty-five by the third meeting which looked promising. This
time the date was 1931.
group changed its name for a short time when it joined the
Hartford District and became known as a Luther League. It
reverted to its original name when it dropped its affiliation
with the Hartford District of Luther Leagues because of a
lack of finances.
order to give financial aid to the church, the society gave
full length plays as one of the more interesting ways of raising
money. The plays were presented in the Gilbert and Bennet
Elementary School and were well attended by the town's people.
Tickets sold for forty cents for adults and twenty-five cents
for children, and sums as high as two hundred and thirty-five
dollars were realized, Of course, advertisements purchased
by local merchants helped increase the total.
monies raised were largely used for donations to the church.
The group also financed specific projects of improvements
in the church properties.
to function until about 1947, this group proved to be the
heartiest of the three young people's societies. The Eighty
Club for young married couples and another Luther League was
established a short time later, but only the League prospered
and that was on an intermittent basis of cessation and re-establishment.
men of the church created their own organization on January
29, 1916, and became known as the Men's Concordia Society,
later changing the name to The Brotherhood. While the men
were slower in establishing themselves as an integral group,
they have been every bit as energetic and proficient in raising
funds to donate to the church. Many were the projects they
not only financed, but more important, they gave generously
of their many and varying skills.
Young Women's Missionary Society was activated in August of
1933. Visiting missionaries described their work in foreign
countries. The young women sent letters and received answers
from workers in the foreign missionary field. The society's
goal was to arouse interest in the Lutheran missions and to
try to support them to the best of their ability. The demise
of this society came within five years.
most recent organization in the church was the Double or Nothing
Club composed of young married couples who "offered recreation
and decent get-togethers". At first, only husbands and wives,
as a couple, were permitted to join. That has since been changed
as there were too many widows in the congregation, and singles
(men or women) are permitted to participate.
SIX: CUSTOMS AND CELEBRATIONS.
Swedish immigrants, strangers in a new land, naturally brought
their customs with them from Aland and Sweden. The celebration
of prime importance to the Lutherans was the Julafton (Christmas
Eve) festivities which culminated in a church attendance before
daybreak called. Julotta. This ceremony was the religious
celebration of Christ's birth, On a crisp, wintery morning
about 5 A.M., most of the parishioners walking to church,
it was almost impossible not to feel a sense of reverence
and joy at the remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ. With
the candle light glowing and the muted voices of the congregation
singing the songs of the season, it offered a feeling of joyful,
celebration of next greatest importance to the Scandinavians
was the Mid-Summer Night's festival, This activity dated back
to the days of the Vikings, It was dedicated to the glorification
of nature and was later solemnized religiously as St. John
the Baptist's day. Usually, the festival was held around June
24th. Outdoor dancing, eating and game plain were enjoyed.
of the games enjoyed by the people of Aland and later brought
to Georgetown, was the "Enke-leken sista paret" (Widower's
game, last pair), The young men and women would line up, one
couple behind the other. A man (the widower) would stand in
front of the group with his back to them, He would call, "Last
pair out," and the couple would run around opposite sides
of the group. The object was that the young man was to catch
the girl before the widower could, If the man lost, he would
take the place of the widower and the game would proceed with
the newly formed couple taking their place at the front of
great importance to the young bogs and girls of the congregation,
was the day of confirmation, They would have been prepared
by the minister on the material that would be covered at the
oral, public examination. Sometimes, as many as a hundred
questions were involved and the young students did not know
which queries they would be called upon to answer.
the confirmand successfully passed his examination, given
before as many of the church members as wanted to attend the
ceremony, he was accepted as a member of the church. This
oral performance was not taken lightly and was subject to
the comment of any or all of the parishioners. It was even
listed in the congregational register whether a confirmand's
knowledge of the church's literature was adequate or very
accepted into the church the new member was permitted to receive
Holy Communion which was the Lord's Supper consisting of a
dry wafer and wine, This symbolically represented the body
and blood of Christ.
the new Americans came from a hearty, active Scandinavian
stock, many of their activities were held outdoors. Games
were enjoyed, good food supplied and eaten in quantity, and
of course, singing was always included. No meeting or recreational
event ended without a religious song of blessing, the thanksgiving
for all the benefits these people felt they had gained and
SEVEN: MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH.
the very beginning, this bustling, thriving church has had
to depend on divinity students from Upsala College and vice
pastors from other congregations for much of their spiritual
guidance. The first resident pastor, Reverend Carl A. Benander,
arrived in 1911, but only remained a year. It was not intil
1915, that Reverend Samuel R. Swenson began his residency.
During his tenure of approximately three years, many improvements
were made to the church. Another resident pastor was not to
appear until Reverend O. O. Eckardt was called in 1930. Pastor
Eckardt was to remain for seven years and was the first minister
to occupy the parsonage. After the resignation of Pastor Eckardt,
a hiatus on resident pastors continued until 1948. From then
until 1954, Reverend Harold Faust, Reverend Martin Leeseberg
and Reverend John Nosco were resident pastors for short periods
of time. During Reverend Elmer L. Olsen's pastorate, dating
from 1955, the Golden Anniversary of the founding of the church
was held. Some of the charter members were present, including
Charles H. Gustafson, a leading spirit in the founding of
the church. Completed in time for the celebration was the
new addition to the church.
was also during Pastor Olsen's period of office that the Trinity
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Danbury, Connecticut, which
had over the years shared ministers and student pastors with
the Georgetown church, asked to affiliate with the Bethlehem
Evangelical Lutheran Church. The local church accepted and
the Trinity congregation became members and turned over all
its assets and liabilities to the Georgetown church.
Olsen was to remain until late in the year of 1964, and then
the present spiritual leader, Reverend Thomas B. Kline came
to the Lutheran Church in the spring of 1965. Under his guidance
the new parsonage was purchased in Ridgefield.
Pastor Kline retired in 1973, the Rev. Donald L. Kent was
called to be pastor. Property behind the church was purchased
from the John Nordlund estate in 1975. In 1979, the back entrance
to the parish house was added and the parking lot was constructed
on this added property. The Rev. John R. Henrich was called
to serve as pastor in 1983 and Bethlehem became a member of
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1988. The Rev.
William Mark White received the call to serve Bethlehem in
January of 1994, the third and present parsonage, the former
John Nordlund home, was purchased. This purchase included
land and outbuildings, thereby providing potential for future
expansion and development, The second parsonage on Branchville
Road was sold to Mr. Philip Lodewick, a member of St. Andrew's
Lutheran Church in Ridgefield. He held ownership of this building
until it was possible for St. Andrew's to sell their parsonage.
At that time, ownership was transferred to St. Andrew's and
they are presently using this Branchville Road property as
their new parsonage.
Christian Education Building was renovated in 1994 to meet
the State standards set for use by a nursery school. In September,
1994, The Waldorf School Program began a nursery school called
The Rose Garden School in this building. It continues to grow
and at this time has expanded to two sessions per day with
a waiting list of families who wish to participate.
December, 1994, Bethlehem called the Rev. Sandra M. Marotz
to be pastor.
all these years the church has thrived and while it has changed
its complexion somewhat, it is still growing. Salaries for
the ministers have shown an increase. A sum of one thousand
dollars and full use of the parsonage at no cost, was recommended
as payment for a resident pastor in 1948. In 1958, it was
raised to four thousand three hundred dollars a year with
living quarters provided. Fringe benefits included utilities,
Social Security payments and an automobile expense allowance.
During the intervening years up to the present, the annual
salary has risen to seventy-five hundred dollars with parsonage
use, utilities, Social Security fees and reimbursement for
car expenses in addition.
has shown a decided growth. From a beginning with fifty-two
charter members and seventeen children, the church register
presently shows an enrollment of two hundred eighty adult
parishioners and one hundred fifty-four youngsters.
the years progressed, many non-Swedish speaking people showed
an interest in the church. To encourage an expansion in membership,
services in the English language were offered on alternate
Sundays. As the older members became more accustomed to America
and the younger generations began growing up, less Swedish
was spoken in the homes. Gradually, the English language has
taken over in all phases of the church's functions and in
1949, the name of the church was changed to the Bethlehem
Evangelical Lutheran Church.
annual Christmas morning Service is no longer called Julotta,
and its observance has been changed to a Midnight Service
held on Christmas Eve so it runs into Christmas morning. The
Choir serves faithfully, the children of each succeeding generation
taking the place of their parents. Newly enrolled members,
also, help to increase the size of the Choir and to provide
the music which is an essential part of the Lutheran religion.
rewarding and prosperous future would seem to be inevitable
for such a dedicated people, New goals will be sought and
successfully accomplished. "The church's location is considered
to be the most beautiful in Georgetown," was a statement made
in 1933, in an historical research survey article, As this
writer noted during a personal visit, with the loving care
tendered by a devoted congregation, it is even more beautiful
today. (See Appendix II)
profound discovery was made. There is no such thing as a brief
history of an institution such as the Bethlehem Lutheran Church,
even though it has existed for only sixty-two years.
great deal of time was spent over a period of three years
in research. Church records were carefully studied, volumes
of them written in Swedish which had to be translated into
English. Private interviews in towns as widely separated as
Hartford and Stamford, Connecticut, were conducted.
documents in Hartford, Redding, Ridgefield and Wilton were
researched. Letters were sent to Aland; Finland; Orange, New
Jersey; Massachusetts and various Connecticut towns. A research
project of this type is immensely interesting, but one contact
offers another lead, and it never ends.
endeavor like this is a most enjoyable task, but it is much
too time consuming.
Torsten M, Hohenthal of the Seamen's Mission in Brooklyn,
New York, conducts services for Lutherans in Georgetown. The
group rents space in Mrs. Edla Peterson's house for meetings.
L. Benson, a student at Upsala College, conducts services.
The Rev. Dr. Peter Froeberg, Pastor of Salem Lutheran Church,
Bridgeport, later President of Upsala College, is first vice-pastor.
Swedish-Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Georgetown
is organized with 53 adults and 17 children. The Rev. Dr.
Gustaf Nelsenius, President of the New York Conference officiates.
present church property is purchased for $75, Contract is
made with Michael Connery to build a church for $1,700,
first service is held in the new church. Charles Gustafson
becomes first Sunday School Superintendent and Gustaf R. Johnson
the first Organist.
Rev, Carl A, Bernander becomes first resident pastor.
Rev. Samuel R. Swenson becomes pastor.
purchases the "Read" house for a parsonage.
service is held in English.
Rev. O.O. Eckhardt becomes pastor.
undercroft is completed by members of the Congregation.
of the congregation is changed to Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran
Rev. Elmer L. Olsen becomes pastor.
New Parish House and renovated church is dedicated.
Lutheran Church becomes a member of the Lutheran Church in
Rev, Thomas B, Kline becomes pastor. The Branchville Road
parsonage is purchased.
Rev, Donald L. Kent becomes pastor.
behind the church is purchased from the John Nordlund Estate
for parking and future expansion.
back entrance to the church is added and the parking lot is
Rev, John R. Henrich becomes pastor.
Lutheran Church becomes a member of The Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America.
Rev. William Mark White becomes Pastor.
present parsonage (the former John Nordlund home is purchased.
(This purchase includes land and outbuildings for future expansion.)
former Branchville Road parsonage is sold to Philip Lodewick,
a member of St. Andrew's Cutheran Church. It is eventually
transferred over to St. Andrew's and is being used as their
Christian Education Building (the first parsonage) has been
remodeled to meet State codes and The Waldorf School (nursery
school program) called The Rose Garden School begins classes.
Rev. Sandra M. Marotz becomes pastor.
I - CHARTER MEMBERS JULY 7, 1908
SWEDISH-FINNISH EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN BETHLEHEM CHURCH
Victoria Gustava (Johanson)
Hanna Wilhelmina (Nordstrom)
Jennie Augusta Ingrid
Lydia Olivia (Johanson)
Aina Wilhelmina (Johanson)
Ceralia Erika Maria
Carl August Emanuel
Olga Exenia (Mattson)
Signe Sofia (Gustafson)
Anna Olivia (Johnson)
Elin Maria (Johanson)
Edla Esther (Johnson)
Hulda Irene (Gustafson)
Maria Wilhelmina (Karlson)
Axel Emanuel Knut
Alma Celina (Hohnstrom)
Beata Sofie (Hemming)
Arthur Severin Soderlund
(Erika Wilhelmina)Mimmi (Ronnholm)
II LETTER SENT TO HARTFORD SEMINARY FOUNDATION
Point Danbury, Connecticut
55 Elizabeth Street
engaged in some research in your fine library some time ago,
I was looking for material on the Lutheran Church in Georgetown,
Connecticut. Your library had this church listed as located
in Wilton, Connecticut, I have checked the land records in
the Wilton and Redding Town Offices. This church is and always
has been located in Redding, Connecticut. The article, itself,
is incorrect as it states that this church is in Wilton, Connecticut,
For whatever value this information may be to you, the article
of the Church Archives of Connecticut Lutheran, Vol. II, Prepared
by the Historical Record Survey Division of Community Service
Program Work Projects Administration Sponsored by the Connecticut
State Library New Haven, Connecticut March, 1941, p. 105,
Pictures | Download Word Document
Thomas A. The American Pageant. Boston: D. C. Heath and Company,
Edward McNall Western Civilizations, New York: W. W, Norton
and Company, 1958.
Chaillu, Paul B, The Land of the Midnight Sun New York: Harper
and Brothers, 1981.
O. G, Swedish Life in Town and Country New York: G . P . Putnam's
William Sweden and Finland. New York: MacMillan Co., 1921.
Martin Lilla Katekes ("Little Catechism"), Illinois: Augustana
Book Concern, n.d.
Andrew C, The Scandinavian World, London: Longman, Green and
Roger R. ed. Finland and its Geography: an American Geographical
Handbook. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1955.
England Lutheran (Connecticut), March, 1952.
Hour (Connecticut), September 6, 1958.
Thorvald Aland: an Autonomous Province, pamphlet. Mariehamn,
Aland, Finland: Alands Landslapsstyrelse, 1965.
Inventory of the Church Archives of the Connecticut Lutheran
Churches, Vol., II, Hartford Seminary Foundation, 1941.
Office of the Secretary of State, Certificate of Name. Vol.
XXXII, Hartford, Connecticut, n.d.
Office of the Secretary of State, Corporations Without Capital.
Vol. VII, Hartford, Connecticut, 1910.
Connecticut, General Land Index, Grantee, 1767-1921 inclusive
Connecticut, Land Records, Vols. XXVIII, XXX, XXXI, XXXII,
Connecticut, Land Records. Vol. III.
Evangelical Lutheran Church, "Church Secretary", Georgetown,
Connecticut: 1947. (Handwritten.)
Evangelical Lutheran Church, "Congregational Register", Georgetown,
Connecticut: 1950. (Handwritten.)
Evangelical Lutheran Church, "Fiftieth Anniversary", Georgetown,
Connecticut: 1908-1958. (Printed.)
Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minutes of Sunday School Meetings,
Georgetown, Connecticut: 1929, (Handwritten.)
Evangelical Lutheran Church, "Sixtieth Anniversary", Georgetown,
Connecticut: 1908-1968, (Printed,)
Evangelical Lutheran Church, Treasury Book, Georgetown Connecticut:
Minutes of Meetings, Georgetown, Connecticut: Church Records,
Charles A. letter to Reverend Elmer L. Olsen Georgetown, Connecticut:
Church Records, August 2, 1958. (Handwritten.)
Bok for Finska Sjomansmissionsforenigen" (Treasury Book for
Finnish Seaman's Mission Society), Georgetown, Connecticut
Church Records, 1908, (Handwritten.)
Bethleheme Forsamlingen (Swedish-Finnish Bethlehem Congregation,
"Protokoll Bok" (Minutes of Annual Church Meetings) Georgetown,
Connecticut: 1908. (Handwritten.)
Evangelisk Luterska Bethlehem Forsamlingen (Swedish-Finnish
Evangelical Lutheran Congregation) "Protokoll Bok", (Minutes
of Annual Church Meetings) Georgetown, Connecticut: 1918.
Evangelisk Luterska Bethlehem Forsamlingen (Swedish-Finnish
Evangelical Lutheran Congregation) "Protokoll Bok", (Minutes
of Annual Church Meetings) Georgetown, Connecticut 1934. (Handwritten.)
Evangelical Lutheran Bethlehem Church "Congregational Register",
Georgetown, Connecticut: 1908, (Handwritten.)
Evangelical Lutheran Church "Journal", Georgetown Connecticut,
Naomi (Naomi Sewing Society) Minutes of Meetings, Georgetown,
Connecticut: Church Records, 1926. (Handwritten.)
Naomi Kassor Bok (Naomi Sewing Society Treasurer's Book),
Georgetown, Connecticut: Church Records, 1940, (Handwritten,)
People's Missionary Society, Minutes of Meetings, Georgetown,
Connecticut Church Records, 1933. (Handwritten.)
People's Society, Minutes of Monthly Meetings Georgetown Connecticut:
Church Records, 1920. (Handwritten.)
Agnes and Arthur, personal interview, Georgetown, Connecticut,
Lydia, personal interview, Georgetown, Connecticut, June,
Exenia, Personal interview, Norwalk, Connecticut, April, 1968.
Elin, personal interview, Stamford, Connecticut, April, 1968.
Esther and Mauritz, personal interview, Georgetown, Connecticut,
Elin, personal interview, Georgetown, Connecticut, April,
Elin and William, personal interviews, Georgetown, Connecticut,
April, May, June, 1968; February, 1969; March, April, 1970.
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