Bethany Presbyterian History

In the late 1800’s, many persons came from Ostfriesland, Germany to Grundy Center, Iowa and the surrounding rich prairie land to settle and have a better life for their families.

Years later, many of the farmers of German descent wanted to retire in the beautiful village of Grundy Center, and desired an opportunity to worship in their German language.

Rev. B. VanderLas, then pastor of the Colfax Center Presbyterian Church, assisted the families in the endeavor. Their first gathering started on Sunday afternoons preaching German in the First Presbyterian Church . Nothing materialized until about 1900 when more interested families moved to town including more retired farmers.

During the summer of 1901, the wooden church building which had been serving a Baptist congregation was offered for sale due to their building of a new church. It was purchased for $700, moved to the lot purchased for $400 by Konrad and Mrs. Kruse on East Main St. The purchase agreement was written in long hand on lined tablet paper. The original is still in the church today. No one had money, so the Kruses’ gave the purchase to the congregation.

This building served them for 24 years and was known as the German Presbyterian church until it was destroyed by fire on a Sunday morning in 1925. The loss was estimated at $10,000 of which only $4,500 was insured. Within 10 days the congregation met and decided to rebuild.

The Ladies Aid was formed in 1909 with just 8 members. At their meetings, a devotional time was held, but much time was spent sewing aprons and quilting for their annual bazaar, which was their means of earning money Most of the money was used for necessities in the church, manse, and many times the pastor’s salary was in arrears or the church needed coal.

During Rev. Stratemeier’s pastorate, the name Bethany Presbyterian church was officially adapted on March 2, 1938. At the same meeting it was voted to have worship services conducted in English rather than the German language. Some special services continued in German until April 1942.

Through the years, many organizations were formed.—Sunday School, Senior (Chancel) Choir, Junior Choir, Catechism, Confirmation, Bible School, Mission Feasts from 1920— 1958, Westminster Guild, Westminster Fellowship, Men’s Fellowship, Young Adult Fel- lowship, Mariners and others.

A remodeling was done in 1953 and then again an extensive remodeling in 1978. This included a new pipe organ and chair lifts, etc. with a 10 year goal to be debt free, but the dedicated members were able to burn the mortgage in 7 years in Jan. 1985.

The Bethany Presbyterian Church as “Come this far by Faith”. What the future holds for Bethany church will be determined to a large extent by those who make up the Bethany congregation today. One thing is certain “the church must be forever building”.

(Taken from “Faithful Together”, the 100 year History of Bethany Pres. Church )