The Bethany Lutheran Church

The Bethany Lutheran Church was established in 1933 as a mission congregation by the Rev. Victor Stelle. The first service was conducted on September 24, 1933. The congregation was officially organized on April 12, 1934. The first place of worship was the upper floor of a funeral home at 2214 Madison Avenue in Covington. Property was purchased by the congregation in 1936 at 2201 Madison Avenue. The funds used for this purchase were provided through a gift of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League and a loan from the Central District Church Extension Fund. The cornerstone of the new brick church was set in place on August 29, 1937 and the building was officially dedicated on November 28, 1937.

Rev. Victor Stelle remained pastor of the congregation until 1942. At that time, the Rev. Carl H. Toelke was appointed to Bethany Church. During the Toelke years, Bethany purchased a minister’s home at 2223 Madison Avenue. Toelke was succeeded by the Rev. Gustave Schramm (1945-1949).

During the pastorate of the Rev. Albert J. Dundek (1950-1956) Bethany Lutheran became a self-sustaining congregation. Rev. Dundek also oversaw the purchase of a new parsonage at 4606 Church Street, the installation of electronic bells at the church and the air-conditioning of the sanctuary.

During the pastorate of the Rev. Alfred R. Lueders (1957-1966) the silver jubilee of the congregation was celebrated in 1959. At about the same time, a new parsonage was purchased at 505 Dudley Road in suburban Edgewood. The pastor’s move from Covington to Edgewood only reflected the population shift taking place in Northern Kentucky. Many residents of the old river cities like Covington were moving in great number to the suburbs. Once a solidly middle class neighborhood, the area around Bethany Lutheran Church was deteriorating.

In the early 1970s a new parsonage and surrounding acreage was purchased at 3501 Turkeyfoot Road in Erlanger. At this time, a decision was made to relocate the church to the Erlanger property. The old church on Madison Avenue was sold to A Free Pentecostal Church. The new Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church in Erlanger was dedicated on December 1, 1974

Wayne Onkst, From Buffalo Trails to the Twenty-First Century: A centennial History of Erlanger, Kentucky (Erlanger Historical Society 1996) pp. 129-30.

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