The history of the Wisconsin Lutheran Mission began in Menomonee Falls in the summer of 1959 with five lots being purchased on Menomonee Avenue.
On March 6, 1960, the Wisconsin Lutheran Mission held its first service in the American Legion Hall with 36 people attending. The first baptism was May 15, 1960 and the Lord’s Supper was celebrated for the first time on July 17.
On August 29, 1960, temporary officers were elected and on November 13, Pastor Philip R. Janke was installed. At the organization meeting on November 15, Bethlehem Ev. Lutheran Church was chosen as the name of the congregation.
The first school began September 1, 1962, with nine kindergarten students and a total of 33 students in the school.
The school continued to grow, and in 1964 and 1969 two additional classrooms were constructed.
In November of 1971, Pastor Janke accepted a call to serve at Manitowoc Lutheran High School, and on January 7, 1973, Pastor Roland Zimmerman was installed at Bethlehem.
A new church was built in 1976, as Bethlehem’s congregation consisted of 846 souls, along with 145 enrolled in the Christian Day School.
In 1983, Pastor Paul Huebner accepted the call to become Bethlehem’s first associate pastor with Pastor Zimmerman. A four office addition was added in 1988-1989.
In the 1980’s, a pre-three and four-year old program was also begun, as well as an Extended Care Program for those families using our school.
The Lord continued His blessings, and, in 1993, two more classrooms were added, transcepts to the church proper, a school office and gymnasium. At this time, there were 1237 souls and 846 communicants, with 148 enrolled in the school.
Wayne Keller, our first staff minister accepted the position in 1995, and Pastor Jonathan Kolander accepted the call to serve as pastor replacing Pastor Zimmerman who retired after many years of faithful service to his Lord and to his church. The church was then blessed with 1383 souls and 1018 communicants, with 176 in the school.
In 2000, the congregation expanded to a second location in the Germantown Bel Aire Lane neighborhood. This expansion was necessary with gowing worship attendance and student enrollement. Our all day child care for 3 year olds and up (begun in 1998) and Grades K-4 are located at the Germantown location. Our 2 year olds childcare (begun in 2009) and Grades 5-8 are located at the Falls location.
In 2005 Bethlehem called a 3rd pastor, Pastor Peter Schmidt.
In 2012, with an increase in enrollments, we added four classrooms and two multi-use areas at our Germantown campus. And, in the fall of 2015, we are adding 10 more classroom to the Germantown campus. Also in 2015, we welcomed Pastor Phil Arnold as Pastor Huebner retired. We also welcomed Staff Minister of Music Martha Johnson. We currently have 339 children enrolled in Pre3 – 8th Grade and 171 in our Child Care with over 1800 Souls in the Congregation.
We are truly blessed.
Thank the Lord.