Our History

Bethlehem Lutheran Church has faithfully served the Jacksonville Beach community for over 60 years.


Here are some highlights from the church's history. We hope you enjoy the trip back in time... our history is really His-story! 

1948

A preliminary survey was made in 1948 to determine the feasibility of establishing a Lutheran Church of the Missouri Synod in Jacksonville Beach. The District assigned Vicar LaVern L. Brack to begin and sustain regular Worship Services. Bethlehem Lutheran Church first met at 431 N. 2nd Avenue, Jacksonville Beach at the Woman’s Club on Feb 20, 1949

1949-1952

 March - Rev H. C. Schroeder is installed as pastor of BLC. The first bulletin appeared on May 22, 1949. Nine people were received as Charter Members on October 30, 1949. 

1952-1953

   January - Pastor Henry Meyer is installed as full-time pastor. 

1953-1957

    July - Charles S. Mueller is installed and will serve as pastor until 1957 


December - Our congregation voted and accepted the name of Bethlehem.

The congregation received as a gift from Sidney and Carolyn Grover (later Mansfield), a block of land in Section A, blocks 111 and 112, 

located on 8th Avenue North. 

1954

 October 24 -  Was the groundbreaking ceremony for the First Sanctuary

at 8th Avenue North, East of Penman Road.  

1955

 April 3 - Dedication of the church. The building is a blend of contemporary and classical architecture using lime-rock blocks and 

batten board for its construction. 

The building seated 100. 

1956

 November 2 -  A new wing was launched. It included one large classroom with restroom facilities and an office and additional seating capacity for 40 persons in the church proper. 

1957-1964

 February 3, 1957- The new wing was dedicated. 

 August - Rev. August F. Gerbhardt is installed and will serve as pastor until 1964.

1964-1968

 

September - Rev. Earl Petzold is installed and will serve as pastor until 1968

1969

 

June - September - Rev. Robert L. Jackson was installed as pastor. He resigned after 3 months due to health problems.

1969-2003

October - Rev. John Buchheimer had been called by the Florida-Georgia District to be Missionary-at-Large and was assigned in October as full-time pastor. In 1971, when Bethlehem became a self-supporting congregation, he was called and was installed as Pastor and served until 2003 when he retired. 

1972

October 8th - Dedication of the exterior Lutheran Cross as a memorial to Walter “Pete” Dickinson by his wife, Helen. The cross was designed by Linda Mack, an architect and member of Bethlehem, and fabricated by Benjamin Futrell, both of Jacksonville Beach. 

1986

January 2, 1986- Bethlehem Lutheran Day Care & Preschool was organized. 

1987 - The preschool started to provide Christian care to the children of working parents, from ages 1 to 5 years. 

1987

January 7 - Decommissioning ceremony for the old sanctuary. 

Spring, 1987-  In the spring of 1987 Bethlehem hired Mrs. Mary Jo Hunavy to set up 

the office and manage the work to be 

done and grow the congregation. 

August 30 - Dedication of the new Sanctuary. 

1989

 October -  A vote was taken to renovate the gymnasium into a two story Christian Education Building. The first floor is occupied by the preschool and day care, second floor provides classrooms and a large conference/multi-purpose room. 

1990-1991

December 17, 1990- Disciples’ Hall was totally gutted by fire. The Christian Education Building and the Sunday School rooms off the courtyard suffered serious smoke and water damage which caused it to be shut down. Reconstruction and renovations in the building took place in 1991

1997

 October 26 - Homecoming Sunday, a ceremony was held in the Courtyard to 

burn the mortgage. This was a milestone

 in our congregation. 

1999

February, 1999 -  A home at 1337 Palm Circle was purchased with the purpose of converting it into an Independent Living Facility. However, the home adjacent at 1359 Palm Circle became available and was purchased for the purpose 

of starting the Assisted Living facility.

March, 2010 - 1337 Palm Circle home was dedicated to Bethlehem Lutheran Preschool. 

It is currently the home of our 4 year olds program.

2000- Present

2000 - Rev. Dana Allen Brones is called to be Assistant Pastor.


     2003 - Rev. Dana Allen Brones is made Senior Pastor.  

 

2004-2007

 Rev. Robert Jacobs is called and served as Assistant Pastor. 

2008-2016

 Rev. Dr. James Balke is hired as Assistant Pastor and continued to serve until he retired. 

2008

 Statue dedicated to memory of Betty Buchheimer. “We wanted to do something for the children of the church...” 

2010

Bethlehem starts its vicarage program with its first Vicar - Vicar John Rasmussen 

He now serves as Pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church in South Windsor, CT

March, 2010 - 1337 Palm Circle home was dedicated to Bethlehem Lutheran Preschool.

 It is currently the home of our 4 year olds program.

2011

 August - Vicar Tim Barone

is called as Bethlehem's second vicar, 

and his wife Megan is installed as 

Minister to Families and Children.

He now serves as Pastor at Calvary 

Lutheran Church in Thunder Bay

2012

 Our columbarium is completed for members of our Bethlehem family. 

2012

 August - Vicar Weston Wildhauer

is installed as Bethlehem's third vicar. He joins our family with his wife Sarah and their daughter Kaelyn and son Owen.

2013

September - Vicar Matthew Hall

is installed as Bethlehem's fourth vicar. 

He joins our family with his wife Lucy.

Matt now serves as Pastor at Faith 

Lutheran Church in Bay City, MI

2014

August - Vicar Joshua Obermann

is installed as Bethlehem's fifth vicar.

He joins our family with his wife

Hannah and children Rhett and Poppy.

He now serves as Pastor at Grace 

Lutheran Church, St. Cloud, FL

2015

 

August- Vicar David Small

is installed as BLC's sixth vicar.

2016

 August- Vicar Devin Murphy
is installed as BLC's seventh vicar. He joins our family with his wife Melissa and children, Penny, Devin Jr. and Jamie. 

2017

 August- Vicar Nathan McCarty is 

installed as BLC's eighth Vicar.

    

   

    

   

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We are always available for questions, concerns and prayer requests.