Bethlehem Lutheran Church & Preschool

Church (904) 249-5418 | Preschool (904) 249-1204

Our History

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

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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

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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

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 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

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

1953-1957

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    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

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 October 24 -  Was the groundbreaking ceremony for the First Sanctuary at 8th Avenue North, East of Penman Road.  

1955

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 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

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 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

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 February 3, 1957- The new wing was dedicated. 

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

1964-1968

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

1969

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

1969-2003

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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

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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

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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

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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

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 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

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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

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

burn the mortgage. This was a milestone in our congregation. 

1999

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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

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


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

 

2004-2007

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

2008-2016

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

2008

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

2010

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

Rev Dr Rasmussen now serves as Pastor at Holy Cross  Lutheran Church in Kearney, NE

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

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

2011

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 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

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 Our columbarium is completed for members of our Bethlehem family. 

2012

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 August - Vicar Weston Wildauer

is installed as Bethlehem's third vicar. He joins our family with his wife Sarah and their daughter Kaelyn and son Owen. Pastor Wildauer is now the sole pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, in Cape Girardeau, MO.

2013

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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

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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

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August - Vicar David Small

is installed as BLC's sixth vicar. Pastor Small now serves at Calvary Lutheran Church in Medford, New Jersey.

2016

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 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

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 August- Vicar Nathan McCarty is 

installed as BLC's eighth Vicar. He now serves faithfully as Associate Pastor of Bethlehem.

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2018

August - Vicar Jeremy Steinke is installed as our ninth Vicar.

   August - Vicar Jeremy Steinke is installed as our ninth Vicar.

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    June 2019 Pastor Nathan McCarty is installed as Associate Pastor.

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Get In Touch With Us - Better Yet, See Us In Person!

There's much to see here. So, take your time, look around, and learn all there is to know about us. 

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