A meeting to organize a Lutheran church in Lanesboro was held on February 2, 1874. Approximately 150 people were in attendance and became charter members. The original name of the congregation was The Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Lanesboro, Minnesota. The name was changed to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in 1891 and changed again to Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Lanesboro, Minnesota in 1994.
The church building was constructed of native limestone by a Presbyterian congregation around 1868-1870. The Lutheran congregation rented the church for their worship services which were held on Sunday afternoons, from 1874 until 1889. On April 28, 1889, the Lutherans purchased the building from the Presbyterians for $3,000.
The church was gutted by fire on the night of March 23, 1917. The congregation took immediate action to rebuild, using the original stone walls which were still intact. Dedication of the rebuilt church took place on March 17, 1918, nearly one year after the devastating fire. A new pipe organ was dedicated on October 6, 1918. Dr. F. Melius Christianson from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, performed.
A church hall was built on Parkway Avenue S in 1910. Construction of a church hall and education wing adjoining the church building was completed in 1959. The church hall was then sold to the Sons of Norway. A narthex was added to the west side of the church in 1976.
Jubilees marking milestone anniversaries were held on June 22, 1924; June 19, 1949; and June 21, 1964. The 100th Anniversary of the Church was celebrated on February 2, 1974. The last jubilee observed was the 125th Anniversary of the Church which was held on September 19, 1999.
Over the years Bethlehem has grown to our present size of about 570 baptized members. Today we celebrate that our congregation has been blessed by 146 years of God’s grace and pray that God will continue to sustain us and grow our faith as we make Christ known in the 21st century.