ABOUT US

At Bethany Lutheran Church, we are a faith community called by God to Nurture with Love, Serve with Hope.

 

When we are at our best you will see us:

  • Building relationships that connect people in meaningful ways.
  • Growing spiritually through the adventure of the Gospel, then and now.
  • Engaging our community with a servant’s heart.
  • Welcoming and offering acceptance to all those we meet.
  • Giving generously out of the abundance of God.

 

OUR TEAM

PASTOR ELAINA SALMON

Having started in May 2014, Pastor Elaina Salmon is excited to companion the people of Bethany Lutheran Church on the journey of faith. She has been called here to foster renewal and growth in faith, worship, outreach and stewardship.

 

Pastor Elaina has served in two other congregations--Lutheran Church of the Cross, Muncie,IN (5+years of ministry) and Ashburn Lutheran Church, Chicago (3 month interim position).  She loves being a pastor! It brings together her love of God and love of people.

 

Her husband and two children bring laughter, love, messes and craziness to her life!  For fun, Pastor Elaina enjoys reading, playing frisbee, dancing, trying new recipes, watching shows like Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife. and squeezing in time for a bit of exercise.

SUE GRAY, ORGANIST/PIANIST

MARGE MCLAUGHLIN, SECRETARY

OUR HISTORY

In the late 1860’s, Swedish families arrived in America with the same hopes as all immigrants--a better life.  The limestone quarries along the Illinois and Michigan canal proved to be the ticket to just that and so they headed to Lemont and settled on what became known as Swede’s Hill.  Though they were acclimating to a melting pot of cultures in Lemont, these families held tight to Swedish traditions which not only comforted them in their fears but reminded them of their identity.  Key to their Swedish identity were their Lutheran roots as well as their commitment to be a family of God (forsamlingen) in America.  This led to the prayer meetings at the homes of Swedish Lutheran families followed by the decision to form a congregation.  On September 22nd of 1872, Svenska Evangeliska Lutherska Bethania was formally organized with a membership of 31 Swedish immigrants.

When the congregation outgrew its first frame building, a new church was built in 1895.  Though the exterior was constructed of Lemont limestone, the interior resembled the design of a typical Church of Sweden sanctuary.  Worship services were conducted in Swedish and Bethany offered a Swedish school so that children could learn to read and write in the mother tongue.  It was not until 1937 that all worship services were held in English.  Three years later, the church name was changed to Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church.

When the congregation outgrew its first frame building, a new church was built in 1895.  Though the exterior was constructed of Lemont limestone, the interior resembled the design of a typical Church of Sweden sanctuary.  Worship services were conducted in Swedish and Bethany offered a Swedish school so that children could learn to read and write in the mother tongue.  It was not until 1937 that all worship services were held in English.  Three years later, the church name was changed to Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Over the years, pastors came and went... parishioners celebrated the the baptisms of new generations of Bethany members and mourned the deaths of their forebears...children heard in English the same Bible stories their counterparts a century earlier had heard in Swedish...the Sewing Society sewed and the Quilting Circle quilted...thousands of pounds of non-perishables were donated and then given to neighbors in need.  And the old Swedish hymn Children of the Heavenly Father was sung again and again...which only makes sense in this American forsamlingen...in this family of God.

1872

Svenska Evangeliska Lutherska Bethania was formally organized with a membership of 31

1895

Current limestone church building was completed and open for Worship

1937

Worship Services were moved to fully English after 60 years of Swedish language services

1940

Church renamed Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church, to reflect new committment to the English language

1970

The Congregation expanded further and opened a building addition which was set to hold Educational Ministries and an Open Food Pantry for our community.

2014

Pastor Elaina was called to serve Bethany Lutheran Church as Pastor. You can see our full Pastoral History by clicking the button below.

2020

In 2020, the Earth was gripped with a Global Health Pandemic caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19. This pandemic changed the way Human Beings lived out their daily lives, preventing large gatherings, moving non-essential work to remote settings, and prohbiting large gatherings. Bethany Lutheran Church, acted swiftly to move their Worship to a fully digital Service via the Zoom Digital Video Conferencing platform. With success in implementing a fully digital Worship Service, the Church is prepared to always allow for access to Worship digitally when one can't be physically present in Worship!


OUR WORK

Bethany is part of the ELCA, a denomination made up of over 10,000 congregations and over 4 million members, as part of the Metro Chicago Synod. As ELCA Lutherans, we believe in God who created and loves all of creation -- the earth and the seas and all of the world’s inhabitants. We believe that God's Son, Jesus Christ, transforms lives through his death on the cross and his new life.  We trust that God's Spirit is active in the world. Don't forget to click and learn more about the work we contribute to in our Churchwide and Synod Expressions. 

For over four decades, the Open Pantry at Bethany Lutheran Church has provided food, hygiene items and hope to more than 800 Lemont families.

We always seek out additional ways to help our Food Pantry clients. For the last 15 years our members have donated School Supplies to provide each child who uses our Food Pantry with School Supplies to kickoff the school year with everything they need. 

Every week for the last 40 years, the women of the congregation have gathered to make quilts for Lutheran World Relief. Collectively, they have put together over 2,500 quilts that have gone to people in countries around the world!

Christian Education is a core to our work and it integrates in to every stage of life! We offer a Children's Sunday School, Confirmation Classes, Adult Bible Studies, Groups examining our Christian Duty to confront Racism, New Member Classes discussing what it means to be Lutheran, and many more!

Bethany also partners with many other organizations for volunteer and service opportunities thorughout the year. We frequently partner with Habitat for Humanity Will County, Feed My Starving Children, and the ELCA South Loop Campus Ministry helping serve food to those experiencing homelessness. Explore more about our service work partner organizations below!