Bethlehem Lutheran Church was founded by a group of Swedish immigrant farmers. In 1880, the first Lutheran services were held in Wahoo in the N.J. Anderson Photo Studio. These services were conducted by Pastor Nels Nordling of Edensburg Church in Malmo. In early 1883, Luther Academy, a two year college, was founded. In July of that year the Luther Academy President Martin Noyd took charge of the Bethlehem Church worship service.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church was formally organized on December 25, 1883 with 17 charter members and 9 children. Reverend Martin Noyd served as the first pastor. Over the years, professors from Luther Academy and College were vital to the early growth of the congregation. Professor S. M. Hill served as interim pastor on several occasions. He also served as deacon, Sunday School Superintendent, Sunday School teacher, organist, choir director, and janitor.
Luther College students were also active in the congregation. The Bethlehem congregation continues to maintain a relationship with Luther College graduates. Every two years, Bethlehem Church hosts “Lutherfest,” a Sunday worship service and dinner. About 300 Luther alumni and friends participate in the reunions. Luther College was closed in 1962 and merged into Midland Lutheran College in Fremont.
The cross stood at the top of our church steeple from 1906 until it was damaged in the 1980s. Time passed and it disappeared, but it was eventually found and returned to Bethlehem Lutheran Church. This cross has become the church’s symbol of love and endurance.