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Highlighted Milestone Events From Bethlehem’s 151-Year History

Before the motion to separate into three churches was formally presented at the All-Church Quarterly Strategy Meeting on October 16, 2022, North Elder Nick Brazis led the assembly through a brief timeline of Bethlehem’s milestones over its 150-year history.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”—Matthew 28:19–20

  • On June 22, 1871, the First Swedish Baptist Church was planted.
  • In 1945, the church changed its name because nine years earlier (1936) the congregation had voted to move all services to English, except for one Swedish Sunday school class. The new name was Bethlehem Baptist Church.
  • In 1980, Bethlehem hired John Piper, a professor of Biblical Studies at Bethel College in St. Paul.
  • On October 13, 2002, the (future) North Campus met at the University of Northwestern as the North Site for the first time.
  • On April 9, 2011, Pastor John preached a sermon on Bethlehem’s Antioch Moment from Acts 13, calling the congregation to pray as he announced his eventual retirement.
  • In 2016, we began our “Fill These Cities: 25 x ’25” initiative to build a South Campus, to plant churches, to reach the unreached, and to strengthen the core of our church life.
  • On July 26, 2020, the church voted to approve the 20/20 Vision, to go from one primary preacher to three—one at each campus—and to function more like three congregations by holding campus-specific meetings.
  • As part of the 20/20 Vision, a subcommittee was commissioned to examine the long-term structure of the church. The findings of that subcommittee resulted in our Multiply initiative to become three churches.
  • In December 2021, the Council of Elders, with congregational support, created a transition team to chart a path to becoming three independent churches.
    • After nine months of prayer, fasting, discussion, planning, options analysis—and more prayer and more fasting—the Council of Elders voted on September 6, 2022, on a Board Resolution to move to become three independent churches within the bounds of certain requirements, including congregational affirmation. The elders unanimously approved that resolution.