Bethesda Evangelical marks 100th anniversary

Bethesda Evangelical Church Sunday School, 85 Lemay Gardens Drive, will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a 10 a.m. worship service Sunday, Sept. 11.

The celebration will continue with a picnic from noon to 2 p.m.

Bethesda Evangelical Church was organized in 1907 as a direct result of the Sunday School, which was formed in 1905 with the efforts of Rev. Bleibtrau, pastor of the Carondelet Evangelical Church, and William Holstein, one of the members of his church who lived in the southern part the county.

They decided to rent a house on East Etta Avenue and offer religious instructions on Sunday mornings, a far shorter trip for children, who previously traveled to Caron-delet for religious instruction. The Sunday School moved to Hoffmeister Avenue across from Dammert in Lemay in 1910 when Bethesda Church was built.

In the early years, teachers in the Sunday School formed an association. Members of the first class to be organized in the Sun-day School called themselves the Helping Hands. They gave plays and had social gatherings, raising money to pay for the installation of the first electric light fixtures in the church.

From 1933 through 1935, a group of girls known as the Sunshine League was very active in assisting organizations of the church. Through entertainment and various socials, the Sunshine League raised enough money to pay for the light fixtures and the materials needed for installation on the outside of the church.

In January 1956, the congregation voted to relocate Bethesda Church. The church purchased three acres from Mount Hope Cemetery, the site of its existing location at 85 Lemay Gardens Drive. On May 29, 1960, the congregation moved to the new church facilities.

In the 1970s, the school needed more room again and church members decided to add on to the existing church building. Ground was broken in 1973 to add five additional Sunday school rooms, a church office and a pastor’s office. The new addition was dedicated Jan. 12, 1975, with a special worship service.

As the church moved into the 21st century, the Sunday School continued to stress quality Christian education and involvement. Programs and lessons are based on the Bible with community/summer in-volvement for all ages. Current Sunday School officers are: Gary Franke. superintendent; Lori Parker, treasurer; and Shelly Meyer, secretary. Carolyn Miller is director of Children’s Ministry.

Thirty-two teachers/workers currently lead the 9 a.m. enrollment of 158 students, including 36 adults. Eight teachers lead the 10:30 a.m. enrollment of 38 students, including 15 adults.

The Rev. Jim Barnes Jr. is the church’s senior pastor. To learn more about the church, Sunday School or other activities at Bethesda call (314) 544-2366.