A BRIEF HISTORY
The story of Bethlehem is traced to the mid-1700’s when many Lutherans left their homes in Germany due to the difficult conditions with which they struggled. Supplied with land grants, these German Lutherans then began to settle in the area of South Carolina marked by the joining together of the Broad river and the Saluda river. This region is now called the Dutch Fork area, and is named from these Dutch Fork Lutherans (Deutsh Volk Lutheraner).
Bethlehem was one of the first Lutheran congregations in the area. The first recorded date of formal organization for the Bethlehem congregation is 1788, but there is evidence that the community was worshiping together prior to that date. In the years since, the people of Bethlehem have continued to welcome all to share lives of faith and joy in Christ.
Of the four known church buildings in the Irmo area constructed since 1788, the first was known as the "Ellisor Church" located near the present day St. John's Lutheran Church of Irmo.
In 1847, the congregation moved to another location off of Koon Road where the church was known as the "Bookman Church."
Finally in 1897, the congregation moved to its present location on Broad River Road and built an edifice that was painted white on the inside and outside; thus, it was known as the "White Church". With a tall graceful steeple, that building seated around 150 people, but by 1950, the congregation outgrew the facility and in 1951, the present structure was built.
Fortunately, the Bethlehem family continued to experience growth, so in 1977 the present educational building was constructed, and in 1994, extensive remodeling and additions were made.
Over the years, the community has met in four different locations. The drawings shown here are of prior structures that the church has used and the year that each was approximately built.