Bethlehem's Beginnings in Aiken
Bethlehem Lutheran Church had its beginning in Aiken, South Carolina when
the Savannah River Project of the then Atomic Energy Commission contracted with DuPont,
who brought a number of families with Missouri Synod heritage to the Aiken area. Pastor
Erdman Frenk of Our Redeemer in Augusta urged these families through the efforts of Mr.
and Mrs. Arthur Gregory to assemble in early spring of 1952. The congregation consisted
of two families; the Arthur Gregorys and the Lester Salmens. Rev. Paul E. Hinrichs, a
graduate of Concordia Seminary, arrived in Aiken in September 1952.
services in the Episcopal Parish House for three months, it became necessary to seek a
new meeting place. Because the housing situation was still tight, and no large building
was available, the vacant Wilshire Stables were obtained for $11.50 a week. The carriage
house of these stables was converted into a chapel. Services were held in these stables
until June 14, 1953, when it became necessary to vacate the premises. Permission was
received to use the chapel of the George Funeral Home, where services were held until
completion of the church building.
Groundbreaking for the new church took place on
May 10, 1953. At that time it took the name of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, because of
its early beginning in a stable. Forty-three members signed the Constitution and the
Cornerstone was laid on July 26, 1953. On August 30, 1953, the new church was dedicated
and the Rev. Paul E. Hinrichs was installed as the first pastor.
By God's grace,
Bethlehem continues to grow, feeling called to serve.