Our History

After having met informally for a few years to share their faith, a group with Norwegian background on January 19, 1875 officially organized a congregation which ultimately became known as Bethesda Lutheran Church. Their church home at the corner of State and LaSalle Streets was dedicated in 1903.

Similarly, a group of Danish descent met in private homes and ultimately in 1889 established a congregation which was known as Immanuel Lutheran Church. Their church home at the corner of Memorial Drive and Oak Street was dedicated on September 14, 1890.

In 1959, the two congregations, Immanuel and Bethesda, were approaching a period in their histories when present facilities were inadequate, more and better educational programs were desired, and neither felt it was serving their members in a complete way.

The days of definite nationality lines were gone. Members no longer were Danes or Norwegians… they were American Lutherans. Both churches had given careful consideration to various possibilities such as expansion of their present buildings or constructions of new ones. It was as if by design that the paths of the two crossed late in 1959.

Committees of both congregations studied various sites in the Racine area and arrived at our present site as the most desirable. Bethesda’s congregation took an option on part of this land and Immanuel decided upon the parcel adjacent to it.

Why two adjoining Lutheran Churches? Why two congregations? Why separate effects for the same cause? Wouldn’t the result be much more than that achieved by either by combining the time, talents, and treasuries?

A letter from Immanuel to Bethesda on November 18, 1959, suggesting discussions regarding a merge began: “Dear Fellow Member in Christ.” It set the tone for the succeeding days and weeks and months as Bethesda readily accepted the plan for such discussions and committees in both congregations were formed, studies made and votes taken.

Both congregations decided that they needed one another. They needed one another to provide adequate staffs, better facilities, a more complete program, and to better serve Christ. The merged church has done that, but it also has done more.

The name Lutheran Church of the Resurrection settled as a perfect mantle of the newly merged congregation. The merger gave many members a new birth for Christian living – planning, giving, and sacrificing to provide a more effective witness both individually and as a congregation.

Today we are holding worship in the church building which represents one of the reasons and one of the results of the merger. Bethesda and Immanuel churches are a part of the history of the merged congregations. What the two congregations were SEEKING in separate ways is now one – ACCOMPLISHING those same goals.

(Information was obtained from church records and compiled by Earl Nelson)