Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church was started in 1905 when the first services were held in a Clark Street meeting hall. Bethany may well have been the first English-speaking Lutheran church in the Edgewater area and this helped it become successful. The growing congregation signed a lease in 1906 on a storefront at 2561 Evanston Avenue (now 5540 N. Broadway). They purchased chairs for six dollars a dozen and a janitor was hired “at a fee of four dollars per month for summer, and six dollars per month for winter.”
Bethany’s families worshipped at this storefront for the next two years. Much of Edgewater still had dirt streets and wooden sidewalks, but Evanston Avenue was paved with brick and lit by streetlights. Use of telephones and electricity had become commonly accepted by well-to-do families at this time.
In 1908, the Bible Chapel, now the school facility, was built. The architects were Patton and Miller for this building, which was erected and furnished at a cost of $14,500. This new, larger church building helped increase membership substantially in the following years. By 1911, the congregation was well-established. The June 1912 church bulletin contained the following brief notice:
The Special Congregation Meeting held May 3, was attended by 24 members. In this meeting, it was decided to build.
The members donated land, money, labor and materials as work began for a larger building to replace the Bible Chapel. The members filled the pews of the beautiful new church in a dedicatory service on February 22, 1914.