Our History

Bethesda on the Bay Lutheran Church

altarBethesda was officially organized in March, 1947, with 60 charter members. With a commitment to service and worship, those early members set a standard of dedication that continues to influence every aspect of church life.

The Rev. Paul Klett began his work as pastor on June 10, 1946. Services were held at Parkview School (site of the current Bay Middle School).

The Rev. Arthur Bauer served from 1951 until 1954. During his service, the cornerstone for the first chapel was laid in 1951. (This structure was razed in 1987.)

The Rev. Burnell Peterson led the congregation from 1955 until 1965, dedicating the educational building and fellowship hall in 1961.

Pastor Larry Kettlehake accepted the call in 1965 and served until 1973. An education and administration addition was completed in 1965.


The Rev. Loyal Bishop served from 1975 until 1977.


The Rev. Dennis E. Stylski served from 1977 until 2017.


The Rev. Angela Freeman-Riley, our first female pastor, accepted the call to serve at Bethesda in 2018.


The facilities that were completed in 1965 continue to be used by our congregation and are made available for use by the community.  In 1988, a new pipe organ was included in the sanctuary renovation, along with a new steeple and bell tower. In 1995, stained glass windows were placed in the nave. In 2000, our lounge and kitchen renovations took place. In 2002, a prayer garden was built for members and the community.

In 1988, we welcomed the merger of three Lutheran Church bodies to form the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). Bethesda on the Bay is part of the Northeastern Ohio Synod, with headquarters in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. There are 207 parishes, with 86,353 baptized members in our Synod. Today, our congregation offers a spectrum of opportunities for growth and commitment, centered on a strong liturgical worship program.

As part of the Body of Christ and His universal church, our members continue to look forward with caring as a community of faith known as Bethesda on the Bay!