Bethel Baptist Church was organized as the Scandinavian Baptist Church of Mankato on March 30, 1892 with 26 members. Early services were held in homes and the YMCA Hall, led by members. In 1895, The church joined the Swedish Baptist General Conference and the Minnesota Baptist Conference. Members were able to call their first pastor, Carl E. Nylin, in 1897.
Construction started on the first church building in 1901 and the completed structure was dedicated on March 16, 1902. This church was located at 1007 N Front St.
For many years the services were held in Swedish and it wasn’t until 1927 that it was decided to hold all services in English. On February 1, 1929, the congregation decided to rename the church Bethel Baptist Church. Bethel means “house of God” in Hebrew.
In 1932, Bethel’s first Vacation Bible School (VBS) was held for 20 children.
In 1939, then-pastor, Clayton Bolinder, announced a vision for the need “to cultivate in our lives a passion for holy living, for service, and for soul-winning,” a commitment Bethel has maintained these many years.
At the annual meeting in 1946, the Benevolence Fund was created for local and world outreach.
In February, 1952, it was decided to sell the original church building in favor of constructing a more modern worship space. Later that year the church celebrated its 60th anniversary. The new building was dedicated on April 11, 1954. It was located just down the road from the original building at 1001 N. Front Street (now Riverfront Drive).
In 1970 Bethel opened its Pre-school Learning Center for community children. The tuition for children enrolled was $15.50 per month!
During the 1970’s and -80’s, the city demographics changed around the church and the area became dominated by commercial and industrial businesses. The congregation sensed the need to relocate in order to be among the community. When they were approached by Mankato Mortuary for their building; it was an obvious answer to prayer. They decided to sell.
During this process, in 1987, the congregation called a new pastor, David Banfield.
Pastor Banfield helped begin the transition process to a new building beginning that year. The congregation temporarily met in the chapel of Loyola High School while the current building was constructed at the corner of Monks and Balcerzak. The vision of the church in moving to its present location was to be outward-focused, willing to give our time, energy, and money – our very selves – away to the world around us in order to be an influence for Christ in Mankato and on the MNSU Mankato campus. The congregation dedicated the new church building on November 26, 1989.
The next year was a time of growth with Bethel’s attendance doubling and relationships being built on campus that would later bear evangelistic fruit.
In 1995, the board decided to close the preschool, after 25 years of existence, because of several pivotal retirements that happened at once.
In 1996, Bethel joined the Minnesota Baptist Convention’s program, Love Lift for Ukraine, and became sister-church to two small churches in Votalivka and Tenovka, Ukraine, beginning a perennial commitment to missions trips and service to them.
In 1999, The church building underwent its first addition, adding offices and a gymnasium. A second addition came in 2009 with more meeting space and youth activity rooms.
In 2011, Bethel partnered with Cita Maignes, who had served in the International Office at MNSU Mankato, to create a mission to Cadunan, Philippines.
Bethel is well-established and has been laying the ground-work for further growth and mission. Our vision is to reach out to the community around us to make disciples of Jesus Christ, to equip them, connect them to one another for God’s kingdom-purposes, and send them out to new missions here and around the world. Come join us!
Sundays at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00
1250 Monks Ave.
Mankato, MN 56001
Phone: (507) 345-4011
Fax: (507) 345-4008
Email: Click here to email us.