2019 is Bethesda’s 225th Anniversary!
Following the experience with Rev.V. P. Mayerhoffer in 1837, the church was only occasionally visited by Lutheran clergymen for the next eleven years. In 1846 a letter was addressed to the Ohio Synod in the USA, stating that “the field had been vacant for many years and the people were hungry for the gospel”. When this failed to obtain a response, an elder of our sister congregation in Vaughan (Zion Lutheran Church) 66 year old Adam Keffer, walked to Klecknerville, Pennsylvania to appeal to the meeting of the Pittsburgh Synod to send Ontario churches an English speaking ordained Lutheran pastor. This resulted in a visit from the Rev. Gottlieb Bassler, President of the synod to assess the Vaughan-Markham situation. Still no Pastor.
Adam Keffer returned the next year to again address the Mission Committee. After two journeys of an estimated 1,250 miles, Adam Keffer’s efforts were finally rewarded with the arrival of the Rev. Charles Frederick Diehl on November 9, 1850.
During Rev. Diehl’s pastorate, English services were introduced along with the traditional German services. It was during this time that a number of family names were anglicized: e.g. Schmidt to Smith.
The Rev. Jeremiah Fishburn assumed the pastorate in 1853. When Rev. Fishburn expressed his desire to leave in 1864 because the church had not paid him all of his stipend, the congregation issued an appealed for funds and paid him in full together with a $50 gift. Rev. Fishburn was so touched that he stayed for another fifteen years (1853-1879). It was during this time (1861) that a new brick church was built up on the hill north of Unionville at the cemetery site. This is the same church we worship in today as it was moved to our present site in 1910.