Bethany Lutheran Church in West Hartford celebrates 75th anniversary

Bethany Lutheran Church in West Hartford

WEST HARTFORD — Bethany Lutheran Church celebrated 75 years in West Hartford on Sunday, Oct. 27, with a special service recognizing charter members, families of charter members, and former pastors.

The two charter members recognized were Helen Tervo and Kenneth Harvey. Unfortunately, neither was able to attend the Oct. 27 service.

Family of charter members in attendance were Richard Litke, Mark Litke, Bud Chamberlin (and sister Nancy), Susan Johnson, and Robert Ney.

The Rev. Steven D. Bartell, current pastor at Bethany, led the service, which was attended by 145 church members, friends, and guests.

Bartell and the congregation also welcomed 26 new members to Bethany at the service, which took place on Reformation Sunday, marking 502 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517.

Bartell delivered a sermon addressing a passage in scripture from Romans, chapter 3, where Paul writes about how we are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ alone and not by any works we are required to perform.

Bethany was founded in 1944 by the Rev. Martin C. Duchow. At that time, services took place in a house that stood at 1655 Boulevard and the corner of South Main Street — the site where the church building now stands.

In 1951, the basement of the church was completed and services were held there in what is now the church undercroft.

Services moved to the sanctuary after it was completed in 1957, and in 1990, the addition of the Duchow Room, classrooms, and added handicapped accessibility gave the church the appearance and facilities it retains to this day.

After founding the church, Duchow served as pastor at Bethany until his retirement in 1974. His sons, the Rev. Robert Duchow and the Rev. Gilbert Duchow were both in attendance at Sunday’s anniversary service and were among those recognized.

Also in attendance were former Bethany pastors the Rev. Carl J. Anton and the Rev. Robert J. Mikulastik. Anton served as senior pastor at Bethany for 26 years, from 1981 until his retirement in 2006. Mikulastik became associate pastor in 1983 working closely with Anton for 23 years. He retired in 2009. Both Anton and Mikulastik still reside in West Hartford.

Following the service, a delicious brunch, provided by Cove Deli, was served in the undercroft.

Several speakers took to the podium, including the Rev. Robert Duchow who shared memories of what the early years at Bethany were like with his father as pastor and services and meetings being held in the old Victorian home on the corner of Boulevard and South Main — prior to construction of the sanctuary.

Congregation President Peter Foxen Sr. gave remarks as well, which included the reading of two wonderful letters containing good wishes from former pastors the Rev. Norbert Firnhaber and the Rev. Timothy O. Krieger — both of whom were unable to attend the anniversary service. Firnhaber served from 1974 to 1980 and Krieger from 2006 to 2016.

Charter members, their families, and new members were again recognized at the brunch as Bethany Lutheran Church marked 75 years in West Hartford.

“Celebrating 75 years in West Hartford is a significant milestone,” Bartell said. “With only two charter members still living, it demonstrates the perseverance and dedication of countless members. We exist today because of their sacrifice.

“In our celebration, we received 26 new members reminding us that the work continues and now we have the baton so that the next generation can celebrate another 75 years of sharing God’s love in the greater West Hartford area.”

More information about Bethany Lutheran Church may be found online at

Connecticut Media Group