An Evolution of Care

Bethany has been committed to service for over 120 years. What started as a small Christian welfare program for orphaned children in 1895, has evolved into a unique retirement community based on the contemporary continuum-of-care model.

  • August 1895

    The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Synod (Blaire Synod) inaugurates a Christian welfare program for indigent and neglected children.

  • Bethania Bornerjem (Danish for Bethany Children’s Home) opens its doors in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

  • July 1897

    At the annual convention in Blaire, Nebraska, the Synod votes to relocate the children’s home to Waupaca, Wisconsin. The Danish community of Waupaca raises $600 toward the project.

  • September 1897

    The United Evangelical Lutheran Church purchases 30 acres stretching from the banks of the Crystal River to the southeastern shore of Shadow Lake.

  • October 1899

    The new 40-resident children’s home opens.

  • 1953

    Realizing that children are better served in foster care than orphanages, the Church directs that the children’s home be phased out and Bethany begin its new mission as a Christian home for the aged.

  • 1954

    Bethany begins operations as a retirement home with 18 guests and a budget of less than $4,000.

  • August 1960

    Ground is broken for improved facilities on Shadow Lake.

  • October 1961

    Guests move in to the modernized home.

  • December 3, 1961

    The new Bethany is dedicated “To the Glory of God.”

  • 1982

    The first phase of construction begins on independent living homes on the peninsula between Shadow Lake and the Crystal River.

  • 1992

    Bethany Pines connects 20 apartments to the skilled nursing facility – creating a precursor to the assisted living model.

  • 2004

    Forty independent living duplexes are occupied.

  • 2007

    Bethany begins offering Outreach Services, benefiting the greater community.

Today, Bethany is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.  Its corporate members include 27 area Lutheran Churches, two Episcopal Churches, one United Methodist Church, and one Catholic Church.  

Our licensed Skilled Nursing Facility can serve up to 104 individuals and we are Medicare and Medicaid Certified.   

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