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

    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 the Shadow Woods Independent Living homes on the peninsula between Shadow Lake and the Crystal River.

  • 1992

    The Pines, RCAC 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.

  • Summer 2016

    Bethany purchases a retreat house on Shadow Lake Drive for family and friends to vacation throughout the year.

  • September 2016

    The Springs Wellness Center Opens.

  • November 2016

    Bethany adds 20 additional apartments to The Pines, RCAC Assisted Living.

  • June 2017

    Three story building opens up adding 18 short-term rehabilitative suites, 18 long-term dementia rooms and 18 long-term skilled nursing rooms.

  • March 2018

    Connector opens up! The connector, referred to as “Main Street” has a library, game room and bar available for residents and as spaces to rent.

  • April 2018

    The Pines, CBRF dementia unit opens up. This addition added 37 rooms for assisted living, but lowered the skilled nursing census from 104 to 98. Studies have shown that many people in nursing homes need care but not skilled nursing care. Adding an additional level of assisted living costs families and the state less money but provides residents with the care they need.

  • July 2018

    With the waiting list for Shadow Woods Independent Living so long; Bethany purchased a home on Shadow Lake Drive available for rent. This house is a part of the Shadow Woods community.

  • 2019

    Bethany lowered the skilled nursing bed census from 98 to 85.

  • 2020

    Bethany raised the skilled nursing bed census from 85 to 100.

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, one Presbyterian and one Catholic Church.  

Our license currently includes;

  • 100 Skilled Nursing Home Beds
  • 49 Assisted Living CBRF Rooms
  • 40 Assisted living RCAC (Studio, 1 Bedroom and 2 Bedroom) Apartments
  • 1 Shadow Lake Retreat House