Church History

Church History

Summarized from Bonnie Bodnar's notes and clippings

March 10, 1973 – Group of Omaha church members met about organizing a Bellevue SDA Church—Several SDA Air Force families and a number of older church members lived in the Bellevue area. Pastor A. C. Becker and Assistant Pastor Melvin Fisher

March 17, 1973 - First worship service in the Free Methodist Church on the corner of Lloyd and Betz Streets—All the Sabbath school departments were already functioning that first week.

March 24, 1973 – This new group approved a full slate of officers.

July 21, 1973 -     First Communion service was held.

August 4, 1973 – 50 charter members accepted by the Nebraska Conference as an organized church

                                    Pastors:  Dr. Leonard Westphal with Darrell Holtz, Jr., John Roeske,

                                    Interns:  Jim Chilson and Mike Preas

                                    Charter Members:

Armstrong, Mr. & Mrs. Clifford 
Hadfield, Mr. & Mrs. William 
Olson, Dawn 
Armstrong, Robert 
Iske, Gary 
Parker, Mr. & Mrs. Gary 
Bodnar, Mr. & Mrs. Louie   Johnson, Mr. & Mrs. Victor 
Rowe, Mr. & Mrs. Wayne 
Brabec, Mrs. Florence 
Johnson, Duane 
Schwarz, Bryan  
Brandt, Mrs. Florence 
Kissel, Mr. & Mrs. David 
Schwarz, Douglas 
Brandt, Bernard 
Larkins, Jan 
Sutter, Mr. & Mrs. Earl 
Broeder, Mrs. Byron 
Lee, Homer 
Sutter, Mr. & Mrs. Jim 
Cosentino, Thomas 
McNeal, Mr. & Mrs. Ronald 
Swain, Mr. & Mrs. Tom 
Dennis, Mr. & Mrs. Julius   McNeal, Scott 
Warren, Mrs. Lois 
Edwards, Mrs. Charlene   McNeal, Rick 
Whitehill, Mr. & Mrs. Ronald 
Fisher, Pastor & Mrs. Melvin 
Olson, Mr. & Mrs. Dale 
Workman, Mr. & Mrs. Alva 

August, 1977 – Celebration of 4 years as an organized church.  Church membership nearly doubled and had already moved to the St. James Methodist Church on 1501 Franklin St. for the increased space it afforded.

Wayne Rowe, a charter member and Bellevue builder, was instrumental in the early building fund program with the building campaign carried out under Delmas Carter.

Two lots were purchased in Highland Estates at 60th and Highway 370. Bids for building on this site proved too costly & neighbors opposed a church. Barbara Lupton along with others began an intensive search for another location.

August 11, 1978 – Voted to purchase 2.64 acre plot at the corner of 30th & Golden Boulevard for $12,000 and to sell the original lots on 60th Street.

November 14, 1978 Ground breaking for the church building—designed by Mr. Ashley Meriwether, an architect who was now attending this church.  (He called it “the greatest work of his life.”)  Conference, union, and community dignitaries, as well as friends joined the 100-member congregation and friends for this ceremony.

Mid-April 1979 –

Construction began under the leadership of Pastor Murray Long, who had a background in construction.  Much of the work was volunteered by church members and Pastor Long.  


Notable were:

Cliff Armstrong—supervised foundation and block work as well as the fireplace in the Youth Room.  (Soon after the church was built, he succumbed to the cancer, which had been diagnosed during the church construction.)

A large 4th of July crew raised the trusses for the Sabbath School and Fellowship Hall wing with the help of a man with a crane who was also willing to work on the holiday.


Conference personnel helped one day to move & level dirt.

Louie Bodnar was always available for tractor work.

Byron Broeder, Louie Bodnar, Dale Olson, and G.R. Ernest did some of the carpentry work and put the plywood on the roof.



Enos Sandoval & son Mel from the Lexington, NE church volunteered to lay the brick—a six-week job.


Al Workman was always available for heavy work.

Carole Broeder with her committee of Patsy and Ron Whitehill and Florence Brabec planned the color schemes and interior decorating.


Dale Olson negotiated with Nebraska Furniture Mart for the carpeting.


Thelma Workman, Bonnie Bodnar, the Bodnar children at times, and Beulah Sutter along with other ladies did the clean-up as well as most of the staining, varnishing, and painting; often this also included providing meals for others working. 

Bonnie Bodner doing finishing work.

Jim, Earl and Beulah Sutter and Doub Schwarz in the youth room.

Emil Nath, not a member at the time, helped with painting and wherever needed.

Jim and Earl Sutter developed the public address system, including the construction of the console box for the controls as well as building the cabinets and shelves in the Youth Room.                        

Visitors, as well as members from the Omaha church also lent a hand.

July 18, 1979 -   Two other denominations in the Bellevue area were concurrently involved in construction—an addition was under way for the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit and the Immanuel Lutheran Church was being built.

October 27, 1979 – Moved into the 9,200 square-foot church with a seating capacity of 200, though some work still needed to be done.

Mrs. Rowe gave the baby grand piano to the new church.

December 8, 1979 – Grand opening service – six years after organizing.

Attendees included:  Nebraska Conference personnel:

H. H. Voss, president

N. K. Harvey, secretary-treasure

W. R. Howard, trust services director

Bellevue City Council president Russ Thompson

St. James Methodist church pastor, Al Smith

Cost:  approximately $300,000 (included the furnishings and equipment)

$100,000 borrowed from the Conference Revolving Fund

$200,000 raised during the previous six years 

(About 1/3 of this came from the Conference.)   

(One member sold a car and donated the money to the fund.)

August 24, 1981 – Church school opened with 9 children, using one of the Sabbath School rooms in the church for a classroom, refinished desks purchased from the public school system, and other items donated by parents and church members.


Mrs. Ruby Higby taught that first year.

Miss Cathy Hooten followed her for several years.

October 25, 1986 – Church dedication after the mortgage had been paid off earlier that month.

                                  Pastor Curtiss and Minnie Dale served our church until they retired in 1995.

                                  Five air force persons were baptized this year.

May 2, 1987 – Dedication of the church organ

1995                Voted to build a separate school because the enrollment had increased to 21 and then to 30.

                        Pastor Milton and Sherry Perry followed the Dales until 1999, when Rick and Cheryl New arrived.

1996                Separate 5,257 square-foot elementary school complex constructed and consecrated

2001                Major renovation of the church sanctuary—approximately 40 volunteers helped.

                                    Drywall and ceiling insulation needed to be replaced.

 Installing new insulation

Sound system was replaced with the wiring enclosed in the new ceiling.

First meeting back in the sanctuary. 

Thirty of the cottonwood trees on the hill east of the church were removed because many were dying.  These were replaced by 7 evergreens, which were  sponsored by a number of members in honor of people special to them.

September 22, 2001—Rededication of the sanctuary and an international fellowship dinner

2004                Branch Sabbath School established in the Millard area.

July 2004         Loan on the school building paid off.

April 2005      Celebration of 25th Church Anniversary

– Membership nearly 250;

Rick and Cheryl New left and Ben and Sylvia Orian took their place.

School mortgage burning celebrated at this time.

 Bellevue Mayor Jerry Ryan commended the congregation for its community service—the servicemen, the school, the food pantry, during tornadoes

Charter Members still attending:


        McNeal, Mr. & Mrs. Ronald        Sutter, Mr. & Mrs. Jim 

                                  Sutter, Mr. & Mrs. Earl   Bodnar, Mr. & Mrs. Louie 


April 2010       Jeff Eitel and Louie Bodnar with help from six additional volunteers replaced the deteriorating old brick and wooden church sign with a lighted one and lettering that can be changed weekly.

2011                Pastor Seth Pierce asked for the postponed remodeling project to move forward.

Anita St. Onge supervised the project that was accomplished in just under 3weeks—2 week-ends.  During that time the carpet was replaced throughout—wherever there had been carpeting previously.  The walls were painted or wallpaper put up.  We met in the fellowship hall as previously for the Sabbath services.

July 30, 2011 - Pastor Seth Pierce and family (Angela, Madeline, and Chloe) had his final church service at Golden Hills, which included a baptism, before taking up his new pastoral position in Puyallup, Washington.

November 5, 2011 – Pastor Thure Martinsen with his wife, Pat, had their first Sabbath with us. 

This service also included a baptism.

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