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Bethany Lutheran celebrates 140th year

BATAVIA – Bethany Lutheran Church in Batavia marked its 140th anniversary Sunday, a celebration both of faith and longevity, parishioners said.

"It means this is a great historical event," said Bethany member Bob Cassidy, 78, of Batvia. "The fact that in the United States, we don't usually last that long – businesses or anything else – and here our church is together and people are still unified and still working to pass the word of Christ."

Carole Hayes, 68, of Batavia, said the anniversary marks an important step in the congregation's history.

"I have been a member since 1970," Hayes said. "Everyone is always open to greeting more people and being out in the community, helping others, helping at Hesed House and it's just a great family in our church here."

Judy Spear of Batavia said the church's longevity is a success story.

"It is a very positive story that organizations in changing times can exist in the same way," Spear said. "The building, the people the families, the traditions. Pieces of that have been consistent over the years."

Her husband, church organist    Alan Spear, said Bethany Rev.  Steven Srock's sermon detailed much of the history not only of the church, but of Lutheranism in the Fox Valley.

"It gives you a sense of foundation for where Bethany comes from," Alan Spear said of  acknowledging Bethany's 140th year. "The health, the vitality, the enthusiasm, all of that is just terrific."

Spear said the church started a free dinner called Last Friday Supper six months ago.

"Last month, this church served 306 people at the Last Friday Supper," Spear said. "It grew from 175 to 220 to over 300 last month. It's reaching out, with no questions, we just feed you."

Srock said the church's continued presence well into its second century shows that it stands strong in its dedication.

"I think it is a wonderful witness to the commitment the church has to being an important part of the community," Srock said. "And its caring and concerns for the people of Batavia. And for it to continue to provide services for folks, visiting the sick, marriage, burials, caring for children."

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