New Life History

Hamar Lutheran Church

Our Saviors Lutheran


Little Bethany

New Life Lutheran Church



Early Beginnings
Hamar Lutheran Church and Our Savior’s Lutheran Church of Rothsay both had their respective beginnings and first buildings on the sites of their current cemeteries. The Hamar congregation began worship in 1874, and constructed a log church building at its cemetery site near the community of what would become Rothsay nine years later. In 1888 the Our Savior’s congregation formed and began worship services. Its current church building was constructed at the Our Savior’s cemetery site in 1891. The Hamar congregation constructed its current church building in Rothsay in 1886, and the people of Our Savior’s moved their church building to its current location in 1926. The two congregations remained neighbors, but separate until January, 2008.

Talks of joining the two congregations together have been in the air for many years, but didn’t become serious until 2001. In that year a series of meetings was held and a decision was made to move ahead with plans for the union. 

A 3-Point Parish
Our Savior’s and Hamar Lutheran Churches of Rothsay, and Little Bethany Lutheran Church of rural Rothsay/Barnesville formed New Life Lutheran Parish in 2002, and made plans to move toward the formation of a new congregation by 2008. It was proposed that they be joined together as one congregation with one council and one budget. In 2007 Little Bethany chose to remain as an independent congregation in a parish arrangement with the new congregation in Rothsay. 

New Life Lutheran Church
On January 6, 2008 Hamar and Our Savior’s congregations closed and New Life Lutheran Church was born. This successful move can be attributed to the careful work by the Church Councils, pastors who worked well together, the youth group’s formation, Sunday Schools that joined together and a belief system that stresses oneness. 

A New Church Building
The new church building of New Life Lutheran church was built on the Hamar church/Grina Funeral Home site in 2010-2011. The dedication service for the new church was held in February 2011. The new church provides modern, adequate and handicap-accessible worship, education and fellowship space that will serve the current and future members of New Life Lutheran Church for generations to come.

Pastor Randy Whitehead, who came to serve the parish in May, 2016 now serves as pastor of Little Bethany and New Life Lutheran Churches.

Our Parish Partner: Little Bethany Lutheran Church
Little Bethany Lutheran Church has been a parish partner with what is now New Life Lutheran Church for over one hundred twenty years. When Our Savior’s Lutheran Church originated in 1888, it joined in a five-point parish with Little Bethany and others. Little Bethany, a small rural congregation remains as an independent ELCA congregation located ten miles north of Rothsay on the rolling prairie of north-western Ottertail County. It remains today in a two-point parish partnership with New Life Lutheran Church.

Here is a copy of the report from Hamar Lutheran Church’s 60th Anniversary: