1880 to 1900 – The Young Institution Grows
26 June 1881
Consecration of the first eight brothers of the Brotherhood, which is re-named Nazareth on that day. On the same day, the foundation stone is laid for the Brotherhood building.
December 1881 / January 1882
Establishment of a potassium bromide mail-order operation for delivery to persons outside Bethel. Von Bodelschwingh believed that persons “who have a home and work in their home community could also use the medication at home”. Potassium bromide was the only effective substance for treating epilepsy at the time. Within a few years, Bethel was supplying three times the amount of the product that was used at the institution. Bethel was supposed to only take in persons who could not remain in their home community due to conditions within the home.
22 March 1882
Establishment of the Wilhelmsdorf Workers’ Colony, the first of its kind in Germany. 18 homeless, able-bodied male epileptics prepare a farm in the Senne scrubland for accepting unemployed and homeless men. Wilhelmsdorf becomes the core cell of what later becomes the Eckardtsheim Rehabilitation and Care Service Unit.
The Sarepta Deaconesses’ Mother House has 263 deaconesses.
26 November 1884
Dedication of Zion Church, with Prince Albrecht of Prussia in attendance. Bethel has grown to 21 care homes, which include a number of agricultural facilities. Founding of the Bethel Savings Bank. Employees and supporters are able to save their money at the bank at the ordinary rate of interest. The money can assist in covering Bethel’s short-term obligations “by use in operations of the Bethel Institution”. Bethel thus avoids paying the high rates of interest charged on regular bank loans.
Formation of the Workers’ Housing Association for realizing the principle “own home on own plot of land” for workers.
The first telephone is installed in Pastor Bodelschwingh’s office. Installation of a new water supply system. Construction of a mortuary chapel with autopsy room to research the cause of death.
Admission to hospital of the first person with psychiatric problems. The Bethesda Home is opened in the same year “for upper class women with nervous disorders”.
A home for epileptics is opened in the vicinity of the Wilhelmsdorf Workers’ Colony. Additional homes for disabled persons are built in the following years. A separate community slowly develops.
Commencement of mission work by the "Bethel Mission" in Dar es Salaam, East Africa.
1 June 1888
Opening of "Friedrichshütte" in Senne for alcoholics. Commencement of work with persons suffering from addictions.
Young Men’s’ Association for sick and healthy young men is formed. It splits up later into the Bethel Young Men’s Association for sick men and the “Nazareth Young Men’s Association” for healthy men (later YMCA). An association for young girls is also established.
A pamphlet by Pastor Bodelschwingh requests the public to collect all kinds of old items for second-hand use. “Father Schnitger”, a patient, suggested that the collection be held. From these beginnings began Bethel’s second-hand business.
1 April 1892
The Evangelical Lutheran Zion Church is granted parochial rights. Bethel, Sarepta and Nazareth become an institutional congregation.
22 December 1892
Pastor Johannes Kuhlo, later known as the “trombone drum major", is transferred as supervisor from Nazareth to Bethel.
First plan for a theological school. The quarterly "Bote von Bethel" (“Bethel Messenger”) appears for the first time, originally as a newsletter for members in the “Penny Donation Guilds”.
Sarepta builds the “Red Cross” isolation hospital.
1 October 1895
Grand opening of the "Ophir" department store.
Bethel receives electric lighting and a few gas lamps (that did not burn in moonlight). Three mark fine is imposed for leaving a light on in a dining room where only three persons are sitting.
Sarepta opens “Gibeon” general hospital.
First joint meeting of the administrative boards of the Bethel, Sarepta and Nazareth institutions. Only joint administrative reports are issued thereafter. The Bethel Homes offer space for 1,522 persons by this time. 501 consecrated deaconesses work for Sarepta. 168 auxiliary nurses and 101 nurses on probation work on 257 different wards. Nazareth has 261 brothers at this time who work on 100 different wards.
18 June 1897
The German Emperor and Empress visit Bethel. 30,000 persons assemble in Zion Wood, including 2,000 brass instrumentalists and 10,000 singers.
24 November 1899
Dedication of the Freistatt workers’ colony and of the "Moorstatt" (Moor Colony) educational building in Wiettingsmoor in the Province of Hannover (today the State of Lower Saxony) for correctional education of young people) The colony is conceptualized as a branch operation of the Wilhelmsdorf Workers’ Colony.
The community located in Senne (on former scrubland) is named Eckardtsheim.