Bethphage Mission at Axtell

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Bethphage Mission at Axtell
Established 1913
Opened 1914
Current Status Active
Building Style Single Building
Location Axtell, NE
Alternate Names
  • Bethphage Village (current)


The Rev. K.G. William Dahl witnessed the neglect that children and adults with developmental disabilities received in large institutions. He believed in a better way and convinced 54 people to give $1 each to establish Bethphage Inner Mission Association in 1913.

With the start-up money, Pastor Dahl rented and renovated four homes in Axtell. On June 29, 1914, the first four guests arrived. Within a year, the ministry had grown to include 40 guests and 20 workers, and a new setting on land north of Axtell. The "hill," as the Bethphage Mission casually came to be known, reflected a unique architectural style hearkening to Pastor Dahl's native Sweden. A prominent building at Bethphage is Zion Chapel, dedicated May 20, 1931, as a gift of the Women's Missionary Society of the Augustana Synod.

Pastor Dahl died in 1917, at 34. He is buried in the Bethphage Cemetery.

Mosaic was formed July 1, 2003, by the consolidation of two Nebraska-born Lutheran ministries dedicated to the needs of people with disabilities. Bethphage began in 1913 in Axtell, Neb., and Martin Luther Homes began in 1925 in Sterling, Neb.

With the advent of community-based programs for people with developmental disabilities in the 1970s and 1980s, both Bethphage and Martin Luther Homes grew into national ministries. The organizations were invited to begin services in locations across the United States by families and officials who knew the quality of care provided by the organizations.

With their national growth, both organizations felt the need for administrative offices in more easily accessible locations for national travelers. In 1986 Bethphage moved its headquarters to Omaha, Neb., and in 1993 Martin Luther Homes moved its headquarters to Lincoln, Neb.

Throughout their histories, both organizations maintained close ties with the Church. As Church structures changed and realigned over the years, Bethphage and Martin Luther Homes both became affiliated ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, when that body was formed in 1988.

Their shared mission, shared vision and shared Church affiliation prompted the two organizations' Boards of Directors to vote to merge the two ministries, a move that became complete July 1, 2003.

Throughout their histories, both legacy organizations changed as needed to carry forth the vision of their founders. The priority has been, and continues to be, the needs and desires of the people Mosaic supports.

Pastor Dahl once wrote, "Retrogression or even a standstill must never be heard at the Mission." Pastor Hoeger, whose motto was "Always forward!" wrote, "Thus we are sisters and brothers in this work. If the angels are glad to serve us and human beings, then how much more should we be thankful and happy that we can also help others who need our help."