Bethlehem Lutheran Church

                                   and Early Childhood Center

"Caught in grace, created for service, called into community"
In This Issue

Sunday Mornings... 

Worship Services   8:00am, 9:00am, and 10:30 am


Learning Circles 

(Pre - 6th)

9:00 am


(7th - 12th)

10:30 am


Contact Us


Rev. Laura Ziehl 
Senior Pastor 
Ext 2
Jonathan Garman
Youth Director
Judy Foland
Office Administrator
Ext 1
Chris Matthews
Director of Children's Ministry

Quick Links

December 2016

News and Events

From Pastor Laura

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Blessed Advent to you all. In this time of expectation we wait for the coming of Messiah. We look for light in the darkness and hope that comes to us in a tiny child. It is in the tiny things that hope is often found. In the vulnerable moments, not in moments of strength. In simple kindness rather than on a national scale. Last week, my father was critically ill and in the hospital for a week, including Thanksgiving day. As each nurse, surgeon and respiratory therapist entered the room, I thanked them for working Thanksgiving day; for sacrificing time with family and friends to care for my father. Each one of them said the same thing. "No need to thank me, I choose to do this. I am blessed to be here today. Helping others is my thanksgiving." And each one meant it. I did not see in their eyes, a difficult sacrifice, but a deep joy. If we are to be Advent people, it will be in the small things we do for the sake of hope. A word spoken on behalf of another, a kindness offered to a stranger or a gift given to one who can never repay. One act of hope at a time we will built the world of which the angels sang. Peace on earth, good will toward all people.
Here at Bethlehem, there is much Advent going on. The Comfort at Christmas service is Dec. 14th at 7 pm. If you are living with a grief or loss of any kind this season, please come and join us. We will sing Holden together and claim the light of Christ in our darkness. This year in particular, there are many of us who are feeling afraid and uncertain. If this is true for you or someone you know, please come.
If you are looking for a simple act of hope this season, join us on Sunday Dec.18th at 4 pm. We will be caroling to our home bound neighbors and to residential facilities in the area. Bring your voice, no experience necessary, and your heart. After we have sung all over North County, we will return to church for fellowship and food to share.
Thank you to all those who offered their opinions, to give us a sense of the congregation's desire to move toward becoming an all inclusive church. Your input is much appreciated. Those in favor of becoming an all inclusive church, were 94.5%. Those opposed, 2.5% and those still in need of more information, 3%. The next step will be a vote at the congregation's annual meeting in January. And thank you, to all those who filled out pledge cards this fall to support the ministry of this congregation. We are so grateful for your gifts, your grace and your stewardship.    
Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year. We will have one service at 10 am. Come in your pajamas, or if you prefer, your favorite Christmas sweater. New Year's Day also falls on a Sunday. We will have one service at 10 am. Many of us are planning to have brunch together afterward at a nearby restaurant. Please join us, as we ring in this new year of the Lord together.  
Dear Advent people, thank you for all the ways in which you touch this world with hope. God bless you. In this season of light, may the grace of the Christ child find you. May the hope of new day claim you and may the Christ child find his way into your homes and your hearts.
Blessed Christmas to you all,
  Pastor Laura

From Mary Shaima, Diaconal Associate

"Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come."
This is the ancient form of prayer through Advent - the "stir up" prayers. When I hear them, I add my own prayers for things to be stirred up, particularly my doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God.
Those three things are reminders from the Old Testament prophet Micah. Micah is also the prophet whose words we read at Christmas: " But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days."
How right it is that the prophet who foretells Jesus' coming - the coming of a so-called king who upends all the understandings and expectations we have of a king - is also the prophet who reminds us that this journey with Jesus is not complicated.
Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with God.
Make no mistake, it is hard - but not complicated. The king who comes as a helpless infant helps us to see the simplicity of it, because the baby Jesus has the same needs as any other infant: clean diapers, food, and nurturing. Ask any parent: it's not complicated, but it IS hard!
Ask anyone who lives into those hard but simple words of Micah, and they will tell you of the deep blessings that come amid the challenges.
I asked the children on the first Sunday of Advent if it was fun to wait. Of course not! But then we brainstormed ideas on what could we do while waiting for Jesus, that would bring a smile to Jesus' face? As always, they had lots of great ideas - all of which fall under "do justice - love kindness - walk humbly with God."
I pray that we will be stirred up this Advent. That we will journey together to Bethlehem of Ephrathah, to the place where Jesus is born in our hearts and in our lives, by doing justice - loving kindness - and walking humbly with God. You'll find lots of ways to make that journey happen in this newsletter. There are also Advent calendars and Advent study guides in the entryway at church to accompany you on the journey.
Blessings and peace,
Mary Shaima, Diaconal Associate

Advent and Christmas Schedule

November 27 - 1st Sunday in Advent - worship at 8, 9, and 10:30AM
December 4 - 2nd Sunday in Advent - worship at 8, 9, and 10:30AM
December 4 - Christmas Bazaar - 8:30AM 'til noon in the Family Center
December 4 - 4PM Christmas concert in the Sanctuary
December 11 - 3rd Sunday in Advent

                         "A Christmas Drama" at 8AM and 10:30AM worship

                         "Children's Program" at 9AM worship

December 14 - Comfort at Christmas Service - Wednesday at 7PM
December 18 - 4th Sunday in Advent - worship at 8, 9, 10:30AM
December 18 - 4:00PM in the Family Center
                         Christmas caroling to homebound and others
December 24 - Christmas Eve services
                         4:30PM - Children's service
                         7PM - Children's choir
                         9PM - Good News Singers
                         11PM - Soloist and Holy Communion
Christmas Day - one worship service of Holy Communion at 10 am
New Year's Day - one worship service of Holy Communion at 10 am

Congregation Meeting

Members of Bethlehem Lutheran Church will be asked, at the annual Congregation Meeting on January 22, 2017, to vote on two changes to our Constitution and Bylaws. The two changes are:
1. Amendments to the Constitution mandated by the ELCA.
At the Churchwide Assembly last August, the ELCA made several changes to the Model Constitution that all ELCA congregations use as the basis for their constitutions. Most of these amendments reflect a change in wording from "ordained ministers, pastors and clergy" to "minister of Word and Sacrament," and a change from "associate in ministry, diaconal minister and deaconess" to "minister of Word and Service".
We are required to adopt these changes to maintain consistency with ELCA guidelines. The full text of the amendments can be viewed here.
If you have any questions, contact Bob Michelet (
2. Bylaws for the Mission Endowment Fund Committee.
Bethlehem has had a Mission Endowment Fund for several years, as required in our constitution, but it has not had a full-time committee to oversee it, nor has it had formal guidelines for how it should function.
Last summer, a five-member committee was appointed to oversee the endowment fund. It has written a set of bylaws to describe the purpose of the fund, how it should be administered, and the way in which money should be raised and spent. As proposed bylaws, they require a two-thirds affirmative vote at a Congregation Meeting.
The full text of the proposed bylaws can be viewed here. If you have any questions about the proposed bylaws, please ask any member of the committee - Sandy Lakey, Ted Lange, Michele Lund, Bob Michelet and Dave Porcelli - or Pastor Laura.

Children's Ministry

Upcoming Events And News

Final rehearsal for "Christmas Play" Sat. Dec. 10 @ 10 a.m. (Entire Cast): If you are interested in being a part of our play this year, this rehearsal is very important. We will be distributing costumes and going over details for participation in our play, to be performed the next morning. This years' Christmas play will be a multi-generational musical.That means the cast will include both children and adults. All ages are welcome to participate! Our plan is to create a "Living Nativity" scene at the end of the play! We will need shepherds, angels, wisemen, animals, etc.. Costumes will be provided. Besides cast members, we will also need some volunteers to help with costumes and props. So
if musical drama is not your thing, there are many other ways you can be involved.

Christmas play "The Christmas S.O.C.C.E.R Team" will be on Dec. 11th@ 9 a.m.: There will be no Learning Circles. Children will stay in church to enjoy the play.

Distribution of Children's Bibles: If your child is in 3rd or 4th grade and does not have a bible their own. We would like to provide one. Please let me know if you would like one for your child. Contact Chris Matthews at: Bibles will be distributed on Dec.18th.
Learning Circle Volunteers: We could still use a few more volunteers to help teach in our Learning Circle Program for the winter and spring. We are now using a lectionary based program called "Spark". This new program is designed to make teaching Sunday school lessons fun and easy! The children will be learning about the same Bible passages (lectionary), that are used in church each week. If you are interested please contact Chris Matthews at:
Chris Matthews
Director of Children's Ministries

Bethlehem Women of the ELCA

Women's Christmas Bazaar - Sunday, December 4th from 8:30 - noon in the Family Center.  Bring your Christmas shopping list.  What will be available - handcrafted items, baked goods, jam and jellies, special baskets full of Fair Trade products, Scholastic Books and pre-ordered SERRV products to mention a few items.
Crafters and Cooks - Please consider contributing your beautiful handcrafts, delicious preserves and baked goods or any special skill you may have to sell at the Christmas Bazaar on December 4th.  Please deliver baked goods or craft items to the Family Center on Saturday, Dec. 3rd between 10:00 a.m. - noon or on Sunday, Dec. 4th before 9:00.  For information  or to make alternative arrangements, please contact Kim Oswald, or 760-634-2995.  Proceeds will benefit the ministries of the Bethlehem Women of the ELCA.  Thank you for your support.

Looking Forward
Annual Meeting of the Bethlehem Women of the ELCA .  All women are invited to the annual meeting which will be held  Wednesday, January 25th in the Multi-Use building at 9AM.  We are electing our officers for 2017, reviewing our budget, the organization which we will support for our Mother's Day Thanksoffering and more.  For more information, contact Kim Oswald at or (760) 634-2995.   

Stephen Ministry

For the Holidays- Give Care
For most of us Christmas is a time to gather with family and friends and celebrate the season. This year, in addition to giving gifts to your loved ones also consider giving care.
Care to visit someone who is lonely and feels forgotten by all the festivities.
Care to listen to someone who is hurting and is having difficulty finding a reason to celebrate.
Care to share the burden of someone who is overwhelmed by preparations for the season.
Care for the children of a busy mother so she can shop by herself.
Care for someone who cannot be left alone- an ill family member, a frail elderly person, a special needs child- so that their caregiver can attend to their own needs.
Care enough to refer someone to Stephen Ministry. A person does not need to be a member of Bethlehem to receive the care of a Stephen Minister. Before making a referral, please remember to ask the person's permission first.
For more information about Stephen Ministry please contact Pr. Laura, or our Stephen Leaders Molly Hall and Laure Reynolds.

 Giving Tree

Our December Giving Tree is dedicated to Carol's House, the Community Resource Center's 24-bed emergency shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Carol's House offers residents a safe home for 45 to 60 days while they receive comprehensive social services to facilitate their transition to safer and healthier lives. Services include a legal advocacy, counseling for adults and children, life skills training, parenting classes, and financial education.

Please check the Giving Tree for opportunities to donate supplies and items needed for Carol's House families.
For additional information contact: or or the Domestic Violence Hotline (877) 633-1112

 From the Secret Santa Project

Dear Members of the Quilting Ladies, the Pajama Project, Bethlehem Preschool and Childcare, and members of Bethlehem Lutheran: Thank you for your many years of support of the Secret Santa Project.

For many people the holidays can be a very difficult time. Your generosity has given comfort and support to some these people in need.

Bethlehem could not do all of its great work to help others without all of you!

Thank you, Cheryl Monreal

 Music Ministry

The choirs of Bethlehem Lutheran Church will perform their annual Christmas concert on Sunday, December 4 @ 4 p.m. This year's concert "An International Christmas" will feature carols from many different countries including France, Nigeria, Germany, Ethiopia, and Mexico.  Come hear the Children's Choir, Good News Singers, World Music Ensemble, JuBellation Ringers, and Children's Chimers perform this interesting program.  A free will offering will be taken for the music program.
 San Dieguito Interfaith Ministerial Association
This is the 6th year that The Center for Global Awareness is hosting its International Market at the ELCA Women's Christmas Bazaar on Sunday, December 4.  Items are from the Lutheran World Relief SERRV catalogue. 


The San Dieguito Interfaith Ministerial Association (SDIMA) invites you to their monthly meetings to explore and learn about other religious beliefs and to openly discuss their doctrines and teachings.  Our membership includes individuals drawn from all major faith traditions, who not only benefit from personal spiritual growth through interfaith engagement but are also part of a movement promoting understanding and the importance of spiritual life in our community.  Meetings are held the first Wednesday of each month at Seaside Center for Spiritual Living 1613 Lake Drive, Encinitas, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00.  A lunch is provided.   If you would like further information, please contact Dianne Nichols, the representative for Bethlehem Lutheran Church at

 Interfaith Homeless Shelter 

Bethlehem will be partnering with Seaside Center for Spiritual Living - Community Church (SCSL) this December in hosting the Interfaith Rotational Shelter.   Bethlehem will coordinate the first week (12/4 -12/11) and SCSL the second week (12/11 - 12/18).  Volunteers are needed to provide meals and to serve as overnight hosts. Please go to SignUpGenius at to sign up now! Or look for Blair or Diane in between services in the upcoming weeks. Cash donations are gladly excepted as well. Interested in helping? Contact Blair Lindberg (858-663-5681) at or Diane Langager (760-271-2072) at


SAVE The DATE: Saturday, Dec. 10th at 10:00am
Attention TACO volunteers
               You do ... so very much, and help so many...
Therefore...    You are cordially invited to TACO's gift wrapping party and volunteer appreciation fiesta!
Food will be provided
Please RSVP
Special prize to the person rocking the best/worst Christmas HAT!
Hope we can get a group together to go have some fun and a good lunch.  Call to let me know if you're going so we can make plans.   Lori Cook 760-207-0432

 Newsletter Now Available on Our Website

Have you missed one of our monthly e-newsletters? Have you wished you could open up that newsletter again to get that bit of information you were looking for? Well, now you can. On our home page,, there are links available to view current and past newsletters.

 Need Help?

Join us in meeting the needs of our north county community. The new Resource Book in the church office has resources that can help those in need. Be equipped to help those who may be experiencing hard times. If you know of a helpful resource or are having difficulties finding the help you need, please contact Sarah Breding at


We have also put the resource listings on our website. Click here to check out the many resources available to assist you. 


Bethlehem is now participating in the AmazonSmile program. This is a great way to easily benefit our congregation when you are shopping online. Bethlehem will receive 0.5% of the price of eligible online purchases automatically when you use the website. See the website for more details.

 Thrivent Financial

Choice Dollars
The Thrivent Choice® program lets eligible members recommend where some of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans' charitable outreach funds go by directing Choice Dollars®. Bethlehem Lutheran is an eligible recipient of these funds.
For more information click on the link below.
or contact your Thrivent congregational advocate, Dennis Astroth, at 858-354-3566, or

 Online Giving

Online Giving, a Green Path to Stewardship


We are always looking for ways to make giving more convenient and environmentally friendly. With today's online financial tools, it has never been easier to set up and track regular giving, special offerings and donations to specific areas. Just follow the easy steps provided with our new online service and you will be surprised at how easy it is to be a regular giver at whatever level seems right. We have expanded on the services provided by the same Minnesota-based online service that has managed our electronic giving for a number of years. They serve thousands of churches, and the service is secure, maintaining privacy. 


How to get started...
You may access the online service by clicking on the link on Bethlehem's web page Once you are on the site, you may use your checking account, or your debit or credit card information. If your cards are on a mileage program, you can gain frequent-flier miles while helping support the ministries of Bethlehem.

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Yours in Christ

Bethlehem Lutheran Webmaster