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

January 2017

News and Events

From Pastor Laura

Dear members and friends of Bethlehem,
Happy New Year! As the sun rises on a new year, a fresh time, a year full of possibility, what plans do you have? Not necessarily, what resolutions have you made, but what do you see on the horizon? What is coming? The wise men saw a star. It led their way to the child. They watched for its rising as they crossed the desert. They reset their course based on its position in the heavens. What compass do you follow, what light is now leading your path?
Pastor Daren tells the story of growing up in Boulder, CO at the base of the flat irons. As a child, he saw, in the December sky, an unusually bright star. He would watch it night after night. Sometimes it was ahead of him, sometimes behind him as he drove through Boulder. It reappeared every December. As he grew older he realized, it wasn't a real star after all, but one lit, high in the flat irons, at Christmastime.   It wasn't there the rest of the year at all. When he was in college, he and some friends, hiked to the mountain top where the star was seen. He found it. Wood and lights set in a frame that was lit only in December. It was indeed there all year round.
Isn't that the way of the Christ. Always there, whether we can see him or not. Never distant, never far, but constant, insistent and often subtle. The light shines in the darkness -- always. As most of the world packs up their Christmas decorations, we in the church are just beginning Christmas celebration. We eagerly journey with the wisemen in search of the baby Jesus. May the star, light your way this epiphany and into the new year. God bless you with light and new life on the horizon.
There is much light on the horizon at Bethlehem. This will be a year of new possibilities for us. Jonathan Garman will leave us after 14 years of faithful ministry to the congregation on March 31, 2017. A stay of 14 years is exceptional for any youth director and we look forward to ample opportunity to thank Jonathan and to celebrate him and bless him into the new opportunities that are before him. We are grateful for the rare gifts he has offered. As we move forward, we are in conversation with St. Andrew's Episcopal Church across the street. As God would have it, they too are in search of a youth director. There have been many conversations between the two congregations and we are moving toward the real possibility a shared youth director position between the two churches. This has many advantages. Given that the cost will be shared, it allows us to offer a full time, fully benefited position and attract the most qualified and experienced candidates to come and serve us. It also affords us the wonderful synergy and ecumenism possible between the two youth groups and the two congregations. The youth director will work individually with both youth groups and then combine events like summer trips. A combined committee from both congregations has begun meeting to create and post a job description. If you know anyone who might have the gifts for the position, please contact the church office.
Also, we will be calling someone to fill the vacant associate pastoral position. Mary Shaima has capably filled that position in a contracted manner since the completion of her diaconal project in August. She completes the final step in her seminary process at the end of February and will then be available for call in the ELCA. I am so grateful for the gifts she brings and the extraordinary and much needed help she has offered the congregation. Mary has deep gifts. It is the council's plan to fill the pastoral associate position as soon after March 1, 2017 as possible. That search depends, in part, on the availability of candidates in the Pacifica Synod at that time. The pastoral position we are offering is part-time and that makes the search process more challenging for the synod and more geographically restricted, than a full time position would be. Your council has worked long and hard for over a year on a staffing plan, balancing the staffing and ministry needs of the congregation with the realities of pledged giving and available resources. Thank you to all those whose pledges make our ministry possible and to those who have spent countless hours creating such an excellent plan to meet our needs and goals as we move forward in ministry. If you know someone who has the pastoral gifts Bethlehem needs at this time, please contact the church office.
Our annual meeting is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017 at 10 am. We will worship that morning at 8 am & 9 am with the annual meeting to immediately follow at 10 am. At the meeting we will: pass bylaws for the mission endowment fund committee and ELCA mandatory constitutional changes to our constitution; conduct a vote to determine if we will be an all inclusive church; elect new council members; adopt a budget; and hear about the ministry and mission of the congregation. Please come and add your insight and questions to our deliberations as we are church together.
In the summer of 2017, we look forward to necessary upgrades to the family center. We are blessed with two exceptional early childhood learning programs on our campus. The family center is in need of essential upgrades if we are to continue to offer a first class accredited preschool program. The ceiling work has already been completed and the remainder of the work will be done over the summer. The preschool programs will be funding the upgrades from carefully reserved resources. I thank them for their willingness to expend significant funds on behalf of this ministry that we share. What a gift. Our 4:30 pm Christmas Eve service was filled to overflowing with our preschool families. What a joyous blessing we have in this ministry.
2017 promises to be a year of new possibilities and new joy at Bethlehem. Together with the new opportunities in our personal lives, I look forward to where God will lead us as we journey together. I join you in looking to the horizon for the new dawn, and in our confidence in the Christmas star in the heavens, whose light shines for us this day and always.  
Epiphany peace,
Pastor Laura

From Mary Shaima, Diaconal Associate

Another New Year!
We said "Happy New Year" just over a month ago, as we began a new church year with the First Sunday of Advent.  Now we say it again as we leave 2016 behind and head into 2017.

As Lutherans THIS IS BIG.  2017 marks the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, which began when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg.  This observation officially began in October 2016 on Reformation Day, October 31, when Pope Francis and the President of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, signed a document committing the LWF and the Roman Catholic Church to a year of joint observation and cooperation.

We are putting together ideas for being a part of this worldwide observation.  Let me know if you'd like to help!  I'm already thinking about more education opportunities like "Lutheranism 101" that many of us shared last November.

I read a blog post the other day about New Year's resolutions.  They're pretty standard, right?  Certainly gyms depend on those resolutions for an uptick in their business right around the first week of January!  But this article suggested something else: instead of resolutions, what if we instead declared INTENTIONS?

The author explained that resolutions are very legalistic - and generally unrealistic.  "I resolve to go to the gym at least 5 days a week" is admirable, but it also carries a negative tone.  If we don't make those 5 days, we might scold ourselves.  But what if we turned this into an intention?  It might sound something like this:

"I intend to move each day in a way that gets me breathing and brings me joy."

Already the task is reframed into a place that acknowledges a physical benefit as well as a psychological one.  If you've made a list of resolutions, perhaps you might try re-writing them as intentions.  See how it works!

Jesus told us that he came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly.  I think intentions make that "abundant life" a bit more possible than resolutions.  As the gathered people of God at Bethlehem, we determine together what our "intentions" for the year will be at our annual meeting.  The cool thing about our collective intentions, though, is that they will ultimately bring about more abundant life not only for us, but for countless numbers of folks around the world AND for God's creation.

I think just being a part of this kind of intention is itself a slice of abundant life.  For that, I am deeply grateful to be a part of this community.

Blessings and peace,
Mary Shaima, Diaconal Associate

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


Happy New Year! I would like to thank you all for your contributions to the Children's Ministries in 2016! Your loving gift of time and talents was amazing! I look forward to a great year of ministry in 2017! Blessings to you and your families in the coming New Year!

Learning Circles will resume on Jan. 8th.

Chris Matthews
Director of Children's Ministries

Bethlehem Women of the ELCA

Annual Meeting of the Bethlehem Women of the ELCA.  All women are invited to the annual meeting which will be held  Wednesday, January 25, 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.
2016 Women's Christmas Bazaar.  Thank you to all who shopped and contributed their time and talents to our annual Christmas Bazaar.  It was a wonderfully successful morning for all of us.

Stephen Ministry

Post-Holiday Blahs?

The kids have left and the house is too quiet again...
The season is finished and I have nothing more to look forward to...
I saw the family at Christmas and it opened old wounds...
I made it through the holidays and I can no longer avoid going to the doctor- but I'm afraid...

January is a difficult time for many as the days are shorter, the nights are colder, and the hustle and bustle of Christmas is behind us.  While December is a happy time of preparation and rejoicing, January can be a letdown as we dwell on feelings brought forward during the holidays and face the reality of our current lives.

If you are having a hard time making it through this post-holiday season, a Stephen Minister can help support you and listen to you as you work through these difficulties.  For more information please contact Pr. Laura or one of our Stephen Leaders, Molly Hall or Laure Reynolds.

 Giving Tree

Our  January Giving Tree is dedicated to the food pantry at St. Andrews Episcopal church. Every week they distribute food to those in our immediate neighborhood who require a little extra help. Check the Giving Tree for needed food items. If you would like to help with their food pantry in any way give them at call at 760-753-3017.

 Handbell Choir

Have you ever thought about playing in the Handbell Choir? Our Bell Choir is looking to add ringers - rehearsals are Thursdays at 6pm, starting Jan. 19th. Please join us! For more information, contact Kim Froke at 760-519-5784 or

 Music Ministry

Second Sabbath will be leading worship on January 15 instead of January 8. 
 San Dieguito Interfaith Ministerial Association
SDIMA will host The Season of 64 Days of Nonviolence that will be an interfaith event held at Seaside Center for Spiritual Living on February 1, 2017, beginning at 7 o'clock p.m.  The "64 Days of Non-Violence" begins with the anniversary of Mohandas Gandhi's assassination on January 30 and ends with the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination on April 4. It is anchored by a mission statement of principles and commitments by participants towards living in a nonviolent way.    The program will include refugee girls from the International Rescue Committee Peacemakers,  Tina Paulson, Director of Legislative Liaison FACESS Together Freedom, an organization that is a comprehensive effort to equip communities, churches, schools, as well as organizations and governments to identify, prevent and fight trafficking which is happening everywhere.  The Community Resource Center (CRC) with all of its various community offerings will also participate.  There will be music laced between speakers.  PLEASE ATTEND!   Invite others in your circle of friends who would enjoy this evening of engagement and historical perspective.  For more information about the 20th anniversary of the Season of NonViolence, visit the website at For more information about the event, contact Dianne Nichols,

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


A BIG Thank You from TACO!  Thanks so much to our wonderful & supportive Bethlehem congregation for your outstanding response to TACO's December drive to buy Christmas gifts for our guests at TACO in San Diego.  This year it was a large backpack-type bag w/very sturdy water bottle inside.  They were able to get them for $25 each and we contributed $1540,  enough to pay for 62 bags!  They are very grateful for our support... as am I!!

We will be going to TACO again Monday, January 16 to help serve the meal at 4:00.  That's Martin Luther King Day, a school holiday, so perhaps some of our kids can come also.  Please let me know if you can join us.  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

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