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 

Contact Us


Rev. Laura Ziehl 
Senior Pastor 
Ext 2
Constance Mithelman
Youth Director
Ext 12
Judy Foland
Office Administrator
Ext 1
Chris Matthews
Director of Children's Ministry
Ext 15
Quick Links

July 2017

News and Events

From Pastor Laura

Dear people of Bethlehem,
I hope the summer is treating you well. I hope that you are all finding time for rest and re-creation. The renewal of the spirit is a rare gift. It comes when we take the time to breathe deeply and notice grace and give thanks for the gifts around us. It comes when we allow ourselves to honor the person God made us to be rather than what world expects us to do. I know it is an old phrase, but God did indeed make you to be a human being, not a human doing. May God bless you in the "being" this summer.
I want to update you on some significant changes to our plans for the family center renovation this summer. We have been working for more than a year on a plan to upgrade the family center with monies saved by the preschool programs over the past 20 years, for this purpose. Our intention was to enlarge classroom sizes, add much needed single bathrooms to the classrooms, and relocate the preschool office to make it adjacent to the entrance to the family center for increased security. These changes are intended to strengthen the high-quality program, one that consistently exceeds accreditation requirements. It became necessary, very recently, to postpone these projects due to unexpected cost increases, beyond available resources, and a limited construction window in which to complete the project. This is disappointing news.
After careful consideration by the council, and in consultation with the team that has been working on the project, we have developed a new plan forward. A portion of the preschool monies available for the project has already been spent on ceiling repair, and other items. The remainder of those monies will be held and used at a future date to make the improvements outlined above so we may continue to offer the very high quality early childhood education program our parents and children have come to depend upon. In the meantime, we will move forward with several smaller budget items. This summer, while the building is not in use, we will finish the ceiling work in the family center, replace aged and failing carpeting and laminate, and do some necessary maintenance and upgrades to the existing bathrooms. The total cost for these interim and necessary improvements is just under $30,000 dollars. Two members of the congregation who understand the needs, have generously offered to loan the congregation a total of $20,000 dollars toward that goal. An additional $5000 dollars will come from the operating budget and our preschool families have donated another $5000 dollars for the project; for a total of the $30,000 dollars needed. The work began this week!! In addition to the skilled labor necessary to complete the project, a number of Bethlehem members are helping as well, offering their time and talent. This is helping us keep costs down and adding joy to the project.
I want to thank Debi Carr and Gail Winterbourne for their work on the project, but more importantly for decades of faithful ministry as the directors of these two exceptional programs. Just last week, as happens so often, I was approached in a grocery store by someone whose children attended our preschool years ago. They wanted to thank me for what we had done for their children. I pass on their thanks to you. We are known in our community, above all else, as "the congregation with the exceptional preschool program." We have served, and continue to serve, thousands of children and families.  
Last week we welcomed 120 children to Vacation Bible School with a staff of 40 volunteers. We had a glorious week in Rome and those of us who were involved, were able to experience firsthand what Debi and Gail experience every day. The deep blessing and gift that it is to work with young children and to know that you are making a difference in a young life that will last a lifetime. When you tell a child that God loves them, they hold it forever.
Our teenagers, who were so recently children themselves, leave on their summer trip on July 15th with Constance and their leaders. They will be serving on behalf of Bethlehem in the Bay Area, working with a children's ministry themselves, as well as being involved in several construction projects. We send them with our prayers and thanks.
From the youngest of us to the oldest, we have been privileged to hear of a loving God.  When we were very young, someone shared the Good News with us. From that day until this one, we have lived in that grace and striven to share that grace with all, as God gives us opportunity.   This is what it means to be God's church.
God's blessings to all of you, as you live out the grace God has laid in you. As you rest in God's grace this summer, and in every stage of the journey.
Blessings on the journey,
Pastor Laura

From Mary Shaima, Diaconal Associate

According to the calendar, summer is here!
Of course, we in coastal Southern California know that "May gray" and "June gloom" can sometimes extend way into July, and that our warmest months are usually September and October. Maybe "summer" is more a state of mind than a season on the calendar.
When I think of summer, I think of longer days, more relaxation, getting together with friends, and dipping my toes in the water at the beach. What do you think of?
Our gospel lessons this summer are an exploration of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. It's a very full road - not in terms of scheduling, but in terms of variety of experience. To me, that is the best kind of summer - full of experiences.
And yet, Jesus also reminds us, "come to me...and I will give you rest."
I think what Jesus is saying here is that when we follow Jesus, and seek to live as he did, we need to take time to rest - as he did.
I want to highlight some of the ways we offer at Bethlehem to rest and recharge:
*Centering Prayer, Mondays at 4:30 PM in the sanctuary - a time to explore the practice of meditative prayer, intentional quiet and focus
*Yoga, Tuesdays at 6:30 PM in the sanctuary - yoga practice for all levels led by a certified teacher
*Tai Chi, Thursdays at 6:20 PM in the Multi-Use building or on the lawn if weather permits - the ancient practice of "meditation in motion" led by one of our members, ChaCha
People sometimes talk about being "balanced" - but I prefer the word "centered." "Balanced" sounds like the work is all on us, whereas "centered" implies that we exist in something besides ourselves - and as followers of Jesus, we are centered in Christ. These practices are all helpful ways to continue that centering.
Make time to rest and recharge this summer! And mark your calendars for our annual "Bethlehem Serves" day on August 20th, when we gather for a brief worship time and are then sent out to serve our neighbors. We have lots of great projects lined up and signups will begin soon. Do you have a project you'd like to see happen? Email me at or find me at church and let's get it going.
In Christ's peace, love and grace,
Mary Shaima, Diaconal Associate

Children's Ministry

Upcoming Events and News

Rome VBS: Our adventure in Rome was a great success! Thank you, to everyone who participated! We opened our hearts and shared God's love with the children and families of our community. This took the amazing efforts of so many wonderful people. Rome was not built in a day! But with the dedication of this congregation, we did it in two and a half days! No words could adequately portray my appreciation to all of you! Thank You!

Learning Circles: Our program for the summer will be in a large group format. This will allow our dedicated teachers to have a well deserved rest for the summer. All of the children ages 4-12, will be in one group. The nursery will still be available for children under the age of four. I would like to thank all of those who have shared their time and talents throughout the year to guide our children as they grow in faith!

Chris Matthews
Director of Children's Ministries
Bethlehem Lutheran Church

Youth Ministry

Youth News

  • High School Youth Group will meet through the summer on Wednesdays from 7-8:30pm in the Family Center
  • Youth Summer Trip is scheduled for July 15 - 21.  We have several youth who are in need of scholarship help to cover the cost of the trip.  Any amount of assistance would be appreciated. 
  • Sunday, July 10 - The youth are having another "Noisy Offering" where we invite folks to bring their change to help the youth fundraise for the summer trip. Thank you to all who brought in your coins on June 4th - we raised $562.47 in pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters (and some ones, fives, tens and twenties)!!
  • Middle School Confirmation Retreat: Sunday, August 20-Tuesday, August 22.


Bethlehem Women of the ELCA

2017 Bethlehem Women's Retreat
For Such a Time as This
-Women's Voices-

The 2017 Bethlehem Women's Retreat will be held at the Luther Glen Conference Center in Yucaipa, CA on September 15 - 17.  Join us for a weekend of faith, fellowship, and fun!

We have a choice of two housing options available this year at two different prices. The conference center sleeps 40 persons and features comfortable rooms with private baths and includes bedding and towels. The cost for the conference center will be $175 per person for the weekend. We also have available the cabins at Camp Yolijwa which have bunk beds and newly renovated bathrooms at a cost of $140. Bring your own bedding and towels for the cabins. The cost for all participants includes meals Saturday breakfast through Sunday breakfast. Visit the Luther Glen website at

Sign-ups will begin on August 13.  Sign up for the conference center rooms will be first come first serve based on when we receive your money.

Full and partial scholarships will be available.   Would you like to sponsor a scholarship?

Stephen Ministry

Stephen Ministry is Your Ministry
You play a vital role in Bethlehem's Stephen Ministry and your support is important to our success.
Here is what you can do:
Pray for God to bring hope and healing to hurting people through our Stephen Ministry.
Accept care from a Stephen Minister during your time of need.  God doesn't expect you to bear your burdens alone.
Tell a friend, neighbor, coworker, or relative who is hurting about Stephen Ministry.
* If you are a compassionate person and a good listener, prayerfully consider becoming a Stephen Minister.  Our next training class will start in January.

If you would like to know more about Stephen Ministry please contact one of our Stephen Leaders, Molly Hall or Laure Reynolds.

Endowment Fund

Mission Endowment Fund News
Each month, Bethlehem's Mission Endowment Fund Committee shares some thoughts and suggestions about planned giving from Greg Shepherd, the Pacifica Synod's gift-planning resource. This month's topic is "Summertime Review".
Greg writes:
"When is the best time to review your estate plan? Many like to do it in January in response to a New Year's resolution. However, summertime can be an even better time as we reflect on past summers spent with family, and how we now want to honor them as we consider what our legacy will be. Whatever time of year you choose, it is important to review your estate plans every five to ten years, or sooner, if there have been major changes in your family situations or estate tax laws."
For information on resources available for your review, or for other questions you may have regarding estate gift planning, please contact our congregation's gift planner, Greg Shepherd, at: 909-910-6823 or by email at:


TACO NEEDS:   TACO is very short on toiletries of any kind, sox & underwear.  Basic toiletry items are toothbrushes & toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, conditioner & lotion.   We found some great little Ziploc packages with a toothbrush, cover & toothpaste.  I'll have a sample to show you, so come see me at church!  It's perfect for anyone living on the streets. They need both women's & men's underwear, both boxers & briefs.  Let's do all we can to get them resupplied!  Warm clothing of any kind is always needed:  sweatshirts, esp hoodies, sweatpants, jackets, thermal underwear, etc.  Way too many of the homeless are sleeping outside on the cold ground or sidewalk and need any kind of blankets or covers you may have.   These things do not need to be brand new as long as they're clean. We don't help serve again until July 17th but I'll be happy to drive donations to San Diego sooner to get them into the hands of those who so desperately need them!   Thank you so much for always caring for our less fortunate neighbors! Any questions?  Call Lori Cook at 760 207-0432.

 Giving Tree

Giving Tree - ELCA World Hunger // Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church Community Food Pantry Appeal
Accepting food donations during July to assist Saint Andrew's Community Food Pantry.  Requested items - canned items: vegetables, fruits, tuna, spaghetti sauce, beans, and peanut butter AND dry items: rice (1 lb bag), spaghetti, instant rice, cereal, macaroni & cheese, instant soup/top ramen and dry milk packages.  Please pick up a shopping list at the Giving Tree and return to the baskets under the Giving Tree.    For additional information, please contact Kim Oswald at or (760) 634 2995.

 Upcoming Events

  • Bethlehem Serves Sunday, August 20. Gather for a short sending service at 9AM and then disperse to serve our community. Signups coming soon.
  • Support Our Sanctuary Remodel Loan Closeout - Lutheran Fellowship Night (formerly Choir Night) will be on Friday, September 1st with the Padres vs. the LA Dodgers at 7:10pm. Interested?  Email Roger at 
  • BLC's Oktoberfest/Reformation's 500th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, October 29th. More info will follow regarding food, activities and volunteering...plan on joining in on the fun!!

 Dinner Groups Forming

Something old something new! Do you want to get to know more people at Bethlehem? "Dinner Groups" will be starting in the fall! Bethlehem has done this before but it's been a long time! All are welcome - singles, couples, families with children, people of all ages. If you are interested, please email Lori Wolf: It will be fun!

 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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