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

Sunday Mornings... 

  8:30am and 10:00 am


Learning Circles 

(Pre - 6th)

10:00 am 

Contact Us


Rev. Laura Ziehl 
Senior Pastor 
Ext 2
Pastor Sam Nelson
Associate Pastor
Constance Mithelman
Youth Director
Ext 12
Judy Foland
Office Administrator
Ext 1  
Quick Links

April 2020

News and Events

From Pastor Laura 

The Journey We Did Not Plan
Dear people of Bethlehem,
Grace to you and peace. We all know what Lent is supposed to look like. It looks like ashes and penitence and meditation and self-reflection. We know what Lent is supposed to feel like. It feels like a time to carve out solitude and reflect on the journey. Well, dear friends, we have certainly found Lent. Oh my, have we found it. But this doesn't feel or look right, at all. We are in turns, isolated and worried. And in waves that are catching me off guard downright scared. Most of the time it is okay. We are safe and housed and blessed. But then it hits hard. This pandemic carries so much devastation and loss of life and it is not over, and we do not know when it will end - nor when it will touch someone we dearly love. My own strange new fear is this: What if I become ill and I cannot continue, with Pastor Sam, to reach out to you. You have your own fears, I know. Fears, that like me, you are only barely able to voice.
And then there is the grace. The phone call or text that draws us from our fear and reminds us that we are not alone. For me, the chance to make my college daughter breakfast, because she is home. The rising sun and the gift of the new day that looks surprisingly familiar, when all around us is in disarray.
It is Lent, but Holy Week is coming. Soon we will join Jesus at table as he washes his disciples feet. We will journey to a cross and perhaps feel more acutely than ever this year, the pain of death and the weight of tears. Then we will vigil, as we are vigiling now. We will wait for the night to break into new dawn. We will wait, locked in our upper rooms, for the sabbath restrictions to be lifted. We will wait to run to an open tomb and a risen Lord and a new day and the chance to breath new air.
It is Lent, but Easter is coming. We are waiting, but resurrection is at hand. We will not wait forever. God will bring resurrection. Of this I am sure. And while we wait, we will love one another, more and more. We will reach out more and more in compassion and care to our most vulnerable neighbors. We will all get zoom accounts and gather for worship across the internet and text "the peace of the Lord" to everyone we know. We will be God's church in this time and we will be loved by God in this time and we shall not be alone.
It is too early to know the lessons of this wilderness time, but they are here. I can feel the keener edge of grace. It is so near. The palpable gift of compassion and the simple gift of kindness to one another. The planet is healing as we step back and there are lessons here as well. We are redefining community and we are learning, maybe for the first time, its real gift. God always makes grace from sorrow.
And so, dear friends, hold on. Hold on to those you can touch and hold on to all that will yet be. It is Lent for certain, but Easter is coming. Resurrection is God's plan for us all. Not on one single day, but on each day. On each new day, may you be blessed. On each day, may God hold your fear and shelter you in grace. Know that I miss you and I am praying for you, as is Pastor Sam. We will all pray for each other until that Resurrection dawn.
Happy Easter to you all.
He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Pastor Laura  

Opportunities for Community, Worship & Giving
Opportunities for Community
There are opportunities to gather virtually in this new day. Please join us. All are welcome.
  • If you would like to join in Centering Prayer on Mondays from 4:30 - 6 pm by Zoom, please contact the church office: jgfoland@blcenc.org   You will be able to join online from your computer, tablet or smart phone. Centering prayer is an opportunity for group guided meditation and prayer with a skilled facilitator. Everyone is welcome.
  • The weekly Qigong/Taichi practices at our church will be available by Zoom.  You will be able to join online from your computer on Wednesdays at 6 pm. Also, Chacha is having a Friday at 9 am practice by Zoom. These practices are moving meditation practices that focus on relaxation, breath, and visualization while carrying out gentle movements.  Everyone is welcome, no previous experience is necessary.  If you are interested in joining please e-mail Chacha at chachapinillap@gmail.com.  Please let her know which of the practices or if you would like to be invited to both practices. She will send an e-mail invitation with the zoom link.
Opportunities for Worship
  • We continue to gather for worship every Sunday. The worship services are taped and available here on the website each Sunday morning. There is a PDF of the bulletin available on the website as well. Please join us and invite those who may have no church home, but are in need of comfort in these unprecedented times.
  • Holden Evening prayer is also available here on the website every. A PDF of the bulletin is available as well. We have decided to continue Holden Evening Prayer beyond Lent. We will gather and sing these familiar words of light until we are together again. Note: There will be no Holden Evening Prayer during Holy Week or the following week, Wednesday, April 15th.
  • Holy Week: All Holy Week services will be available on the website. We look forward to this journey together. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday will be available here on the website daily.
 Opportunities to Give
  • We have recently been made aware of a wonderful opportunity provided by Thrivent.  For every $2 donated, Thrivent will match $1, up to $500,000.  This is being done in partnership with the InFaith Community Foundation (Infaithfound.org) which is related to, but not a part of Thrivent. To donate, please click on the link below. Each donation will be routed by InFaith Community Foundation ("InFaith") to Bethlehem, and then InFaith will send their match donation directly.  We will use the donations for the most urgent needs at church and in the community as we all strive to help in these difficult times. 
  • Ocean Knoll Elementary School is hosting a Bags of Love donation program to feed hungry children and families. Food can be dropped off at the school directly. The next drop off dates are Wednesday April 1st, and Monday April 6, 10-11am. Here is a link to the flyer: Bags of love flyer 

 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 Stewardship 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.


 ELCA Advocacy 
Lutheran Lobby Day May 20, 2020 - Virtual Event
This event is being evaluated and revised in the midst of COVID-19 response. Updates will follow, or sign up for LOPP-CA updates  here. 
Draft Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement
The ELCA is developing a social message on government, civic engagement, the relationship of church and state and related matters, as called for by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. "Government at all levels in the United States merits both the active support and critical engagement of Lutherans. Lutherans need to affirm government in a way that realistically acknowledges its limitations and failures while holding fast to the belief that it is fundamentally necessary."
You can read and comment on the Draft at the LOPP-CA website here. BLC Advocacy will be organizing opportunities to explore this Draft Message once we are able to gather again. In the meantime, if you have questions, please get in touch: blcadvocacy@gmail.com 
ELCA Advocacy - The CARES Act
"Members of Congress and their staff worked intensely to deliver bipartisan initial response to the crisis, and we thank the many Lutherans who called their lawmakers to advocate for important faith-rooted principles and policies that support those of us at greatest risk in this pandemic."
Take the 2020 Census
The ELCA is a Census Partner, encouraging an accurate count, because it impacts a more just resource distribution and representation in the political process. For your neighbor and yourself - fill out your Census and encourage everyone in your community to be counted!
ELCA Advocacy
March Update: Advocacy Connections
Follow us!
Bishop Elizabeth Eaton: Facebook, Twitter 
Bishop Andy Taylor: Facebook 
For information or questions about Bethlehem's Advocacy Team, contact Karin Kloehn at blcadvocacy@gmail.com.

 Music Ministry 

The Palm Sunday cantata has been cancelled. All rehearsals are cancelled until further notice.

 Family Ministry News

Save these Summer Dates/RSVP
Vacation Bible School 2020 at Bethlehem!
June 29-July 2nd.
Confirmation Camp 2020: July 12-17th
All current 6-7th graders
Cost: $435 (with scholarships available)
High School Summer Service Trip 2020: July 31- August 8th
Current 8th graders - Current Freshmen in college
Cost $450 (with scholarships available)

 Bethlehem Women of the ELCA

Eleventh Triennial Gathering of Women of the ELCA
Ring in the New Year by Registering for Gathering 2020
 July 16-19, in Phoenix, Arizona 

Women of Bethlehem - Act Now.............Act Soon
Join over 5,000 women from across the U.S. and the globe for worship, praise, learning, service and  fel lowship at the Eleventh Triennial Gathering of Women of the ELCA July 14-16, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona.  Women will explore the triennial's theme "Just Love" through Bible study, keynote presentations, servant events, business meetings and more. 
Scholarships are available from the Women of Bethlehem as  registration is $375, day registration is $200.  Please contact Bobby Allen ( roberta798@aol.com ) for more information from one who has attended this very affirming event in the past.  Maybe rent a van to drive together???  Maybe rent a place together??? Lots of potential as Phoenix is so close.  Think about it.  Act!

 Bethlehem Women's Retreat

The Bethlehem Women's Retreat originally scheduled for May 1 - 3, 2020 has been canceled.  We will let you know of the new date when we reschedule.

 Spiritual Gifts Class

The last Spiritual Gifts class will be postponed until it is safe to reschedule.

 Giving Tree

Mission Action and Giving Tree Schedule 2020 - All through the year, the Giving Tree at the entrance of the church gives opportunities to help people. There are different projects with different leaders but the same heart.
  • April - CSUSM Student Healthcare Project. Contact JoAnn Daughperty with any questions.
  • May - Mother's Day Thankoffering (BWELCA)
  • June - Center for Global Awareness (Dianne Nichols & Gail Winterbourne)
  • June 29 to July 15 - Vacation Bible School/Youth Camps & Service Trips (Constance Mithelman)
  • July 16 to August 16 - Bethlehem Serves (Beth Nelson)
  • August 17 thru September - Pajama Project Appeal (Belinda Simonini)
  • September  to October 15 - Lutheran World Relief Ingathering:  Quilts & Blankets (Scraps and Prayers Quilting Group)
  • October 16 thru November - Secret Santa (Cheryl Monreal)
  • December - TBD

 Stephen Ministry

As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you - in person, not in heart- we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. 1Thessalonians 3:17
Do you feel alone?  In this time of stress, uncertainty and isolation be assured that our Stephen Ministers are still actively caring to members of our congregation and community.   In biblical times, St Paul wrote letters to communicate with churches when he could not be present face to face. In our modern times our Stephen Ministers are blessed to have tools such as phone, video conferencing, text, and email to continue providing quality care to those in need. If our current situation is difficult for you and you would like to have someone to talk with then please reach out to our Stephen Ministry program. Our Stephen Ministers are not professional counselors, but lay people who have been trained to listen and care for people in times of need. As always, all requests and conversations are kept strictly confidential. Please email Laure Reynolds at laurereyn@roadrunner.com and we will connect you with a Stephen Minister.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. 1Thessalonians 5:23-24.

Scraps and Prayers

NEW - we are adding a once a month SATURDAY Scraps and Prayers beginning May 9th from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. in the MUB. These Saturday sessions will be in addition to the weekly Wednesday morning meetings of Scraps and Prayers.  
Join us in tying quilts and laying out already cut quilt squares for quilts.  Come for some fun and conversation and learning a bit more about how the many quilts you see on the pews in October are put together.  We will be meeting on the second Saturday of May, June, July, August and September.   If you are a sewer and want to see what we do and perhaps take a quilt kit home to sew, we would love to have you join us.  No sewing skills required - as many of us can attest.  Come one, come all - if you can tie your shoes, you can tie a quilt.  Come try a new way to spend your Saturday morning.  If you have any questions, please contact  Bobby Allen, roberta798@aol.com or Kim Oswald, rdoswald@aol.com.

 Pastor Sam's Sermon Blog

Did you miss one of Pastor Sam's sermons?  Want to double check if he actually said what you think he did?  Accidentally fall asleep and want to go back and read the section you missed?  Check out all of Pastor Sam's sermons on his blog at: https://sinningboldlywithsam.wordpress.com/"

 Global Mission "Global Links" E-Newsletter

Rooted and built in Jesus! This is the core of our work as the ELCA walks with more than 80 companion churches in other countries to participate in God's reconciling mission through proclamation and service. Participating in these relationships, ELCA members see how people's lives are touched by the gospel, how their lives are transformed and renewed, and how their communities live in hope. If you would like to receive the ELCA Global Mission e-newsletter "Global Links", please click on the following link to subscribe:  https://community.elca.org/elca-email-subscriptions

 Bethlehem Cares Fund

Bethlehem Cares Fund: F or members of Bethlehem, we have a fund to assist you with temporary financial needs such as medical, home, family or personal needs.Contact Pastor Laura, Pastor Sam, Rose Moldenhauer or Molly Hall. If you are able to contribute to the fund please mark your gift to BLC with the notation Bethlehem Cares.

 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 Newsletter Archive  page there are links available to view current and past newsletters.


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 smile.amazon.com website. See the website for more details.

Dear  ,


Thank you for registering with our e-mail announcement and update service at www.blcenc.org


Yours in Christ

Bethlehem Lutheran Webmaster