In This Issue
From Pastor Laura
Advent/Christmas Schedule
COVID Vaccine Help
Giving Tree
Music Ministry
ELCA Advocacy
Stephen Ministry
Stewardship Stream
Endowment Fund
Engagement Opportunity
Pastor Sam's Sermon Blog
Global Mission "Global Links"
Bethlehem Cares Fund
Newsletter Archives

Contact Us

Rev. Laura Ziehl 
Senior Pastor 
Ext 2
Pastor Sam Nelson
Associate Pastor
Ext 30
Constance Mithelman
Youth Director
Ext 12
Judy Foland
Office Administrator
Ext 1 
December 2021
News and Events
Dear people of Bethlehem,

In this Advent season, I am always so grateful to name us all, “the people of Bethlehem”. Indeed we are in name, but also in disposition. We are indeed a people who seek after the light. People who live, the day to day of our lives, as those in the town of Bethlehem must have done those many years ago, but at the same time we dare to look up, that we might see the grace and promise of God in the heavens. The shepherds on the hill were not expecting angels and yet, when it happened, they chose to run toward the story of grace. They dared to believe it was possible for the world to change for the better in the company of God, and they wanted to be a part of it.

I have always imagined that we would do the same. That confronted with the unfolding story of God’s new grace, we would run towards it; confident enough, daring enough, joyous enough to believe that we could be a part of it.  And now is such a time. Things are shifting under our feet, and God is clearly in the midst of a new and unfolding grace. How blessed are we, to be a part of it.

The people of Bethlehem were near to the stable, had clear vision of the star, and were close enough to feel the grace of the moment. So too are we, in these days. As Christmas carols play around us and lights appear in our neighborhoods, like Mary and Joseph, we are close enough to the story, to hear the newborn’s cry. “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” So too do we. This is pondering and ponderous time. Like Mary, the truth of the day is neither light nor easy and yet, within the dark night, the light always shines, the star always appears. Hope burns more brightly when it is needed most, and now is such a time.

Dear people of Bethlehem take heart, for we are near to the hope of the star and the new pivot of God’s grace. We are near enough to be a part of it all. We are confident enough, daring enough, joyous enough to believe that we can make a difference — we who bear the name of Bethlehem.

In this holy season, may peace be yours, the peace we need, the peace of which the angels sang. May God’s peace flood your hearts and may new hope embed your days in this advent season. As we look to the heavens, waiting for the star, let us together glimpse God’s new and unfolding grace. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given.” How blessed are we to be a part of it.

Advent blessings,
Pastor Laura
Advent and Christmas Schedule
CHRISTMAS CONCERT - Sun, December 5th @ 2 pm
Join us on the lawn to hear some wonderful Christmas music from the different musical ensembles here at Bethlehem.
COMFORT AT CHRISTMAS SERVICE - Wed, December 15th @ 6 pm
We know that Christmas is not just a season of joy and good cheer. For many it can be a difficult time, especially for those who have lost loved ones. Join us in the sanctuary for a service of hope, healing, and Holden Evening Prayer.
CHRISTMAS CAROLING - Sun, December 19th @ 4 pm
Back after a brief hiatus due to COVID, we will gather in the church parking lot before heading off in groups to sing carols to members at their homes. Social distancing and safe COVID protocols will be followed as we spread cheer (not germs) in this Christmas season.
CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP - Fri, December 24th
           10 am – Indoor service that will also be livestreamed.
           6 & 8 pm – Outdoors on the grass. Please bring a chair and a blanket!
ONE WORSHIP SERVICE - Sun, December 26th @ 10 am
We will have one worship service on the Sunday after Christmas this year. It will be outdoors and livestreamed.

COVID Vaccine Help
If you need help navigating the Covid-19 vaccine sign up process, we are here to help. Our Stephen Ministry/Parish Nurse team can assist with:

  • Finding out your eligibility to receive a vaccine.
  • Helping you find a vaccination site and make an appointment.
  • Assisting with transportation to the site.

Please call the church office, (760) 753-1026, and we will get you the help you need.
Giving Tree
It is Secret Santa time again. We have three ways you can help this year.

  • We are asking for monetary donations to help Es Por Los Ninos (Its For The Children). This is an organization who help families with HIV/AIDS in Tijuana. They are in need of Baby Formula. Mothers with HIV/AIDS must feed their babies formula to prevent them from contracting AIDS.

  • For the local Secret Santa Project, we are asking for $25 Gift Cards for Target, Walmart, and the 99cent Store. You may also give any denomination of any grocery store gift cards.

  • If you would like to Help with the Teen Shelter in San Diego, we are again asking for Black or Navy Blue backpacks and L or XL Black or Navy Blue Hooded Sweatshirts and a deck of cards. The Teen Shelter could also use Men’s Crew Length socks.

You can donate to Es Por Los Ninos or Secret Santa by going the website and clicking on the contribute page. If you would like to write a check to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the memo, please write Es Por Los Ninos or Secret Santa in the Memo. Gift cards and clothing items can be dropped of at church on Sunday morning or during the week.

If you have any questions, please call (760) 942-1482.
Thank you for your Many Years of Support,
Cheryl Monreal

Music Ministry
Bethlehem Music Christmas Concert - Sunday, December 5th @ 2 pm - The choirs of Bethlehem will perform their annual Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 5 @ 2 pm. The concert will be outside on the lawn so please bring your chairs, hats and sunscreen (if needed!). Five groups will be performing a variety of Advent and Christmas songs for everyone's pleasure. Come hear the Children's Choir, Children's Chimers, JuBellation Ringers, World Music Ensemble and Good News Singers accompanied by a variety of instruments. This is a free concert and we encourage all to come and get in the Christmas spirit! The concert should last about 1 1/2 hours. A recording of the concert will be posted later in the month on the Bethlehem YouTube channel. 
Christmas Caroling for our Shut-ins- December 19th @ 4 pm - You don't need to be a choir member to come and sing Christmas carols with this group! Please join us and feel the Christmas spirit by singing your favorite Christmas carols to our members. All will meet at church at 4 pm and then split into smaller groups that will travel to their homes. Due to COVID restrictions, participants will not come back to church this year for a meal. What a fun way to share the joy! 

ELCA Advocacy
A pastoral message on the verdicts concerning the murder of Ahmaud Arbery - Read Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s statement on these verdicts.
A pastoral message on the Rittenhouse Acquittal - Read Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s statement on the injustice of this decision.
Churches Beyond Borders releases devotional inspired by United Nations “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence”
​The ELCA and the three other member churches of Churches Beyond Borders have compiled a 16-day devotional focusing on the United Nations' "16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence" campaign. Read more about the campaign here. The Devotional can be found here.
Welcome of Afghan Neighbors
Across the United States, places of worship and people of faith are key partners in assisting refugees, asylum seekers and others in need of hospitality. Support from ELCA members and congregations has swelled with an outpouring of concern, prayers and offers of assistance for our Afghan neighbors following the end of the United States’ long war in Afghanistan. As ELCA and through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), we can continue to offer our support. Here is an overview of what’s been happening, how Lutherans are stepping up to provide accompaniment, and where you can engage further by advocating for legal protections for new arrivals.
ELCA Advocacy Monthly Updates

“Advocacy in Quarantine” is on hiatus until the State legislature meets again in January 2022.

Follow us!
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton: Facebook, Twitter
Pacifica Synod Bishop Andy Taylor: Facebook
For information or questions about Bethlehem’s Advocacy Team, contact Karin Kloehn at

Stephen Ministry
The Gift of Remembering - With the holidays quickly approaching, a season that’s normally a time for celebration may have a more somber tone for some—particularly those who have lost loved ones in the past year or so. Someone who would have been there to share the Thanksgiving meal, help hang the Christmas lights, or ring in the New Year is gone, with each event a reminder of their absence. The painful feelings that come as a result, especially when it seems everyone else is celebrating, can make the holidays a very difficult time.

In addition to all this, people often avoid those who are grieving, uncertain what to say or do. But there’s a simple, powerful way anyone can offer care: giving the gift of remembering the grieving person’s loved one with them.

Grief has no expiration date. Whether it’s been a year, two years, or longer since someone lost a loved one, consider offering the gift of remembering to them. No matter how long it’s been, listening and reminiscing together is a wonderful way to bring comfort, deepen relationships, offer care, and bring Christ’s healing love to those who are hurting during the holidays. Doing that can make a difficult holiday season a little easier.
Excerpt from: This Holiday Season, Offer the Gift of Remembering to Those Who Are Grieving Copyright © Stephen Ministries St. Louis. All rights reserved, by Rev. Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D.

Stewardship Stream
The people of Bethlehem have been tremendously and consistently generous this past year, in both financial resources, as well as the sharing of time and talents – THANK YOU. Past year ends have seen surges in giving as we give thanks to God for the many different ways that we have been blessed. Some thoughts on why this occurs:

  • As we reflect on the recent Thanksgiving season, we become more acutely aware of the gifts and grace that God has laid in our lives, and we are motivated to share that abundance with others through Bethlehem.

  • Two practical matters: for those of us who give using envelopes, there are special envelopes (Christmas, Advent, etc.) that invite us to celebrate the season through generosity (this can also be done through electronic giving, too!). December can also be a time when family finances are reviewed, which includes assessing the status of our annual Bethlehem pledge (i.e., Do we need to catch up? Can we do more?).

  • We have started to see that our lives are getting closer to normal with the return of precious gatherings of family and friends! Thankfulness can be expressed financially, as well as in other ways.

Keep in mind that you might enjoy tax benefits by gifting appreciated securities like stock, mutual funds and ETFs. You can coordinate such transfers through Judy Foland, our Church Administrator.

We are so thankful for your generous stewardship. May this holiday season be filled with hope and joy for you and your family. 

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas from the Bethlehem Stewardship Team.

Endowment Fund Update
Dear Bethlehem Lutheran Church,

I am yet again astonished by the generosity and support that you have given me through the Mission Endowment Fund. I am eternally grateful for the work of Bethlehem, and the committee, to support aspiring church leaders like myself. I found myself in a particularly difficult position this year and I should not have been surprised when it was Bethlehem that reached out a hand to lift me up.

It is not the first or the last time that you will answer that call. When I first came to Bethlehem, I was just starting sixth grade. My sister and I met every single one of you and were welcomed with open arms. You brought me through good days and bad, middle school, high school, and college. Until I was ready to venture into the start of my ministry.

Now I am on internship, learning and growing faster than I can keep up with. I was lighting the candles on Sunday, when it struck me. I have been training for this moment my whole life. Whether it was acolyting for Good Friday, preaching for confirmation, or building a life size giraffe in the sanctuary; it has all been preparing me for today. You have been preparing me for today. I didn’t know it at the time, but God knew. God knew that Bethlehem would be the place that would equip me for my vocation, my call to proclaim the Gospel.

The Mission Endowment Fund has been supporting me financially, while you all have been supporting me emotionally and spiritually. You have allowed me to become the person I was created to be, and this is nothing less than God’s work.
Thank you,
Emily Erisman

Learn Americal Sign Language (ASL)
If you have ever wanted to learn American Sign Language (ASL), now is your chance, in a friendly, supportive learning environment. The classes are designed for high school to adult learners.
Bethlehem ASL Classes: 
Most Thursdays from 6 to 7 pm Pacific Time
Our textbook is available on Amazon: "Learn American Sign Language" by James W. Guido
If you're interested in joining us, contact Suzi Westmoreland at 
Opportunities to Engage
Qigong/Tai chi -The weekly Qigong/Tai chi practices at our church is available by Zoom. You are 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 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. 
 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:
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:
Bethlehem Cares Fund
Bethlehem Cares Fund: For 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.
Newsletters 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 website. See the website for more details.