"Caught in grace, created for service, called into community"
Rev. Laura Ziehl
Pastor Sam Nelson
News and Events
Greetings Dear People of Bethlehem,
Monday June 29th, 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the ELCA allowing the ordination of women. That moment forever changed my life, even before I was born, because just nine years later my mother would be ordained. As a result, I grew up with female pastors being the norm; something that I took for granted. That being said, I know that it was not an easy path. Talk to any female pastor, of any age, and they will have some stories for you. Of the discrimination they have faced, the subtle and sometimes blatant sexism they have endured, and the ways that they had to fight to be recognized and heard. Moments like this anniversary give us a tremendous opportunity, almost as if we are perched on a precipice. We can look back and see how far we have come. See the progress that has been made. Honor and celebrate the witness and sacrifice of so many people who worked to make change possible; who sacrificed far more than we will ever know in the pursuit of justice, freedom, and living into who God created them to be. While at the same time we look towards the future, towards the work that remains, towards where we are being called to go, as the people of God.
June seems to have been the month of such moments. The devastating effect of racism on our society, known all too well by our siblings of color, has been brought to the forefront of the national conversation. Our LGBTQ siblings were forced to find new ways to celebrate Pride month and support one another in love, while showing us how far we have to go before acceptance and equality will be the norm. New data suggesting that the wearing of masks, practice of social distancing, and partial shutdown of businesses will continue for quite some time.
In all of these cases it may seem like we have an insurmountable uphill climb ahead of us. Which is why it is important to stop, take a breath, and marvel at how far we have come. To see that progress is possible when we believe in one another. When we support one another and lift one another up. When we care for our neighbor, and we seek that which is right and just in the world. When our actions and thoughts are all filtered through the lens of grace and love that Jesus saw this world through. And take heart, dear people, especially if you are feeling as weary as I am these days. Take heart as we shift our eyes from where we have come to where we are headed; for there is a great deal of work still left to be done. But we are a people who have great resilience, great determination, and I believe that all of this and more is possible, especially when we place our trust in God. When we realize that we do not have to do it alone. That God will be there to guide us when the road ahead is unclear, to strengthen us when we feel faint and weary, and to call us back when we have wandered from the path.
Education Opportunity for July
"FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO" - How we Read and Interpret Scripture
All are welcome to join Pastor Laura and Pastor Sam as we explore the ways in which we read and interpret scripture. Together we will explore these questions and more: What is the Canon? How did it come to be? What do we do when the Bible contradicts itself? How do we understand the hardest stories in the scriptures?
Join us for a 4 week series beginning Monday, July 6th thru Monday, July 27th at 7pm. Look for a zoom link in your email beginning Monday, July 6th.
We are looking forward to seeing you,
Pastor Laura and Pastor Sam
This summer we are having our first ever
Bethlehem Virtual Talent Show! Talent does not need to be musical! It could be a video of you riding the waves, magic tricks, jokes, skateboarding, or showing and describing your artwork. We have many talents in our congregation and here is your chance to join in the fun! Once we have all of our varied acts, we will be making a huge movie and have a congregational zoom viewing on
Sunday, July 26 @ 4 p.m. A special link for viewing the talent show will be posted on our website on the day of performance AND sent to each participating act.
I'm requesting that each person's video be no more than 5 minutes in length. You can make your video by phone, computer or tablet put please
record in landscape orientation so the video covers the entire screen.All videos will be sent to Carolin Meinhardt. Send it to :
- Google Docs - Upload your video to Google Docs then share it with Carolin's gmail account - email@example.com
If you have a problem downloading your video, please contact Mona Goetsch or Carolin Meinhardt and we will get it downloaded for you!
All videos need to be submitted by July 18th
in order for us to process and create a program order.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are willing to participate!
Advocacy in Quarantine - Every Wednesday at 12:00pm
The Lutheran Office of Public Policy-California is hosting
a ZOOM meeting
each Wednesday at 12:00pm to provide an update on current legislative action and advocacy work. The meetings are 25 minutes long, and end with one or two suggested Action Items that will take you no more than 5 minutes to accomplish. I hope you can find 30 minutes a week to stay informed and join the vital work of advocacy. More info
ELCA Racial Justice Blog
Bishop Andy Taylor Issues An Invitation to Work Together for Racial Justice
"Good people of the Pacifica Synod, this is work we also have to do. We are called to repent, not just once but again and again, of the sin of racism, which so infects our lives and thoughts. We are called to action, to change our ways of worship, of thought, of life itself, in order to be one with our siblings of color who, like us, are beloved children of God. As Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said in her sermon for Trinity Sunday, "Until the white majority feels within our soul that the pain and suffering of black and brown people is our own pain and suffering, it will not be safe to be black or brown in America." Read
An Invitation to Work Together for Racial Justice.
Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton Responds to Supreme Court Decisions
ELCA Advocacy Updates
Follow developing stories and responses
There is a lot going on in the news as this newsletter is being created. You can follow the actions and responses of our church leaders here:
Save the Date! Lutheran Lobby Day - Wednesday, May 19, 2021
The 2020 Virtual Lutheran Lobby gathered over 80 people online for an update on current legislative initiatives at both the state and national levels. We received
a message encouragement from Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton
for the faithful work of advocacy, and we made plans for Lobby Day 2021 - next year in Sacramento!
Take the 2020 Census
The ELCA is a
, 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
and encourage everyone in your community to be counted!
For information or questions about Bethlehem's Advocacy Team, contact Karin Kloehn at
Bethlehem Women of the ELCA
The Eleventh Triennial Gathering of Women of the ELCA has been rescheduled to July 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Watch for more information as we receive it.
Bethlehem Women's Retreat
Bethlehem Women's Retreat- rescheduled again! The next Bethlehem Women's Retreat will be held on May 14 - 16, 2021 at Luther Glen. Please save the date. We look forward to seeing you then.
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.
- July 1 - July 15 - Youth Camps (Constance Mithelman) - Cancelled COVID19
- July 16 to August 16 - Bethlehem Serves (Beth Nelson) - Cancelled COVID19
- August 17 thru September - Pajama Project Appeal (Belinda Simonini)
- September to October 15 - Lutheran World Relief Ingathering: Quilts & Blankets (Scraps and Prayers Quilting Group - uncertain at this time)
- October 16 thru November - Secret Santa (Cheryl Monreal)
- December - TBD
Are You Afraid? There is a lot to fear lately. Are you afraid of encountering the Corona virus? Or worry about your loved ones getting sick? Or maybe you worry about your job or business and whether there will be enough to pay the rent next month. Are you afraid that things will never get back to normal?
What ever you are afraid of remember the promise given to us in Isaiah
Do not fear, for I am with you.
In these uncertain times know that your church community stands by willing to help fulfill God's promise to stand by you. Our congregation's Stephen Ministers are trained to listen to you, care for you, and support you as you struggle through this difficult time. You are not alone.
Stephen Ministry is a one-on-one caring ministry that pairs Stephen Ministry-trained lay people with others in the congregation who are experiencing a difficult time in their life. Stephen Ministers usually converse with their care receivers for an hour each week. Women are always paired with women and men are always paired with men. All conversations are strictly confidential. If you would like to know more about Stephen Ministry and how it might help you please reach out to Pastor Laura, Pastor Sam, or one of our Stephen Leaders, Laure Reynolds, Molly Hall, or Suzi Westmoreland. We would be happy to explain how Stephen Ministry works and determine if Stephen Ministry is right for you!
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.
Prayer shawls are intended to provide comfort for any who might be going through a particularly difficult time. Unfortunately, this is applicable to so much of the world right now. Our ministry group is on hiatus, and consequently unable to access our supply of shawls at church. We look forward to the day when we will be able to meet again in person, and have the ability to distribute a shawl to anyone who might be in need.
In the meantime, please continue to knit/crochet at home. Teach yourself on youtube! Feel free to create any kind of shawl or wrap you would like. Sample patterns may be found on
. Here is a quote from the Wings Cancer Foundation, which seems so timely right now in this time of isolation and social distancing, "Our prayer shawl ministry has grown out of the desire to combine the healing power of prayer with the healing ministry of human touch...we enfold each person in genuine loving concern and envision each shawl extending that ''hug' and bringing comfort and solace even when we're not physically present."
Contact: Janet Mastrogany (619) 980-8671 or
. You are all in my prayers.
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: 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.
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 smile.amazon.com website. See the website for more details.
Thank you for registering with our e-mail announcement and update service at www.blcenc.org.
Yours in Christ
Bethlehem Lutheran Webmaster