In This Issue

From Pastor Laura
Worship Schedule
COVID Vaccine Help
Music Ministry
Family Ministry
ELCA Advocacy
Stephen Ministry
Stewardship Stream
Engagement Opportunities
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 

March 2022
News and Events
Dear friends,

As Ash Wednesday approaches, I find myself resting on thoughts of the ashes in our lives. The times in my life, and likely in yours, when all has become ashes despite our best effort. This life never seems to work out perfectly, and yet it is that imperfection that allows for the deepest transformation in our lives. It is the ashes that always forge the coming blessing. Even though at the time of ashes, the blessing seems so far removed.
Many times over the years, I have burnt palm branches in my backyard, praying fervently that I am not the cause of the next major wildfire in North County. Dried palms spark very quickly. I burn them safely in a grill, so that I can quickly slam the lid down if things get out of hand … which has happened. Such is the nature of this life. Sometimes things get out of hand. And when I dare reopen the lid, the ashes lie before me. That is the moment when the blessing begins.
This process has become a holy action for me. I am thinking of you and of last year’s hosannas and of all that has happened between the times. I am anticipating the sacred duty Pastor Sam and I share, to lay those ashes on your foreheads with words of dust. “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” In earlier years, it felt a death sentence, but now it feels to me, the blessing of our shared humanity. We are indeed made of the dust of the earth; frail, weary and often weak. And yet we exist, the scriptures tell us, “a little lower than the angels.” Crowned by God in our weakness, with grace, mercy and joy. Our hearts beating for the sake of the neighbor’s need. Our hearts prepared to break, in sadness as well as in joy.
I never feel alone on Ash Wednesday. For we are connected that night in the deepest part of our shared humanity — our mortality lived in daily grace. Each of us bearing an outward sign of that truth; a roughly traced cross made from ashes born of palms. We all look similar on Ash Wednesday, wearing the same cross. Our stories different, our paths our own, yet joined in the common breath of the Holy Spirit and the truth of our mortality. We have this one precious life; each of us and all of us. I am so blessed to live my one precious life in your company.
The sign of Ashes is the visible mark of a cross once traced in water on your baptizing day. When a pastor said, “You dear child of God, have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”
That is what I see in your eyes on Ash Wednesday; that you are marked by the cross in joy and in sorrow. Marked by the cross on the day the diagnosis is cancer and on the day Christ carries you finally home. Marked by the same cross on your wedding day and on the day your child graduates from college. Marked by the cross as you sit alone on the beach and marvel at the persistent power of the waves and the peace that is yours.
Beloved child of God, you have been marked by the cross of Christ forever.

Blessed Lent and God bless you on the journey,
Pastor Laura
March Worship Schedule
Sunday Morning Worship:

  • March 6, 13, 20, 27
  • 9 am - Indoor Worship and Livestream
  • 10:30 am - Outdoor Worship

Wednesday Evening Lenten Service:

  • March 2
  • 6 pm - Ash Wednesday, Indoor Service with Outdoor Seating Available, and Livestream

  • March 9, 16, 23, 30
  • 6 pm - Holden Evening Prayer Indoor Service and Livestream, Followed by Adult Education

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.

Music Ministry
MARCH MUSIC MADNESS - This month many performance groups will be performing during worship services. 
  • March 6 - JuBellation Ringers and Children's Choir
  • March 13 - Good News Singers 
  • March 20 - World Music Ensemble
  • March 27 - Children's Chimers 
  • April 3- Second Sabbath 

In order to improve the sound production for the outside services, we have purchased a new speaker, higher quality microphones, additional music stands, microphone clips and wind screens. These improvements were funded by funds from the Norm Keith and Pauline Benson memorial funds. This week a sound board with 16 channels was purchased by an anonymous donor from our congregation for our outside services. Now all the additional instruments will be miked into the sound board thus controlling the entire sound of each ensemble. Thank you for supporting Bethlehem's music program! 
Family Ministry
Save the Date! - Join us for the return of in-person VBS this summer! It's going to be MONUMENTAL! June 27-June 30th. Registration coming soon!

Confirmation Camp - Do you have a current 6th or 7th grader? Sign up for Confirmation Camp with Constance! July 10-15th at Luther Glen!

High School Summer Service Trip - Current 8th graders through Freshmen in College - Join us for a trip to the Navajo Reservation in Rock Point, AZ! July 30-August 6th. I will be coming up with a contingency plan, as the Navajo Nation has their own COVID guidelines and restrictions we will honor. RSVP to Constance!

ELCA Advocacy
ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton Issues Pastoral Message on Ukraine - Bishop Eaton affirms the statement of the Lutheran World Federation's general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Anne Burghardt: "We urge all parties to de-escalate the situation and work for peace and stability. A peaceful solution must be found." Read the full message here.
ELCA 2022 Federal Policy Priorities for Advocacy Action - Shaped by the ELCA’s social teaching documents and the experiences of its congregations, ministries and partners, here are the policy priorities on the federal horizon for advocacy action in 2022.
“Advocacy in Quarantine” is back! - Every Wednesday at noon - You can join this weekly Zoom meeting to hear an update on current legislative priorities from Regina Q. Banks, Director of the Lutheran Office of Public Policy- California. These quick 30-minutes sessions include a specific action you can take in support of our efforts to end child poverty, fight for water justice, and support equitable reform of housing, hunger, and immigration policies. After each meeting, Action Items are posted on the LOPP web page.
Why so many Recall elections? Recall elections used to be rare. They were reserved for situations of alleged serious malfeasance by a public official. Recently however, recalls have become a strategy for people who want to get rid of public officials with whom they disagree. But wait, isn’t that what regular elections are supposed to do? The answer is yes. But most state constitutions allow citizens to gather signatures on a petition to begin a recall process. If successful, the recall election is scheduled and held. The problem arises with the terms of most recall elections: they are decided by a simple majority of those voting in the recall election only. This often results in someone who has been elected by millions of votes, being ousted by a few hundred votes. Bottom line: If there is a recall election in your district – please pay attention to the issues and please be sure to vote!
Registration Now Open: Ecumenical Advocacy Days, April 25-27, 2022 (Virtual) - “Fierce Urgency: Advancing Civil and Human Rights”. EAD 2022 calls us into solidarity to restore, protect, and expand voting rights in the United States and to realize human rights around the world. As people of faith, we know each person to be created in God’s image, imbued with dignity and having a voice that demands to be heard, heeded, and treated justly. We arise in unity, holding up a mirror to leaders of nations, putting injustice on display and tearing down the veil of oppression that obscures the beautiful, God-born light shining from within us all.
Ecumenical Advocacy Days is a movement of the ecumenical Christian community, and its recognized partners and allies, grounded in biblical witness and our shared traditions of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. Our goal, through worship, theological reflection and opportunities for learning and witness, is to strengthen our Christian voice and to mobilize for advocacy on a wide variety of U.S. domestic and international policy issues.
ELCA Advocacy Monthly Updates

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
Are You or Your Loved Ones Struggling? - The change in routines and added stress of the last two years has had a major impact on the mental health of many of us. We know that several individuals and families in our congregation are now struggling with mental health issues, particularly youth and young adults. Most of us are experiencing burnout and fatigue. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has many resources that can help you understand mental illness and guide your education, support, and treatment options. Below are three apps developed by NAMI that are available for free in your phone's app store. You can also access them in a web browser. If you would like to talk to a pastor or Stephen Minister about your or your family members mental health struggles please contact Pastor Laura, Pastor Sam, or one of our Stephen Ministry Leaders, Suzi Westmoreland, Laure Reynolds, or Molly Hall.
oscER - Organized Support Companion in an Emergency Situation
Your guide to navigating the behavioral health scene for adults 18 years old and older in San Diego County.
oscERjr - Organized Support Companion in an Emergency Situation for Children, Youth and Families
Your guide to navigating the behavioral health scene for youth in San Diego County.
Both of the oscER apps provide Crisis Info and Substance Use Disorder Info. Resources include:
  • Terms and acronyms
  • Mental health support
  • Suicide prevention and support
  • Food and shelter
  • Legal aid
  • Education and support
  • Urgent Centers
  • San Diego Emergency Departments, Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Substance Use Disorder resources
  • Trainings
  • LGBTQIA resources

The apps even include relaxation audio recordings. 
alfrEDU - Accessing & Leveraging Families' Rights to Education
Your guide to navigating families' rights to education in California
This app is a wealth of information for families trying to navigate the special ed system here in California (not just San Diego County). It includes sections on:
  • Getting Started
  • What's Next
  • Moving Forward
  • Alfred's Tips
Resources include:
  • Schools
  • Terms and acronyms
  • Mental health emergency numbers
  • Mental health resources
  • Legal services
  • Special education resources
NAMI Resource Line: 1800-523-5933
NAMI San Diego
Stewardship Stream
Are your estate plans reflective of the generosity and intentions you live out in actions and words? We expect if we have an estate plan, all is taken care of, but derailers can occur, leaving a different result for the reality of our estate. Some thoughts to consider as you implement charitable giving into your estate plan might be:
  1. Charitable Intentions - Will your wishes be followed at death and reflect the generosity you have felt during your lifetime?
  2. Implementing your desires efficiently can save your heirs anxiety and distribute assets effectively in a timely fashion.
  3. Tax Efficiency should be considered when discerning which assets to leave to whom.
  4. Having a Deliberate Plan that is easily implemented and followed by your heirs will decrease heartache, frustration and confusion after you are gone, giving your loved ones a time to rest and recover from the loss of you.
  5. Unexpected Death or Incapacity can derail the best of intentions, even though we thought we would “get to it soon”.
On Sunday, May 15, Bethlehem will host a one-hour seminar after our second service on these topics and more.  Plans are also in the works to offer the seminar on-line as well. The seminar presenter will be Lisa Higginbotham, an ELCA Regional Gift planner for the ELCA Foundation. A free professional resource with extensive estate planning experience, Lisa will help you connect your support of ministry through legacy planning to the joy in your heart, the hope of future ministry, and the sustainability of the church.
Please mark this important stewardship opportunity on your calendar and watch for more details to come.

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. 

Scraps and Prayers - This ministry sews quilts for people in need of comfort and care. We meet each Wednesday morning from 9am-11am in the Multi-Use Room. We need your help sewing and tying quilts. No experience necessary! Stop by for an hour or stay for the whole morning; we'd love to share our scraps and prayers with you. For more information, contact Bobby Allen at or Laure Reynolds at

 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.