"Caught in grace, created for service, called into community"
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Rev. Laura Ziehl 
Senior Pastor 
Ext 2
Pastor Sam Nelson
Associate Pastor
Constance Mithelman
Youth Director
Ext 12
Judy Foland
Office Administrator
Ext 1  
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May 2020

News and Events

State of the Congregation 

Dear people of Bethlehem,

Grace to you and peace this day. Wherever you are as you read these words, may you feel the prayers of your pastors for you. We look forward to the day when we will be together again, but until then know that you are in our hearts and that together we are sheltered in God's grace. In this unique time, the heart of our ministry is unchanged, and yet much is being done in new ways. We give thanks for you and for the strength and grace of our beloved community, even in our separation. St. Paul writes to the church in Rome,

For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you- or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.
Romans 1:11-12

This is indeed a deeply challenging time for us all. But this is no time for despair. There is hope here too. There is grace here too. No force on earth can diminish the hope of the resurrection and the last of Paul's words carry that grace. We are indeed encouraged by each other's faith. Encouraged by text and email and zoom and taped worship and "peace be with you's" sent out each Sunday.   We are encouraged by masks sewn, and monies given to the most vulnerable. We are encouraged by every expression of hope and faith and grace and tears we share as a community linked together on this common journey.
The intention of this letter is to update you on all these things. We have so much we want to share with you, both joys and challenges. In these unprecedented times when we cannot meet in person, there is still so much going on at Bethlehem. Our way of working has changed dramatically, but the hours, effort and heart of the church staff has not diminished at all. If anything, it has increased, both in terms of hours as well as creativity. We are worshiping in new ways, giving in new ways, connecting in new ways. We continue to be so grateful for you and we treasure the community we share all the more strongly in this time of separation.

Financial Impact of COVID-19

Offerings: Specifics on offerings are coming in a treasurer's report that will be available to you all soon
on our website here. Thank you for your continued generosity. Many have switched to online giving and many are sending checks in faithfully. Our deep thanks to you for your faithful stewardship. You are allowing us to meet unprecedented need in unprecedented times, particularly as offerings decline. Some of you are facing job insecurity or job loss. Know that our prayers are with you and we are here to help in any way we can. We have a Bethlehem Cares fund with some financial resources if emergency help is needed. Others of you have accelerated your giving in this time when the need is great. That extraordinary stewardship has blessed us all.

Preschools: Our preschools have been closed since mid-March and remain closed at this time. This is a loss on so many levels. Our preschool is our strongest and largest ministry. We serve 250 children and their families with a staff of almost 20 teachers and aids. The preschool also contributes a good deal to the operating budget. With a heavy heart and deep regret, the council was forced to vote to lay off all preschool staff with the exception of the directors as of April 30, so that our teachers could apply for unemployment through the CARES Act. We intend to reopen, possibly first at a reduced capacity as soon as it is safe and right to do so.   

Paycheck Protection Program: We have good news. As a congregation, we applied for the Paycheck Protection Program of the CARES Act, the first day applications were accepted. We just received news, May 4, that the loan was granted. We are now able to rehire and pay our dedicated preschool teachers with this forgivable loan as well as support payroll for our church staff. We are overjoyed. We ask your prayers for Gail Winterbourne as well. Gail directs our half-day program and after decades of faithful work had made the decision to retire at the end of this school year. She has graciously agreed to continue in her position and shepherd us through this difficult time until September 1st. Gail, thank you for your dedication and service to Bethlehem and to the children of Encinitas.
Other Financial Steps Taken: We have asked for and received 3 months of mortgage deferment. We have renewed and increased our line of credit in case it is needed in the future. Our landscaping and janitorial costs have both been redacted by 50%.

Staying Connected

Our Stephen Ministers are making phone calls to all our members in an effort to check in and see how everyone is doing. If you have any needs that we might be able to help with, please let us know. Our goal is to make certain we have reached everyone, at least once. If you have not heard from us, it is likely that we do not have a correct phone number for you. If you feel this might be you, please contact Judy Foland in the church office with a good phone number for you. 760-753-1026 or jgfoland@blcenc.org.
Cancelled Events
Many of our spring and summer events are sadly cancelled.
  • Women's Retreat, May 1-3 (see below for more information)
  • Adventure Ministry, May 16
  • Synod Assembly, May 28-30
  • Vacation Bible School, June 29 - July 2
  • Summer Trip, August 1-8
  • Tanzania Trip, August 27 - Sept. 3
Some Good News! 
We are a people of Good News and there is much to share.
Navajo Support: As a congregation we voted at our annual meeting to send $3000 dollars with our students to support the Navajo reservation. Summer trip has been postponed until 2021, but there is great need on the reservation at this time. Their rates of coronavirus infection are 6 times higher than the rest of New Mexico with limited medical resources. We sent the $3000 dollars this week, that it might help and heal.
Protective Masks: The sewers of Bethlehem and around San Diego County have made upwards of 5000 masks to be given to medical professionals and all those on the front lines in this trying time. The fabric, once used to make quilts to keep people warm and feel remembered, is now going out as masks to protect life. Thanks to all those who have sewn and sent grace out into the world. (Learn more below.)
Ocean Knoll: We have raised over $3000 dollars to support food need for vulnerable elementary school students and their families. Thank you for the money you have sent and the compassion you have offered.
Worship, Devotions, and Education

Sunday Morning Worship : We have been overjoyed to provide worship to you each Sunday morning. As pastors it is our greatest joy each week, and our music staff feels the same. Thank you for your kind comments and the "Peace be with you" that echoes throughout North County. Worship is certainly one of the common things holding us all up. Currently, there are only 5 of us in the sanctuary recording worship and our safety protocol is very strict. As restrictions and protocol change, worship will change, until we can all be together again. Meanwhile we can feel the Spirit move through it all.
Wednesday Evening Devotion : Beginning Wednesday, May 6 we will be offering a short evening devotion to gather us all mid-week. It will be hosted on Zoom and the link will be provided in a separate e-blast. This devotion will be followed by Bethlehem Cafe, an opportunity to see each other's faces and connect in small breakout groups.
Theology on Tap: Beginning Monday, May 11th through Monday June 1st, we will begin a virtual Theology on Tap. You are invited to bring your own beverage of choice. The theme of the class will be Lutheranism 101. This will be an opportunity to connect with each other and ask important faith questions at the same time.
Family Ministry: Constance hosts regular Zoom meetings with confirmation, high school, and college students. She is also providing Learning Circle educational resources and story time for elementary school students.
Opportunities to Engage and Be Fed 
Centering Prayer:  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.
Qigong/Tai chi:   The weekly Qigong/Tai chi 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.
Learn American Sign Language: The Westmoreland family is hosting Zoom meetings where you can learn and practice American Sign Language. If you would like to join the fun, contact Suzi at
Opportunities to Give and Serve
Bethlehem Cares Fund: We have an existing fund to help members of Bethlehem with unexpected financial need. During this pandemic we are experiencing an increased need for these funds. If you would like to contribute, please contact Judy Foland in the church office or donate through the contribute link on the website.
Enclosed Envelope: We thank you for your faithful support of this congregation. Please give whatever you can at this time.
Navajo Nation: If you would like to contribute additional funds to help the Navajo Evangelical Lutheran Mission and the work they are doing on the Navajo reservation, please contact Judy Foland in the church office or donate through the contribute link on the website.
Ocean Knoll: We are continuing to receive funds to support food need for vulnerable elementary school students and their families. Please contact Judy Foland in the church office or donate through the contribute link on the website.

Final Thoughts

We are truly learning anew, what it means to be the church in this new and unprecedented time. While this has definitely been challenging, it has also been a blessing, allowing us to connect in new and creative ways. Bethlehem is such a blessed, vibrant, unique, generous, and caring community and it is our absolute joy to serve as your pastors. The world today is a confusing, and paradoxical mix of both joys and sorrows. A blend of Good Friday solemnity, Easter joy, and probably most of all, Holy Saturday vigiling. Wherever you might find yourselves, know that God walks the road with you. Know that your community is here to help in any way we can, to hold you up in your trials and celebrate with you in your victories. We have been called by the Holy Spirit to be the body of Christ here on earth, and that is a community that spans both time and space. As you have blessed our lives, we would like to close with these words of blessing. May God shelter you in grace, and comfort you in the pain you bear. May the light of every dawn bring with it the gentle reminder of God's love. May God find you this and every day.
With resurrection hope,
Pastor Laura and Pastor Sam

Scraps and Prayers

Scraps and Prayers and The Pajama Project are Sewing Masks!
Bethlehem sewing outreach groups have been very busy cutting and sewing masks for organizations such as Palomar Hospital, Scripps Hospital, Casa de Amparo, T.E.R.I. group homes, Support The Enlisted Project, those working at Senior living facilities and nursing homes, grocery, restaurant and delivery personnel and many more individuals in our circles of neighbors, family and friends.  Hundreds of masks have been made and delivered from the sewers and cutters affiliated with Bethlehem - we may even be close to 1000+ if and when we finally sit down and count.  But for now, the need continues and the cutting and sewing and delivering continue.
If you know of a group or organization that is in need of masks, or if you or someone you know needs one,  please contact Belinda Simonini at 760 822 9573 or Kim Oswald, rdoswald@aol.com, so that we can work towards making them.
In wearing a mask we are each doing our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and are performing a community outreach Action of Love, Safety and Concern.
What follows is some information about wearing masks, some masks which have been made and one thrilled recipient.


Incentives for Charitable Giving 

There were a few provisions about charitable giving in the CARES Act that was signed March 27 that we wanted to make sure you were aware of:
  • If you take the standard deduction on your 2020 federal tax return, you can claim a brand new "above-the-line" deduction of up to $300 for cash donations to charity you make this year.
  • In the past, if you itemized your deductions, there was a limitation on the amount you can deduct for cash contributions of 60% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).  For 2020, this limitation has been raised to 100%.
  • Certain limitations on charitable contributions by corporations have increased.
As always, check with your tax advisor as to how these apply to you.

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 
Church and State
Why do we talk about politics at church? The ELCA's Draft Social Message on Government and Civic Engagement tells us why . It explains why government "merits both the active support and critical engagement of Lutherans." You can read and comment on the Draft Message at the ELCA website here. The comment period ends May 27, 2020.

Virtual Lutheran Lobby Day - Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Join LOPP-CA for our Second Annual Advocacy Day. Laypeople, pastors, and bishops will convene virtually with the California State Legislature. While we regret that we cannot gather in person at the State Capitol, we are excited that gathering virtually this year may allow people who cannot travel to join in. Register here. A link for the virtual meeting will be sent prior to the event.
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!
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 

Music is an important part of worship at Bethlehem.  Although, we have had to cancel our weekly rehearsals and live performance in June, we continue to connect through technology with choirs and musicians in our Bethlehem congregation and beyond.  Our Good News Singers have had three "Sip and Sing" Zoom sessions where we are singing our favorite hymns and sharing inspirational readings. Recordings of those hymns are beginning to be shared with our congregation in our worship services. The Children's choir  recorded a special Easter message and will have another for Mother's Day.  We are reaching out to all musicians at Bethlehem who are willing to provide at-home videos of worship songs that can be used as special music in our weekly services. Please contact our Pastors or Mona Goetsch if you are interested in adding to our music.

 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's Women's Retreat which was originally scheduled for this month has been rescheduled for next year.  We hope to see you on April 30 - May 2, 2021 at Luther Glen.  Something to look forward to!

 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.

  • May - Mother's Day Thankoffering (BWELCA) - Possible move to June due to COVID19
  • June - Center for Global Awareness (Dianne Nichols & Gail Winterbourne) - Cancelled COVID19
  • 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

W hen, 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. For more information please email Laure Reynolds at laurereyn@roadrunner.com.
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

Prayer Shawl Ministry 

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  www.shawlministry.com .  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 janet.mastrogany@gmail.com . You are all in my prayers.

 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.

 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.

Dear  ,


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


Yours in Christ

Bethlehem Lutheran Webmaster