In This Issue

From Pastor Sam

November Worship Schedule

Music Ministry

ELCA Advocacy

Interfaith Shelter


Stephen Ministry

Adult Ed Opportunity

Women of Welcome

Christmas Bazaar

Giving Tree

Stewardship Stream

Volunteers Needed

Engagement Opportunities

COVID Vaccine Help

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 

Quick Links

Church Calendar

News & Events

Children's Ministry



Pacifica Synod News


Healthy Day Partners


ELCA Global Links

November 2022

News and Events

The topic of grief has been on mind a lot lately, and I don’t appear to be the only one. Pastor Laura and I recently returned from our fall continuing education conference put on by the synod where the topic was “Grief: Reflecting on Loss, Love, and Leadership.” And here at Bethlehem we have had over 30 people sign up for our 5-week adult education series on Christian M. M. Brady’s book Beautiful and Terrible Things: A Christian Struggle with Suffering, Grief, and Hope. So, it would appear that grief is something that is present in the hearts and minds of many people right now.


As a whole, I think that we live in a pretty grief-phobic society. We don’t like to talk about grief, or most negative emotions for that matter. And when we do, we like for it to fit into the narrow parameters and definitions that we have created for it. Like the idea that grief is only something that we experience when a loved one has died. While that most certainly is an appropriate time for grief, that is far too narrow of a definition. Any form of loss can inspire grief – the loss of a friendship, or a job, or even a treasured possession. The experience of loss can be quite nuanced as well. Take the loss of a job for example. Of course, there will be grief if that loss is sudden and unexpected. But there can even be grief in the case of a long planned for retirement. Now that sounds a little counter-intuitive right? When someone says they just retired, the usual response is something along the lines of, “Congratulations! You must love all that extra free time.” And while that might certainly be the case, there can still be great sadness associated with the loss of a position or title, that aspect of your self-identity, and loss of that daily routine and interpersonal interactions that came with it. That joy and grief can mingle and make for a confusing mix of emotions. As with most things, grief is a lot more complicated than it appears on the surface.


In addition to prescribing what we are allowed to grieve about, society also has some things to say about how we are supposed to grieve. While there doesn’t necessarily seem to a “right” way to grieve, there most certainly seems to be a “wrong” way to grieve, and people are all too happy to point out to you when you’re doing it wrong (in their opinion that is). Maybe your grief has been going on for too long, or maybe it’s the opposite and people think you moved on too quickly. Or it could be that you’re crying just a little too much, or worse yet, you haven’t shed any tears. Sometimes it seems like you just can’t win.


But in the scriptures, we find amazing permission to grieve, and not in any one set or prescribed way, but rather in whatever way is truest to ourselves and feels right to our own personal situations and griefs that we are experiencing. We have fantastic examples set for us by people like Job, as well as in the Psalms. People whose faithfulness causes them to cry out to God in protest, lament, and sorrow. Because we have a God who is big enough to handle anything and everything that we can throw. We have a God who promises to be present with us in the midst of suffering. And there are no two grief experiences that are the same. No two people who will grieve in the same ways, or for the same amount of time, or to the same degree – even if they are grieving the exact same thing. And that’s okay. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. 


So, whatever it is that you are grieving right now, and there’s a lot of things that could be grieved right now, know that you are not alone. You are engaging in a practice that is described throughout scripture. You are doing so in the midst of a faith community that will love and care for you. And you have a God who will walk with you through it all. 


Your sibling in Christ, Pastor Sam

November Worship Schedule

Sunday Morning Worship:

  • November 6, 13, 20, 27 - 9 AM and 10:30 AM

Worship usually takes place in the sanctuary for both services, and there is the option to sit outside in the eco-narthex as well. The livestream usually takes place during the 10:30 AM or as indicated.

Learning Circles take place during the 10:30 AM worship service. We have classes for ages 4 thru 6th grade and nursery services available, too! Email Constance if you have questions!

November Worship Save the Dates:


  • November 6 – Blessing of the Animals: At the 10:30 am service we will be blessing the stuffed animals during worship, and then all the other animals after worship.
  • November 13 – Preschool 50th Anniversary: All current, as well as past, preschool students and families are invited to join us as we recognize and honor the amazing legacy of Bethlehem’s preschool program.
  • November 20 – New Member Sunday: We will welcome and celebrate all who have decided to join the congregation this fall.
  • November 21 (Monday) – Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship: Bethlehem will host this year’s SDIMA (San Dieguito Interfaith Ministerial Association) annual Circle of Gratitude service with the theme “Resilience with Faith” at 7 pm. All are welcome!

Music Ministry

Musical Happenings - Here is a schedule of performing groups this month: 

  • November 6 - World Music Ensemble
  • November 13 - JuBellation Ringers
  • November 20 - Kelly Derouin and Skye Svenningsen
  • November 27 - Children's Choir and Chimers 


On MONDAY, November 21st, Bethlehem will host the Thanksgiving Interfaith Service at 7 p.m. with music led by the Good News Singers.  


The choirs are in full swing rehearsing for their Christmas program on December 4th @ 4 p.m. The concert called "A World of Christmas" will feature carols from many different countries and cultures including France, Spain, England, Ukraine, Native American and others. Join us for a wonderful celebration of holiday spirit!


Christmas Caroling to members of our congregation will be on Sunday, December 18th. 

ELCA Advocacy

VOTE! November 8 is Election Day - All registered voters in California have been mailed ballots. Voting has never been easier! You can vote by mail. You can find a drop off location near you. Or you can go to a Vote Center. Vote Centers will be open for early voting on October 29 and continue through Election Day. Additional voter and ballot information can be found at the Registrar of Voters at


Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California Ballot Proposition Recommendations - Vote your conscience. Read the LOPP-CA faith-based positions on this year’s ballot propositions. In the ELCA, we advocate on behalf of issues that support the teachings of our Social Statements and Social Messages. You can find more information about faith-based advocacy in the ELCA Message on Government and Civic Engagement.

Your Comments Requested on the ELCA Social Message on Earth’s Climate Crisis - The draft social message on Earth’s Climate Crisis is now available for public feedback. Read the social message draft here and then use this survey to share your input by Friday, December 2, 2022. The draft will be edited, guided by the feedback, and presented to the ELCA Church Council to be voted on this coming spring.


Social messages are ELCA teaching documents that address a focused social topic. Drawing from existing social teaching, they provide theological rationale and social analysis to foster discernment and engagement on a relatively narrow social issue. This project was authorized in light of the grim contemporary situation affecting our global home and the need for fresh action on the part of this church. It draws its framing themes from several social statements, particularly Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice.


“Advocacy in Quarantine” - Our weekly information sessions have finished for 2022 and will resume with the new legislative session in January 2023.

ELCA Advocacy Monthly Updates

United Nations and State Edition

Advocacy Connections


Follow us!

LOPP- CA:  Facebook, Twitter

Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton: Facebook, Twitter

Pacifica Synod: Facebook, Twitter

ELCA Advocacy: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

ELCA: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram


For information or questions about Bethlehem’s Advocacy Team, contact Karin Kloehn at

Interfaith Shelter Network

Interfaith Shelter Network is coming back to in-person housing at congregations this winter. 


Bethlehem Lutheran will be partnering with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church February 5 - 19  to host the shelter. We are still working out the details about who and where, but stay tuned for more information and ways in which you can help.


Additionally, the Interfaith Shelter Network is starting an Advocate Companion Project to further assist its clients. The program uses trained advocates to partner with the Case Managers/Social Workers to act as companions for individuals/households in the shelter(s). The advocate meets with clients once a week and follows the client from shelter to shelter and ultimately to housing. It is a volunteer position which requires a number of training sessions and a six month minimum commitment. The goal is to provide the maximum amount of support for the client. The first training is scheduled for November 19 from 1-3 pm.


If you are interested or want more information about the program please contact: Abby Shrestha, Shelter and Housing Program Manager, Interfaith Shelter Network at 619-702-5339 or

Stephen Ministry

Gratitude - As we enter the season of Thanksgiving it is time to stop, reflect, and take stock of what we are grateful for.

  • We are grateful that the Covid epidemic has eased in the last few months and that things have started to return to “normal”.

  • We are grateful that we had the strength, support, and means to weather the storm, and that we now have confidence to weather whatever comes next.

  • We are grateful for the people who lead us, with great personal effort, through the last three years: doctors, nurses, front line workers, delivery people, pastors, friends, and family members.

  • We are grateful for this place in which we live, the pleasant climate, the ocean, the mountains. For hiking trails and beach walks and bike rides. For the natural world that surrounds us and allows us moments of beauty and quiet joy.

  • We are grateful for our family and friends who laugh and play with us in good times, and who cry with us in sad times.

  • We are grateful for our church, for the chance to worship together, for the music, and for the community we have created. We are grateful for our pastors and for their strong leadership and faithful example.

Focusing on gratitude can strengthen you in times of difficulty or trouble. Consider sharing what you are grateful for with a friend, with one of the pastors, or with a Stephen Minister. What are you grateful for?

Adult Education Opportunity

Beautiful and Terrible Things – Book Discussion Group - How do we as Christians respond to the realities of suffering, grief, and tragedy? Is it okay to be angry at God? How do we maintain hope in the midst of despair? How does our belief in Jesus impact our understanding of death and loss? 


Join us as we delve into these questions and more in our next adult education class, where we will read and discuss select chapters from Christian M. M. Brady’s book Beautiful and Terrible Things. This class will be offered in a hybrid format – you may choose to attend either in person, or via Zoom. To sign up please talk with Pastor Sam/Pastor Laura or contact the church office. You can purchase the book on your own, or if you’d like the church to order it for you, the cost is $16.


  • Dates: November 2, 9, 16, & 30
  • Time: 6:30 – 8 pm

Women of Welcome

Bedtime Story Night - Friday, November 4 - 7-8:30 pm - BLC Sanctuary


Calling all women of Bethlehem! Celebrate your inner child and join us for a fun evening getting to know each other better through bedtime stories. Bring your favorite children’s book to share. We will provide hot cocoa and cookies. No signup needed, just come as you are (or in your jammies)!

Christmas Bazaar

Calling all makers, bakers and crafters! - Start your creative juices - will you share your talents and make something to donate for the Christmas Bazaar on December 4? We are looking for arts and crafts, woodworking, pottery, baked goods, jams or preserves, whatever you create!

To help us plan for the bazaar, please follow the link below and let us know of your interest. (Please note, we are looking for an expression of interest, not an obligation.)

Sign up for Bazaar

Do you have any CLEAR GLASS VASES that you can donate for the bazaar? Please bring them to church during the month of November and place them in the basket in the narthex.

Something New at the Bazaar: Mrs. Claus’s Closet! - Please donate your new and ‘like new’ items for ‘Mrs. Claus’s Closet’. We are looking for small gift items such as candles, candle holders, Christmas ornaments, jewelry, collectibles, small household items, special dishes, stationary, flower pots, vases, fancy food (shelf stable). Clear out your storage closet of those gifts you were thinking of re-gifting! No clothing, linens, or bulky items please. During the bazaar, people can leave a monetary donation of their choice in exchange for any items in Mrs. Claus' Closet.

Bring your items to the church during the month of November and place in the basket in the narthex. Items which are not sold during the bazaar will be donated to a local charity shop.

Questions? Contact Laure Reynolds

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

Stewardship Stream

Time for Year End Reflection – and Planning! - As we’ve learned in this past stewardship season, Bethlehem’s ministries have real impacts and, of course, it’s your gifts that make these ministries possible! The approach of the end of the year is an ideal time to reflect on your own support of making those differences in lives and circumstances. With that in mind, and reflecting on the good gifts we’ve received, here are a few ideas for tax-advantaged giving that allow your gifts to go further as we approach the end of the year:

  • The stock market may be down from its high early in the year but many investors have seen incredible gains over the last ten years. Tax on these long-term gains can be avoided by a direct contribution of the appreciated securities to Bethlehem, also resulting in a tax deduction for their full value. Many on-line investment platforms (E*Trade, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, etc.) make these transfers easy.

  • The rules around IRA Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) have shifted over the last few years but the benefits of contributing RMDs to the church directly from an IRA remain intact. For many 72 and over who must take these annual distributions, a direct contribution to the church may avoid a taxable event.

  • Donor-Advised Funds (DAFs) have grown in popularity, commonly receiving donations in a year in which someone experiences an unusually large financial gain. These funds must be given to charity and, in years where someone is interested in continuing their philanthropic giving but also trying to avoid consuming current personal resources, donations from a DAF can be a win-win.

You maximize the impact of your gift through Bethlehem by taking advantage of such planning opportunities. Please speak with your tax advisor whether one of these or some other gifting strategy is right for you. The church office will be glad to assist as needed.

If none of these circumstances apply to you, we continue to give thanks for the faithful stewardship of every member of this congregation. We are grateful. What you do matters. 


Thank you for your financial stewardship towards Bethlehem and its ministries that your gifts enable!

Volunteers Needed for Sat. Breakfast at St. Andrews

Volunteers Needed! Saturday Breakfast at St. Andrews - Our mission to feed the hungry a hot breakfast each Saturday is starting back up again, and the kitchen at St. Andrew’s is now open for business. Bethlehem will be preparing breakfast on the 4th Saturday of each month. We need 6 volunteers to crack and scramble 6 doz. eggs, cook 60 hash browns, 13 lbs. of bacon, make 80 pancakes and serve up plates with a smile! Click below to volunteer!

Sign up to Volunteer

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

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.

 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.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church