"Caught in grace, created for service, called into community"
In This Issue

Sunday Mornings... 


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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  
Quick Links

February 2021

News and Events
 From Pastor Sam
I love the rain. It brings back so many happy memories from my childhood, especially of when I was in high school. We used to play mud football, go mud sliding on the hill behind the high school, play mini golf on deserted, half-flooded courses. One memory in particular stands out among the rest. It was the night before my 18th birthday. We had grand plans: mud football during the day, followed by Chicago style pizza and mini golf shenanigans in the evening. The only problem was that it hadn't rained in quite some time. And as you would expect, rain is a necessary prerequisite for mud football. But that night, the heavens opened. It poured, and I mean hard, pelting rain, which was exactly what we needed. A simple drizzle wouldn't have been enough, we needed rain that penetrated and permeated the ground, soaking what was parched and dry, and that is exactly what we got. We met at the field the next morning, it was still raining quite heavily, and lo and behold, what was a dry and cracked patch of grass the day before, had been transformed into a slippy, slidey, muddy wonderland. After about two hours of playing, we were all covered head to toe with mud. My white car was also targeted, and ended up with many handprints, smears, and a few full-body outlines as well.
As I've listened to the sporadic rain over the past week or so, Grace Like Rain, a song that we used to sing at Wednesday night Commonground chapel services at Cal Lutheran, has popped into my head more than once. Rain is a metaphor that is often used to talk about God's grace and love. Most of the time, I like to picture it as a gentle drizzle, indiscriminate in where it falls, who it falls on; an equal opportunity agent. And there's some great theology in that picture - God's love as a gift freely given to all. But God's love isn't always that peaceful, pleasant drizzle. Sometimes it comes in torrential downpours; hard, pelting drops. How else could it permeate us when we are dry and cracked?
Just like that field from my childhood, there are times when a light drizzle simply will not do. After the events of 2020, and with how this year has gone so far, I will admit that I have been feeling quite dry at times, quite parched and wrung out. Many of you might be feeling the same way. Bone-weary from the grief, from the loss, from the weight of living during this pandemic. Exhausted from adapting and re-adapting, pivoting and re-pivoting more times than we can count. Discouraged and dismayed at the pervasiveness of systemic sin - the violence, hatred, fear, and oppression - that still exists in our world today.  
But ours is a God who does wonders with what is parched and dry. Ours is a God who breathes life into dry bones. Ours is a God who showers us, sometimes pelts us, with love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy. A God from whom flows the water of everlasting life. Water that truly quenches thirst. Water that transforms the dry, cracked places of this world - the dry, cracked parts of ourselves - into slippy, slidey, muddy wonderlands of grace, joy, and love.
So, I pray that when God's rain comes, you do not reach for your umbrella, or your raincoat and galoshes. But instead, that you allow it to re-hydrate, re-energize, and revitalize you. So that we can continue with the work that we have been called to with wet and soggy souls that drip grace, mercy, and love wherever we go.
Rainy Day Blessings,
Pastor Sam

 Update on Worship 

There are three ways to worship at Bethlehem:
  • You may attend in person worship on the grass at 10AM.
-      In order to join us for in person worship you must sign up for either Feb. 7 and 21 in the "Grace" group or Feb. 14 and 28 in the "Hope" group. Please Note: There will be no in-person worship service on Sunday Jan. 24.
-      The reopening team is keeping the capacity to 65 for each outdoor worship service.
-      Masks are required at all times. Bring a chair, umbrella or hat, communion, bulletin and a smile.
-      Click here for the new link in SignUpGenius and reserve your place today.
-      There is a "What to Expect in Worship" letter and an Inflight Worship Video on our new outdoor worship orientation page on our website to assist you as you prepare for outdoor worship.
  • You may join us for livestream worship at 8:30AM.
-      In order to join the livestream click on this link here.
-      The link will not appear until we go live at 8:25AM. Fear not, we will be there.
-      You may use the chat stream to talk with other worshipers in real time. This is really fun.
-      With the addition of new equipment, we have significantly increased the quality of the audio and video in the livestream in recent weeks. Thanks to all who made this possible.
  • You may watch worship on demand at any time you like.
-      The livestream is immediately uploaded to YouTube at the close of worship.
-      You can access the recorded worship on our YouTube channel.
-      Or it will be available to you on our worship page on our website by midday on Sunday.
In this unique world, we are so pleased to offer you several ways to join us for worship. Our deep thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly and continue to do so every week, to make worship possible in this time. The opportunities above represent countless volunteer hours and the expertise, gift and grace of so many people. Thanks to: our worship team, music team, audio team, video team, ushers, hosts, liturgical bouncers, set-up team, reopening team, protocol writing team and medical team. God bless you all.

 Educational Opportunities in February
Continuing in February, Ron and Sue Dwyer-Voss are leading a conversation based on the book How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. You are invited to read the book, but the book is not necessary to participate in the discussion. Watch for the e-blast for the zoom link!

 Interfaith Rotational Shelter Fundraiser
We are getting close to our fundraising goal based on only one eblast. So to those of you who have already donated - Thanks so much! If you have not donated yet, we hope you are able to help as this year your help is needed more than ever.
As one can imagine, given the pandemic, the Interfaith Rotational Shelter will not be held at individual congregations this year. Alternatively, the North County Division of the IFS is looking to house, based on available funding, a minimum of 5 households in motel rooms. Given that BLC typically supports the shelter for one week, we are actively fundraising to support 5 households in the motel venue for a minimum of one week, which puts our fundraising goal at $4900.00.
Shelter - With an estimated room cost of $80/night/per room/household, a total of $560 would be needed for each household per week, which equates to $2800 for 5 households.
Food - Caterers would be utilized to provides meals at $20/day per person. With an estimated 3-person household, a total of $2100 would be needed to feed 5 households for one week.
Goal - $4900 is our fundraising goal to house and feed 5 households for one week; of course, additional fundraising would allow us to house even more households or house households for a longer period than one week.
This year, your help is needed more than ever, so in lieu of giving time or prepping meals please look to donating dollars. You can donate via check or online as follows:
Send checks to Bethlehem Lutheran Church; 925 Balour Dr., Encinitas, CA 92024; please be certain to specify Interfaith Shelter 2020/21 on the check; or
Go to www.blcenc.org and in the upper heading click on Contribute; then under Online Giving click on Give Now; then specify your donation amount in Special Giving - be certain to designate Interfaith Shelter 2020/21.

Family Ministries
Dear friends, last Lent we were able to completely erase the sizable lunch debt at Ocean Knoll Elementary School!  Although breakfast and lunch have been free for students in need since March 2020, there are still many families that are struggling to make ends meet.  Principal Jennifer Bond says that one of the most desperate needs is for grocery store gift cards.  In order to help serve our community and our sisters and brothers in Christ, our Lenten cause this year will be to help meet their need!  Please prayerfully consider picking up gift cards in any amount to Smart & Final, Ralphs, Vons, Target and Walmart.  You can mail them into the church office or we will have a box out on the Check-in Table on Sundays during Lent!

 Music Ministry
The choirs of Bethlehem continue to provide music for our worship services. The JuBellation Ringers and Children's Chimers are meeting in person to practice and record seasonal music to be inserted into our livestream services. In addition, they will perform " live" for the outdoor worship services on February 14 (chimers) and February 21 (JuBellation Ringers).   Virtual choir videos are in the process of being made by the Children's Choir, World Music Ensemble and the Good News Singers.  Those videos will start appearing in our worship services in February and March. Individual singers are also preparing solos that will be added to our worship services when they are ready. Each week the Good News Singers meet for Sip and Sing rehearsals to sing hymns, learn new music and record some of our favorites.  This group meets via zoom on Thursdays @ 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.   Anyone who would like to join us, please contact monagoetsch@gmail.com.  

 ELCA Advocacy 
Bethlehem Advocacy in 2020 - Year in Review. A small but dedicated group of Bethlehem congregants advocated for marginalized people in California by contacting lawmakers and voicing support for specific legislature enacting criminal justice reform, justice for immigrants and migrant workers, and racial justice. Several significant wins included bills that:
  • reduced food insecurity for recently released incarcerated persons
  • expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit to vulnerable immigrant communities, many of whom are essential workers, providing much-needed resources during the pandemic
  • strengthened anti-discrimination procedures in the jury selection process in California courts
More detail on these and other legislative wins can be found at http://lutheranpublicpolicyca.org/september-2020-legislative-update
Since Lutheran Lobby Day in May was cancelled due to the pandemic, all of this advocacy was done virtually. The Lutheran Office of Public Policy California (LOPPCA) started an Advocacy in Quarantine weekly half-hour Zoom call on Wednesdays at noon giving updates on what was happening with legislative priorities and a five-minute action at the end. This pivot to sustained small actions was so successful that we heard Sacramento legislators and staffers had come to recognize "the Lutherans" as advocates from across the state, and other state Lutheran Public Policy offices have started emulating the program.
Between 5-10 Bethlehem folks also participated in a virtual candlelight vigil organized by LOPPCA and joined by faith-based policy organizations across the country to protest unsafe and inhumane conditions at the immigrant detention facility in Yuba County. The vigil included reciting the Lord's Prayer in over a dozen languages, and Bethlehem congregants contributed with recitations in French, Spanish, and ASL.
Bethlehem advocates also did text banking for two propositions that were on the state ballot in November: Proposition 16, which would have reversed the ban on affirmative action in California's public institutions, and Proposition 18, which would have expanded voting opportunities by letting 17-year-olds who would turn 18 by the November elections to vote in the March primaries. The stance on these propositions was informed by the principles, values, and commitments of ELCA Social Statements on Race, Ethnicity and Culture, and on The Church in Society. Unfortunately, neither proposition passed, but the conversations we started among ourselves and with those we contacted were still valuable.
Looking ahead in 2021!

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.

 Stephen Ministry


 Women of Bethlehem 

Bethlehem Women of the ELCA will hold their annual meeting on February 3, 2021 at 1000 via zoom.  The annual meeting will discuss what 2021 may hold for our projects as well as an election of officers.  All women of Bethlehem are invited and encouraged to participate.  Please contact Kim Oswald for zoom invitation information by 5 pm on February 2, 2021 at rdoswald@aol.com.  Anyone interested in holding one of the elected offices is requested to contact by 5 pm on the 2nd.

 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 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.

 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: 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 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