"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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January 2021

News and Events
 From Pastor Laura
Dear people of Bethlehem,
Blessed New Year to you all. May grace and hope be yours, as we journey like the Magi and together follow the star set before us. This Epiphany we enter into a season of light.
As with everything else, this feels like a much different New Year. In most years we wish each other a "Happy New Year", and without further ado, move on the work at hand. For me, New Year has always been a shallow, tepid celebration when compared to the depth and breadth of Christmas. But this year, New Year carries a gravity all its own.   Most people I know are marking it. Marking it as a time to release the pain of 2020 and, perhaps with it, some of our anger and grief. But more importantly, we are marking it with hope. The hope of a vaccine, the possibility of an end to the pandemic, and our collective prayer for a new day among us.
Normally I would be telling you in January of the great plans we have for Bethlehem in the coming year. It would be time to cast a vision with achievable goals and tell you exactly how we are going to get there. But the truth is, we don't have a road map for this year and we don't fully know what to expect. But this I can assure you: Bethlehem loves a creative challenge. We have accomplished extraordinary things this year. We have created a completely virtual church requiring a reinvention of all we do. We have added virtual education, conversation, and spiritual enrichment. We then found a way to worship on the lawn with great joy. We secured salaries for our staff and preschool with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and reopened our preschools. We have cared for each other and our neighbors. This has been a deeply creative, uncertain, painful and gracious year. None of it would have been possible without you. Your gifts, your talents, your patience, your enthusiasm and your support have made this year possible.
It is true, we do not have a roadmap forward, but neither did the wisemen. They had a star - and so do we. They had a light in the darkness to lead them to hope - and so do we. Truthfully, the uncertainly is a part of my hope, and a good deal of my joy. We are journeying now, as people of faith have always journeyed: humbled by the grace of God, trusting in the promise before us, and certain of the light among us.    
This coming year is a year for hope. As a Bethlehem community, we stand ready to live into all that is to come. I am certain it will be eventful. I am equally certain, we have all the gifts necessary to meet the challenges ahead. I am most certain that God will be with us - and that God's light now leads us.
Bless you all in this new year,  
Pastor Laura
And thank you... 
Dear people of Bethlehem,
I am deeply grateful for your generous Christmas offering, and for your cards, gifts and good wishes. Each year, I am overwhelmed by your kindness, your generosity and the love you extend to me and to my family. I count myself blessed to serve with you in this ministry we share, in Jesus name. May this new year gift you with grace and fill you with hope.
With much gratitude,
Pastor Laura
Dear People of Bethlehem,
This past year has brought with it much hardship and grief, but it has also brought into sharper relief the many things that I have to be thankful for. I have been so blessed by all of you this year. Your support, care, enthusiasm, and faithful commitment have helped sustain and enliven me. Thank you for all of that, and thank you as well for the generosity of the end of the year gift for both Pastor Laura and myself. I am blown away by your kindness and so very grateful for each and every one of you. I hope you had a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Years.
With deep gratitude,
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 Jan. 3 and 17 in the "Grace" group or Jan. 10 and 31 in the "Hope" group. Please Note: There will be no in-person worship service on Sunday Jan. 24. We will still worship together that day, but will do so virtually on Zoom. Immediately following worship will be our congregational annual meeting so please mark your calendars.

-      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 January
Beginning in January, Ron and Sue Dwyer-Voss will lead 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. Zoom link and dates to be announced soon. Watch for the e-blast!

 ELCA Advocacy 
"Elections Are Not An End, But A Beginning." ELCA presiding bishop Elizabeth Eaton speaks to the church about healing and unity in a post-election video message. (Includes text transcript.)  
Legislative Recess.The California Legislature is scheduled to reconvene on January 11, 2021.
ELCA Advocacy Updates

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

It's a new year!  We made it through 2020 and are finally on to 2021! As we move through this transition the pandemic is in the forefront of our thoughts. We look back with sadness to the losses of the previous year and to the missed opportunities and friendships and we look forward to the coming year with hope for vaccines, for freedoms, and for a return to normal. Meanwhile, we are stuck in this space between, with worries not only about the pandemic, but also about our family, our job, our finances, our health, our future.
If you are tired of shouldering all your worries alone, please consider speaking with a Stephen Minister. Stephen Ministers are not professional counselors, they are lay members of Bethlehem with gifts of caring and listening who have been trained to support others who are working their way through a difficult time. Each Stephen Minister is assigned one care receiver with whom they visit regularly, usually for about an hour once a week. Women are paired with women and men are paired with men.   Visits can take place in person, socially distanced, or by phone or Zoom, whichever is most comfortable for the care receiver. All conversations are kept strictly confidential. There is no fee charged for this ministry.
If you would like to know more about how Stephen Ministry works and if it is appropriate for your situation or that of a loved one please contact either Pr Laura, Pr Sam, or one of our Stephen Leaders; Suzi Westmoreland, Molly Hall, or Laure Reynolds. You can request our contact information through the church office. Please note that if you are concerned for a loved one who lives in another area we can make referrals to other Stephen Ministry congregations.
There is hope for your future, says the Lord. Jeremiah 31:17

 Learn Americal Sign Language (ASL)  

If you have ever wanted to learn American Sign Language (ASL), now is your chance. We offer classes for high school to adult age learners:
Bethlehem ASL Classes: Currently every Thursday on Zoom
  • 5:30-6:00 pm: Pacific Introductory class using "Learn American Sign Language" by James W. Guido 
  • 6:00-7:00 pm: Pacific Review and Conversation Practice

 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