Dear People of Bethlehem,

The fall is upon us. It is time of energy and forward motion. (It is also a time to pray the humidity and temperature comes down :)) At Bethlehem it is a time for new energy and new ministry. New visitors to worship and the beginning of fall programming. It is an opportunity to thank you all again for your generosity, particularly in the funding of our new HVAC unit. Worship has been so energetic and grace filled over the summer and the temperature in the sanctuary has been glorious.

We have received a great deal of positive feedback on the summer worship schedule. Although we are returning to our normal 3 service schedule beginning this Sunday, we are certainly considering moving to 2 worship services permanently. Your staff, council, children’s ministry leaders, council, Pastors and worship team are working thoughtfully and carefully, to incorporate normal fall programming into a 2 worship schedule, including: Sunday School, children’s choir and children’s chimers. We are working to make a thoughtful decision that meets all the needs of the congregation’s ministries. You will be hearing from us about this soon, as decisions are made and your input is welcomed.

On September 11th, Pastor Sam will begin a 4 week teaching series on “Holy Currencies.” The materials are engaging and thought provoking as we explore the many aspects of stewardship in our lives, including: time and place, gracious leadership, relationship, money, truth and wellness. You are invited to join him.

I will be hosting an informational gathering on the Churchwide Assembly, this Sunday, September 8th at 11:45 am. I was privileged to be a voting member to the assembly this August in Milwaukee. If you would like more information on the vote to become a sanctuary denomination, or the new social statement on Church and State, or the adoption of “A Declaration of Inter-Religious Commitment,” or the election of a new Secretary of the ELCA, . . ., I invite you to join me this Sunday. I learned a great deal about the movement of the ELCA at this time, and I look forward to conversation with you.

In the month of September you are invited to join other members of Bethlehem for a great deal of fun and fellowship: Adventure ministry at Oceanside harbor, our annual golf tournament, and ASL classes in addition to our regularly scheduled ministries. This coming Sunday we will bless all teachers and students as they begin their new school year, including the teachers and administrators of our wonderful preschool. If you have an elementary school student at your house, please have them bring their backpack to church this Sunday, Sept. 8th, for a blessing.

As we move into October and November, pledge cards will be received in worship on October 6th. Look for 2 mailings that will be arriving soon concerning stewardship. Confirmation Sunday will be October 20th and Reformation Sunday on October 27th. Blessing of the Animals and All Saints Sunday is November 3rd. Our endowment committee will be hosting 3 financial education classes this fall. We are busy and you are invited. Perhaps you have a new ministry you would like to consider. If so, please talk to Pastor Sam or myself.

I dearly love serving a church that is this engaged in ministry and grace. Whether it is our high school students at work in New Mexico, or our own Bethlehem Serves, or Reformation Sunday; worship, joy and service are always at the center of what we do. All are welcome! I look forward to seeing you at church.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Laura