Mission and Vision
The Mission of Bethlehem Lutheran Church is to announce boldly the love of God through Christ.
We do this because we are included through Baptism, nourished by Word and Sacrament and rooted in the Gospel.
We do this by celebrating our faith in Worship; Listening and responding to needs and concerns; Including children and youth in all aspects of our ministry; Applying our faith in loving, caring actions in our community and throughout the world.
You Are Welcome Here
We live in a diverse world. We are hurting, broken and heavy hearted. We are loving, joyous, and above all, we are welcoming.
Regardless of the color of your skin, or the color of your hair; regardless of your gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, relationship status, or political affiliation, you are welcome here. We honor indigenous people and are committed to the work of anti-racism and the stewardship of the creation.
If you are Buddhist, Roman Catholic, agnostic, Muslim, Jewish, seeking, have never set foot in a church, or are a life long Lutheran; you have a place here.
If you own, rent, or have nothing at all; you are welcome here.
If you are neurodivergent, fully abled, disabled, or a person of differing abilities; if you have regrets, fears, addictions, or afflictions; you have a place here.
All who are wise and all who are confused, all who have found love and all who have lost it,
all who celebrate this welcome statement and all who fear it – are welcome here.
Come as you are and be celebrated for who you are. Your place is here. Bethlehem Lutheran is an All are Welcome church.
A Brief History of Bethlehem Lutheran Church
The roots of Bethlehem Lutheran Church go back to an informal worship service held in a Rancho Santa Fe home in December 1960. After meeting in a succession of buildings – the Rancho Santa Fe fire station, the Encinitas Grange Hall and the Encinitas Masonic Hall – the congregation was formally organized in April 1962. The search for a permanent home led to purchase of three acres of land at Balour Drive and Melba Road in Encinitas, which was the site of a horse-training facility. The stable was converted into a worship sanctuary, and the carriage house became the pastor’s office. The first service was held in July 1964. The connection between a stable and the birth of Jesus Christ was too obvious for church leaders to overlook, and they named the congregation Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The current sanctuary was completed in January 1990, and the original worship space now serves multiple functions. Bethlehem started a pre-school program in 1972, which continues (much expanded) to this day.
Bethlehem has been served by several pastors. The current lead pastor, Laura Ziehl, arrived in June 2008. The current associate pastor, Sam Nelson, arrived in March 2018. Throughout its history, several themes have been consistent in the life of Bethlehem: outreach and service to the surrounding community and the world; a global perspective on ministry; a welcoming attitude toward all; diversity of worship; and excellence in music and education.