Bethlehem Lutheran Church

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History of Bethlehem Lutheran Church 2006 to 2008

  • 2006 A new photo directory was made in 2006. Adult Fridays included a progressive dinner in February. The Simply Giving plan was promoted. On April 2, 2006 our oldest member, Pearl Johanson, celebrated her 100th birthday with a congregational sponsored birthday party at Railview. The choir recorded a CD entitled, “Go Forth in Joy,” and offered it for sale. The new ELW hymnal was completed in September 2006, and the church council decided to purchase the books with special offerings given by members. Bethlehem began mission support for Leslie Johnson (Pastor Jeff’s niece) who was stationed in Argentina. A new stove was purchased and installed in the kitchen. Informational flyers about Bethlehem were distributed to the community.
  • 2007 The new ELW books were put into use for the first time on Palm Sunday 2007. Bethlehem and Immanuel co-sponsored the Swedish Gospel and Jazz Orchestra which performed at Proctor High School in July. Members of both churches furnished a meal and overnight housing for the musicians. In August 2007, the congregation approved a proposal to secure a $40,000 loan for construction of an internal elevator. Sarah Rohweder went on an ELCA medical mission trip to the Honduras, and Bethlehem members contributed to her expenses. Members began volunteering at the Proctor Food Shelf on the third Wednesday of each month. The choir performed another Easter passion play under the direction of Dana Copiskey.


2008

  • January  On one of the coldest days of the year, and after a very long wait, ground was broken for the new elevator.A new computer was installed in the church secretary’s office, and internet service was established. The church office also obtained a new photocopier.Pastor Jeff refinished the back stairs by sanding and applying poly coating. A group of volunteers cleaned out the church and the furnace room, and threw out unneeded “stuff.”
  • May Bishop Peter Strommen’s term expired, and Pastor Thomas Aitken from International Falls was elected as the new Bishop of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod at the May 2008 synod assembly.
  • June Bethlehem’s accessibility project was finished in the spring, and the elevator was dedicated on a beautiful day in June. For the first time in our 100 year history, Bethlehem was accessible to all.
  • September A special congregational meeting was held on Sunday, September 14 after church. This meeting was called in response to the budgetary problems facing our congregation. Ideas from a June budget review meeting included: cutting pastoral hours and salary; cutting secretarial time; cutting ties to the ELCA; cutting the music/choir program; closing the church in the summer for everything but worship and a few select activities; follow up with pastoral visits when people quit coming to church; and more youth activities. Members in attendance did not approve of cutting pastoral time, secretarial time, or the music/choir program. Several people felt it was the responsibility of everyone in the congregation, not just the pastor, to follow up when people quit coming to church. The idea of regular giving was strongly emphasized if we are to continue as a thriving and solvent church.
  • October In October 2008, members of Bethlehem gathered to participate in a visioning process for the church. Lunch was served prior to the Sunday, October 5 session, and a free-will offering went to the Bethlehem Youth Group. Coffee was served at the Wednesday, October 8 morning session, as well as at the Thursday, October 9 evening session. Attendees were asked to participate in one of the following small groups: worship, stewardship, education, pastoral ministry. In the year of celebrating Bethlehem’s past, it seemed appropriate to look at where we are now and where we want to be in the near and not-so-near future. Information gleaned from these meetings will help assess the direction of our church.Pastor Jeff held a training session following worship on October 12, 2008 for members wishing to learn how to give communion to shut-ins. Lutheran teachings say that, “distribution of communion in special circumstances can and ought to be conducted not by an ordained pastor, but by laity who have been trained and appointed to carry out this ministry. This service is based on an understanding of Holy Communion that sees the sacrament reaching out to embrace even those who are forced to be absent because they are poor, ill, homebound, or imprisoned.” Bethlehem members interested in receiving this training are encouraged to speak with Pastor Jeff. A successful holiday bazaar was held at Bethlehem on Saturday, October 25 and a profit of $1,016.70 was realized. Carrie Jacobson coordinated the bazaar.A new time capsule was placed behind the church cornerstone on Sunday, October 26. Items included in the new time capsule were: choir CD, September 7 bulletin, selected photos from the September 7 worship service and picnic, updated church history, and a current membership list. The new time capsule also included the original artifacts from the 1955 time capsule. Copies of the 1955 documents will be placed on display in the church library. In November 2008, members were asked to contribute their thoughts about “what a healthy church looks like,” by drawing or writing their responses on a poster in the church entry way.
  • November Area Churches Together (ACT) held the Thanksgiving Eve worship service at Bethlehem on November 26, 2008. Five churches in the Proctor area participated in the service, and Father Joel Hastings of St. Rose Catholic Church gave the sermon. The community choir, under the direction of Dana Copiskey, sang “Song of Thanksgiving and Praise.” ACT representatives from Bethlehem are Tina Anderson and Jane Rohlf.
  • December Another successful Women’s Christmas Luncheon was held on December 6. Entertainment was provided by the folk singing duo of Fischer Groves, and Amelie Lindberg Livingston served as the master of ceremonies. Adult Fridays continued to be popular, and the theme for the December 12th get together was the 12 Days of Christmas. Pastor Jeff shortened four of the church pews in order to make our sanctuary accessible. The youth group raised money by selling Poinsettia plants. The plants were $18 each and they came in red, pink, marble, and white. The annual meeting was scheduled for January 18, 2009. Yule Fest was held on December 21, 2008. The intergenerational program featured the Bethlehem choir, Sunday school, “The Church Ladies,” and the House of Bread singers, as well as a congregational sing-along of familiar Christmas carols. A potluck dinner followed the program, and a free will offering to benefit the Sunday school was taken. Copies of the church history were distributed to those in attendance.