Our mission is to be Strong in Faith. Boundless in Love. Bold in Service.
Bethlehem is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, rooted in the Beverly -Morgan Park neighborhood on Chicago's far southwest side. Born through the consolidation of two congregations in 1997, we have a history that extends back to the foundation of our predecessor congregations in 1977 and 1875.
Today we thrive as a flexible, mission-spirited congregation that seeks to put our faith into practice in daily life. Bethlehem values hospitality and genuine care for others. Our worship is at once reverent and comfortable. We value strong preaching that connects the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our lives and world. We read the Bible as God's good news for all.
We value the gifts of people of all ages -- children, elders, young adults, and every stage in between. We strive to be a community that knows how to talk together about important topics in ways that are respectful of all. Bethlehem is a Reconciling in Christ congregation. We welcome into full participation in our life and ministry
- People of all races and ethnic groups
- Families of every kind
- People with differing abilities
- People of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions
The best way to get to know us is to come and see!
Bethlehem Summer Book Club Wednesday, August 12, 7:00 p.m.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
When Trevor Noah was born to a white father and a black mother in South Africa under apartheid, his very existence was a crime. His parents could have been sentenced to five years in jail for their inter-racial relationship. In his memoir, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, Noah, famous for his role on the Daily Show, tells the story of his upbringing under apartheid. He tells the story of coming of age, moving to America, and become one of the country’s most well-known comedians with humor and depth. Join us for a book discussion on Wednesday, August 12, at 7 PM via Zoom.
The Zoom invitation follows below. We hope to see you there!
Bethlehem Church is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Bethlehem Church's Book Club Zoom
Time: Aug 12, 2020 07:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 830 2005 3990
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Meeting ID: 830 2005 3990
Important Worship Service Information:
As we suspend in-person events due to the Covid-19 outbreak, please check for recorded and live streamed worship events on Bethlehem's Facebook page. You do not need to be a member of Facebook to view the services.
We would like to encourage you to join us in gathering virtually for worship this Sunday, August 16, at 9:30 a.m.
Call in worship: Do you know someone who wants to participate in our worship but does not have access to a computer or other streaming device? We have set up a live streaming phone number: 773-932-5545.
People can call the number and listen to the entire service both in real time (at 9:30 Sunday mornings) or after the service is over. People can opt in to have the service call them when worship is starting! Please share this information with friends who might be feeling particularly isolated without internet access at this time.
UPDATE FROM THE TRANSITION COMMITTEE
I am writing on behalf of Bethlehem's transition team to update you on the congregation's plans for reopening. As I informed the church during last month's annual meeting, our team is made up of congregants with diverse backgrounds, each of whom brings a unique perspective in guiding us through his challenge. We have been closely monitoring city and state rules for reopening, as well as guidance from ELCA leadership. From our very first meeting in March, we agreed that we would only consider resuming in-person worship when we were confident we could do so safely, and at this point we would like to announce that we are aiming to hold our first in-person service on Sunday, September 20th.
With that being said, we would like to stress three important points. First, this is an aspirational goal, and we will not hesitate to push it back if circumstances warrant. Our target date is premised on the assumptions both that city and state policies allow us to open AND that we are ready to open with all appropriate safeguards. If positive tests continue to rise and the state rolls us back to Phase 3, we will not open. If we are not able to obtain supplies we need in time, we will not open. If we have any other reason to believe that it is not safe to gather in person, we will not open. We know how important in-person worship is to many of you, but we will not risk anybody's health to do so.
Second, when we resume in-person worship, things will be different. We will be limited to no more than 50 attendees, which means we will require advanced registration. We will adhere to all social distancing requirements, including wearing masks. There will be no socializing before or after the service, and no physical contact during. Other parts of the service such as music may be impacted as well.
Third and finally, we will continue to provide our worship services online. We recognize that different members have different risk tolerances, and we do not want anybody to feel that they must physically return to the church in order to participate in worship at Bethlehem.
Given the logistics required to safely invite people into our building, we are only planning a return to in-person worship services at present; all other in-person church activities remain suspended or will be moved online until further notice. We will keep you updated over the next two months as we make preparations for an eventual return to in-person worship, and also let you know of any other developments regarding in-person church activities. In the meantime, we hope you will continue to join us virtually via Facebook. And if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to any member of the team.
In God's service,
Russ Chibe, Transition Committee Chair
Pastor Jennie English-Dumont
Vicar Frantisek Janak
Mary Ann Luciano-Smith
Dear Bethlehem Members and Friends,
In light of the CDC’s recent recommendations regarding gatherings of people in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus, Bethlehem’s Congregation Council has made the difficult decision to suspend all in-person events in our building. This applies to all worship services and to all other church and community events that use our building. The building will only be open to staff.
I want to emphasize that while our building will be closed, our congregation and our ministry remain very much open and active. During this time, we will be putting content online, as well as providing opportunities to pray together through the internet and phone. On Sundays at 9:30 AM, you will find a message and other opportunities to worship “together” through Facebook. Bethlehem’s staff will be updating our social media with content to guide you spiritually through this difficult time. If you are interested in setting up a prayer circle that meets by phone or have other ideas for how we can spiritually support you, please email or call Pastor Jennie (email@example.com, 773-445-7558).
In addition to providing opportunities to worship and pray together, we will continue to reach out to our neighbors, as well as those on the margins. We are delivering food to the food pantry, calling members to assure that everyone has the supplies they need and making pastoral phone calls to those who are hospitalized or otherwise in need. You are encouraged to check in with one another, check in with neighbors who might need a hand with grocery shopping or sharing supplies. If you or someone you know is in need of help picking up medications and supplies or have other needs during this time, please do not hesitate to contact Pastor Jennie or Susan Evans in the church office (773-445-7558).
We also can continue our advocacy work, calling on our representatives to approve emergency aid packages that benefit workers, health care providers, the vulnerable, and those already living on the edge (see the ELCA’s advocacy page for an action you can take today.) Let’s look for ways to support local businesses that are impacted by this stoppage. And we will be in touch with local services for those who are homeless for practical ways we can help that already vulnerable population.
Please know that you continue in our prayers as each of us navigates the many challenges that are to come from these “interesting times.” We welcome your prayers as we face unprecedented decisions and challenges. And perhaps we all do well to heed the words of Jesus, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew 6:34). We turn to God in these times of worry and uncertainty, trusting in God’s abundant love and steadfast mercy.
Pastor Jennie and the Congregation Council
Members who normally contribute to our budget are encouraged to please continue to do so either by mailing a check to the church office or by making an on-line contribution. Detailed instructions on how to do this, follow below.
At the upper right corner of the home page is the word Donate. Click that and scroll down on the next page to the words MAKE A DONATION and click that. Scroll down again and it leads to a series of blue boxes with a range of amounts from $10 to $500 or a box where you can type in your own amount. Click one of these boxes and you are given a credit card option where you can type in your name, card number, expiration date, and CVV2 ( the security number from the back of your card), and your billing information (the envelope number is optional). Finally click the blue option that reads Make a Donation.
You may also see a tutorial video on on-line giving by clicking this link.
Click here for this month's calendar.
Pastor Jennie began her ministry at Bethlehem in 2008. She is a passionate preacher, a committed teacher, and loves watching people use their God-given gifts at Bethlehem and in the world. A native of the northwest side of Chicago, she enjoys living in Beverly with her husband and their young daughter. She served her first call in Grand Forks, North Dakota, for almost 7 years. She is a graduate of Luther Seminary (M.Div.) and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (Th.M. in Old Testament), as well as Gustavus Adolphus College. She enjoys gardening, reading, running, live music, and spending time with family and friends.
Contact Pastor Jennie at Pastor@bethlehem-chicago.org
DIRECTOR OF MUSIC
David has served as Bethlehem's organist since 2011. In 2013 he became the Director of Music. David seeks to enhance the congregation's worship experience each week through music. Working with the Pastor and the worship committee, he selects hymns and songs from a variety of different traditions and cultures. He directs the choir, which not only provides a musical offering most weeks, but also helps to lead the assembly’s singing and worship. He enjoys working with other musicians in the congregation whenever possible.
David is a lifelong Lutheran with 45 years of experience as a church musician. He has served congregations of various denominations in the Midwest and southeast and is a graduate of Indiana University (MMus) and Valparaiso University. He is also a full time CPA and enjoys singing in the Apollo Chorus of Chicago.
Susan Evans has worked as Bethlehem's faithful office manager nearly since the start of the consolidated congregation. Hers is the friendly voice you hear when you call the church office. She manages the congregation's communication via the weekly worship bulletin, monthly newsletter, regular email blasts and more. She keeps everything at Bethlehem running smoothly.
Contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org
We're glad you found us! Below are some questions we often get from visitors and newcomers, along with our responses. If you have other questions or need information you cannot find on our site, please call or send us an email. We'd love to hear from you and hope to see you soon!
Do I have to be a Lutheran to attend services?
Nope. We welcome visitors from all faith backgrounds, as well as visitors who don't currently subscribe to any particular religious faith and just want to hear and know more about the Christian faith. Even our members come from very diverse religious (and non-religious) backgrounds.
How should I dress for Sunday services?
Be yourself – be comfortable. You will see worshipers in anything from jeans to their "Sunday Best".
Should visitors or newcomers participate in communion?
It is up to each individual worshiper. We practice open communion every Sunday, welcoming all who believe in Jesus to join in communion at the Lord's table. This includes welcoming children of all ages at the table.
Am I expected to put something in the offering plate?
We do not expect visitors to contribute an offering. Offerings are given of free will and are not considered payment for attending services.
Can I bring small children to Sunday services?
Please do! Many families with small children regularly worship together in the sanctuary during Sunday services. If you prefer, children 4 and under may spend service time comfortable and well-supervised in the nursery. Little ones typically return for the Children's Sermon and join their parents for communion. The nursery is attended during the service and is available to you and your child at any time.
I have many questions about religion and what spiritual path is right for me. How do I find answers to these questions?
Questions and the discourse they provoke are important parts of helping each of us define who we are and what choices to make. Our Pastor would welcome your call or email to discuss your questions and offer spiritual guidance. Click on the "Contact Us" section of this site for Pastor Jennie's contact information. You may also find that attending services and joining one of our small discussion/study groups will bring the clarity you seek. Whether it's one-on-one with our Pastor, within a small group, or just between you and God...keep asking those questions!
Click here for Mapquest Driving Directions to help you find your way from home to our neighborhood. Please use our driving directions below and refer to the dashed red lines on the map to the right for the most direct route to the church once you are in the neighborhood. Our directions (and map) consider one way streets, dead ends and traffic barriers which mapquest does not.
Most Direct Route
From Western Avenue: East on 91st St., then right (south) on Oakley Ave. 3 blocks to the church which is on the south east corner of 94th and Oakley.
Street parking is permitted without restriction in our neighborhood.
Our building is handicap accessible. A wheelchair ramp is located at the Oakley worship entrance.