Important Worship Service Information:
As we suspend in-person events due to the Covid-19 outbreak, please join us for our 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, September 27, at 9:30 a.m.
Bethlehem’s online worship service has moved to a live stream, this means that the service is
being led at the same time viewers are watching on Facebook. To make viewing the service easier, follow these instructions. These apply to those who are members of Facebook. Those who are not members should be able to go to our page at 9:30 and view the live video.
- Go to Bethlehem’s page. Please be sure you “like” the page. Click the button with three dots. Select “follow settings”. Under “Notifications” choose either “standard” or “highlights.”
- Before Sunday, look for the scheduled live video post on Bethlehem’s Facebook page. Click “Get reminder” on the post.
- When Bethlehem goes live you should receive a notification that will take you immediately to the live stream video.
All live stream videos will be able to be accessed after they are completed. Go to the “live” tab on our Facebook page to access all past videos. Live streaming will also continue after we have returned to in-person worship.
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 - September 10, 2020
Important Notice of the
Postponement of In-person Worship Services
Dear Bethlehem friends,
These last six months have been a strange and challenging time for all of us. Much in our lives has changed in one form or another. One of the great heartbreaks has been the inability to gather together for mutual comfort as we weather this storm. For people of faith, the inability to gather in-person for worship has been a source of real grief. I have heard you express this grief often over these months. While we are nourished in many ways by our online worship services, as well as by the in-person communion services in the baptismal garden and virtual small groups, these are just “not the same” as being together in the same room. Trust me, I know.
And yet our decision not to gather in-person up to this point has been made in prayerful deliberation and out of our love for one another. The members of the Congregation Council and Transition Committee want to do everything in their power to protect not only the members of our church community, but also the greater community in which we live. We know that church services pose a particular risk of virus transmission, different from a grocery store or even a doctor’s office. We know that many of our beloved members are at risk of serious consequences if they contract the coronavirus and while they might have no qualms about avoiding the grocery store, they could not imagine missing a church service if it were offered. We also know that in order to gather in-person we will need a cadre of volunteers to assist each week and that many of our usual volunteers fall into that “vulnerable” category.
We had hoped to gather in person for worship next Sunday, September 20th. That decision was made back in July when the numbers for Illinois and Chicago were dropping. However, since then, the reality has changed. Positivity rates in Chicago went up to 5%, parts of Illinois became “hot spots,” and summer travel to other states began to impact the virus rates here. Now we are approaching a change in seasons, when people will begin to gather indoors. We also have the start of school, the impact of which is not yet known. For these reasons, the Transition Committee has recommended to the Council that we delay the return to in-person Sunday worship until the transmission rates decrease and the effect of school openings on the virus rates is better known. We make this decision with a heavy heart. Believe me, delivering a live stream worship service every week is more work and less rewarding than gathering together. No one rejoices in this reality.
And yet we feel this is how we can do our part to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe. We make this decision not out of fear, but out of love. Meanwhile we also continue our work of ministry. We will continue to gather in the baptismal garden for a 20 minute live communion service on Saturday mornings through the month of September and until the weather makes that impossible. We will continue to gather through the live stream Sunday worship service both via computer and telephone. We will continue to meet over video conference for Bible study, faith formation, and prayer. We continue to mail and hand deliver bulletins and copies of the email blast to our members without computers. We recently mailed or hand delivered back to school blessings and stickers to almost 50 school aged children and youth. We continue to have members committed to calling and checking in on one another regularly. I have never in my life spent so much time on the telephone. We are scheduling outdoor baptisms and private memorial services. We also continue to pray and continue to hope. We know that we will, in fact, weather this storm. We know that the Holy Spirit continues to call and gather us in new ways. We give thanks to God for the opportunities God has given us to continue to be the Church, the body of Christ for the world in this time.
Please stay tuned for the announcement of a new date for the return to in-person worship. We will be keeping a close eye on the metrics, getting the building ready for your return, continuing to pray, and doing our very best to be faithful to our responsibilities to this community of faith. As always, if you have any needs we can address, or any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to me, the church office, Council president Tricia Krohmer, or Transition Committee chair Russ Chibe.
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.
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