Frequently Asked Questions

The Basics

Q: Where do I enter the building for worship?

A: We have a lot of doors! As the saying goes, where one door closes, another opens. This is particularly true at Bethlehem. If at first you don’ succeed, try another door. During Sunday worship times, all doors are unlocked and can be used to enter the building. Signs inside will direct you to the various worship spaces. During the week, some doors are kept lock for security reasons due to staff and preschool security. During the week, you should use the door located off the upper parking lot on 5th Avenue.

Q: Are building entrances accessible?

A: If you need an entrance that is accessible for those with mobility challenges, please enter either at the ramp in front of our building (northern-most entrance off of 5th Avenue) or at the back entrance off of 3rd Avenue. The elevator is available from either entrance.

Q: What should I wear?

A.: You will see a little bit of everything at Bethlehem from shorts to blue jeans to suits. Wear what you are comfortable in. Be who you are. We believe God accepts you as you are, not as you are dressed.

Q: Will I have to introduce myself?

A: We do not ask new attendees to stand up and introduce themselves. In the bulletin handed out by the ushers when you enter the worship space, there is a form that all attendees are asked to complete and turn in when the offering and tithes are received. Provide as much or as little information as you feel comfortable. We will follow up with you, but we don’t believe in high pressure recruitment. Please feel free to introduce yourself to one of the pastors after the service.

Q: Am I expected to put money in the offering plate? And, if I do, where does my money go?

A: You don’t have to give anything. We believe we are called to give not out of obligation but out of gratitude for the abundance of gifts we’ve been given by God. Every dollar bill is a gift from God and every gift—no matter how small or large—can contribute to God’s mission in the world. If you do share a gift, you can be sure that it will be used for God’s work in our congregation, in our neighborhood, and around the world.

Q: Are kids welcome? Is there child care provided during the service?

Children are certainly welcome in worship at Bethlehem! We celebrate their energy and presence in our community. Each service includes “children’s time” with one of the pastors and there are also activity bags located at the entrance to our worship spaces to help engage children during worship. Child care is provided year-round during Sunday morning services in our nursery (located right next to the sanctuary). Our nursery is open to children birth to 3-years-old and is supervised by professional staff.

Q: What happens at a typical worship service?

A: Worship is one of the most important things we do together as a church community. Our worship at Bethlehem follows a pattern as we celebrate the story of God’s love for all creation. Each week we begin in celebration that God has gathered us together, then we listen to God’s word, share in the communion meal, and leave equipped for service in God’s world. All of our services follow that same pattern—Gather, Word, Meal, Sending—but our services vary in style. Our sanctuary services (5:30 on Saturday night; 8:00 and 10:30 on Sunday morning) tend to be more traditional and formal in music and liturgy, while our service in Fellowship Hall (9:15 on Sunday morning) tends to be more contemporary and informal. For more information on the why we worship and the order of worship, click here.

Lutheran Theology

Q: What do Lutherans believe?

A: Martin Luther is known as the Father of Protestantism. He had studied to become a lawyer before becoming an Augustinian monk in 1505 and was ordained a priest in 1507. While continuing his studies in pursuit of a Doctor of Theology degree, he discovered significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the theology and practices of the church. On October 31, 1517, he posted a challenge on the church door at Wittenberg University to debate 95 key theological issues, or Luther’s “95 Theses”. Luther’s hope was that the church would reform its practice and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible.

What started as an academic debate escalated to a religious war, fueled by fiery temperaments and violent language on both sides. As a result, there was not a reformation of the church but a separation. “Lutheran” was a name applied to Luther and his followers as an insult but was instead adopted as a badge of honor.

Lutherans still celebrate the Reformation on October 31 and hold to the basic principles of theology and practice espoused by Luther, such as:

  • We are saved by the grace of God alone – not by anything we do
  • Our salvation is through faith alone – we only need to believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who died to redeem us
  • The Bible is the only norm of doctrine and life – the only true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.

We strive to live these principles out in everything we do; we worship to give thanks to God for the grace sake, who died to redeem us; to be judged; shown in Jesus Christ our Lord; we come together to study the Bible and learn how we can respond to that grace in our daily lives; and we go out in service to the world, shining with the light of Christ.

Communion

Q: Do I have to be Lutheran to receive communion at Bethlehem?

A: Christ is the host of this holy meal and we are his guests, and He welcomes all people who seek His love and forgiveness to join Him at the table of fellowship. You don’t have to be Lutheran – you don’t even have to be baptized – to receive Communion at Bethlehem. This meal ensures Christ’s promise to us of his forgiveness and grace for all who seek and believe in Him.

Q: What is communion by “intinction”?

A: Instead of using individual wine glasses or passing a common cup, Bethlehem serves communion using a method called intinction, which means that the communion server will place the host (bread) in your open hands then you dip it in the wine (or grape juice) chalice yourself.

Baptisms

Q: What does my family need to do to have our baby baptized?

A: Prior to making arrangements for any baptism, we ask parents to attend a 1-time session entitled “Let the Children Come”. At these quarterly informational gatherings, you’ll learn about the sacrament of Holy Baptism, through which every Christian begins their faith journey. You will also learn more about how you can nurture your child (and yourself) into living a life of faith and service to the Lord. Following the class, we ask you to call the church office to schedule a baptism during one of our Baptism Celebration weekends. All baptisms take place during one of our regular weekend worship services.

Q: What if I am an adult and wish to be baptized?

A: We will set up a time for you to meet with a pastor to help you begin your joyful journey of faith.

Weddings

Q: We are planning our wedding, how do we get started with Bethlehem?

A: Please contact the church office at least eight (8) months prior to your desired wedding date to make a reservation and to speak with one of our Pastors. You will be asked to attend a pre-marital workshop and two (2) premarital sessions with one of our pastors. Additional meetings may be necessary depending on your desire for music and other personal touches you wish to have as part of your ceremony.

Note: Currently, Bethlehem does not perform wedding ceremonies for non-member couples.

Special Needs

Q: Are there baby changing stations at the church?

A: Baby Changing stations are located in bathrooms on 3 levels. One is near the sanctuary (300 level), around the corner from the nursery, another in our preschool area (200 level), and also on our 100 level.

Q: What if I don’t see or hear well? Is there something for the church services?

A: There are large print bulletins and hearing assistive devices available for use for worship in our sanctuary for those with visual or auditory impairments. These can be found in the wooden rack just outside the sanctuary doors.

Q: I have trouble getting around, is there somewhere I can sit to make it easier in getting around?

A: Designated seating to more easily accommodate someone using a wheelchair, walker, motorized scooter or chair can be found in our sanctuary. The back pew on each side of the aisle is cut to allow better space to safely maneuver, while being seated within the gathered congregation. Someone with a large baby stroller may also find these locations helpful. There is also space on the right side of the sanctuary, towards the middle row for the same purpose. All half pews are reserved for companion or caregiver seating.

Regardless of mobility challenges, we want everyone to sit where they are most comfortable.

Q: Is handicapped parking available?

A: Several handicap spaces can be found in the small drive parallel to Fifth Ave, north of the main parking lot, as well as in both lots behind our main building, to the west. The smaller, middle lot (next to the preschool entrance) is designated especially for those with mobility challenges.

Q: Are there accessible restrooms

A: Accessible bathrooms can be found on our lowest level, 100 level. These are located near the entrance from our large lower lot behind our building. These restrooms are also near the elevator.

Q: I don’t eat gluten OR I don’t drink alcohol, do you provide something different during communion?

A: Holy Communion with bread and wine is served at every worship service. To accommodate special dietary needs or choices, we always have  gluten free and alcohol free options available too.

 
Bethlehem Lutheran Church