Evening Book Club

Evening Book Club

Evening Book Club

Join the Evening Book Club!
Tuesdays at 7:00pm

Fireside Room BLC

Please join us! If you have any questions, please contact the church office at office@bethlehemluth.org. We hope to see you there!

September 26: Trust by Herman Diaz
October 24: Switchboard Soldiers by Jennifer Chiaverini
November 28: River of Doubt by Candace Millard


Bethlehem Brothers

Bethlehem Brothers

Bethlehem Brothers

Bethlehem Brothers Gathering
Sunday, October 1, 4-5:30pm
Colonial Cafe, 1625 E. Main Street

….for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…….Matthew 25:35 

For over 40 years members of Bethlehem have been preparing and serving meals at Hesed House in Aurora to those who are homeless in the Fox Valley area. This is one of our most significant and long-lasting ministries as we remember the words of Jesus, “Truly I tell you, just as did it to one of the least of these who are members of our family, you did it to me.”

John Maisch, Bethlehem’s Hesed House Coordinator, will be the featured speaker at the next Bethlehem Brothers meeting. John will discuss the state of homelessness in the Fox Valley area, how Hesed House is equipped to respond to housing insecurity, and the commitment Bethlehem has made to preparing, delivering, and serving meals on Fridays six times a year.

Bethlehem Brothers, as part of its mission of service, will volunteer for our next Hesed House service date on Friday, October 27.

Bethlehem men, if you want to learn more about our ministry at Hesed House and/or would like to be a part of the team that prepares, delivers, and serves meals at Hesed House, please join in our meeting on October 1. Questions? Contact Craig Collins at craigtcollins88@gmail.com.

Your Bethlehem Brothers Advisory Team: Paul Dayton, Ken Hopkins, Mike Karrick, Bob Schaefer, Jeff Siblik and Brian Warner

Council Minutes November 15, 2022

Bethlehem Lutheran Church 
Council Meeting Minutes 
November 15, 2022

Present: Megan Baxter, Rob Blount, Craig Collins, Kelly Jirschele, Cheryl Martines, Steve McIntire, Suzanne Warner, John Volkening 
Staff:  Pastor Krista Zimmerman, Pastor Paisley LeRoy, Deacon Heather Feltman
Absent:   Bonnie Hare
Visitors:  Bethlehem Finance Team: Jim Chrisler, Dennis Finney, Jim Geaman, Mike Linkimer
Location:  Ekstrom Hall

Meeting called to order at 6:31 
Council Secretary:  Craig Collins 
Pastor Zimmerman opened the Council meeting with a prayer.

Opening Devotions:  
Rob led devotions and asked Council members to engage in a an assessment of the following areas:  academic health (how are you improving and/or challenging yourself?); emotional health (what is the state of your emotional health?); physical health (in what ways is your physical health improving?); social health (are you having meaningful interactions with others?); and spiritual health (how would you assess your relationship with God?).  Rob concluded the devotional by encouraging Council members to do this type of personal check-in periodically to maintain good overall health. 

Agenda Item: Budget Update
Dennis Finney, Chair of Bethlehem’s Finance Team, provided a general overview of church and preschool revenue and expenses in 2022.  Dennis pointed out that we are currently relying on nearly $84,000 of investment and grant reserve dollars to reach a balanced budget, and this source of revenue is temporary.
Deacon Heather provided the Council with options to consider should we experience shortfall in both annual giving and debt reduction for the 2023 year:

  1. Engage MIF in a conversation to renegotiate loan amount for the next 3 years
  2. Adopt an operational budget to what has been estimated by early December – determine cuts
  3. Fund the gap with reserve dollars
  4. Send a letter to the congregation
  5. Rostered leadership speak into this on Sunday mornings    

 Agenda Item:  Expansive Church Line Item
At the present time, our Expansive Church budget (i.e., our monthly mortgage payment) is kept separate from the church’s operational budget.  The question discussed at the Council meeting was whether or not we should continue to do so or imbed our mortgage payment as an expense line item in the church operational budget.  Following discussion, there was general consensus that keeping our mortgage payment separate from the church operational budget has several advantages: 

  • Commingling the Expansive Church budget and the church operational budget might be confusing to our members. 
  • It is easier to identify and explain to the congregation when our mortgage payment is kept out of the operational budget.  
  • Including our mortgage payment in the church operating budget artificially skews this budget. 
  • The current operating budget has some long-term fiscal challenges that need to be addressed separately. 
  • Historically, BLC has kept a separate building fund to account for our monthly mortgage payment. 

 The following motion was moved by Kelly and seconded by Cheryl:  BLC will maintain a building fund (Expansive Church line item) separate from the church’s operation budget.  Motion carried 8-1.

A question has arisen whether or not we will allocate 10% of every dollar received to retire our debt in conjunction with our Expansive Church initiative.  Following discussion, there was consensus that every dollar coming in to retire our debt will go first to meeting our monthly mortgage payment.  Any contributions over and above that amount will be available to the Expansive Church initiative and/or could be used for an additional mortgage payment. 

Agenda Item: Call Committee
In order to call a new Lead Pastor our church constitution requires the formation of a Call Committee which will review pastoral candidates and recommend names to the Council for consideration and ultimately to the congregation for the extension of a call.
Council members discussed the qualities desirable in Call Committee members and discussed a number of potential candidates.  The Executive Team will now begin the process of inviting members of the congregation to serve on the Call Committee.  

Agenda Item:  1:1 Conversations
Craig proposed in October, in response to a suggestion from a Bethlehem disciple, that Council members reach out to those who were active members at Bethlehem before the pandemic but who have not returned to active membership.  Pastor Paisley and Deacon Heather have compiled a list of BLC disciples who fit this description and Council members are now encouraged to review the list, select 2-3 from the list, and then reach out for a 1:1 conversation.  

Council members will report back on their calls at the December Council meeting, and Council members will look for any major themes or take-aways based on these conversations.   

Agenda Item:  Outdoor Sign
Bethlehem’s outdoor sign does not work and cannot be fixed.  Deacon Heather put together a team of disciples – Jim Geaman, Pat Geaman, and Jim Kautz – earlier in the fall to review proposals for a new sign.  The sign team recommended that the sign proposal from Doyle Signs in Addison, IL, for a cost of $35,900, be accepted by the Council and that funding come from building reserves.

Kelly moved, seconded by John, to accept the recommendation of the sign team to purchase a new outdoor sign from the Doyle Sign company for a cost of $35,900.  Motion carried 9-0.

Agenda Item: Coffee with Council  
Rob shared that there will be two Coffee with Councils during the adult education hour in December.  The first one, to be held on December 4, will provide the congregation with an update on the budget, the call process, and other noteworthy Council action over the past six months.  The second one, to be held on December 18, will provide the congregation with an opportunity to provide the Call Committee with feedback on what to look for in a new Lead Pastor.

Agenda Item:  Christian Care Update
Earlier this fall, Deacon Heather introduced the Council to the idea of creating a care ministry for seniors to be housed at Bethlehem.  Council members at the time were responsive to the idea.

The next step in assessing the feasibility of establishing a care ministry at Bethlehem for seniors is to put together a “business plan.”  Council directed Heather to form a steering team of Bethlehem disciples to put the plan together which would include site visits to other churches, a proposed budget, equipment needs, and an implementation timeline.  The Council will provide time in the late winter or early spring to review the plan.  

Agenda Item:  Constitution Review
The ELCA Churchwide Assembly was held this past summer.  A number of constitutional changes are now being recommended by the ELCA for adoption by individual congregations.  A team of Bethlehem disciples will come together after the holidays to review these recommendations and report back to the Council.

Consent Agenda:  October Minutes and September/October Financial Reports
Motion by Kelly and a seconded by John to accept the October minutes and September/October financial reports. Motion carried 9-0.

Executive Session:  Staff and Rostered Leader End-of-Year Bonuses
The Council went into executive session to consider possible end-of-year bonuses for Church staff.  No action was taken.

Kelly moved, seconded by John, to adjourn the meeting at 9:20 pm.  Without objection, Rob adjourned the meeting.


Council Minutes January 4, 2022

Present: Craig Collins, Rob Blount, Chad Carlson,

Cheryl Martines, Pete Elza, Judy Hanson, John Volkening,

Steve McIntire, Kelly Jirschele

Absent: Pastor Paisley LeRoy

Staff: Pastor Sarah Rhode, Deacon Heather Feltman

SPECIAL Meeting called to order at: 7:45 PM via zoom

Meeting closed at: 9:21 PM

Council Reporter: Cheryl Martines

Opening Prayer: led by Craig Collins

Agenda Item #1: Responding to the current COVID-19 surge – Worship Plans

Discussion: PS made the recommendation to move to virtual worship for January and February with concerns over the current

pandemic situation in our community. Pre-recorded services would be sent until live-streaming was installed. Worship via zoom

would then begin. Sunday morning programming would also move to virtual. Sunday School would be suspended.

Questions – What are other area churches doing? PS response: Some are moving to all-virtual; some are using a hybrid model of

in-person and virtual. Those with live-streaming are comfortable doing a hybrid. Some are continuing with in-person worship with

the anticipation of low attendance numbers.

Council members weighed in:

JV – COVID cases are increasing; deaths are increasing; inpatient cases and personnel affected beyond our anticipation. CDC

sees this peak in Jan. going down in Feb. Agrees with no groups in church now – to resume Ash Wed. Agree with the above


KJ – Agree with the rostered leaders as the pandemic evolves.

JH – Go along with the recommendation for worship,

CCarlson – January timeframe is okay. Going into February is too long to stay virtual only.

PE – Not in our best interest to go into February with this plan. Create small services for in-person connections. Concerned with the

new director of worship coming into this situation and the absence of Pastor Paisley.

CM – Disagree with the recommendation as it is based only on physical health numbers. Need to address the needs of the whole

person – mentally, spiritually, socially – and church can be a place for that. Disciples can decide their comfort level, not be denied

the choice.

SM – Agree with the leaders. We are limited with the protocols in place to provide a safe environment.

RB – This recommendation is too far forward – to commit to the month of February.

Action Taken:

✓ Vote

Motion: To move the weekend worship to virtual (pre-recorded) through January 30, 2022.

Made By: Rob Blount

Second: Pete Elza

Result: Passed

Agenda Item #2: Responding the current COVID-19 surge: Building Use

Discussion: Questions to be answered –

1. Do we allow BLC groups and outside groups to use the building in January and February?

2. Do we keep the preschool open?

3. What are the expectations of the rostered leaders/staff working locations?

4. Do we hold our budget forums, congregational meetings in January?

Debate centered around the impact on the cleaning staff, size of groups, continuation of small groups, requests for using the

building, allowing an informed choice by BLC disciples, and the effects of COVID (Keeping our staff safe.)

Action Taken: Vote

Motion: Allow BLC and outside groups (no greater than 10 which follow the COVID protocols) to meet in the building

during the month of January – duration tied to the virtual worship schedule.

Made By: Rob Blount

Second: Craig Collins

Result: Passed

The preschool will remain open following the CDC guidelines.

The rostered leaders and staff will determine their working locations. They do not anticipate any change at this time.

The budget forums and annual meeting will be held virtual – similar to the 2021 format. Details to be determined.

Agenda Item #3: Boy Scouts

Discussion: The filing of Chapter 11 by the BSA has reduced the options for chartered organizations such as BLC. The exec team,

along with attorney, Greg Andrews, have reviewed the remaining choices.

Action Taken:

❏ Vote

Motion: Move to accept option #1 as outlined in the BSA document.

Made By: Craig Collins

Second: John Volkening

Result: passed

Agenda Item #4: Update on Pastor Paisley

Discussion: After hospitalization last month for serious brain bleed, Pastor Paisley is now home with supportive care by immediate

family. She will continue neurological checks until a February 9th angiogram is administered. Due to limited screen time and

reading, she will not be working. Pastor Sarah will receive Pastor Paisley’s BLC email. Asking the congregation for continued

prayers for healing.

Action Taken:

❏ None

Agenda Item #5: Rostered Leader report

Discussion: With the change in worship plans for January, discussion on how to handle funerals was discussed. Going back to

the COVID protocols of 2021 seemed appropriate (i.e., limit capacity; shorter duration of service.) Funerals can be held in the

building. Confirmation and HS group will be suspended until in-person worship resumes. Lay leaders will explore possibilities.

Agenda Item #6: Adjourn Council Meeting

Action Taken:

❏ Vote

Motion: Motion to adjourn

Made By: Craig Collins

Second: Kelly Jirschele

Result: passed

Council Minutes December 2021

Present: Craig Collins, Rob Blount, Chad Carlson,

Cheryl Martines, Pete Elza, Judy Hanson, John Volkening,

Steve McIntire, Kelly Jirschele, Pastor Sarah Rhode


Staff: Deacon Heather Feltman, Pastor Paisley Le Roy

Meeting called to order at: 6:30PM Eckstrom Hall

Meeting closed at: 10:25PM

Council Reporter: Cheryl Martines

Opening Prayer/Devotion: Craig Collins referenced the book “Be The Bridge” which was a discussion focus by the Men’s Ministry

group this past year. Reflections on race from the adult forum held on Oct. 31st were mentioned by council members who were in

attendance. Concerns were raised about the candor of the forum. Much more work needs to be done at BLC in this area.

Agenda Item #1: Worship Plans – January, February, March 2022

Discussion: After reviewing the indoor worship attendance (June-December, 2021), council heard from each rostered leader. The

rostered leader report gave a recommendation for Sunday; Discussion centered around Saturday evening worship.

PS – Experiencing constant reinvention during the pandemic is causing fatigue. With lay leadership down and low response rate of

disciple participation (due to comfort level and reconsiderations of time), it is hard to continue this way. I rely on our team of 3.

PP – Seeing value to the Saturday worship, I question the sustainability for every week. Currently operating a “bare bones” in the

youth programs: 7 adults for Sunday School, 4 in confirmation; 3 HS youth; no subs. Concerned about burn out and constant

redevelopment. Becoming a youth pastor that preaches, I cannot add anything else. Willing to do Sat. pm worship, but something

has to give. Other care programs are already stressed.

DH – As deacon, I work alongside. I am willing to support 2 Saturday/month worship services. Being sensitive to the pastors’

needs, I can see the current schedule continue. I can coordinate my schedule to fill in where need be.

Council shared the congregational feedback received. Decision needs to honor the health of our rostered leaders and the needs of

the BLC community.

Action Taken: ✓ Vote

Motion: To continue with Sunday morning worship at 8:30AM and 10:45AM with reconnection hour at 9:40AM with

Saturday evening worship twice/month for January, February, March 2022.

Made By: Rob Blount

Second: Kelly Jirschele

Result: Passed

Follow-up Items: Communication @ Coffee With Council on Sunday, December 19, 2021.

Agenda Item #2: Congregational Goal Setting

Discussion: Each council sub-group explained their draft goals emphasizing the focus and rationale behind these ideas.

Love God (Worship) : Live-streaming; Support of worship life; Experiencing new styles of worship.

Love One Another: Examining ministry teams at BLC; Increase disciple engagement (fair); Organize a multi-family retreat.

Love Our Neighbor: Care for Creation/Environment (Earth Day, Recycle/Compost); Outreach (Refugee, Hunger/Homeless).

Conclusion: Who is BLC? There are topics/concerns that are not included in these goals. What can we be excited about?

Needing to determine if these ideas are a long-term focus (3-5 year plan) or a short-term goal (2022 still in a pandemic) that can

support the congregational vision/mission, these ideas will be further sorted before the annual meeting in January.

Action Taken: Tabled

Agenda Item #3: 2022 Budget

Discussion: Chad Carlson and DH explained the adjustments to last month’s budget proposal.

Revenue: Charitable Trust Giving was reduced. Weekly Envelopes projected downward.

Disbursements: Decision needed on FRVI support or another ministry

Preschool: Allocations made – BLC is one organization to use Illinois Child Care grant proceeds (50/50 split)

Personnel & Benefits: Salary adjustments; tech support discussed. Professional musicians line item increased: Multiple existing

musical lines were combined (not eliminated) to provide the new Director of Worship and Music more flexibility.

Youth Ministry: Mission trips, scholarships added.

Building Fund: Third year of Together Forward Debt Reduction; gifts received by 2 families for 1:1 match by congregation

Discussion continued surrounding the placement of possible surplus monies from pandemic grants which continue in 2022.

Action Taken: Tabled

Follow-up items: Special council meeting to finalize the 2022 budget is scheduled January 11, 2022. Budget Forums are to be

held on January 16 and January 23.

Agenda Item #4: Boy Scouts

Discussion: After declaring bankruptcy in 2020, BSA has now filed for reorganization under Chapter 11. Under this plan, all current

and former chartered organizations (BLC) have 3 options to consider. Greg Andrews has reviewed these options and sent a

recommendation to the council. In discussing these options, questions were raised regarding the level of insurance that BLC

currently has against possible lawsuits. BSA can also offer additional coverage, but at what cost? What is covered by the local

scout organization (Three Rivers Council)? DH is waiting for this information. Since this spans more than 90 years of involvement,

the unknown risks could be substantial for our congregation.

Action Taken: Tabled

❏ Vote to taken prior to Jan. 7, 2022 response deadline.


Made By:



Agenda Item #5: Consent Agenda

Action Taken: Vote

Motion: To accept the November meeting minutes, October financials, November financial statement, cash report.

Made By: Judy Hanson

Second: John Volkening

Result: passed

Agenda Item #6: Staff Bonuses

Action Taken: Vote

Motion: Move to executive session.

Made By: John Volkening

Second: Judy Hanson

Result: passed

Discussion: PS presented council with recommendations for the 2021 budgeted staff bonus (line item of $4500.)

Note: Rob Blount was excused for this discussion and vote due to conflict of interest.

Action Taken: Vote

Motion: To approve the recommendations for the church staff bonuses:

Made By: John Volkening

Second: Judy Hanson

Result: Passed

Discussion: Council to determine the amounts for staff bonuses to Deacon Heather, Pastor Paisley, and Pastor Sarah.

Action Taken: Vote

Motion: Use the remaining budgeted money ($2600) split between DH ($800), PP ($800), PS ($1000).

Made By: Cheryl Martines

Second: Rob Blount

Result: Not passed

Motion: Increase the amounts to $1500 (PS); $1500 (DH); $1000 (PP).

Made By: Pete Elza

Second: John Volkening

Result: Not Passed

Motion: Increase the amounts to $1500 (PS); $1500 (DH); $1250 (PP).

Made By: John Volkening

Second: Kelly Jirschele

Result: Passed

Agenda Item #7: Adjourn Council Meeting

Action Taken: ✓ Vote

Motion: “Motion to adjourn”

Made By: Steve McIntire

Second: Kelly Jirschele

Result: Adjourn at 10:25PM.