Bethlehem Luthern Church
We are united in Jesus... Joyful in Spirit... Active in Ministry
Sunday School
Adult Education



We welcome all children to our Sunday school program 3 yr. old – senior high. We strive to offer children a positive learning environment where their faith is nurtured and strengthened. We seek to model Christian community through safe, caring relationships and shared experiences among students, teachers, parents, pastors, and others in the congregation. Sunday school meets between the two worship services from 9:00 – 10:00am throughout the school year.

We invite children to participate in worship services and encourage their sense of belonging within our worshipping community. Children’s bulletins are available from the ushers. Children’s soft bags can be found in the entry area. “Taking Faith Home” inserts are added to the worship bulletin and are family-friendly devotions for the week ahead. A children’s message often precedes the sermon in the service.

Sunday morning child care – our Nursery is located on the lower level in the northeast wing of the parish ed building. We have child care for newborns to children age four throughout the morning.

Sunday School Update!
A new children and youth education season is upon us! In Luke chapter 18, Jesus tells us “Let the little children come to me, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  So that’s what we do!  We look forward to ministering with you and your kids in a bit of a new way this year. I am so looking forward to spending the opening portion of Sunday School with your kids every Sunday. I am also so pleased to have the opportunity for conversations with parents each Sunday. 

In John chapter 4, Jesus tells us, “God is spirit, so those who worship him worship in Spirit and Truth.” We are excited this year to be using a wonderful new curriculum called “Spirit and Truth”. It is developed around a “narrative” arc through scripture.  We begin with the creation story in Genesis and follow a sequential path through the Old and New Testament. The great value here is that kids learn the story of the Bible – God’s story and our own story! – from the beginning to the end. Isn’t that intuitive?! It is going to be great. For more information about this new curriculum click here.

Jesus shares with us with the importance of knowing the story, loving the story, and recognizing that it is our story. In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus says “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth. Instead store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It is our commitment that our children grow up loving the Bible story as their own.  It does take a village and, most importantly, God’s faithfulness to us all. Our treasure is in Christ our Lord, and our joy is in sharing the good news of the gospel with those who are most dear to us. I am excited to journey this path with you all. 

Peace, Pastor Jake

Milestone Ministry
Milestones are significant cultural, developmental and spiritual markers we all experience throughout our lifetimes. We believe the promises we make at baptism point to the spiritual milestones in our children’s lives. Bethlehem is committed to remembering, celebrating and upholding the baptismal promises. Most milestones will take place on Sunday morning during Sunday School. On these special days both parent and child attends a Milestone Celebration class together to talk and learn about faith and God.

The milestones we will celebrate this year include:
- 3 year old, entry into Sunday School and first bible
- 3rd grade, bibles
- 5th grade, 1st Communion
- 7th grade, Start of Confirmation
- 9th grade, Affirmation of Baptism
- 12th grade, Baccalaureate (Senior Sunday)

Children’s Groups:

Sunday School Choirs – The "Cherubs" choir are children ages 3 years-Kindergarten and the "Seraphim" choir are children 1st-4th grades, they will sing several times throughout the year during the late service under the direction of the Sunday school music director.

GYFTS (Growing Young Families Together Socially) events are planned throughout the year to give young children and their parents opportunities to connect with one another in a social setting. Events include a Fall event, Wacky Bowling, Swimming and Veggie Tale movies. This year the following events are being planned:
- October, Fall Fun
- November, Pizza & Games
- January, Wacky Bowling
- March, Swimming
- April, Surprise Event
- May, Picnic & Games

VBS – Family Vacation Bible School is held for one week during the summer. Our children have a great time learning about Jesus through story, craft, music, snack and outdoor activities. 

Parish Education Committee, is responsible for developing and supervising the education and programs for our children from infants through senior high school including Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Day Camp, Basket Bonanza, Confirmation, and the GYFTS program. The committee meets the last Thursday of each month at 6pm

Our Youth Ministry Mission Statement is:

Cradled by... Gathering in God's presence
                         Reaching out to those in need
ccepted and forgiven
alled to follow Jesus
                         Encouraging others to join us

We have three youth groups at Bethlehem, one for senior high, one for middle school, and one for upper elementary.

5:6 Youth Group For youth in 5th and 6th grade. We will meet every Wednesday from 3:30 pm- 5 pm. The Bethlehem bus will pick up the youth at the high school where the buses are, and bring them to church for devotions, games, fellowship, and a snack. We have a great time come and check it out! Friends are welcome!!

6:8 (Middle School Youth Night) We will meet the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month from 6 pm-7:15 pm. This is a time of fellowship, games, and fun. The first Middle School Youth Night will be September 15, 2013. Come and check it out! Friends are welcome!

9:12 (Senior High Youth Group)We will meet every Wednesday from 7:30 pm-9 pm. The first Senior High Youth Group will be September 11, 2013. Join us for fellowship, games, Bible study, cookies and milk, and tons of fun! Come and check it out! Friends are welcome!! All are welcome!

We are eager and excited to begin a new season of confirmation. Again this year we will be offering a light supper prior to confirmation starting at 5:45pm in fellowship hall and families are invited to join us for the meal. We will then move to large group, with each class being their own large group for instruction and then break into small groups for conversation. Again this year we will have family Confirmation during Lent and Advent. We will also have fellowship opportunities and service projects.

6th Graders beginning this fall, will be part of the 5:6 Youth Group meeting every Wednesday from 3:30-5:00pm. Confirmation classes for them will start in their 7th grade year, and the Affirmation of Baptism (Confirmation) service will be held in the fall of their 10th grade year.

All students currently in the confirmation program will be confirmed in the fall of their 9th grade year.

taught by:

7th grade - Pastor Kate
8th grade - Pastor Tom

Wednesday Night Schedule
5:45pm - Light Supper (Provided)
6:15pm - Large Group
6:55pm - Small Group
7:30pm - Confirmation ends

“What is required for my child to get confirmed?” you may ask…
Each of the three years (the guides will track these):

1. Attendance at the following:
- Confirmation Class
- Worship (15 sermon notes/year or equivalent)
- Advent & Lenten Family Confirmation
- Sunday School (highly recommended)

2. Three service projects/year (Two with your small groups and one individual)
- Options will be provided as part of Confirmation
- You can also do one as a family
- How to fulfill this requirement is entirely up to you.

3. Involvement in Acolyting and/or one or more of the following ministry areas:
- Acolyting
- Help with Communion (w/parent)
- Greeting (w/parent)
- Ushering (w/parent)
- Reading the Lessons
- Worship Team

4. Pastor's Home Visits (6th graders)

5. Fall of Confirmation (9th Grade Year)
- Meeting with your Youth Director
- Relaxed One on One with Pastor
- Confirmation Retreat
- October Banquet and Pictures
- October Confirmation Sunday


The Youth Team is responsible for developing and supervising educational programs, events, and activities for our youth starting in fourth grade through high school including fellowship opportunities, bible studies, mission trips, and funraising for local and global missions.




This theme speaks to the heart of our congregation. We know Jesus, the Messiah, as Savior and King of Kings, Lord of Lords. Either way we say it: “Jesus loves me this I know” or “Jesus knows me, this I love” speaks of  God in very personal terms. Jesus came as a Servant-King on a rescue mission and the example of compassion and sacrifice that He showed can change our wills and our ways. We are called to be actively engaged in community – both a faith community and the   community context we are physically located in – whether it’s Fergus Falls or the world.  “Christ, Compassion, Community and Change Agent” – we pray that God will work through us to touch/transform lives – both personally and meeting needs and hurts in the community. It is a wonderful calling we have been privileged to receive.      

Sunday Morning - Adult Education Hour

Adult Forum - Sunday from 9:45-10:30am

Sometimes we say to each other, “How are things?” The answers  can be very interesting. Our theme for the FALL ADULT FORUMS is “THE WAY THINGS ARE.” (It’s a book title.)

Each month we’ll have one guest speaker, one session on current topics from The Lutheran magazine and some sessions on the wisdom traditions (religions) of the world based on Huston Smith’s book  “The World’s religions.”  We’ll look at Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Confucianism, Taoism and the Primal  religions, (those that were before any of the others came into existence).

Topics for guest speakers will be climate change, income inequality, food insecurity and housing instability.

We begin Sunday, Sept. 21, 9:45am in the chapel. Pastor Satre will lead the forums. Join us.

At Bethlehem we offer a variety of educational opportunities for adults that include discussion groups, Bible studies, and book groups.

Weekly Bible Studies - All are welcome please join us!

Evening Book Discussion Group Starting this Fall! At long last (and because of a number of requests), a book discussion group is being offered on Monday evenings at Bethlehem. This new book discussion group is a “spin-off” of the Faithful Readers group that has been meeting one Wednesday afternoon a month for several years. It is also a revival of the 2006 - 2007 Mitford series reading group that was very popular. Jan Karon, the Mitford series author, has just released a new Father Tim Kavanagh story telling of his return to Mitford and follows him as he becomes reacquainted with the memorable characters who live there. The title is Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good. 

Following our return to Mitford and the playing out of that narrative, we will then delve into a fascinating piece of history of the area in which we live and the events that took place about 150 years ago. In 1862, some of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War were being fought in the East and South between the Federal troops and the Confederates, but in the “West” (Minnesota and the Dakotas) the homesteaders (with the help of Federal troops at Ft. Snelling and Ft. Abercrombie) were fighting the Sioux. The majority of these early settlers were immigrants from Norway, Sweden, and Germany, and although their stories are fictional, they could have been some of our ancestors. As we read about their lives, we come to care about them, and we learn more about the challenges they faced, the ways in which they helped one another, and how their faith supported them. This four-book set called “The Abercrombie Trail” series written by Candace Simar (of Pequoit Lakes) will aid us in our discussion. Included in the set are:  Abercrombie Trail, Pomme de Terre, Birdie, and Blooming Prairie. 

Bethlehem’s new “Evening Book Discussion Group” will gather in the chapel the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month from 5:30 - 7:00pm (or so), beginning Sept. 22. Copies of the books will be available for check-out from the church library.

Womens Tuesday morning Bible study meets at 9:00a.m. for coffee and 9:30am for Bible study beginning Sept. 9 in Bethlehem’s large conference room. We will be completing the last two chapters of David Lose’s book - Making Sense of the Cross before diving into our new Bible study. 

One of the previous authors we’ve enjoyed reading and discussing is Joanna Weaver, and her new book , Having a Mary Spirit, Allowing God to Change us from the Inside Out, is a wonderful sequel to Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World that we read several years ago.

“The Bible for Busy People” – Tuesday evenings at 7:00pm and Friday mornings at 10:00am for five weeks beginning September 23. This is a new short term study being presented by Pastor Tom. Here is a story from the author of this   material, Dr. Harry Wendt. 

“Last month, I conducted a seminar in Lexington, Nebraska. Cindy, one of the seminar attendees, happened to be staying at our hotel. One evening, as we shared supper at the hotel, a man sitting at the next table heard us talking about ministry. This man, a clergyman who ministers to biker (motorcycle riders), began asking questions. After a few minutes of conversation, Cindy went over to his table and explained to him the timeline from “The Bible’s Big Story – Our Story” and a witnessing tool titled “The Divine Plan” – both of which are resources from Crossway International. After the meal, Cindy shared with us that the man was thrilled with these items and plans to use them in his ministry. Cindy then told us that she was deeply moved by what had taken place because this was the first time she had ever done that with anyone. Now she plans to share these resources with as many people as possible so that they might understand, believe, live and share God’s Eternal Story.”

Wednesday Brown Bag and Bible - This group meets from 12:10-12:50pm in the church’s conference room. We are currently in the last half of a study on the theme of “Maturing in Christ – Called to Discipleship.” The discussion we share is always engaging and we leave having enjoyed one another’s company, insights and questions. 

Our next study will be from the book Today Matters by John Maxwell. It is a short book but one filled with a powerful message of looking at this life God has given us, celebrating it and then being a steward of it through 12 daily practices built over a lifetime. The table of contents reads: Today’s ATTITUDE gives me possibilities; Today’s PRIORITIES give me focus; Today’s HEALTH gives me strength; Today’s FAMILY gives me stability; Today’s THINKING gives me an advantage; Today’s COMMITMENT gives me tenacity; Today’s FINANCES give me options; Today’s FAITH  gives me peace; Today’s RELATIONSHIPS give me fulfillment; Today’s GENEROSITY give me significance; Today’s VALUES give me direction; Today’s GROWTH gives me potential.

Augustana Lutheran Church, Elizabeth Bible Study meets Thursday mornings at 7:00am at Café 116 starting Sept. 11. We started A Passion for Life – Fragments of the Face of God by Joan Chittister in the early spring and are about half-way through reading and discussing the lives of women visionaries, leaders, and saints in the church. We will begin with a woman named Claire of the eleventh century, a follower of St. Francis of Assissi, and a spiritual leader in her own right. Similar in mission to Claire is our next lady, Dorothy Day, New York City’s activist for the people of the streets who lived during the twentieth century. 

Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (WELCA) circle Bible studies 2014 – 2015 “Transforming Life and Faith” is the title of this year’s Bible study, and the sub-title reminds us that our lives and our faith journeys include a series of transformations. In Sept., “we are always changing”. In Oct., “we are called”. In Nov., “transformation takes time”. In Dec., “faith in the family” (and what a great discussion Bethlehem ladies will have as we embark on our parish education vibrant faith initiative!) In Jan., we are being made new and given the directive to “repent and forgive”. In Feb., we will learn how to “make conversion last”. In March, we will learn the inevitability of “suffering and the importance of sustaining endurance”. In April, we will look at overcoming doubt by being “inspired by the risen Lord.” In May, the idea that the “church is transforming and reforming” in our lifetimes will inspire us to live out as transformed women of God.

We invite the men of Bethlehem and friends to an engaging bible study on Monday mornings at Café 116 at 7:00am. Jerry Ness and Steve Atchison have been the primary leaders of this group. We chose a theme for six meetings, use selected stories from the bible that develop the theme and discuss our thoughts and insights from multiple suggested answers to the given questions. It is a fun, interesting and comfortable morning. Breakfast is at one’s own expense from Café 116’s  menu, the visiting among the men before and after is good and the study is helpful in getting us into God’s Word. Please come join us.

Augustana Apartment Bible study group meets on Mondays at 3:00pm in the community room. We begin our Bible study this fall on Mon., Sept. 8 with Forgotten God, Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit written by Francis Chan. 

Faithful Readers Book Club - All Are welcome please join us!

In September, Bethlehem’s Faithful Readers will be reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. This journey by train was taken by thousands of abandoned children from New York City to families in the Midwest and Western United States who were waiting to adopt them. Their promising future/or tragic plight is captured by Kline in her telling the story of one of them – Vivian Daly. During the course of the book we will meet the elderly Vivian at the end of her life who meets Molly Ayer, a foster child, who helps her clean out her attic, and there she discovers Vivian’s childhood experiences when she rode the orphan train.

Faithful Readers have chosen to read Defending Jacob by William Landay for their October read and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson in November.

Senior Ministry
Bethlehem believes that we are never too old to live boldly and joyfully. We believe that we can set aside the misconceptions and myths about older adults. Bethlehem’s history is an active one with a variety of activities and ministries.  

VSP (Very Special People) “55 and Better” is an organization of older folks who meet monthly for worship with Holy Communion, food, fellowship, and fun. The festive lunches in December and May and the field trips to interesting places are popular and looked-forward-to events.

Women of the ELCA (WELCA) at Bethlehem

Bethlehem’s WELCA involves all confirmed women of the church in Bible study, service projects, and fundraisers. 

There are five circles that meet once a month for fellowship and Bible study. The women collect items for school, health, sewing, layette, and midwife kits to benefit Lutheran World Relief. 

In the fall of the year, the women organize a bazaar and in the spring a salad luncheon to raise funds to support church projects and community needs. They also meet for dinner or brunch several times a year for special programs and in the middle of the summer for a picnic. 

Bethlehem is part of Cluster 8 and attend (and take their turn hosting) fall and spring gatherings


Caring Ministry

Bethlehem promotes caring ministries within the congregation and beyond. 

Stephen Ministry – Bethlehem has three trained Stephen Leaders and twenty-one Stephen Ministers who weekly visit people within and outside the congregation who are going through crises in their lives.

Friendly Visitors – Bethlehem has fifty-five home-bound seniors who enjoy a monthly visit from their “friendly visitor”.

Eucharistic Ministers – Bethlehem has an average of twelve – fifteen members who welcome Eucharistic ministers into their home Sunday morning who have directly from the Holy Communion service at church and distribute the sacrament to them.

Prayer Chain – Bethlehem has six prayer chains that receive prayer requests to pass the information along the chain of pray-ers.

Prayer shawls, Cards and Flowers, Christmas and Easter cards – Prayer shawls are knit and crocheted by members for people going through a crisis and then taken to them.  They are wrapped in the shawl and in the prayers.  Cards are sent to members at significant moments in their lives.  Flowers are taken to members who are hospitalized.  Christmas and Easter cards are sent to the home-bound members.

The pastors regularly schedule visits to the church’s home-bound members and give group communions to members living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Evangelism/Hospitality Ministry

Hospitality Ministry at Bethlehem is the "recognition that God comes to us through strangers and that by receiving another we open ourselves to the expanding message of an incarnate God." (Gerald Hoffman, Hospitable Community booklet, 1990, Augsburg/Fortress, p. 8)

We invite strangers to become friends at Bethlehem. "Hospitality is the very nature of God. To be of the body of Christ is to reflect an openness to receive others.  We serve as Christ's hosts.  Our status is a gift from a gracious God and is to be reflected in our lives."   (Hoffman, p.10)  

The primary focus of this ministry is to welcome new members who are making a transition into our community of faith. Twice each year we go through a formal time of welcome and entry. Throughout the year we practice relationship building, grow in Christian education, and participate in worship and service.

Sunday hospitality is another dimension of this ministry. Greeters, Food Servers, Church Bus Drivers, Eucharistic Ministers, Nursery Attendants, and Ushers all serve on Sundays throughout the year to welcome one another in Christ's name.


Stewardship, Finance, Lay Ministry Coordination, and Interpretation Ministries join together in regular planning to coordinate the ministry from Bethlehem’s Mission Center. Responsibilities include fall mission support commitment (Consecration Sunday style), Time & Talent invitations and coordination, communication and interpretation for the congregation and community, and assessment of financial situations and goals.  

How do I know where I fit? If you would like to know more about how God has gifted you and where to serve, take the ELCA’s spiritual gifts survey.

After taking the survey we encourage you to fill out our Time and Talent form to let us know how you would like to participate at Bethlehem.

Time and Talent form

To find out more about the opportunities available to you here at Bethlehem click here to see the list of groups and committees. Get Involved!

Simply Giving Form

102 West Junius Ave • Fergus Falls MN 56537 • Phone: 218-736-5614