Bethlehem Lutheran Church

The Heart of Bay Ridge
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Sunday Service 10:30am
4th & Ovington Avenues
Brooklyn NY  11209
Rev. Paul H. Knudsen
Pastor Paul's February Message 
Bethlehem Lutheran Church ®  |  4th & Ovington Avenues, Brooklyn NY 11209  |  718.748.9502
A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

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Dear Members and Friends,

​In the book of Revelation, John had a vision and described seven churches. The first started strong, but got weak. The second remained strong through persecution. The third had false teachers. The fourth had false teachers and immorality. The fifth appeared good, but was really dead. The sixth was not strong, but the people were faithful. The seventh was lukewarm, prompting the Lord to say, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

I did not have a vision recently, but I would like to be so bold as to describe five churches.

1)There was inner turmoil. Divisions were an issue and groups of people did not get along. Disagreements were common and negative energy was the norm. Mismanagement of finances was a problem and inappropriate use of power was used to hide disturbing actions.

2)Self preservation was the predominant mindset of the people. Membership decline caused financial issues and more energy was used to keep the lights on than do the good work of the Lord. Resistance to change prohibited the church from any positive outreach to the community and a rigid insistence on traditional behavior stagnated any opportunity for growth.

3)The worship experiences were wonderful performances by all the worship leaders. Professional singers inspired those gathered and every speaker was eloquent and polished. The people who attended the worship service left the beautiful sanctuary uplifted by the music and the wonderful sense of God’s spirit in that place. They eagerly waited for the next Sunday to feel spiritual once again.

4)The church community boldly took political stances on every issue facing the community and the world. They felt compelled to translate biblical principles into every issue facing society today. The church leaders determined what was right and what was wrong with the city, the state, the nation and the world. Everyone needed to think the same way in order to feel comfortable in the pews.

5)The goal was to be Christ’s loving presence in the community. There were meaningful worship experiences and a real sense of caring for each other. Ministries to the local community were key and there was a strong desire to care for children, seniors and mistreated people. They were eager to welcome everyone who shared the same mission.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church is Church #5. This is us. This is who we are. We don’t waste energy on negativity. No one is being deceptive in any way. Our focus is not just on ourselves, storing away cash for self-preservation. Professionals don’t lead our worship services. People feel comfortable in our pews no matter what political views they might have.

Our worship services are Spirit-filled and meaningful. The music and the spoken word are not perfect, but they inspire the heart. We bring the love of Christ to the children of our Elementary School and Sunday School. We care for our seniors and we ensure a nutritious lunch for those onsite and those who are homebound in our community. We provide healing services to those who are suffering abuse at the hands of the people who are supposed to be supportive in their life. Yes, our goal is to be Christ’s loving presence in our community, and we welcome everyone and anyone who wants to help us in our mission. This is us. This is who we are. I am blessed to be your pastor. Thank you!

In God’s Service,