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Bethlehem Blogs

February 3, 2021

Bethlehem Baptist Church ‘2020 Annual Report’ Highlights

Amanda Knoke

Director for Communications

Though the concept of “annual report” may seem dry—Bethlehem’s 2020 Annual Report is anything but that! Consider this selection of excerpts that reflect the Lord’s work in and through Bethlehem in a year like no other ...

Fresh Glimpses of Glory and Greatness

Is it not like the Lord, as we move forward in our plans, to put us in desperate and challenging circumstances so that we must turn to him and look to him alone? Is this not the very thing that we asked of him? Is there not opportunity after opportunity to see the lostness around us and to have our compassion recalibrated and refocused? Have we not seen fresh glimpses of his glory and greatness? What more will he show us of himself and his glory and greatness as we move into 2021 and celebrate our 150th birthday as a church?! … Read page after page and testimony after testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and goodness to us over the past year. … [God] is not impeded by pandemics. He sends them and bends them to his will for purposes and plans that may not yet be visible to us and may only be seen by our children or children’s children or in the ages to come in God’s presence. But they will be seen and known and celebrated.—Kurt Elting-Ballard (Council of Elders)

The Most Unusual Sunday

Sunday, March 15, 2020, I remember driving to the Downtown Campus to participate in our first of many livestream-only worship services. I remember the eerie feeling of parking in a nearly empty lot, singing with a small handful of people in the Sanctuary, preaching to an empty room, looking exclusively at the camera instead of into the eyes of our people, and leaving immediately after the service concluded. It was the most unusual Sunday I have ever experienced.—Steven Lee (North Preaching & Vision)

Hearts Revealed and Refined

We encountered myriad new realities this year. The pandemic and politics—and the policies of both—revealed deep things in the hearts of the people of God and refined us in fresh ways, even if it was painful.—Dave Zuleger (South Preaching & Vision)

Front-Line Community Cleaning & Feeding

It was a joy to see Bethlehem members on the front lines cleaning, feeding, and providing other essentials in our neighborhoods that were traumatized in the days and weeks following George Floyd’s death. While these trials are far outside the norm for the church in modern-day America, we are reminded that throughout history the Church has been assailed from within and without. It is by God’s grace that we maintain a love for God and each other and a burden to share the gospel with our neighbors near and far.—Ken Currie (Strategic Implementation)

Unprecedented Challenge and Reward

Many have used the word unprecedented to describe 2020. Overuse does not necessarily mean it is inaccurate or unwarranted. This past year was one of the most challenging and rewarding years in ministry for Bethlehem’s Operations team. With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the Operations team did a remarkable job working behind the scenes by God’s grace and power—in much weakness, at timesto flexibly assist and eagerly support all areas of Bethlehem ministry.—Jon Grano (Operations)

Blessed Are the Flexible

[Human Resources] worked with many staff to determine how to rework job duties, how to learn to do old things in new ways, how to embrace doing new things in hard ways, and how to flex and learn it all over again a short time later.—Joby Morgan (in Jon Grano’s report) 

Jesus: Moved and Merciful in Our Troubles

The challenges of this year through racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic were extraordinary. It brought a great measure of felt uncertainty, instability, and fear, but it was wielded by the Spirit to bring us to Jesus, for he is moved by what troubles us. He is merciful.—Bud Burk (Downtown Children & Family Discipleship)  

Faith on Display

In the counseling ministry, we have seen God comfort the grieving and hurting, sustain those that are suffering, reconcile and restore relationships, and change hearts from sin to faith and love. It is such a joy and privilege to witness these things, and I am deeply encouraged to see the faith on display in these dear people.—Stacy Thorpe (South Care & Counseling)

Pandemic Relief, Gifts in Jesus’ Name

This year, the Global Diaconate voted to provide 44 financial gifts in 26 different countries, in the Name of Jesus Christ, for a total of approximately $143,000 given. Of these gifts, 82% went to the ministries of global partners, while the remaining 18% went to other trusted partners in ministry. This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly $100,000 of the gifts were given specifically toward pandemic relief projects.—Brad Nelson (Global Outreach)

Longing for Christ’s Return

I think it will be a long time before any of us take for granted how precious it is when the people of God can gather together in worship. And I think we all learned to long for the return of Jesus like never before.—Jason Meyer (Downtown Preaching & Vision)