Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Beliefs

1. What do we believe?
2. What is special about Bethel?
3. How do Lutherans view the Bible?
4. What is the mission of Bethel Lutheran Church?
5. What are the basic principles of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)?
6. What is the difference between the many North American Lutheran denominations?
7. What organizations does Bethel support?

Worship

8. What can I expect on Sunday mornings?
9. When are your worship services?
10. What is a Sunday service like?
11. What do people wear?
12. Should I fill out a visitor’s card during the service?
13. Is nursery care available during worship?
14. What is communion like at Bethel?
15. Who is welcome to celebrate Holy Communion at Bethel?
16. When and how is Holy Communion celebrated?

Programs

17. How do I get involved or volunteer?
18. Is Sunday school offered for children?
19. How do I get information about youth ministries?
20. Is there a group for young adults?
21. Are there adult learning opportunities?
22. Are there men’s and women’s groups?
23. Do I have to be a member of Bethel to participate in any programs or ministries?
24. Why do people decide to join Bethel?

Nuts & Bolts

25. How do I get to Bethel?
26. How do I get around the church?
27. How do I get information into the weekly bulletin or request prayer support?
28. How do I contact a Pastor?

Religious Ceremonies

29. How do I learn about Baptism at Bethel?
30. If I am not a member can I get married or baptized in the church?
31. What are your policies on memorial services and funerals?

Beliefs

1. What do we believe?

Lutherans, as most Christians, believe that the doctrine of the Trinity encapsulates the mystery that is God. We believe in a creator God who is the source of all being from whom all of creation has its life. We believe in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, through whom God came to us in human likeness and through whom God redeems us and gives us access to life eternal. We believe in God’s Holy Spirit which is God’s love active in the world and in us. We are part of God’s unfolding plan for humanity and the world. When we gather for worship, we connect with believers everywhere. When we study the Bible, hear God’s word in worship, or serve our neighbors in Christ’s name, we are drawn more deeply into God’s own saving story.

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2. What is special about Bethel?

Whether large or small, all Christian congregations are uniquely gifted in their own way. At Bethel, you will find many programs and ministries for a great range of ages which you may not find in a smaller congregation. On the other hand, Bethel is small enough for its members to know one another and to care for one another. Given our location in the heart of the Silicon Valley, many (but not all) of our members are employed in the high-tech industry (other fields strongly represented are health care, education, and finances).

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3. How do Lutherans view the Bible?

Lutherans believe that the Bible is the written Word of God, the primary and authoritative witness to the church’s faith. It creates and nurtures faith through the work of the Holy Spirit and points us to Jesus Christ, the living Word and center of our faith. And in reading the Bible, we are invited into a relationship with God that both challenges us and promises us new life. We believe that the Bible does not intend to chronicle history in the manner of modern historians or to describe the world in the manner of modern science. Rather, the Bible is a book of faith—a powerful testimony to mighty acts of God in the lives of individuals and nations, written over many centuries by men and women of faith. In the Old Testament we find vivid accounts of God’s covenant relationship with the people of Israel; in the New Testament Jesus’ first followers testify to God’s new covenant in Jesus Christ.

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4.What is the mission of Bethel Lutheran Church?

Our mission is to prayerfully Invite and Welcome people into a relationship with God; To Grow and Equip one another as devoted followers of Jesus Christ; To Care for and Serve others empowered by the Holy Spirit.

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5. What are the basic principles of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)?

The ELCA[Offsite Link] is a community of faith that shares a passion for making positive changes in the world. Our faith is built around a strong belief in God as made known to us in Jesus Christ. Through worship, service, and education, we practice our faith, grow our relationship with God and experience God’s grace in our lives. We also work hard to put our faith into action. In today’s complex world, we strive to make a difference in practical, realistic ways. We welcome you to experience this church right in your community, and help us celebrate our gift of faith—with action.

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6. What is the difference between the many North American Lutheran denominations?

There are many different Lutheran denominations in North American—some large, many of them rather small—each with its own ethnic origin and unique theological “flavor.” Unlike most others, the ELCA[Offsite Link] seeks cooperation with other Christian denominations. We are in common communion with the Episcopal Church[Offsite Link], the United Methodist Church[Offsite Link], the United Church of Christ[Offsite Link] and several other denominations. ELCA congregations strive to be inclusive and practice “open communion,” i.e. communion that is open to all who believe in Jesus Christ. As is the case with many other large denominations, there is room for a wide spectrum of religious, social, and political views. We trust that there is room for you, as well!

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7. What organizations does Bethel support?

We believe that we not only serve God in the time during which we are participating in a religious service, or reading the Bible, or praying, or writing about God. We serve God quite as much when we are at work, when we are reading the newspaper, or when we help our neighbors near and far. We serve God by taking an interest in the world around us, because God has created that world and has put us in it so that we may fully participate in it. At Bethel, we seek to practice our faith in many different ways—in Sunday morning worship, through local hands-on service projects, mission trips, by sharing our financial resources with people in need, and by adding our voice to faith-based hunger advocacy. Our service activities are listed on this web site.

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Worship

8. What can I expect to find on Sunday mornings?

Whether you’re a lifelong churchgoer or whether this is your first time in a church, whether you are familiar with the Lutheran tradition or not, you will find a warm welcome at Bethel. We welcome everybody no matter what, if any, church background you have. Our hope is that you will take the next step into this community. Visit us this weekend and experience Bethel for yourself.

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9. When are your services?

We offer two Sunday services. While both services have the same theme, the 8:45 am service is more traditionally liturgical with organ music, whereas the 10:45 am service seeks to engage you with more contemporary music played by our band (worship team). See our complete worship schedule. Whatever service you choose to attend, please make sure to grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate on the patio between services.

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10. What is a Sunday service like?

Each week, our worship team and pastor strive to lead our congregation in a meaningful worship experience with a firm foundation in God’s Word. Pastor Ben Bergren meets visitors where they are and addresses the tough issues that life in Silicon Valley can often present. Read a more detailed description of individual services.

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11. What do people wear?

When you enter a worship service at Bethel, you’ll instantly notice the diversity in what people wear. At both worship services, clothes range from the slightly formal (suit and tie) to the informal (t-shirt and jeans).

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12. Should I fill out a visitor’s card during the service?

Yes, please do! If you leave information such as your name and email address, someone will contact you with a greeting and an invitation to take part in the church’s ministry and come back for worship. These cards can be dropped in the offering plate. On the other hand, we will respect your desire to remain anonymous if that’s more comfortable for you.

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13. Is nursery care available during worship?

Yes, we provide a nursery during services.

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14. What is communion like at Bethel?

We understand holy communion as a sacred meal in which Jesus Christ himself feeds and nourishes us and is present among us. Together with most other protestants, Lutherans celebrate two sacraments; holy baptism and holy communion. To us, holy communion is not merely a symbolic meal, but we trust that Christ himself is truly present among us and in the bread and wine when we gather around his table.

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15. Who is welcome to celebrate Holy Communion at Bethel?

Everyone! We believe that since Christ invites you to his table, it is not up to us to judge who is welcome at Holy Communion or who is not. You are welcome to join us whether you are Lutheran or not, or whether you are a member of any church or not. If you believe in Jesus Christ, we ask that you accept his invitation to this sacred meal. Some parents prefer that their children receive communion only after they have taken a first communion class at church. Whether or not your children receive communion, please be assured that they are welcome at the communion rail. Non-communing children will receive a blessing from the pastor or deacons.

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16. When and how is Holy Communion celebrated?

We offer both fermented and unfermented wine. Upon request we offer gluten-free wafers to those who require them. We typically celebrate communion by “intinction”, which is dipping wafers or bread into the liquid. For more information on the communion schedule at both of our services, check out the worship page.

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Programs

17. How do I get involved or volunteer?

The idea of being a “passive observer” is entirely foreign to the Christian faith. Faith is about discipleship; faith is about listening to God’s word and offering yourself as an instrument to God’s transforming love. Opportunities for education, fellowship, and service are listed in the Sunday bulletin each week, on the web site, or you can contact the church office.

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18. Is Sunday school offered for children?

Yes! Our Sunday School (“Kid Connection”) program is offered every Sunday morning. Our children’s programs are creative, fun and age specific.

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19. How do I get information about youth ministries?

Bethel has a lively youth program—too many events to list on the page. For more information about youth programs, check out The Bethel Youth Web Site[Offsite Link].

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20. Is there a group for young adults?

Yes! Tom Hoegel organizes casual meetings and schedules events when out of town students are back in the area on breaks.

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21. Are there Adult Learning opportunities?

Yes! A variety of adult education classes are offered as part of our mid-week intergenerational academy “Fun with Faith.”

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22. Are there men’s and women’s groups?

Yes, some groups are specific to men and women. You can see them listed here.

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23. Do I have to be a member of Bethel to participate in any programs or ministries?

As a guest or visitor, you are welcome to participate in (nearly) every program or ministry available at Bethel. The one exception to this rule of thumb is our children’s program, where any adult leaders have to observe Bethel’s Safe Community Policy (Child Protection Policy)[PDF Document], go through a screening process, and sign a covenant. If any event or program sparks your interest, please connect directly with the small group leader or contact the church office for contact information. Go to the Bethel homepage to see the most current announcements.

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24. Why do people decide to join Bethel?

Occasional or regular visitors are able to participate in all aspects of our worship and educational, fellowship, and service programs (provided that they follow Bethel’s Safe Community Policy (Child Protection Policy)[PDF Document]). Some of the very important things that only members get to do are: voting on budgets, making decisions on the future ministry of the congregation, and serving as officers of the congregation. For those and other reasons, many regular visitors eventually choose to join the congregation.

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Nuts & Bolts

25. How do I get to Bethel?

Bethel is located just one block east of Wolfe Rd. and one block south of Stevens Creek Blvd., or less than one mile west of Lawrence Expressway and one mile south of 280. We are across the street from Cupertino High School on Finch Ave. It’s easy to find! Check out our map page[Offsite Link] for complete directions. Our parking lot is located behind the church just off Finch Ave. on Sorensen Ave.

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26. How do I get around the church?

Check out the campus map to learn more about how our campus is arranged. There are also helpful signs and maps posted throughout the campus, as well as greeters and others who will be happy to help you find a location on Sunday morning. During office hours, our friendly front desk staff is happy to help you find your way around the campus.

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27. How do I get information into the weekly bulletin or request prayer support?

Please contact one of the pastors—preferably by email—or email the office. Please note that prior to publication, all announcements must be approved by the pastors and/or our communication specialist.

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28. How do I contact the Pastor?

Please use the contact links at the top of the staff page.

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Religious Ceremonies

29. How do I learn about Baptism at Bethel?

Baptism is one of two sacraments celebrated by the Lutheran Church (the other sacrament Lutherans celebrate is Holy Communion). Baptism is a special time when a child or adult is welcomed into a new relationship with God. Baptisms are celebrated in the context of the worshiping community and usually happen on Sunday mornings. If you are an adult desiring to be baptized or if you are looking to have your child baptized, please speak to or email one of the pastors.

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30. If I am not a member can I get married or baptized in the church?

Yes. We view weddings and baptisms as opportunities to share with you what sustains us in life—our faith in God’s love and forgiveness. To explore the possibility of celebrating a baptism or a church wedding at Bethel, please contact one of our pastors.

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31. How can I get information on memorial services or funerals?

Please talk to our pastor. You can find more information on holding memorial services at Bethel in our memorial services brochure[PDF Document].

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