Simply put, we are a group of Christians who are a part of the greater Christian church, whose ancestors in the faith were given the nick name “Lutherans” because they followed the teachings of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, a German priest and professor whose theological differences with the Roman Catholic Church were instrumental in the Reformation Movement of the 16th century.
Luther brought many innovations to the Christian church. Among them, he wrote worship music, translated the bible into the language of the people, was an advocate for public schooling, wrote materials for parents to teach their children about their faith, and believed priests should be able to marry.
Today, there are Lutheran Christians around the world, organized into regional and national church bodies that are united by membership in associations such as the Lutheran World Federation. Bethlehem Lutheran Church is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), a church body that covers the United States and the Caribbean. While the ELCA is not the only Lutheran denomination in the United States, it is the largest, with around 4 Million members in over 10,000 congregations.
The ELCA has pulpit and altar fellowship with The Episcopal Church, The United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, Reformed Church in America, and The Moravian Church.
WHAT WE BELIEVE:
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Salvation is not by our own works, but by the grace of God through our faith in Jesus Christ. This promise of salvation is freely given to all who believe.
We believe that bible is the inspired word of God, and that Jesus Christ is the word of God incarnate.
We believe in the trinity, that God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, equal in glory and majesty, altogether one God who lives and reigns forever.
These components of our faith are expressed in the Lutheran Confessions, and the ancient creeds of the Christian church.
We observe two Sacraments as instructed by Jesus, whereby forgiveness of sins is received, and Christian community is forged. The first sacrament is that of Holy Baptism, an outward sign of an inward grace. We come to baptism to accept God’s promises for our lives, and in doing so, become members of Christ’s holy church. Because we believe that it is God at work in this sacrament, rather than human will, we baptize persons of all ages.
The second sacrament is Holy Communion, often called “The Lord’s Supper,” where we recall the acts of Jesus in the upper room during the Jewish Passover celebration. We observe this sacrament every Sunday, and invite all persons, regardless of church membership, to participate. Along with wine, we also offer grape juice for those who prefer. We believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in both the bread and the cup, and that when we partake of this meal, we receive the actual presence of Jesus Christ.
We believe in the priesthood of all believers, that both men and women are called to leadership in the church.
Finally, we believe that God welcomes all, including you.