Sunday Mornings... 
Worship Services 
      8, 9 & 10:30 am
Learning Circles (Pre - 6th)
      9:00 am
      9:05 am
Revolution (7th - 12th)
      10:30 am

Second Sabbath
2nd Saturday - Jan, Mar, May, July, Sept, Nov
      5:30 pm


Pastor Laura's Story

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I am blessed and honored to serve as pastor at Bethlehem Lutheran.  Here is a bit of my story and how I came to join this wonderful community of believers.


I was born in Visalia, CA.  My parents are life long Lutherans from Menomonie, Wisconsin, but I was baptized in the Congregational Church in the fall of 1963 because of an interesting misunderstanding between the Missouri Synod congregation in town and the ALC congregation to which my family would soon belong.  Therefore I am ecumenical from birth and pleased that it is so. 

My faith and call to ministry took seed at Christ Lutheran Church, Visalia.  I have rich memories of Vacation Bible School and Children’s choir.  I can still smell the kool-aid and cookies that signaled the end of most of our activities.  When I was 14 years old, I was asked to be the preacher on youth Sunday.  A member of the congregation who I deeply respected shook my hand after worship and suggested that I consider being a pastor.  God had first suggested that idea to me when I was 10 years old, but I thought I had misheard him.  I tried hard to push the idea away, but when God has a plan for you, such an effort is pointless.  God knows what he is doing, even when we do not.

I graduated from CSU Fresno with a degree in Zoology and was accepted to the Veterinary School at UC Davis.  At that same time, I had applied to serve as a short term missionary in Hong Kong, working in youth leadership development and in the Vietnamese refugee camps in Hong Kong.  I was to return to Hong Kong 4 times in 10 years and my time there, particularly my time in the refugee camps, continues to shape my understanding of the power and fragility of this Gospel word we carry.  In unspeakable and deplorable conditions, the adults and children of Whitehead Detention Centre held onto hope -- and they would not let it die.  One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Peter 3:15 “Give reason for the hope that is within you.”  Regardless of the circumstances of this life, as Christians, we are never without hope.  And we are blessed and called to share that hope with the world. 

Veterinary degree in hand, and working in a small animal practice, God remained insistent and so I packed up my two cats and moved from California to Minnesota to begin my studies at Luther Seminary.   It was, for me, a moment of certainty and peace.  I learned the sheer calm and deep joy that comes from answering God’s will.  I met my husband Daren in an intensive Greek course designed for those of us who came from science backgrounds, and did not have the good sense to major in religion as undergraduates.  Daren and I studied our second year at the Lutheran Seminary in Hong Kong and were married the following summer.  We began our internship in Everett, WA that August.  It was a busy year. Our first daughter was born a few months after seminary graduation and our second daughter, four years later.  I was jokingly called The Reverend Mother, and I still cherish that title. The girls continue to ground me and remind me of the precious gift of the moments in our hands. 

I have served in campus ministry at CU Boulder and at Sonoma State.  Campus ministry set my call and my faith and I had a strong desire to make that possible for others.  I have been blessed to serve: Bethlehem Lutheran, Marysville, WA , Cross and Crown Lutheran, Rohnert Park, CA and now Bethlehem Lutheran, Encinitas.  In each setting, my favorite week of the year is the week of Vacation Bible School.  Working with young children brings me deep joy and exercises the richest gifts God has given me.  I have been known to bring live sheep into the sanctuary, have a real horse in the courtyard and construct a whale large enough to seat 30 children in its belly.   

I am committed to service in the wider church and have recently served for 6 years on the board of directors for Trinity Lutheran College, Everett, WA.  I have chaired the resolutions committee for both Sierra Pacific and Pacifica Synods and I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I actually read Robert’s Rules of Order for fun.  I have served on the Synod Profile Team for the Sierra Pacific Synod and now serve on synod council for the Pacifica Synod.  Board tables aside, I am deeply honored and humbled to belong to a wide body of believers.  None of us are the church in isolation, but together God is able to do with us, far more than we can ask or imagine. 

Ministry among God’s people brings me deep joy and regular humility as I witness the gentle strength of God in the life his people.  When I am not at church you will find me knee deep in a tide pool or playing cribbage with my girls and Daren.  Our family loves sleeping in a tent, particularly in Yellowstone.  I have a fondness and joy for animals that I count as a blessing.  Our dog Ginger is always close by and on the day of the blessing of the animals, my two careers come together perfectly.  I have been blessed many times over and I am consistently touched and awed by the depth of God’s grace.


God bless you,

Pastor Laura