November Bethlehem Star

From the Pastor’s Desk

Hearts and Hands…

One of the first things I noticed about this congregation is that it feels like a generous congregation. We are blessed with gifts of all kinds in our community and we do not seem shy about sharing them, whether they be financial gifts or gifts of time and talent.

Hopefully by now you’ve had a chance to see our Hearts and Hands tree in Augustana Hall. Have you taken a good long look at what’s on the hearts and hands on the tree? How is God calling you to be a part of this congregation? What gifts has God given you?


There’s a reason that the financial needs are written on hearts. Generosity comes from the heart. It is a response, like gratitude, that grows in us as we see God at work all around us. It is our heart that is affected when we see this community grow and thrive and share God’s love.

When considering your offering to the church this year, we hope you see where the money is spent. Paying the bills, does not seem like vital mission work that contributes to the Kingdom of God, but it matters that we can turn the lights on Sunday morning or Wednesday evening for the children and youth to have classes.

Both generosity and gratitude are a form of giving thanks. Prayer is another way of giving thanks to God. We often pray when we are in need, but offering to God a prayer of thanksgiving, like grace at dinner, for example, is also very important. I’d invite you to pray over your pledge card, to mix your generosity and your thankfulness to God together. See what happens.

And Hands

The hands on our tree are the work of ministry that we are all called to be a part of. This community of faith grows and thrives because many hands contribute to the work of ministry. Living faithfully toward God looks like using our hands for God’s mission in the world. Whether that is showing up as a spouse, or a parent or grandparent, it also means showing up as a greeter or a member of the altar guild, or willingness to host a Bible study. All of this furthers God’s mission and plan for the world.

There’s also a relationship between prayer and using our hands. Prayer leads to action, always. When we pray that hunger would end in our world, we should be nudged into feeding hungry folks here in Vinton. Our hands make our prayers real and noticeable in this world. So, pray over your time and talent sheet. Maybe there is something your hands can do. Maybe you are being led to use your hands in new ways!


I am deeply grateful to serve with giving people who love their community and are willing to share God’s gifts with others.

Grace + Peace,

Pastor Anne

A Message from the Council

Dave Vermedahl, Church Council


" Instead, by speaking the truth in a spirit of love, we must grow up in every way to Christ, who is the head. Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love." (Ephesians 4: 15-16)

This has been the story of Bethlehem Lutheran Church of over the last 3 1/2 years. The Holy Spirit has come into our congregation and provided people who would be parts of our body to enable it to remain together carrying out the work of Christ. Each person using special talents to see that the work continues. Truly they have been willing to take on the servant's role as Christ did at the Last Supper washing his disciples' feet. We may not be washing feet, but certainly we have seen our members perform this symbolically. We just need to be aware of them. Brenda Sutton keeping the church organized and seeing that everything is done when it needs to get done. Brenda Krull using her teaching abilities to teach Confirmation and artistic abilities in her hard work with the flowers and mowing. Linda Wallace, Mona Hanson and many others in the kitchen. Lois Martin and the choir members providing music for worship. Ellen Olson embracing her role as youth leader. Phil Borleske going above and beyond to see everything was carried out when and how it should be even though he's supposedly retired. Doug Sutton helping with the heavy lifting. Kimmit Renken and all the members of our call committee. Tom Hanson and his work with our property and all those involved in our various committees making things run smoothly.

There are many sharing their talents at Bethlehem and I did not mean to leave anyone out.

With the arrival of Anne Williams answering our call we certainly should be aware that the Holy Spirit is alive and well at Bethlehem. We owe it to others to share this Spirit.

Share your talents and see where you fit into the body of Bethlehem and the body of Christ.                                                                          

Youth Corner

Ellen Olson, Coordinator of Youth Ministries


On Wednesday, October 5, 16 youth (7th grade-12th grade) and 5 adults attended “Fields of Faith” in LaPorte City at the Union High School football field.  The participants enjoyed pizza before they left.  Faith speakers of high school age and from UNI spoke on their personal relationships with God in their lives.

Our nursery age children and parents will begin to receive materials as they begin their faith foundation. 

On Saturday, October 29 our youth spent the evening at Bloomsbury Farms in Atkins experiencing the 4 haunts the farm offers. 

Please take a minute to “Meet our Confirmands” on the bulletin board.


Trunk or Treat

Our church participated in our third annual trunk or treat night on Halloween night on October 31 from 4:30-6:30 pm.   Lots of creativity in decorating and candy and treats were enjoyed by the little ones.

Pizza at 6:30 in the fellowship hall was enjoyed by members as well.

Busy Bags

Have your little ones check out the new busy bags.  And for your older children the ushers have children’s bulletins that follow the readings of the day.

Advent Breakfast

Please mark your calendars for Advent Breakfast, Sunday, November 27 following worship hosted by our LYO youth.



Jack Blais, Madeline Blais, Haley Crane, Zachary Dickinson, Cooper McClintock, and Aiden Parmater will be confirmed on November 6th during Worship Service at 9:00 a.m.  Please join them after the service for fellowship and refreshments.


Congregational Annual Meeting

The Bethlehem congregation annual meeting will be held on Sunday, November 13th following 9:00 a.m. worship service.  All voting members of Bethlehem are encouraged to attend.  Sunday School, LYO, and 9th Grade Confirmation will follow the meeting.

Thank you to council members Patricia Gardner, Roxann Harms, and Dave Vermedahl

 who will be leaving the Church Council.

Those members who have volunteered to run for Church Council are Denise Evans, Nathan Groom, Bill Martin, Ben Olson, and Dandi Renken-Armstrong.

Meet Bill Martin:

My family has been part of Bethlehem Lutheran Church for most of the past 25 years since we moved back to Vinton and my wife Lois has been the organist and choir director for much of that time.

In addition to various committees, i.e. intern, snow shoveling and lawn mowing, I have served one previous term on the Bethlehem church council and would enjoy the opportunity to do so again.

It is easy to think that church is a Sunday-only kind of thing but that is far from the case. I was surprised how much I didn’t know about the day-to-day of what goes into creating and maintaining an active and welcoming church family.

I learned a lot during my previous council term, benefitted considerably by serving with people who put what they felt was best for Bethlehem first, and was able to help make what I felt were better informed decisions.

It’s an exciting time to be a member of Bethlehem, with a new pastor, an outstanding church staff and, I think, a renewed enthusiasm. I look forward to being a member of the church council and sharing that enthusiasm.

Meet Ben Olson:

I am a lifelong member of Bethlehem and was baptized and confirmed in the congregation. My family are my wife Amy and our ten-year-old daughter Madeline. Our family farms south of Vinton where we raise about 2100 head of cattle a year along with corn and beans. 

Meet Nathan Groom:

Nathan and Alyssa moved to Urbana in 2007. Starting in April 2007, Nathan has worked at East-Central Iowa REC as the Information Services Manager. Since 2012, Alyssa has worked at Center-Point Urbana CSD and is currently a 1st Grade and Reading Recovery Teacher. We have 3 children (Ellie (13), Henry (10), and Aubrie (4)). Starting in 2009, we attended St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Marion/Cedar Rapids. In about 2019 we started looking for an ELCA church that was a little closer to home and in 2021 we found a new church home in Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran. We’re excited to see the church grow in the coming years!

Meet Dandi Renken-Armstrong:

Hi, I’m Denare Renken-Armstrong, aka Dandi. I may be new to Vinton and to Bethlehem, but not to the Lutheranism having been raised in St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Manson, Iowa. Admittedly, like other young people, I stopped regularly attending church when I moved out of my parent’s house, most notably when I moved to California in 1976. Also like others, I came back to the church after my divorce, joining Faith Lutheran Church in Anaheim, California. Initially, I taught Sunday school, only the grades my children attended as I’m not that good with kids. Later, I served for a couple of years on the council. Although I miss many of my friends at Faith, retiring to Iowa to be closer to family (and better financial position) was the right move for me. I’ve already made some new friends here in Vinton and at Bethlehem and look forward to starting this new chapter with a new church family.

Meet Denise Evans:

My name is Denise Evans and my husband Jason and I have lived in the Vinton area for 22 years.  We have two grown children.  Colton is on his own and busy in his career path.  Franki is currently a Nursing student at Allen College and living in Cedar Falls.  Both of them were active and raised within the Bethlehem family.  What brought us to Vinton is that I am a Registered Nurse at Virginia Gay Hospital and have been there for 26 years.  We wanted to raise our children in a smaller active community and Vinton has surpassed that by having all the amenities right here in town.  What made me feel at home with Bethlehem Lutheran was the traditional faith feel.  Even though I choose to be quiet in the corner, I enjoy and get a lot out of the scripture with a perspective of modern life tied with it.  I had attended several other congregations in town and never felt that comforting peace.  Two of my co-workers that are Bethlehem members originally invited me and my children to attend service with them.  That invitation ended up being a good fit.  



Giving Pledge Cards should be returned to the church office by November 1st.  Thank you for your support.

Giving Time & Talent Sheets should be returned to the church office by December 1st. Thank you for sharing your talents.


Lutheran Disaster Response

Gifts to Lutheran Disaster Response make it possible for the ELCA to act quickly after disasters, whenever and wherever they strike. In a World in Crisis, do a World of Good. Your gift to our emergency response fund provides families with the life-saving support they need right now. Give online at www.elca.org/disaster.


Lutheran World Relief Report

On October 15th, 2022, Bethlehem Lutheran Church delivered 22 boxes to Trinity Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids. Thank you Tom & Dana Hanson. 

Included in the boxes were: 32 Quilts, 42 Health Kits, 59 Baby Layettes, and 10 Fabric Kits.

They will be shipped to Lutheran World Relief for distribution.  Great mission work!  Thank you to all that took part in this important project.

Team Property

Team property is looking for some volunteers to help keep the sidewalks clear this winter.  Typically, we have a team of people responsible for a month of shoveling.  Each team has a leader that would coordinate the clearing of the sidewalks. In the event of a significant snow, we would ask that everyone that has offered to shovel help with those times as they are able.  Please let Brenda Krull or Brenda Sutton know if you are willing to help.  Thanks in advance- as this volunteer corps typically saves the church thousands of dollars a year.  

Chapel Choir

Chapel Choir will meet on Wednesday, November 2 & 9 and December 7, 14, 21 for rehearsal at 7:00 p.m.   The Choir will sing at worship on November 6, December 11 and possibly Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  


Food for Thought

Meet on the 3rd Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m.

November, 2022

Book: “Forgiving Paris” by Karen Kingsbury

Restaurant: Crooked Antler in Van Horne

December, 2022

Book: “The Christmas Bookshop” by

Jenny Colgan

Restaurant: Bethlehem Inn


Church Office Hours

Pastor Anne Williams will be in the church office on Sunday thru Thursday. Email:


Brenda Sutton, Parish Assistant will be in the church office Monday thru Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Email:


Ellen Olson, Youth Coordinator will be in the church office Tuesday & Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Email:


Jana Lewis, Financial Administrator can be contacted thru email:


Amanda Henkle, Financial Secretary can be contacted thru email:



Live Stream Worship Service

Sunday Worship Services can be viewed on Bethlehem’s Facebook Page or You Tube Channel at “Bethlehem Lutheran Vinton”.  It can be viewed live beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings or viewed at a later time or day.  If you have any questions, please contact the church office at 319-472-3784.

Anyone interested in helping with this project please contact the church office.

Benton County Food Pantry

The Benton County Food Pantry is asking for Saltine Crackers and Soup.  These items can be dropped off at the church.  Please send your monetary donation to:

Benton County Food Pantry

PO Box 3

Vinton, IA  52349

Your continued support is greatly appreciated.



We have remembered the following in prayers

during the month of October. If you are missed off this list, our sincere apologies.

For health, healing and comfort: Duane Mangold, Ellen Tempus, Jim Woolison, Maverick Ketchum, Jackie Behounek Seitz, Paulette Henkle, Arlene Carls, Elliot Hanson, Pastor Wendell Debner, Adam & Anne Williams, Cole & Avery Williams, Oliver Moore, Dave Stoulil, Angel Dennison, Dottie Riepe, Warren Henkel, The Family of Pat Martin, The Family of Paul Grossman, The Family of Don Rothweiler, Marlyn Jorgensen, Pat Gardner, Dick Dreesman, The Family of Jim Nottger


November Server Schedule

Month of November                                                                                                                                             

Acolyte: Grayce McClintock

Altar Guild: Tina Eden, Brenda Sutton

Council Lock-Up: Marlys Crane

November 6th, 13th    

Communion Servers: Brenda Krull,

                                      Brenda Sutton

Greeters: Sondra & Andrew Gates

Lector: Tenny Jertson

Ushers: Mona Hanson, Doug Sutton,

              John & Becky Williams

Counters (6th): Doug Sutton, Gary Simnacher

Counters (13th): Rachel Dickinson,

                              Pat Gardner

November 20th, 27th    

Communion Server: Larry Nudd

Greeters: John & Julie Lindahl

Lector: Jan Bearbower

Ushers: Maurice & Pat Gardner,

               Tom & Dana Hanson              

Counters (20th): Doug Sutton, Gary Simnacher

Counters (27th): Pat Gardner, Amanda Henkle