Bethel Encino ELCA continues to serve the Valley as a space where all are welcome and where spiritual sojourners can find a home.
Bethel has seen years of abundance and celebration and years of conflict and struggle. Like many churches, the 1970s and 1980s saw Bethel increase in members and ministry. By the 1990 and early 2000s, it seemed like Bethel was on the verge of closing. In 2005, a Resurrection plan was drafted along with a re-commitment to ministry in Encino. Under the leadership of Pastor Rustin Comer, the church and preschool grew in vitality and hope. A new mission statement and core values clarified Bethel's role as a progressive Christian community in the Valley.
Pastor Steve Jerbi lead our congregation as Lead Pastor starting in August 2017 and spent a few years with us driving us to a Christ in Action direction. We sought out deepening our vision, values, and responsibility to our greater San Fernando Valley community and one another.
Pastor Kenneth Davis took on the role of Lead Pastor starting in August 2020. We have continued to dig deep in how we view ourselves as siblings in Christ and how we can show love and dedication to our community including those in need. We continue to encourage one another and grow with our beloved community and look forward to the future.
Some folks see that we are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and wonder what that means.
The word "evangelical" comes from the Greek euangelion which means good news or gospel. 500 years ago when a bunch of folks were trying to make the church more progressive and engaged with the people, they were called "evangelicals." It was their focus on the gospel message of grace rather than the law of obligation that gave them this "good news" name. Lutherans have been called evangelical long before the political movements of the 1980s reframed that word.
You can read more about this title here.
On September 24, 1979 the Dalai Lama visited Bethel Encino. His Holiness had been touring the USA and was speaking throughout Southern California. This was the first time the Dalai Lama spoke in a Lutheran church.