Bethlehem Lutheran Church
William Penn, TX

Representing God's love! To our Congregation. To our Community. To the World.
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 Welcome to Bethlehem !

Pastor Gilbert Franke
Pastor Gilbert Franke
Editor's note: Beginning 08/21/2022, Rev. Gilbert Franke is our part-time pastor during the vacancy, while we seek God's will in directing His new servant into our midst. Pastor Franke retired from full-time pastoral ministry in 2009, at St Paul Lutheran, Bishop, TX, and currently lives in Bellville, TX. He is a member of Trinity Lutheran, Sealy, TX and may be reached at 361-442-6008. An avid writer, some of his work may be viewed at
Previously, Pastor Franke served as Bethlehem's full-time pastor from 1977 - 1993. We are both blessed and honored to have him back to lead us in worship.
Please handle requests for pastoral care through one of the Elders of Bethlehem Lutheran.

Pastor's Message for March 2023

He Stayed the Course.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. – Romans 5:19 NIV

When a coach has determined the game plan with the best chance of winning, he stays with it even when it doesn’t seem to be working – well, up to a point! If he could be sure, he’d stay on course no matter how bad the score. If it isn’t working, he’s tempted to try a different approach.

Jesus certainly was tempted to turn aside from the Father’s game plan, which required perfect obedience. St. Paul wrote, He was obedient to the point of death. . . . and we know He didn’t stop at the threshold of death! Even in the face of apparent defeat, convicted to die as a criminal on the despised cross, Jesus stuck with the “game plan.” He continued to carry out the Father’s will as an obedient servant and was given the name that bends every knee!

In His obedience, He was serving each of us! His obedience has made us righteous before the Father! When we face temptations, we take courage from Jesus’ example; and when we lose heart, we receive grace to help us in our time of need.

Lord Jesus, for my sake You stayed the course, obedient to the Father’s will, even in the face of death. In Your gift of righteousness, give me courage to be faithful even when temptations would turn me aside. Amen.
+ Pastor Gil Franke +

Come and Worship at Bethlehem Lutheran Church

You will also find a link to the weekly bulletin in the Updates and Events section of this page.

Trust God, Dream Big, and Enjoy the Results!

Pastor's Message for February 2023

Is There a Blessing for Lent?

Yes, of course: ‘The Lord bless and keep us.... through our mourning.’

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.(Matthew 5:4 NIV) In the second beatitude recorded by Matthew, Jesus points us to a Lenten discipline for our blessing. The people of Jesus’ day had plenty reason to mourn: occupation by Roman troops; shedding of blood inside the Temple courts; oppression by a pagan empire; life under heavy taxation; early death from chronic illnesses.

We also mourn for the sad plight of our world today: unimaginable death tolls from natural disasters; terrorist strikes that frighten citizens and disrupt civilization; warfare invoked in order to restore peace; millions of unborn infants denied the breath of life; a collective social morality that calls good ‘bad’ and the harmful ‘good.’

Our Lenten discipline moves us beyond mourning for the condition of the world. We also grieve over our sin. We recognize that we are inclined to a perverse joy when people we don’t like experience suffering. We have a sinister fascination with gruesome and horrible crimes. Our own interest makes bad things ‘news’ and good events insignificant. We grieve over our attraction with evil.

To understand the dynamic of this blessing for Lent, we must also recognize another aspect of our fallen hearts. Without giving it a second thought, we allow our religious lives to be well isolated from what we know is God’s will. We accuse another person of malicious motives in spite of her insistence that she intended no harm. We fail to act in love toward someone in need because we find it inconvenient to help him. When we give it a second thought, during this season of reflection, we will realize that we often excuse ourselves from the clear demands of God’s law.

Blessed are those who grieve over the guilt of their own sin, silently sucking the breath of their life. Blessed are those who mourn over the sad plight of creation, bound in frustration and decay. Blessed are these, for they shall be moved to pray, Deliver us from evil. In that prayer, God has already acted to restore His people through the sacrifice He has made in the suffering and death of His Messiah! In that prayer, God is revealing the new age and the new life He has promised in the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ!

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted!

Lenten Series Devotional

LENTEN SERIES Read Genesis 6:5-8; Psalm 14

Sometimes We Have to Start Over!

And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Jeremiah 18:4 ESV

A lump of clay on a potter’s wheel, a trash can by a writer’s desk, a worn down eraser on a pencil stub -- each represents our need to start all over again.

The flood in Noah’s day reminds us that God, who had created this world and pronounced it good, was ready to toss it all because chaos reigned after Adam and Eve appropriated the job of deciding what was good and bad. But God started over again with Noah and his family.

The flood didn’t change our old natures, but God has given us a new start in the water of Holy Baptism. St. Paul wrote: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV   When we need to start over again because the chaos of sin reigns in our lives, we look to the cross of Christ. There God has made us His new creation!

Holy God, in Noah’s day You started over again with this creation of Yours. By the power of Jesus’ blood, in the waters of Holy Baptism, you wash away the guilt of my sin and make me new! Amen.

[Our Lenten series, Renewal in Christ, explores a time for renewal, for putting fragmented lives back together. Come be renewed, each Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. beginning February 22. remember how God has started over with you! ]



Wednesday, February 22, begins our series of Lenten services at 7:00 p.m. Our Lenten series will be centered around the theme: Renewal in Christ. Each theme will describe an aspect of Jesus’ work, proclaim its redeeming power in our lives, and explore a pattern for our living.

Ash Wednesday – February 22 – Joy in Suffering – Luke 24:25-26

March 1 – Acceptance in Temptation – Mark 1:13

March 8 – Power in Weakness – Matthew 23:11-12

March 15 – Comfort in Powerlessness – Psalm 71:1

March 22 – Love in Foolishness – 1 Corinthians 1:22-23

March 29– Glory in Service – Philippians 2:5-7

Maundy Thursday – April 6 – Presence in the Broken Body – 1 Corinthians 11:26

Good Friday – April 7 – Healing in the Broken Heart – Isaiah 53:5

God promises great blessings through His Word. Lent is traditionally a time to discipline ourselves in spiritual growth and renewal. Make it a practice to come together in worship and let His power touch your lives. If you have felt like your lives are harried and fragmented, dedicate one hour on Wednesday evenings to the Lord during Lent. Let Him renew and restore you! Jesus has promised: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

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Welcome from the Congregation

Jesus invites us to come to Him with our burdens and the weariness of life. He also invites us to come and celebrate His forgiveness and love. So too, His people at Bethlehem welcome you to join us in coming to Jesus and rejoicing in His love. We are glad you are visiting our website today. Our sincere prayer is that the service provided at Bethlehem would build you up in Jesus. We also pray that you would enjoy friendship in Christ among us. If you have any questions about our services or anything else here at Bethlehem, please contact us. If you have any questions about the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and for what we stand, please let us know.

For those who do not have a church home, we invite you to consider Bethlehem. We have adult information classes, starting as needed. We have an excellent Sunday School and Youth Program. We have men's and women's groups and activities for people of all ages. Come and join us in following the invitation of Jesus.

In Christ,
The Congregation of Bethlehem, Wm. Penn, TX

Updates and Events

Event Calendar

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