BLC: Who we are
Bethlehem Lutheran Church (BLC) was born out of a people who wanted to have a church in a more central location in Chesterton. In 1880, BLC began their mission on the corner of what is now Second Street and Lincoln Street.
After over a century of mission in that place, the congregation made the decision to build a new building for themselves and relocated to 2050 W 1100 N near Dogwood park. With our new building we were able to become more accessible to people seeking a place of worship that our older building could not provide. This pushed us to create for ourselves a new mission statement: “changing lives through Christ with love and acts of service.”
We believe that as the body of Christ that we are all called to ones who proclaim the Gospel of God’s love for the world no matter age or background. We see our congregation as our central hub of mission where we gather weekly to hear God’s Word and prepare for mission out in the world.
BLC is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America located within the Indiana-Kentucky Synod.
Pastor Ruth Popkin is a life-long Lutheran, and while not a native of Northwest Indiana, she truly feels this her home. She grew up in Worcester, MA, where the majority of her family still resides. She first moved to the region in 2005, as she attended Valparaiso University as a history major and a member of Christ College. Pastor Ruth graduated from Valparaiso in 2009 with her Bachelor of Arts degree, and headed off to Seminary in Gettysburg, PA, where she attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (now United Lutheran Seminary). She served her pastoral internship in Fredericksburg, VA, during which time she met her husband Alex. Pastor Ruth earned her Master of Divinity degree in 2013, and later that year married Alex.
Pastor Ruth served her first parish in the Northwest Minnesota Synod, and she and Alex set up their home in West Fargo, ND. While in West Fargo, Pastor Ruth and Alex adopted their furry friend, Daisy the dog, and welcomed their son into their family. After serving in the area for 3.5 years, it was time for the family to return to the region where their hearts truly lived, Northwest Indiana. Pastor Ruth was called as the Pastor of St. Luke United Lutheran Church in Michigan City, in 2018. In 2020, St. Luke United Lutheran decided to investigate the possibility of doing shared ministry with another area congregation, and at that time, Pastor Ruth came to serve as the Interim Minister of Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
While Pastor Ruth truly enjoys her ministry, when she is not involved in church business she enjoys reading, scrapbooking, all things Disney, and toddler and doggie snuggles.
Katie was born & raised in Chesterton. She is now raising her own family here with her husband, Bob. Her three daughters are volleyball players and she enjoys helping coach the younger girls’ teams. In her free time, Katie enjoys exploring the National Parks, photography, cooking & reading.
The keeper of BLC's building, Karen keeps everything clean and pleasant so that anyone who comes into the building--member or guest--finds that the church is a warm and welcoming place to be. When she leaves for the day, she has peace of mind knowing that the building is more in order than when she got there. A graduate of CHS, has been married to John Andershock Sr. for 55 years. Her 2 children, John Jr. and Stephanie Thyen, have blessed them with 6 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Adding to her family are 3 dogs and 2 cats.
At BLC we believe that one’s faith is always in a state a growth. Scripture itself is a living document, and different encounters with the Holy Spirit impacts how Scripture speaks to us and reveals to us the living God. You do not need to be a member to participate in ANY of our Faith Formation activities just like worship.
While at times we do have mixed age activities, we have plenty of different activities for people of different ages! If you have any questions or would like more information please email Pastor John.
We offer a Sunday School program at 10:15AM on Sunday that goes through the Bible over a period of two years, which helps to reinforce learning as they grow and develop. We currently have classes available for preschool through sixth grade. Occasionally we will have family Sunday School where we invite families to join with us for fun activities and learning.
During Lent we offer for first grade and older children to learn about First Communion. Our curriculum was created by one of our own members, and the children learn along with their children about this Sacrament. It is a series of three classes that usually start the Sunday after Ash Wednesday with the first communion taking place at the Easter Vigil service. Stay tuned for further details on sign-ups!
We encourage leadership in worship from a very young age. Starting in third grade, we invite children to learn how to acolyte so that they can participate in worship leadership. Check here for when your child is acolyting.
Vacation Bible School
Every year we invite Lutheran Outdoor Ministries Indiana-Kentucky (LOMIK) to lead Vacation Bible School. We also encourage any to also go to camp and spend a week in the great outdoors. Check out their website for further details.
For Middle School
We have a two year confirmation program for our seventh through eighth graders as well as any sixth grader whose parents feel they are ready for the task. Students spend one year exploring the whole Bible and one year exploring Lutheran theology and mission. We usually have two “lock-ins” during the year, and participate with our high school group LOL for a New Year’s Party. We have also done trips to Wartburg Theological Seminary and confirmation camp. Confirmation students gather for a meal at 6:30PM on Wednesday and have a lesson from 7:00-8:00PM, and then finish their time together with worship and testimony.
Our Junior High Students graduate into leadership duties around acolyting as well as taking on different responsibilities such as running our sound booth or ushering. A requirement to be confirmed is to demonstrate they have mastered worship leadership skills in one of three areas: liturgical leadership, musical leadership, sound and hospitality leadership. They are given practice prior to being tested and can make a choice upon confirmation whether or not they wish to pursue their chosen area of leadership further.
Please check here for the most current schedules of youth leadership in worship.
For High School
The League of Outstanding Lutherans (LOL)
Our High School Youth named themselves the League of Outstanding Lutherans not just because of their cool acronym (LOL), but because they truly are in a League of their own. They gather together for fellowship, bible study, and mission both in the Duneland area and beyond. They have done mission trips, participated in Synod functions, and continue to be strong leaders in worship. Alyssa Cole currently serves as the leader of LOL.
Our High School students serve as teachers and worship leaders in our congregation. During Advent, LOL (with the help of the confirmation students) leads our Advent Evening prayer. Please check here for the most current schedules of youth leadership in worship.
We have very broad definitions on our adult formation because if we have any younger individuals who want to participate in our adult faith formation, they are more than welcome to come. Like any of our other activities at BLC, all are welcome to participate in any of our classes and formation events.
Bible Studies Alpha and Omega
Bible Study Alpha meets on Wednesdays at 10AM and Bible Study Omega meets on Mondays at 6PM. While we have primarily went through many books of the Bible, we have also taken the time to explore different books of the Lutheran Confessions as well as ELCA social statements. Bible Study Alpha is currently reading a study related to the ELCA social statement on genetics. Bible Study Omega is studying Luther’s Large Catechism.
Adult Sunday School
The adult Sunday School class meets during the same time as Sunday school at 10:15AM. They are currently going over a history on the Christian faith.
We are looking to explore different adult Christian formation events that are shorter term in order to allow for those with busy schedules to commit to shorter term classes.