Bethesda Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is a community of God’s baptized people gathered, called and empowered by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ throughout greater New Haven. Centered in the grace of the Word and Sacrament received in our worship life, we commit ourselves to be a hospitable community, which nurtures learning and growth in faith and service. Through our life together we are encouraged and strengthened to offer our finest gifts as a daily witness to God’s reconciling love in Christ.
Reconciling in Christ
Bethesda welcomes gay and lesbian Christians and encourages their full participation in the sacramental and general life of our congregation.
What Makes Bethesda A Lutheran Church?
For five hundred years, being Lutheran has — at its best — meant being identified not with some special or superior religious sect but with the church: with the whole people gathered in every time and place to bear witness to the good news that God’s promises — to Israel, to the human family, and to all creation — have come to their final fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
To be sure, Lutherans’ relationships with other communions in the church have often been ambiguous and conflicted. Lutherans — sometimes with more reason, sometimes with less — have defined themselves over against other Christian traditions, emphasizing boundaries, stoking antagonisms, and settling into complacent or resentful withdrawal.
But if there is a Lutheran distinctive, it lies in Lutherans’ constant return to the Confessions — eight documents collected in the sixteenth century to bring together disputing parties claiming allegiance to the Lutheran Reformation — and finding there an insistence, based on the Bible, that Christian truth, Christian unity, and Christian hope are gifts from God, and therefore can be neither set aside nor overcome by ethnic, sectarian, ideological, or any other merely human differences. To live out of that truth, within that unity, and toward that hope, anchored by what God has done through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, is the vision of Christian faithfulness held out by Lutherans for the sake of the whole church in its service to the whole world.
At Bethesda Church, our life together — our singing and praying, our reading and listening, our rejoicing and weeping, our reaching out and speaking up — makes sense only in the light of God’s grace: God’s work on our behalf and beyond our abilities. We are called as Lutherans to share in the story of God’s grace, a story that ranges far beyond our own time and place. To glimpse the shape and direction of that story is why we read the Bible. To remember the calling and promise that identify us is why we turn to the Confessions.