BETHLEHEM WOMEN OF THE ELCA
The Bethlehem Women of the ELCA (BWELCA) is a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts, support one another in our callings, engage in ministry, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world. Our mission is:
- Growth (Education) - to provide a variety of learning experiences which strengthen each woman as a whole person, develop her potential, and equip her for ministry.
- Community - to enable each woman to value herself and others as created in God’s image and redeemed through Christ; and to build up and celebrate relationships which are global, diverse and interdependent.
- Action (Stewardship) - to enable women to articulate and act upon their faith as disciples of Christ in all areas of life.
BWELCA is made up of five circles that meet once a month except for July and August. A Coordinating Committee, made up of representatives from each circle, oversees activities involving all the circles. The contact person is Ginger Erlandson, (507) 278-3007.
The six circles and their meeting times are:
- Deborah Circle 3rd Saturday - 9:00 am
- Mary Circle 3rd Wednesday - 9:30 am
- Eve Circle 3rd Thursday - 6:00 pm (location varies)
- Rachel Circle 3rd Wednesday - 9:30 am
- Sarah Circle 4th Wednesday - 9:00 am
BWELCA sponsors a Nordic Bazaar occurring generally on the first Wednesday in November. This event involves the entire Bethlehem congregation and includes a luncheon as well as the sale of lefse and other baked goods, books, antiques, white elephants, jewelry, crafts, quilts, and much more. All proceeds are donated to mission outreach projects supported by BWELCA. Funds raised are supplemented by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Last year $10,000 was given to 20 missions (CADA, Crossroads-LCM, ECHO Food Shelf, Holy Ground-Centenary Methodist, House of Hope, LSS Crisis Nursery, Mexico Daycare, PACT Ministries, Partners For Affordable housing, VINE, Bethlehem's Nursery, Prayer Shawl Ministry, Library, etc).
Nordic Bazaar History
The first Nordic Bazaar was held on October 23, 1919 shortly after three small Norwegian Lutheran Churches merged to form Bethlehem Lutheran Church. One hundred sixty dollars and eighty eight cents ($160.88) was made from the sale of the supper (35 cents a plate) and fancy work. The menu for this and many of the following bazaar meals consisted of chicken, mashed potatoes, cabbage salad, apple pie, and egg coffee. In years to come, most of the units (now called circles) had a booth and soldhandiwork, Christmas items, centerpieces, canned goods, Scandinavian and other baked goods. The only year there was not a bazaar (or lutefisk supper) was 1942 due to WW II and the rationing of sugar. Beginning in 1919, most of the profit from this event was donated to Mission Outreach and funds supported by the Women of the Synod (now ELCA)
Since the early 1950's the Bazaar has usually been held the first Wednesday in November. In 1991, the Bazaar and luncheon were held on a Saturday so that more working people could attend but it was not a big success. Instead it was decided to hold a mini-bazaar the following Sunday between services and also the night of the Bazaar for people coming to the Wednesday night supper.
What makes the Bazaar so special is seeing workers in their Scandinavian costumes, tables where people are making lefsa, flatbroad, and other goodies. Shopping for handiwork such as hardanger, Christmas items, used jewelry/books/white elephant items, canned garden specialties, lefse, rosettes, krumkaka, sandbakkels, candy, and other baked goods. This has always been followed by a delicious lunch, presently being chicken kiev.