Bethany Lutheran Church in The Dalles will be trying a new time for Sunday services over the next three months. Bethany has been associated with Concordia Lutheran Church in Hood River since shortly after Bethany was founded in 1985. In the early 1990s, Bethany and Concordia made an arrangement to share the same pastor. This arrangement has worked well, but has not allowed either congregation any extra time with their pastor on Sundays. So in April of this year, the two churches decided to try something new. The six-month experiment is now halfway through.
In the months of May through July, Concordia in Hood River met in the early afternoon. Some members found the adjustment challenging, but one remarked that the important thing is to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the preaching of God's word and in holy communion. That sentiment was shared by most of the core members, who continued attending services each afternoon through July. While some adjustment was necessary, the added benefit was that the pastor was able to teach a weekly Bible class immediately after each service. Attendees were thankful for the opportunity, since Sunday Bible classes have been impossible at Concordia for many years.
Beginning in August, it's Bethany's turn to try the afternoon time slot. To begin with, Bible class will begin at 1:15 PM, and the Divine Service at 2:30. Other meetings, classes, or meals will be held after the Divine Service. When Sunday School begins again in September, it will meet alongside the Bible class.
Since May, Bethany has also enjoyed having the pastor available for Sunday Bible class. Attendance has been high, often using all of the available meeting space. Several members at Bethany have expressed appreciation for the opportunity to study with their pastor, Jesse Jacobsen, who received eight years of training for the ministry at a pre-seminary college in Wisconsin, and Bethany Seminary in Mankato, Minnesota. He considers a Sunday Bible class to be an excellent and rewarding opportunity for a more personal and in-depth study of God's word.
The congregation in The Dalles looks forward to gathering around God's word and sacraments in the afternoon for the next three months. Some members welcome the opportunity to sleep in Sunday mornings, or to participate in community activities that otherwise conflict with church attendance. The two churches will decide in October how to arrange their schedule after that.
Bethany is located at 12th St. and Thompson in The Dalles, while Concordia is at 11th and Pine in Hood River. They belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. More information is available at the church web site, www.bethanythedalles.org.