Most of the blogs you see on this website will be from pastors and staff. But I’ve been engaged, with my husband and Pastor Tom, in designing and building this website for many months and wanted to kick it off with a story…my story…since I think it will help illustrate a bit of the history of Bethesda and why it is an amazing place to be. I hope others who are members of Bethesda will share their stories since I think it helps us get to know each other and helps those exploring Bethesda, as well.

I grew up at Bethesda. My parents were “regulars” and actually, my great-grandparents were some of the founding members of the church, having owned a farm adjacent to the church grounds. You can’t walk through Bethesda on a Sunday without bumping in to someone from my extended family, and so naturally, Bethesda is like a second home.

I was involved in all the youth ministry programs from elementary through High School. I was baptized and confirmed here. I was even married (twice) here. The youth programs have only gotten better with time and all three of my kids have been involved in some way and still are. My son even goes to the preschool here. I can’t think of a better place for any of them to be.

But my story is not perfect. I’ve struggled with many things and have been humbled by divorce, death, illness, financial strain — I am just like you reading this in that way — we all have our own story. And about 10 years ago, I felt like many do when they encounter these humbling experiences and go to church: criticized, judged…in short, not welcome. So for many years, I turned away from Bethesda. I tried to find another “home” but could never find just the right place.

During this time, the church started going through its own set of trials and humbling experiences. The search for a new pastor and a division of thoughts almost collapsed Bethesda’s 100 year history. It was during this time of turmoil that I decided to come back and interestingly, I found I liked it better. Those that remained were open and welcoming and as the church began to recover, moving baby step by baby step in a positive direction, I felt endeared to the church like never before…the kind of place you not only feel like you belong but feels like it belongs to you. And so I reached out to help.

This website is the way I, along with my husband Emmanuel, could help. Combined with Pastor Tom’s vision and unbelievable creativity…I feel it very well represents what Bethesda is today. Vibrant, growing, modern, open, comfortable…and a bit quirky. It is a true labor of love for a church I adore. I’m grateful (in much the spirit of our church) to be blessed with the ability to give back in this way.

Deanna Rivera (Mousseau)