About the Bethlehem Foundation

The Bethlehem Lutheran Church Foundation’s mission is to gather, invest, and disburse financial resources to further the mission and values of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. For more than 60 years, we’ve been enabling members, friends and family of Bethlehem to leave legacy gifts to benefit the church’s programming, mission and outreach to others. From supporting seminarians to responding to hardships caused by COVID-19 in the Twin Cities to creating a community garden that celebrates God’s creation, your gifts truly make a difference in so many lives!

Recent Grants:

YAGM Update from Senegal

Late last year, the Bethlehem Foundation provided a grant to Carl Norquist to support his ministry with the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission. He’s currently in Yeumbeul, Senegal, and shared a newsletter with his supporters in December. Here is a short excerpt:

I work in communications for Services Luthériens pour le Développement au Sénégal, a nonprofit which operates in Yeumbeul and Linguere. SLDS runs schools, a health clinic, a farm, and offers vocational and social outreach workshops in the community. My role with SLDS involves managing social media and taking pictures of their events.

On December 7, I was asked to attend a training workshop on violence against women and girls. The women brainstormed ways to talk about violence against women and girls and explored tools to identify and advocate for potential victims. They did this in small groups and roleplayed scenarios.

To be present is what YAGM calls us to do. I felt that when I accompanied the women to lunch and laughed with them afterward. My voice is not the one that matters, but I can help to lift the voices that do.

A New Piano for the Choir Room

In late January, Bethlehem was approached by Gill Brother’s Funeral Chapels.  They were looking for a home for the grand piano in their New Hope Chapel.  Owner, Dan McGraw, offered the piano to Bethlehem as a gift.  All that was required of us was to pay to move it.

Director of Music, Mark Paisar was quick to go to New Hope and confirm that the piano was in excellent condition.  The Foundation Board was also able to act quickly, providing an immediate grant to cover the cost of moving the instrument and addressing any other transition costs.  It all fell into place.  Within two days, the piano found a new home in the choir room of our Minneapolis campus.

We are so grateful to Dan McGraw and Gill Brothers for the incredibly generous gift.  We are also blessed as a Foundation to have the resources to so quickly facilitate this amazing opportunity.

Dinner Church Is Back and Bigger!

Last winter, the Minneapolis campus of Bethlehem piloted something called “Dinner Church.” It brought people together during the season of light for fellowship during dark days. Cooking duties rotated for each meal and the dinner was capped at about 25 people, held in Langemo Lounge. Guided by Pastor Heather Roth Johnson’s leadership, registration was filled every time!

Supported by a new grant from the Bethlehem Lutheran Church Foundation, Dinner Church is coming back for Epiphany in 2024.
One of the goals of the church for 2024 is to foster connections with each other, particularly intergenerationally. Dinner Church seems to do this so well – bringing together singles, couples, and whole families of all ages for fellowship.

TRUST Inc. Launches ‘Lunch & Learn’ Series

A $7,500 grant from the Bethlehem Foundation will help TRUST Inc. lauch a new monthly “Lunch and Learn” workshop series to help build community for our aging adults and people with disabilities.

The new program will be held at Bethlehem’s Minneapolis location and will promote learning and educational enhancement while embracing the art of community through education and conversation around a variety of timely topics. These could include technology training, health and wellness issues, and food resourcing, among. A meal will also be served.

Bethlehem was a founding member congregation of TRUST dating back to 1970 and there is a long tradition of Bethlehem members serving on the board, including Cindy Tinter and current Foundation Treasurer Steve Tjeltveit. Click the button below to learn more about TRUST, Inc.


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Emerson Village Breaks Ground

Bethlehem members were among the more than 100 people on hand on September 21 for the groundbreaking celebration of Beacon Interfaith Housing’s Emerson Village, along with City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, Mayor Jacob Frey, and a diverse set of congregations. Pastor Meta Herrick Carlson was among the clergy participating in the event.

The new development will provide homes for 40 families on Minneapolis’ Northside. It’s the culmination of three years of funding efforts from the federal government, Minnesota Housing, the Met Council, Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis, and countless other organizations, including the Bethlehem Foundation.

As of the groundbreaking event, Beacon was still looking to raise an additional $150,000 to complete the project.

Learn More

Applying for Grants

Bethlehem’s grants further the mission and values of Bethlehem Lutheran Church Twin Cities. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we work to connect people with Jesus Christ and His church family, grow them towards Christ-like maturity, equip them to serve in the church, and reach others with God’s love.  Our grants are given for staff development, church capital needs, church projects, financial support of seminary students, and outreach projects to Lutheran and or Twin Cities non-profits.

All applications are due by January 1, April 1, July 1, or October 1 to be included for consideration at the regularly scheduled quarterly meetings.

Learn More

Click HERE to see our most recent newsletter!

Introducing New Foundation Chair Gwenn Branstad

With the new year, Gwenn Branstad took over as chair of the Bethlehem Foundation. Many thanks to Sandra Anderson for her service in this role.

Gwenn has been a part of the Bethlehem community for a long time, dating to joining the church choir in 1981. She also met her future husband Steve in that choir, and Bethlehem has played a major role in their lives, and the lives of their three sons ever since. We caught up with Gwenn to get her thoughts on stewardship and the Foundation.

How has stewardship and generosity affected your own life? 

Gwenn: Without financial help, I could not have afforded St. Olaf College. Part of the financial help that I received was from a scholarship fund establish by a woman in Indiana. I will never forget what a stranger’s generosity did for me, and I understand that my responsibility is to carry that generosity forward.  I have been blessed in many ways, and I have a long way to go to fully express my gratitude.

What role does the Bethlehem Foundation play in stewardship at Bethlehem?

Gwenn:  First the Foundation adds a long-term legacy perspective to our goals for generosity. In addition, the Foundation uses matching grant challenges to encourage support of immediate needs in our community and across the world.  Also, as members of Bethlehem become involved with projects and organizations that they are passionate about, the ability to apply for Foundation grants for these organizations can further encourage their stewardship.

What priorities do you have as the chair?

Gwenn: We have made good progress over the past several years to increase the visibility of the Foundation both with members of this congregation and with organizations in our community.  Our priorities are to continue to broaden awareness of our capabilities and the impact the Foundation can have, and to simplify the processes for giving and for requesting grants.

Finally, we will continue to work closely with our church council and pastoral staff to align with the mission and priories of this congregation going forward.  Bethlehem will have plenty of opportunities in the coming years and the Bethlehem Foundation can be a generous partner as we step up to these opportunities.

You have been a financial advisor at Thrivent. What have you learned from that experience that informs your thinking about planned giving?

Gwenn: It’s important to have an estate plan and even more important to review that plan on a periodic basis. There are so many tools available to help increase the impact our generosity can have for the people we love, and the places that have brought meaning to our lives. Professionals – attorneys, CFPs and financial advisors – stay current with these tools. It’s their job. You don’t have to be the expert!

Ways to Give

Planned Giving

Learn about how estate planning tools can financially support not only your loved ones but also the Bethlehem Foundation.

Contact [email protected] for more information.

Stock Gifts

There are two ways to make a donation of stock or securities: through an electronic transfer authorization or physical delivery. To ensure that we can acknowledge your gift for income tax purposes, please notify Lisa Quist in advance of the transmittal. Click here for a Stock Transfer Form.

Foundation Board Members


Gwenn Branstad, Chair 
Sandra Anderson, Past Chair
Steve Tjeltveit, Treasurer
Dave Raymond, Secretary

Sara Ausman
Dan Engstrand
Roy LaFayette
Karne Newburn
Aaron Pearson
Kelsey Tritabaugh


Lisa Johnson, Congregational President
Andy Kroll, Congregational President-Elect
Jo Koenig, Congregational Treasurer
Emilee Lindley, Congregational Secretary
Chris Enstad, Lead Pastor



Brent Anderson
Robert Peterson
Terry Sandven