The vision for Beit Simcha was birthed when an elder from a covenant community visiting with Glenn and Pamela spoke a prophetic word over them. “God will start a community through you.” Glenn wondered how God would ever do that?
Around 1992 Glenn and Pamela adopted their son, whose birth mother was also a Jewish believer—until she met Glenn, she thought she was the only one! Doubly committed to raise him as a Jew who follows Yeshua, they started a monthly Messianic Jewish Fellowship in their new home, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
To their great surprise, after just one meeting, Rabbi Jeff Foreman invited them to attend an International Alliance of Messianic Congregations & Synagogues (IAMCS) Messianic Rabbi’s conference. Since it was near Glenn’s parent’s home, Glenn and Pamela figured, why not?
At the meeting, one Rabbi said to Glenn, “I hear you’re starting a new work in the Lehigh Valley.” Glenn was puzzled.
Another Rabbi approached him, “So, you’re starting a new congregation?”
Glenn responded, “No, not me! I’m a college professor. If God starts a Messianic congregation in the Lehigh Valley, I might go.”
A third Rabbi informed Glenn, “You know, the one God calls to start a new work usually winds up leading it.”
Glenn said, “Oy gevolt! What have I gotten myself into?”
Yet at a Passover seder with 22 attending, Glenn looked toward Pamela at the other end of the table, and this thought went through his mind: “We could do this.” Glenn was sure that wasn’t his own thought!
A month later during a teaching sabbatical, Glenn was praying about his responsibilities at Lehigh College. It seemed the Lord didn’t want to talk about that, instead God changed the subject, saying, “Suppose I call you into full-time ministry?”
Dismayed, Glenn tried explaining why that wasn’t a good idea! As he finished protesting and supporting his protests with solid logic, he realized, God had not changed His mind. The call to fulltime Messianic ministry remained on the table.
A few months later, Glenn’s spiritual mama visited and urged him to, “Accept the call!” When he protested, she insisted.
Finally, he agreed, “OK, OK, I accept the call.”
So, Glenn and Pamela started attending as many Messianic conferences as they could and visiting other Messianic congregations to figure out how they worked. At several conferences, Rabbi Robert Solomon boomed from the platform, “God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called!” Glenn wondered why he kept repeating that, until it dawned on him that God was talking directly to him! So, he pressed into study and prayer. From the Holy Spirit Glenn knew that the Messianic “work” God was calling him into would one day become an intentional covenant community.
The home fellowship continued to meet once a month on Erev Shabbat (Friday evening) and once a month for Havdalah (Saturday evening). At the time Rabbi Glenn was content to wait on the Lord for next steps. When asked by several different Messianic Rabbis and at least one attendee when they would meet weekly, Rabbi Glenn always responded with “When the Holy Spirit tells me.”
A few weeks after these questions, Rabbi Glenn was praying on his back porch when the Holy Spirit asked, “When are you going to meet every week?” to which Glenn replied, “How about after the High Holidays?” Very distinctly the Holy Spirit responded, “What are you doing next week?” So…weekly Shabbat services began.
When Pamela suggested the name of their congregation, Beit Simcha, House of Joy, Glenn realized that one of the purposes of Beit Simcha would be to take a stand against the spirit of depression that seemed to reside throughout the Lehigh Valley. The joy of the Lord would fill the valley and leave no space for the spirit of depression. Thus, Beit Simcha, House of Joy was born.
In 1994, just as the home fellowship was outgrowing the Blank’s living room, First Baptist of Bethlehem invited Beit Simcha to meet there for more space. Then, in 1997, while prayer walking in the west side of Allentown, God showed Glenn and Pamela that He was calling them to move to Boulevard Church across the street from the Jewish Community Center.
As the congregation continued to grow Rabbi Glenn realized the importance of having apostolic covering for their congregation. So, in 1999 Beit Simcha joined the Tikkun America Apostolic Network. Tikkun valued Messianic Jewish restoration, covenant community, mutual accountability, five-fold equipping and much more that resonated with the vision that the Holy Spirit was revealing for Beit Simcha. Shortly after joining Tikkun, the congregation tripled in size!
The congregation continued to grow and soon outgrew the basement in Boulevard Church. So, in 2004 they moved to Wellspring Community Church, where they stayed until 2014, when Wellspring closed its doors.
During this time God put a vision in the community that we should prepare for and then build our own building. Rabbi Glenn wasn’t so sure about this, but many prophetic words and events confirmed that God wanted the project to start and move forward. So, we began the process of planning and saving for a new building. This plan would eventually lead us to our next location.
Two of our members, Richard and Sandy Gangewere, graciously donated their land to the congregation on Grange Road, in Trexlertown. Across the street, was a building called “The Grange”. This building was available to rent and in 2014 the decision was made, with much prayer and consideration to rent this building for our services.
While we thought we would remain in the Grange until our new building was finished, delays caused us to stay longer. When the 2020 COVID pandemic hit, we moved to virtual streaming from Rabbi’s home. The streaming was a miracle because it allowed us to stay connected with each other and the congregation actually grew slightly during the first year of the pandemic.
In the second year of COVID we were ready to meet in person again, but the Grange location no longer met our needs. We moved into Kingdom Life Family Center in Orefield. That facility blessed us with enough space for the suggested COVID distancing rules as well as the technology that allowed us to continue streaming our service.
We are still meeting at Kingdom Life Family Center until our own building is completed. We hope to move into our new building in late 2023 or early 2024.