Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Bethesda” has served us well over the years, as we have supported people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and delivered upon our Christian mission. But, in our research, we found the name also presented limitations as we’ve worked to expand our reach and impact nationwide. More than 7 million Americans with a disability need our help! AbleLight will build upon our treasured history and positions us well for a transformational future.

While many people – particularly Lutherans – knew the name Bethesda from Bethesda Sundays and other events, many others did not. There are also other “Bethesda” organizations out there, including churches, a city in Maryland, and a computer gaming company. In our research, we found that in the communities we serve there are more than 575 organizations that carry the name Bethesda. That’s an incredible number, and it caused confusion.

AbleLight reflects who we are today and who we want to be tomorrow. It positions us to provide more services for more people – meeting the needs of the “whole person.” We are proud of our history. We have been dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities thrive since 1904 and we will continue to do so as AbleLight.

AbleLight reflects what we believe. The world shines brighter when people with developmental disabilities achieve their full potential. “Able” refers to the tremendous capabilities of the people we serve, their unique skills, talents and abilities, and the many gifts they have to give to the world. “Light” is symbolic of our desire to be the beacon of light for people with developmental disabilities and also represents the “light” that Jesus brings to people in need.

Our AbleLight symbol is different than the Bethesda logo, yet there is important continuity with our past. The figure of a person surrounded by light represents the services we provide that embrace the “whole person,” meeting all their needs. We put the people we support at the center of all we do and surround them with the light of love, support and desire to help them achieve their full potential.

Our name will legally change January 7, 2022. However, between now and then we’ll begin introducing the name. You’ll see it on our website, intranet, social media channels, Shine platform and more.

We are announcing our name will be AbleLight, but that is not our official, legal name until January. We’re still Bethesda for now, and that’s how we continue to do business. While you’ll see “AbleLight” along with “Bethesda” in more and more places, and that’s really exciting, it will be even more so when we’re officially AbleLight. You’ll begin to see new signage and far less “Bethesda.” It’s a lot of change and it will take some time.

Defining our Purpose, Promise, Principles and Values

In addition to selecting a name that reflects who we are and lights the way toward our bright future, we have also defined our purpose, promise, principles and values. Yet we’re still the same people doing the same amazing work for the people we support. Our purpose, promise, principles and values give us the framework to tell the world what we believe, what we do and how we support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We believe the world shines brighter when people with developmental disabilities achieve their full potential. As a team, it is our role and privilege to help the people we support reach their dreams. We all have gifts to share, and we want to make sure they can share theirs.

We pioneer life-changing services that empower the people we serve to thrive. Whether we work one-on-one to help with daily living skills or implement sweeping initiatives that impact the entire disability field, our promise is to pioneer life-changing services that empower the people we serve to thrive.

Our principles define how we uniquely deliver on our promise. We have Open Arms, meaning we include all people and cherish the opportunity to improve the lives of all. We believe in Innovation for Good, relentlessly innovating in ways that benefit others. Lastly, we provide Support for the Whole Person, throughout their lifetime.

Our values represent the foundational beliefs that drive our culture and inspire all of us to do our best for the people we serve. They are:

Mission First: We exist to serve the developmental disabilities community.

Excellence Always: We strive for excellence in all we do.

Team Together: We are one team, all together, for our mission.

Historically we have focused on housing, which is critically important. However, people with disabilities have many more needs, and we can meet those needs through our five impact areas:

  • Safe and loving homes
  • Financial security
  • Independence and wellbeing
  • Innovation and technology
  • Community and faith

We provide services of varying kinds in 13 states – California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin.

Mission remains unchanged

Absolutely. We continue to be guided by our Christian mission. We welcome, serve and love every person. We are proud to be a Registered Service Organization of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod. We cherish the opportunity to improve lives and humbly accept our responsibility to lead by example – just as Christ would.

Since 1904 we have been dedicated to helping people with developmental disabilities thrive. That mission remains unchanged. It’s captured in our purpose: We believe the world shines brighter when people with developmental disabilities achieve their full potential.

In many ways, what is not changing is just as important as what is. We are here to serve the disability community through our Christian mission, and we will continue to do so. We are all the same people serving the same needs and while we might look and feel a bit different, our mission continues.

No, we continue to be our own organization, independently charting a brighter future for people with disabilities.

Know that you are part of an organization with a rich history and an exciting future. We have served people with intellectual and developmental disabilities for well over 100 years and we’re not stopping now. As AbleLight, we are expanding our reach and impact, bringing needed services to more of the 7 million Americans with an intellectual or developmental disability.

Questions about donations

Our mission is bigger than ever, and as a nonprofit, we rely on the financial contributions of individuals like to you to expand services to people that need them. Donors may give cash, stock, real estate, and tangible personal property either outright or to fund a planned gift. In addition, you can remember AbleLight in your will or trust for a percentage of your estate. If you are interested in learning more, our Corporate & Donor Engagement Officers would welcome the opportunity to share creative gift options with you.

We will be AbleLight in January 2022; until then, please continue to make them out to Bethesda. Thank you for your generosity!

Yes, no problem – we can still accept checks made out to Bethesda after we become AbleLight.

This should not be changing – the account that stock is currently transferred into is under Bethesda Lutheran Foundation, Inc.

No, the EIN will remain the same.

While you do not NEED to update your will or estate plans, it is helpful for whomever is handling the estate that this change has been made in your will. This can easily be changed with an amendment.

The CGA disbursements will remain the same. The only change you will see would be on your 1099-R (showing the new name).

Bethesda/AbleLight Development staff would be happy to connect on any concerns or questions.

Yes – these include:

  • Safe and Secure Homes – Smart Technology
  • Financial Services – WayPoint
  • Person Centered Planning – Behavioral Services for the whole person starting as a child

Staying Connected

From now through the transition – and beyond – we will continue to provide updates via email, on bLINK and on town hall meetings. You can also go to

AbleLight – Who We Are

About the Name

A rich history and bright future

A Message from Our Chairman

Contact Us

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