November 16, 2018



Children's Sunday School for both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
A Pastoral Study on FPCB Church Usage

The Presbyterian Church has always placed a high priority on educated pastoral leadership. From the beginnings of our tradition in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation, pastors were required to study theology, philosophy, history, and (most of all) Scripture. In fact, to this day we are the only denomination that requires its pastors to be able to study and interpret the Scriptures in both original languages: Greek and Hebrew.

John Calvin, the founder of our tradition, stressed such strong requirements because he saw how easy it was to start substituting our own superstitions and opinions for the Word of God if pastors weren’t steeped in Scripture (just think about how many people believe that things like “the Lord helps those that help themselves” are in the Bible!).
Today, Presbyterian pastors are expected not only to have a deep knowledge of Scripture, theology, and history, but also about things like pastoral care, conflict resolution, nonprofit organizational management, community organizing, generally accepted accounting practices, and more. There’s no possible way to cram all of that into three years of seminary, much less to stay current on all of those topics, so the denomination mandates that pastors have at least two weeks of study leave each year, so that they are constantly learning throughout their years of ministry, not simply before they begin. 
With so many exciting and dynamic things going on in the life of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem in the past year, I asked the Personnel Committee to let me defer a week of my study leave to 2019, but I am taking this week of November 14-20 to focus on learning about innovative models of church building usage.

First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem is blessed to have an extraordinary resource for ministry and mission in its facilities. 
FPCB’s long-standing partnership with the Boy Scouts was on display at last weekend’s Scouting for Food initiative, operating out of the Rotunda.
In many ways, we are using them well, from the Preschool to the community garden to our worship and educational and fellowship programs. But with such a wealth of space as we have, there is much more we could be doing as stewards of these facilities to have an impact for Christ’s mission in the Lehigh Valley, and there are congregations all over the country that are using their buildings in powerful and creative new ways from which we can learn. So I am taking this time to learn more about some of those examples, which can then inform our own strategic thinking moving forward.

I am very grateful that we have such deeply talented and committed congregational leaders, both members and staff, who can do such a wonderful job of keeping our ministries running smoothly while I am away.

I am particularly thankful for Sue Bennetch (our Pastoral Care Associate) and Cristy Mette (our Administrative Operations Manager), who will be fielding any questions or concerns that would normally come first to me: Sue, for worship and pastoral issues, Cristy for administrative or programmatic ones. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to them while I’m gone if you need anything in those areas, and they will fill me in when I get back. I will miss you while I am gone, and I look forward to seeing you at the Thanksgiving Eve Service on November 21!

Grace and Peace,
  • Hospitality will be offered after each of our two services, in Fellowship Hall.
2019 Stewardship Off to a Great Start
This past Commitment Sunday, our members brought forward their pledges in an amazing display of gratitude. Progress towards the collection basket was slowed because so many members were standing shoulder to shoulder in the aisles.
You can still bring your commitment card and drop it in the offering plate or at the church office (Monday through Thursday). The Stewardship Committee would like to wrap up this year’s pledging by Thanksgiving Friday when they will start making reminder telephone calls. Thanks to every one of you who has already made a pledge; your strong support means our faith family will continue to do God’s work in 2019.
Last Sunday in our Traditional service, we received a wonderful new group of members: Huichong Hays, Mike Maiatico, Russ Miserendino, Peggy and John Oehler, with their son Mac, and Edith Streubert. Please help them feel at home in their new church family!
SESSION UPDATE - From Clerk of Session, Susan Farber
Click here to read the highlights from the past two months of Session meetings, as reported by Clerk of Session Susan Farber.
Yuletide Potluck on Sunday, November 25
Please join us for an Intergenerational Yuletide Potluck and Craft event after the Traditional service on Sunday, November 25. We will begin at noon in Fellowship Hall for a fun afternoon of crafts and fellowship.

The program will start with a potluck luncheon; we are looking for donations of salads and desserts: last name A-L bring a salad for ten and last name M-Z bring dessert for ten. After lunch we will offer several tables of crafts for children, teens and adults.
FPCB’s Lemon Tree Holiday Bazaar will be set up on Monday afternoon, December 3 in Fellowship Hall, to begin a one-week opportunity to buy unique, handcrafted items. This is your chance to purchase holiday decorations and gifts made by the dedicated group of crafters who meet weekly at FPCB.
If you are at church during the week, you are welcome to stop by and shop ‘on the honor system’. The Bazaar will be staffed on Sunday, December 9, during our two Hospitality Hours, and that afternoon before and after the 4 PM Bach Choir Concert here at First Pres. Items will also be available for purchase on Monday, December 10, for those attending the final Hi Neighbor event for the year. Be sure to check out this wonderful assortment of handcrafted Christmas and winter centerpieces, candles, wreaths, and unique gifts!
A local charity, Kindness is Magic Inc., is partnering with the Bethlehem Area School District to collect new and gently-used shoes to raise funds to offset BASD’s student lunch debt of $150,000. 

All donated shoes will be redistributed to help start microbusinesses in developing countries like Haiti; the charity receives approximately 40 cents for each pound of shoes collected. Look for large boxes in the North Link and Rotunda.
For the past two Saturdays, 22 scouts and 21 adults from our Boy Scout Troop 302 participated in the annual Scouting for Food project. They worked with Cub Scout Pack 368 in Hanover Township and also received contributions from our congregation. Altogether over 3320 pounds of food were collected for our church partner, New Bethany Ministries. Many thanks to all who supported this project!
Lifting Up Our Hearts: Spiritual Practices Across Faith Traditions
Wednesdays: November 28 and December 5 from
7:00 - 8:30 PM in the Parlor
We have had a wonderful response to this new series, with almost 50 people in attendance at this past Wednesday’s presentation about Jewish faith traditions by Rabbi Emeritus Alan Juda (for more on his presentation, see the news article).
The next program will be held on Wednesday, November 28 when the Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons and spiritual leader Jan Bickford welcome Dr. Halim Calis from Respect Graduate School to talk about Muslim traditions.
The  “Digging Deeper”  class is on hiatus until after Advent - leader Ron Helmuth and his wife Elena are on a trip, partly vacation and partly spiritual pilgrimage along the Santiago de Compostela, The Way of St. James, a prominent Catholic pilgrimage route since the 9th century.
" Hearts N Minds"  - which meets on Sundays at 9 AM - is wrapping up their examination of Philip Gulley’s provocative and engaging classic,  If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus . The class meets in room 400.

New and used copies of the book are available through  Amazon (if you go to the site through , you can select a charity to which Amazon will make a small donation) - but everyone is invited to the class, regardless of whether you’re reading the book.
Looking Ahead: Hearts N Minds starts a four week Advent study the first Sunday in December. The book, which is available on Amazon in new and used copies, is
Informative Programs to Educate and Entertain

Join your friends and neighbors on Monday mornings to learn new things and explore new ideas! Everyone is welcome – there is no cost and you don’t need to pre-register.

Fellowship time starts at 9:15 AM in Fellowship Hall, followed by two separate programs approximately 45 minutes each, one from 10-10:45, and a second from 11-11:45. Come for one or both! (NOTE: No session on Monday, November 26.)

November 19    
10 AM               “Genealogy” by Leslie Pohl
11 AM               “PennDOT ID Program” by Rep. Steve Samuelson
December 3       
10 -Noon        “Forty years in Africa” by Pat Dyer
December 10     
10 AM             Liberty High School A Capella Choir
11 AM             Luncheon to end semester
Anyone affected by depression – either suffering themselves or having a friend or loved one who is experiencing it – is welcome to attend FPCB’s new Depression Support Group. The next meeting is Wednesday, November 28 from 6-8 PM in room 206 (PW room) - no meeting on Wednesday, November 21. This group is open to all, so encourage others to attend. For more information contact Melody Engel .

Deadline for next week's newsletter: Tuesday at noon
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
A special program to commemorate the writing of "Silent Night"
The children of the church school, as well as our middle and senior high youth, will be presenting a special program in the Kirk Center on Sunday, December 23, at 10 AM. Rehearsals have begun and will take place weekly from 10 – 10:25 a.m. in the Children’s Library in the Kirk Center. Older children and youth are serving as the narrators, while younger children have simple walk-on parts (no lines to memorize). 

If your child was not at the first rehearsal but would like to participate, please email Rev. Cindy Simmons to let her know of his/her interest in being part of this special program. 
Preschool to Grade 5

For the 9:00 service, the class is in room A4 in the childcare suite on the first floor of the Kirk Center (near the Kirk Center lobby). Parents are asked to bring their children to A4 before the service.

During the 10:30 service, the children will attend the first part of worship with their families and leave with their teachers after the Children’s Chat. Please remember to sign up your children in the Narthex before going into the service.

The same curriculum will be used in both classes, and, as in the past, child care will be available during both services for younger children. If you have any questions, please contact  Elizabeth Conard .

  • Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each service
  • 9:00 AM Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • 9:00 AM Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
  • 9:00 AM Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 10:30 AM Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • 10:30 AM Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5 (Children attend first part of worship service), Room E3-4
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 AM to 12 PM, Room A3

MONDAYS:  It’s a Start fitness class, 10 AM, Middle School Step
MONDAYS:  Hi Neighbors, 9:15 AM, Fellowship Hall
TUESDAYS:  Easy Balance and Strength fitness class, 9:30 AM, Room 178
TUESDAYS:  Craft Group, 10 AM to 3 PM, Room 408
TUESDAYS:  Handbell Choir rehearsal, 5:30-6:30 PM, Middle School Step
WEDNESDAYS: “Lifting Up Our Hearts” Adult Education, 7 PM, Parlor
( no meeting on November 21; November 28 presentation: Dr. Halim Calis, Respect
Graduate School on Muslim faith traditions)
WEDNESDAYS: Depression Support Group, 6-8 PM, Room 206 (PW Room) - no meet-
ing on November 21
THURSDAYS: Choir Rehearsal, 7 PM, Sanctuary (no rehearsal on November 22)

FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (Nov. 20 and Dec. 4) : Successful Aging, 10:30 AM,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (Nov. 21):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1:00 PM,
Room 206 (PW Room)

Wednesday, November 21 at 7 PM: Thanksgiving Eve Service with communion
Wednesday, December 19 at 6:30 PM : Longest Night Service
Monday, December 24 ( Christmas Eve ):
   5 PM: Intergenerational Service (a service designed for all ages with both traditional
and contemporary music)
   7:30 PM: Traditional Candlelight Service 
   11 PM: Christmas Communion

 CHURCH OFFICE HOURS: Office hours are  Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to
4 PM (closed this Thursday for Thanksgiving holiday) .    As always, you may leave a voicemail message with the church any time at 610-867-5865.

CARE CONCERNS AND HOSPITAL VISITS: If members of the FPCB congregation are hospitalized and would welcome pastoral and hospital ministrant visitors and/or prayers, please contact:
    Melody Engel, Hospital Ministrants, phone: 484-695-4905 or email 
    Phil Fair, Prayer Ministrants,  phone: 610-867-8361 or email   

BAPTISMS, WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS : If members of the FPCB congregation would like to schedule weddings, baptisms or funerals, please contact The Rev. Sue Bennetch at 610-867-5865, ext. 209.
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017 ∙ 610-867-5865

The Rev. J.C. Austin , Pastor/Head of Staff: ext. 213,

The Rev. Sue Bennetch , Pastoral Care Associate: ext. 209;

David Macbeth , Music Director: ext. 202;

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities: ext. 210;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238;

Andrea Barbehenn , Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;