Friday, July 3, 2020 Newsletter



9:00 a.m. Contemporary 

11:00 a.m. Traditional
(also available on our website and via phone - see below)


Phyllis represented our congregation at the most recent gathering, and shares this report. If you would like to read more about their work, visit this page for a number of interesting articles. 

The 224th PCUSA General Assembly was to have convened in Baltimore, MD on
June 19 with opening ceremonies, but due to the Coronavirus we went zooming and live streaming. 

Over 400 Commissioners and 200 Advisory Delegates joined together with virtual technology. So instead of the representatives from the Lehigh Presbytery being in Baltimore we were in the conference room at the Presbytery Office, socially distancing and wearing masks when appropriate. Instead of a dinner cruise we dined on Panera.  
What was to be the work of the evening of approving a shortened agenda and the election of the Moderators turned into an evening of active debate of the agenda, pushing the session well past the allotted time. As a result, there was a special session scheduled for Saturday evening, June 20, to hold the election - which turned out to be a very special and emotional evening.  
We elected Elona Street-Stewart, a Native American Ruling Elder, and Gregory Bentley, an African American Teaching Elder to lead us for the next two years (pictured, above right). J. Herbert Nelson was also re-elected as the Stated Clerk.  

Our sessions were shortened from a week to two full days due to having to conduct business via the internet and dealing with the different time zones. What was midmorning for the east coast was early morning for the west, and vice versa for the evening sessions. We were to primarily address the financial business of the denomination, but we also included approving statements involving Black Lives Matter and the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In case you were wondering how we conducted our business, the genius of very talented people set up not only the Zoom to accommodate over 700 people, but a voting method via a site called PC Biz where we were to register so we could electronically vote. Prior to all this happening, there were mandatory training sessions so that everyone would know how to participate in the sessions. I was very impressed by those who organized this in such a short time.

This GA will go down in history as a one of a kind, just as we have been able to administer to our congregations through the ever-changing technology.

If you would like to participate in Communion, please prepare your elements beforehand: a simple bread or gluten-free substitute (cracker, pita, bagel,
bread, roll, etc.) and grape juice, wine or water.

Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read online
·     This week's sermon: Pulling Our Weight by Rev. Cynthia Simmons

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper

FOR THIS SUNDAY: Both Services “Live” on Facebook

SERVICES : We invite you to join either (or both!) of our services via Facebook to watch “live”:
  • 9:00 a.m. – Contemporary service
  • 11:00 a.m. – Traditional service

To watch “live”- as it happens:
  • Visit our Facebook page and look for the post with our live feed
  • If you don’t have a Facebook account, go to our website to view the service
  • Please check in with a comment so we know you’ve joined us!
  • NEW: Captions will now be available on our livestream, for those who would like to use that feature

To watch a video – available after the services have aired:

We will offer the TRADITIONAL SERVICE (at 11 a.m. on Sunday) with an ‘audio-only’ option so you can listen to it on your phone.

Call 929-205-6099 ; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 955 325 387 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
SUNDAY SCHOOL for this week

The kids who attend our Sunday School sessions each week have a great time, and they’d love to have you join them! You can join live on Sunday mornings via Zoom – or watch our “Driveway Sunday School videos” (stories and music) online at your convenience.
The videos are on the church website (

To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.:

Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116

Please consider sharing this information with the young ones in your life!

We are happy to welcome Rev. Cynthia Simmons as our preacher this Sunday, and our Worship Leader will be The Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons.
Cindy and Steve are both Presbyterian (U.S.A.) pastors who served congregations in Oregon and Illinois before coming to the Lehigh Valley in 1995.

Cindy served 15 years on the staff of First Presbyterian of Allentown and later pastored First Presbyterian of Easton before retiring in 2016.
Steve was on the pastoral staff of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia before joining Moravian Theological Seminary in 2001 to direct the continuing education program and teach theology, until his retirement in 2017.

Steve and Cindy both sing in our church choir and volunteer in our education programs; they are also active in the Bethlehem Interfaith Group (BIG), of which First Pres is a member.

Music Director David Macbeth has arranged for baritone Bryan McClary as our guest soloist for this week’s Traditional service.
Bryan, a New Jersey native, will be attending The Jacobs School of Music as a first year Voice Performance major. He recently received his BA from Westminster Choir College, studying under Metropolitan Opera soprano, Sharon Sweet. Bryan has also coached with dramatic soprano Nova Thomas,
Dr. J.J. Penna, Susan Ashbaker, and Akiko Hosaki. 
Bryan has appeared in a number of Westminster Opera Theatre productions, as well as performed in the Westminster Opera Workshop, Lindsey Christiansen Annual Art Song Festival, and The Westminster Symphonic Choir. He has also participated in master classes with Metropolitan Opera singer, baritone Sherrill Milnes, and mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. 
The church will be closed in observance of Independence Day; Preschool is closed, and the staff will not be working remotely.
The 21-Day Racial Justice Immersion Project

As we shared with you in Monday's Spotlight article, "More Than Good Intentions", we are beginning a new initiative to address racial justice.
This project officially began on Wednesday but you can jump in anytime. Basically it affords each of us the opportunity to commit to learning and listening more about the anti-racist history of our country, and how it has affected our Black neighbors.

Click on the image to the right to access.
Dr. Eddie Moore created a “21-Day Racial Equity Challenge” to help people develop “good habits” of working for racial justice, from which our project is adapted. If you are curious, you can learn more about  Dr. Moore’s work here.

You will find resources that will allow you to learn, notice, connect, engage and reflect. While you can start the immersion project at any time, if you do it in July, you have the added benefit of two Zoom gatherings for group reflection and support led by Pastor Austin as you do so: one on Sunday, July 12, at 10 a.m.; and a second on Tuesday, July 21, at 7 p.m.

Because this project is designed not simply to address the moment, but to help you and our congregation develop the “habit” of antiracism ministry both for now and for the future. We hope you will join in doing so!

The Congregational Life team has planned an outdoor “Parking Lot” Trivia Night for this coming Thursday, July 9 (rain date: Thursday, July 16). 
Here’s the set up:

  • Each party’s vehicle will be directed to park in a designated parking space in the back (east) parking lot. There will be vacant spaces adjacent to it – this is your space to use for lawn chairs, to hang out outside your car if you like.
  • You are asked to stay in your designated space, except when delivering your trivia answers to the tabulator.

  • Masks are required, as is physical distancing of at least six feet.

  • You are invited to gather, starting at 6 p.m. for BYOF (bring your own food). Bring along your dinner or snacks; there will be no grills and no tables, so plan accordingly!

  • The trivia will begin at 7 p.m. We will have an emcee who will read the questions over a loudspeaker. Each team (vehicle) will confer on the answer, then submit their answer to the official tabulator – the teams with the correct answer will be announced.

  • Points will be awarded – the winner gets bragging rights!

In case of rain, we will postpone the event to Thursday, July 16 and put the announcement on our website ( ) and on our Facebook page.
We would like to know when our members are entering the hospital. Please tell the hospital that your church ID is 724 and they will contact us. You can also contact Phil Fair at to keep us up to date.
Send us your news and photos to share:
**Deadline for next week's newsletter: Wednesday at noon**
* * *
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

THIS SUNDAY (print bulletins, above) - COMMUNION SUNDAY*

  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Service – join us on our Facebook page for the live service
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Sunday School via Zoom (see details, above)**
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Service - see instructions in blue box, above, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone

*If you would like to participate in Communion, please prepare your elements beforehand: a simple bread or gluten-free substitute (cracker, pita, bagel, bread, roll, etc.) and grape juice, wine or water.

**NOTE: There will also be an online, pre-recorded video Sunday School lesson available on our website beginning on Saturday.

MONDAY, JULY 6: The church will be closed in observance of Independence Day; Preschool is closed, and the staff will not be working remotely.

  • 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.: Midday Reflection (led by one of our pastors – a short time of reflection and prayer via Zoom: /Meeting ID: 335 481 050; via phone: call 929-205-6099 and enter the Meeting ID when prompted, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again)
  • noon - 1 p.m.: Optimism 101 support group via Zoom

ALL OTHER PUBLIC EVENTS AND GATHERINGS ARE CANCELLED AT THIS TIME unless offered online (see listings on our Facebook page under “Events”)

CHURCH OFFICE AND BUILDING INFO: The office staff is working remotely and checking email and voicemail daily. The answering service (610-778-7003) can take your urgent pastoral concerns, 24 hours a day.
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: Phil Fair, Prayer Ministrant ( ).

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 Associate: ext. 209;

David Macbeth , Music Director: ext. 202;

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities Manager: ext. 210;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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