Friday - February 15, 2019



Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!

The Future of the Christian Church
This past week, I was in Atlanta for two days to meet with the board of Macedonian Ministry - a clergy development organization that was founded by Tom Tewell, one-time associate pastor here at First Presbyterian of Bethlehem, whom some of you remember.

Before I ever came to Bethlehem, Tom recruited me to serve as a Mentor/Facilitator for a Macedonian clergy group in New York City. The new Executive Director (Tom retired last year) asked me and several other facilitators from across the country to come to Atlanta and meet with their board and some key donors to discuss “the future of the Christian Church in North America” to help them with their strategic visioning work for the organization.
As I said at the Annual Meeting last Sunday, this past year here at FPCB has been an extraordinary one as we have entered a new and exciting era of ministry together. It is sometimes tempting, because of the difficult history of the past few years here during the schism, to think that FPCB is unique in both the challenges and opportunities that face us. But while some of the particularities are unusual, our overall situation is not.
Over and over, the conversation in Atlanta affirmed that across the country, churches of every size, theological orientation, denomination, and geographic location are asking the same basic questions: how do we meet people where they are in the 21st century? How do we share the good news of Jesus Christ in a culture that is suspicious of institutions in general and churches in particular? What do we need to do differently than previous generations, and what do we need to keep?

And over and over, the conversation affirmed that across the country, the healthiest churches are striving to answer those questions in similar ways: adopting an attitude of intentional experimentation in what the church does; cultivating community in a way that is intentionally welcoming to people of many different backgrounds and perspectives, in both small groups and large gatherings; emphasizing the importance of active and loving service in the larger community; shifting the use of their buildings from what often amounts to a congregational “clubhouse” to a dynamic resource for both church ministries and community partnerships.

I want you to know that people were eager to hear our story, to celebrate our journey over the last year, and to learn from us as a model of a congregation that is already both asking and beginning to answer these crucial questions facing the ecumenical Christian church these days. I found it very inspiring to receive that feedback, and I hope you will, too. And I hope that it will energize you as much as I am for this new year of ministry together!
Grace and Peace,
SUNDAY WAS A GREAT DAY! This past Sunday we gathered for a combined worship service, where we welcomed scouts and leaders from Troop 302 for “Scout Sunday”; they served as our ushers. FPCB members then met for the Annual Meeting, where we took a look back as well as to the future and handled the business of the corporation. Annual reports were distributed; if you would like a copy please contact us at or 610-867-5865.

We next gathered for our Souper Bowl of Caring lunch – a simple meal of soup, chili and bread. Underwriting by Thrivent Financial ensured that all donations could go to our mission partner, Northeast Ministry. Our donations the past two Sundays resulted in a total of almost $1500.
This year’s proportional giving (formerly known as Per Capita) is $36 for each person counted as a member of the PCUSA. Proportional giving supports the PCUSA General Assembly ($8.95), our Synod of the Trinity ($2.30) and Lehigh Presbytery ($24.75). The Presbytery receives the most as they provide direct services to individual churches.
Our church is fortunate to have Lehigh Presbytery as a strong and supportive partner (Lehigh Presbytery assisted us financially and emotionally throughout our two-year struggle to regain the property). This fund also supports national ministries such as Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, leadership training, and global mission.

T his year’s apportionment totals $18,576. Please consider giving – at whatever level you can - to this special offering; maybe you want to ‘pay it forward’ and underwrite the assessment for someone you know may not be able to self-pay. Make checks payable to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem but remember to write “Proportional Giving” on your check memo line. Envelopes are in the Sanctuary pew racks and in the Narthex.
Our new boxed envelopes for the 2019 offering are available to pick up in Fellowship Hall. The letters documenting your 2018 contributions to the church will be mailed this coming week.
We will offer an Ash Wednesday service on March 6 at 7 p.m.

As we did last year, we will be offering a Community Lenten Supper series, beginning Wednesday, March 13. We’ll gather at 6 p.m. for a simple meal.
This will be followed by a brief reflection, led by one of the pastors in our church, focusing weekly on an African American Spiritual that tells the story of Christ, human and divine, his death and resurrection and what it means for God's people.

Watch for more details, including a volunteer sign-up to bring food or assist at a supper.
This past Tuesday’s discussion has been rescheduled to Tuesday, February 26 in the Parlor. Judy Smullen and Linda Robertson invite you to a discussion of Why Religion? A Personal Story by nationally recognized theologian Elaine Pagels. The group met on February 5; you are welcome to attend even if you have not read this story of the death of Pagels’ young son and then her husband. The second session unpacks the layers and textures provided by the Bible and the Gnostic Gospels and the entire story begins to fall in place. 
We recently began a study of Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. Everyone is welcome to join us at 9 a.m. in Room 400 to discuss this powerful memoir.  
One of our Deacons’ goals is to reach out to FPCB members who reside locally, but who are unable to regularly attend worship.

If you know a member of our Congregation who would appreciate receiving Home Communion and/or a home visit by one of our Deacon representatives, please contact Rev. Sue Bennetch at 610-867-5865, ext. 209. Thank you for helping us by providing contact information for those who could benefit from a visit.
Helping Hands is looking for volunteers to go on a one-to-three day flood relief trip to Tremont, PA over the weekend of March 7-9. Work is being done on four houses and the Methodist Church in Tremont, which are among the 40 houses and buildings that were flooded.

Volunteers have a choice of staying overnight (at the UCC Manse in Tower City) at a cost of $10/night to cover the cost of food, or go for the day. Tremont is a 1.5 hours’ drive from First Presbyterian Church, Allentown, and carpooling is available. If you are interested, please contact Kevin Kehoe at 610-597-0978.  
On Thursdays through April 11: Drop by Room 400 between 8 a.m. – noon to make an appointment for free assistance with your tax return. This is available for everyone; there are no age or income restrictions.

Bring your 2017 tax returns and 2018 documentation; you may or may not be seen the day that you come.
The Depression Support Group is for anyone whose life is affected by depression – whether yourself or someone you care about. Sessions are Tuesdays from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in Room 206
(PW Room). For more information contact
The First Pres Preschool & Extended Care program is now registering for fall 2019.
If you know someone who might be interested in their hands-on, learning by playing program, please share this information with them!

Those planning to attend are asked to contact Andie Barbehenn by email or at 610-867-2956. Click here for all the details about FPC's Preschool program.
Send us your news and photos to share:
Deadline for newsletter: Wednesday at noon
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And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

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

MONDAYS: It’s a Start fitness class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step
TUESDAYS: Depression Support Group, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Room 206 (PW Room);
Handbell Choir, 5:30 p.m., Middle School Step
TUESDAY (February 26): Afternoon Book Group, 1-2:30 p.m., Parlor
WEDNESDAYS: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAYS: Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m., Sanctuary; Al-Anon Family Group, 7 p.m.,
Room 212

FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (February 19): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (February 20): Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (February 21): Prayers & Squares, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Room 408
(bring your lunch and join us to create quilts and prayer shawls)
CHURCH OFFICE HOURS: We are open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. As always, you can leave a voicemail message with the church any time at 610-867-5865 or contact us at . I f you have an urgent pastoral need, please call our answering service at 610-778-7003. (We will be open on Monday, February 18 – Presidents 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:
    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;

Andréa Wells, Business Manager; ext. 211:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238;

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