Friday - March 1, 2019



NOTE: There will be no Children's Sunday School this Sunday

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

As a child, I used to play a lot of wiffle ball in the backyard with neighborhood friends. If you don’t know it, wiffle ball is essentially baseball with special plastic balls and bats that allows you to play baseball in a small area because the ball doesn’t go very far and it doesn’t hurt you if you’re hit with it. It also allows you to play with fewer people because the space you have to cover as a fielder is smaller, and because you can simply hit a runner with the ball itself to get them out, rather than throwing to a fielder to tag them.
The problem is, sometimes it’s hard to tell if the ball actually grazed the runner or not to get them out, and that can lead to a lot of arguments. So when it was a particularly close call and an argument of “Did not!/Did so!” broke out about whether the fielder actually hit the runner with the ball, someone would finally shout, “Do-over!” meaning that you stop the conflict and basically rewind the game by one play, and the same batter would get another chance, allowing the game to move forward.
This coming Wednesday, March 6, is the Christian holy day of Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the season of Lent. On Ash Wednesday, Christians receive the mark of the cross on their foreheads in ash; we will do that in a Service of Imposition of Ashes at 7 p.m. on March 6.

Now, all of that seems and sounds about as churchy as you can get. But if you boil it down, it’s basically the church’s version of declaring a “do-over” in our lives. Ashes are an ancient symbol of repentance, of turning away from our mistakes and wrongdoing or just the “wrong direction” for our lives, and turning towards what is good and faithful and life-giving. And following the journey of Lent, then, is a way of claiming another chance for our lives to move forward again in a better direction. I’ll say more about that next week.

And finally, ashes are a recognition that this life of ours is a precious and finite gift; it matters what we do with it, and there’s no time like the present to change direction, in whatever small or big ways God is calling us to go.   

Grace and Peace,
  • Communion Sunday; no Sunday School at 9 a.m. or 10:30 a.m.

  • Free blood pressure screenings available between services in the North Link (outside Fellowship Hall, towards Narthex)

  • Music director David Macbeth is offering a special presentation on “Congregational Song” after the 10:30 a.m. service, in Room 400. Please join us if you are interested in learning more about history and application of congregational song. Where does our hymn singing tradition come from? What are those funny names printed next to the hymn titles in the Sunday bulletin? Why don’t we sing my favorite hymns once a month? How do we approach the use congregational song in our current forms of worship?

These questions and more will be discussed in an open, relaxed format
including audio/video examples and just a bit of singing! We’re interested to
know who’s planning to attend: please complete this short form .

  • Our Bereavement Group will gather after the 10:30 a.m. service to travel to Rudy’s Diner, for a meal and to share support.
We will offer an Ash Wednesday service this Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend this special service (see Pastor JC’s message, above).
As we did last year, we will be offering a Community Lenten Supper series, beginning Wednesday, March 13 through Wednesday, April 10. 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.
Please let us know if you are planning to attend any of these suppers; use this simple online form. You can also sign up to bring a salad or dessert to share, or if you are willing to help with set-up or clean-up; use this simple sign-up for that info.

We will be offering a general Lenten devotional for an individual or family if they wish, which will be distributed around the church (Narthex, Fellowship Hall, rotunda). This is a different topic than the Lenten supper material.

Help us spread the word about these Lenten events – we will have postcards available with details, that you can share with friends and family. They will also be located around the church for you to pick up.
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.
Will you consider providing flowers for our Sanctuary worship services? We are seeking donations for flowers in May. A donation of $75 will pay for the arrangement under the cross in the Sanctuary, and $90 covers two pedestal arrangements.

Contact us at or 610-867-5865. Thank you!
“WOW” was the response of Barbara Reimer of Outreach Depot as Leslie Pohl, chair of the Mission Committee, pulled bag after bag of blankets from her car. Thanks to your generosity, we donated 34 blankets of every color and size (right: Leslie with just a few of the many donations).

“You did good First Pres,” was her final remark. We gave both warmth and comfort to people who needed it. Thank you from the Mission Committee!
The Helping Hands Care Team of Lehigh Presbytery is planning a mission work trip to Fayetteville, NC on April 6-13 to assist with the recovery efforts after heavy rains and flooding from Hurricane Matthew caused extensive damage. It takes years for areas to recover from these storms and every helping hand makes a difference in the lives of people who lost so much.

They are seeking volunteers to help with the reconstruction. There are  no specific skills or experience required , other than to be flexible and provide whatever help is needed. Of course, plumbing, electrical, roofing, and dry wall installation skills are always welcome.

The cost is $175 per person and volunteers must register by March 18; more information is on their website or call 610-391-9020. 
HI NEIGHBORS: New session starts this Monday, March 4
On Monday mornings - starting this Monday, March 4 through May 13 - join other adults who come from all over the Lehigh Valley to learn something new and make new friends.
Our first presentation on Monday will feature Rev. Sue Bennetch speaking on
“5 Wishes”, followed by former FBI agent Russ D’Entrone sharing about his time with
the Bureau.

Doors open at 9:15 a.m. for fellowship time with coffee and light refreshments. At
10 a.m. we offer the first program, with the second at 11 a.m. Hi Neighbors is held in Fellowship Hall.

Everyone is welcome, so please share this information with family and friends! Details are on the First Pres website and our Facebook page, under “Events”. There is no cost or pre-registration required.
All ruling elders, pastors and others from our church are invited to join the first Lehigh Presbytery Assembly, where we will begin to explore ways to rethink how to be the church of Jesus Christ in today’s culture.

It will be held from 9 a.m.-noon at Community Presbyterian Church of Mt. Bethel and Portland. Click here for details.
On the first Sunday of every month - beginning this Sunday, March 3 - we will take blood pressure readings between the two Sunday services.

A record will be kept that you can take to your physician visit. Look for us in the North Link - we will station ourselves outside Fellowship Hall. This service is provided by the Deacons.
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 volunteers who are providing the AARP tax prep advise that all their available spots at First Pres are now booked.

Temple El Refugio at 111 Dewberry St., Bethlehem, is still taking people on Wednesdays; they offer assistance in both Spanish and English.
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
* * *
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room A3
  • 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. - Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • Blood pressure screenings in North Link between the services
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • After 10:30 a.m. service - Congregational Song presentation, Room 400
  • After 10:30 a.m. service - Bereavement Group meets in Narthex to travel to Rudy's Diner for lunch

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
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 (March 5 & 19): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (March 20): Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (March 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.

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 Manager: ext. 210;

Andréa Wells, Business Manager; ext. 211:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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