Friday, May 14, 2021 Newsletter

9:00 a.m. Contemporary 
11:00 a.m. Traditional*

 (* also available on our website and via phone)

One of the Core Values that we have identified for our congregation is having an “Inquiring Faith.” We believe that asking good questions is one of the ways in which we honor God in our journey of faith.

That’s because the simple act of inquiry, of asking questions about something important, is an acknowledgement that neither our faith nor our understanding of it can ever be a finished act. That is why we talk about faith as a journey rather than a destination, after all; it is something that we practice and pursue throughout our lives. 
And, in fact, one of the most important ways in which we grow in faith is to ask better and better questions, which leads us into greater and greater understanding of who God is, what God wants for us and from us, and how we can follow Christ more fully and faithfully in our individual lives and together as a congregation.

That’s why we periodically offer “Inquirers’ Seminars” rather than “New Members’ Classes” as part of our ministries of engagement and faith formation here at First Presbyterian. 
While these seminars are a necessary step towards formal membership in the congregation, member-ship itself is not the goal or expected outcome of the seminar. Rather, we offer these seminars to give people an intentional space and time in which to ask and consider good questions about the Christian faith, the Presbyterian Church, and this congregation.

Inquirers gather for an interactive experience that explores the intersection of our own stories with the story of Jesus, the church, and our story as the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem. Some people are inquiring specifically about membership here; some just want to learn more about the Presbyterian tradition; and some are just trying to get a better understanding of who Jesus is and how Christians think about him and relate to him.

Each person brings their own questions as well as their own story, and the Inquirers Seminar is a place to bring those and let them take root and bear fruit; the word “seminar,” after all, comes from a Latin word for a plant nursery where seeds are planted and nurtured as they grow.

The next Inquirers’ Seminar will be in two parts: Sunday, June 6, from 1-4 p.m; and Tuesday, June 15, from 6:30 – 8 p.m. Weather permitting, the Sunday session will be outdoors at the picnic pavilions at Monocacy Park; the Wednesday session will convene via Zoom.

So, if you are interested in participating or in learning more, please email us at or call the Church Office at 610-867-5865 with your contact information, and we will be in touch with you. Hope to see you there!

Grace and Peace,

Scripture lesson:
Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: Going Far to
Come Near by The Rev. J.C. Austin

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

DISCIPLESHIP CLASS: Pray Without Ceasing

TOMORROW: Saturday, May 15 from 1-2 p.m.: outdoors in the FPCB Memorial Garden
Rain Date: Sunday, May 23 
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

You are invited to join us for the last of the three  sessions of the Pray Without Ceasing series by stopping by the FPBC Memorial Garden tomorrow.
Drop in anytime between 1-2 p.m. for a self-guided, move at your own pace, sensory experience of God. You will find various "stops" along the way drawing your attention to the present moment in heart, mind, and body, ultimately opening our awareness to the Divine. 

This experience will be silent, taking a respite from our chatter, allowing ourselves time to notice, wonder, and enjoy.  

(Miss the first sessions? You can view them here:
Let’s gather on Sunday afternoon!

By The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation & Justice

This summer, the church will host monthly fellowship events for children and youth of all ages (and their families). Join us for fun activities and opportunities to build relationships with church friends! Save these dates for our get-togethers:

This Sunday, May 16: Ice Cream & Popsicle Social - Join us on the church lawn for sweet treats and games at 2:00 p.m.! Bring a blanket or chairs to hang out. Masks are required except when enjoying our frozen treats.
Sunday, June 13: IronPigs Baseball Game - We’ll meet at Coca-Cola Park after worship services and enjoy the game together. Tickets are $11, and each one includes $2 of ballpark credit to use for food or drink. The game starts at 1:35 p.m. To attend, please email me ( with your family’s headcount.
Per stadium guidelines, masks are required unless actively eating and drinking, and our group will be seated in socially distanced pods in field level seating.

Sunday, July 18:  Movie Night on the Church Lawn

Sunday, August 15: Pool Party hosted by the Benway Family

I’m looking forward to meeting y’all and spending time together! Our children and youth ministries’ volunteers are excited to join us, too! 

We're pleased to pass along this learning opportunity. You will view the movie, on your own, before the online gathering. You can watch this film on Hulu, DIRECTV, Amazon Video, Apple iTunes, and YouTube (rent).

To register:

This semester’s series of Hi Neighbors speaker presentations concluded with The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton’s “Lindsey’s Library: Books and Poems That Change Us”. She took inspiration from her experience teaching high school English and how that informs her ministry and spiritual life. 

The session included participants’ sharing of books and poems that have touched them.

You can access all of the Hi Neighbors videos here: 
For this Sunday, May 16, the class continues with its new book, Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus by Jim Wallis. All are welcome to join the discussion!

Our reading assignment is Chapter 4: “The TRUTH Question.”

To join via
Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450
To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
ZOOM SUNDAY SCHOOL: Practice takes Commitment

This month’s theme, “5K: Run the Race” means that to grow and mature in our relationship with God we need to practice - practice takes commitment.  
This week's story is inspired by Luke 11:1-4: Model Prayer.

You can talk to God anytime, anywhere, using your own words. Practice praying to God; the more you pray, the easier it becomes. 
We are pleased to offer two Sunday School options for families to use these lessons! Gather with other families on Sunday mornings between 10:15-10:45 a.m. for a Zoom session; you can also do “anytime” Sunday School with a prerecorded series of videos on our website. 

To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.: 
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116
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 any prayer requests to or call 610-867-5865 and leave a message.
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!

  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service, livestreamed
  • 9:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education class – see more information above
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Zoom Sunday School – see more information above
  • 11:00 a.m.: Combined Worship Service, livestreamed - see instructions in blue box, below, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone 
FOR THIS SUNDAY: : Worship with us “Live” on Facebook
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!
  • 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: Visit our website
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE INTERNET ACCESS: You can participate on your phone to listen to the 11 a.m. Traditional service

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 848 4170 9518, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – press the # key again.
  • 7 p.m.: Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom (Meeting # 380 435 9056 / Password: overcomer)

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. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice;

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;

Marianne Zarillo, Business Manager: email:

Cindy Matthews, Bookkeeper: email:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; phone 610-428-9649;

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