Friday - March 8, 2019



Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR J.C. AUSTIN: "An overview of Lent"
This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent, one of the most important seasons of the Christian year. But unlike Advent, which has some similar themes of preparation, the observance of Lent has a particular history and some variety in practices between different Christian traditions. So I thought I’d take a moment to answer a few common questions about Lent, and hope to see you Sunday as our Lenten journey gets underway!
What is Lent?
In the early Christian church (starting about the 4th century), Lent was developed primarily as a period of preparation for people seeking to be baptized into the Christian faith. This is why Lent was characterized by themes and practices of repentance, fasting, self-examination, prayer, Bible study, and so on. 
People would then be baptized on Holy Saturday and take Communion for the first time as part of the Easter celebrations. By the end of the first millennium, when most people were born into the Christian faith, this practice began shifting to be an act of general repentance and spiritual reflection, and renewal for the entire church.

What do Presbyterians think about Lent?
Presbyterians are part of the Reformed tradition, the stream of theology and church life that originated in the Protestant Reformation in 16th century Geneva, led by
John Calvin. Calvin and his followers were suspicious of many of the new practices that had emerged in the medieval Catholic Church, and Lent was no exception.

In particular, they felt that many of the observances of Lent had less to do with deepening one’s own faith and more to do with a sort of spiritual competition to demonstrate one’s holiness (especially compared to others). They also disliked the idea of making such observances mandatory, because they felt that this encouraged formal obedience without spiritual commitment. So they argued that if one chose to observe Lent, one should do so in a way that was both voluntary and focused on deepening your own practice and understanding of the faith.

What should I give up for Lent?
Actually, Presbyterians have not historically encouraged “giving something up for Lent,” mainly because of the concerns described in the previous question. However, we haven’t specifically opposed it, either.

Rather, we have emphasized “taking something up for Lent”: engaging in deeper spiritual disciplines and practices such as additional Bible study, worship, and prayer; acts of service; additional giving; and so on. Practices such as these go directly to enriching one’s own faith, and continue to be the heart of Lenten practice for Presbyterians.

OK, how is the church going to help me “take something up for Lent,” then?
I’m glad you asked! In addition to the regular ministries of education that the church offers, there are two ways we are trying to support your Lenten disciplines. First, we are doing a special mid-week series throughout Lent that would be a great opportunity for you to use in taking on an additional spiritual discipline.

Each Wednesday during Lent, we are hosting a Community Lenten Supper in Fellowship Hall. A simple supper will be served, followed by a devotional led by one of our pastors that is based around an African-American Spiritual  (see the details, below). Second, you can pick up a special Lenten Daily Devotions book outside the Sanctuary or in the Rotunda. This is a wonderful way to guide you in a short daily personal devotion of prayer and Bible study during Lent.

Grace and Peace,
SPRING AHEAD: Set your clock ahead one hour
before bed on Saturday night!
We hope you will plan to join us for our Community Lenten Supper series, beginning Wednesday, March 13 (and running 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 have postcards available with details, that you can share with friends and family. They are also located around the church for you to pick up.
Sharing God’s love with our neighbors around the world by providing relief from natural disasters, food for the hungry, and support for the poor and oppressed is the ‘SHARING’ in One Great hour of Sharing. Beginning this Sunday, March 10 through Easter,
April 21, we will have the opportunity to donate to this Presbyterian Special Offering.   
Imagine the good that can come out of a whole denomination giving to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and Self-Development of People. It reaches places one church alone cannot. Special envelopes are in pew racks in the Sanctuary, and in the racks in the Rotunda, Fellowship Hall, and the Narthex. Please consider donating.
Help us beautify our church by purchasing Easter lilies that will be used to decorate on Easter Sunday – then you can take home to enjoy after you attend your Easter service.
Orders are due by Thursday, April 11; use the “Flower Offering” envelope (with the lily on it), available in the Sanctuary pews, Rotunda, and around the church. You can return it in the collection plate or to the Main Office. Instead of a set price, we ask you to make a donation of your choice. You can designate your gift “in honor” or “in memory” of a loved one, if you wish.
Bring your kites and your string - your children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews. We have the ground and the Lord supplies the sky. We’ll meet on Saturday, March 23 at 1 p.m. in front of the church, and provide fixings for a make-your-own-sundae bar after you have come down to Earth.
No kite? We will have extra kites and string. Our rain date is Sunday, March 24 at the same time. Sponsored by the Congregational Life and Care 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 11
Ooof! Mother Nature threw us a monkey wrench last week and we had to cancel our first program. So we are excited to get things going this coming Monday, March 11. 
 On Monday mornings through May 13, join other adults who come from all over the Lehigh Valley to learn something new and make new friends.

Our 10 a.m. presentation this Monday will feature United Airlines Captain Korry Franke speaking on “Taking Command: How to Soar to Success by Embracing Your Captain’s Mindset”. This will be followed by Ron and Elena Helmuth sharing about their time in Spain: “More Than a Hike – Ten Days on the Camino de Santiago / Way of St. James”.

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.
This popular annual event will be held on Saturday, April 6 from 4:30 - 7:00 p.m. Join us for an evening, hosted by East Hills Moravian Church, featuring a delicious Italian meal and celebration of Northeast Ministry. All proceeds directly benefit the 2019 NEM Summer Camp Program.

Ticket prices: adults - $12.00; children (ages 6-12) - $7:00; free for children 5 and under. For information or to purchase tickets, please visit the Northeast Ministry site or contact Grace Young at 610-691-3355 or via email .
You are invited to join other Christian, Jewish, and Muslim friends for a Family Movie Night on Sunday, March 31 at 5:30 p.m. at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 1700 Jacksonville Road. We’ll begin with pizza, watch the film Inside Out together, and have a short discussion time for children (age 7 and above), youth, and adults. Childcare will be provided for younger children.
We plan to make this the first of an ongoing series of gatherings for fellowship, study, and service in partnership with other Bethlehem area faith communities. Please let us know you’re planning to attend by sending us an email or calling us at
“Love, Making Good News”, led by Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim, is the focus of a session scheduled for Saturday, March 23 at Westminster Village. The day begins with registration at 9:30 a.m., followed by the program at 10 a.m. and a noon lunch.

Rev. Dr. Kim will explore what it means to embrace and love our friends, neighbors and those who are so different from us. To register: Nora Harford at 610-782-8542 or
via email by March 13.
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!

  • 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
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 SUNDAYS (April 7): Bereavement Group gathering, 12:15 p.m. (meet in Narthex after 10:30 a.m. service)
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (March 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;