Friday, November 15, 2019 Newsletter
9:00 a.m. Contemporary in the Kirk Center
10:30 a.m. Traditional in the Sanctuary

Children’s Sunday School during both services
Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!

This Sunday (Nov. 17) First Pres is hosting an event by the Bethlehem Interfaith Group from 2:30 – 5 p.m. The event is focused on the theme of stories of immigration, and will include several people from different faith traditions sharing their own immigration story, an opportunity to reflect on those stories through our faith in conversation groups, and a multifaith Thanksgiving worship service that will include an extraordinary choir of over 70 people from different faith communities in Bethlehem. 
I expect it to be an insightful and powerful afternoon, and I urge you to be a part of it not only for your own experience, but to help us offer authentic hospitality to our guests from different faith communities when they come.

From time to time, the question arises, “what is the point of Christians doing interfaith work?” Often, what’s behind that is a sense that interfaith work is somewhere between an optional extra and a distraction when it comes to the mission of the church. So I want to suggest a few reasons why I think it is an important part of any church’s mission. 
First, there is a practical dimension. We can share common values even while those values are grounded in different theological commitments. Christians, Sikhs, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, and others all believe that their faith demands that they care for the poor, welcome the stranger, and pursue justice and peace in the world, even though they have different theological reasons for why they believe that.

But because of those shared values, we can accomplish our own goals and fulfill our own callings more effectively by working together than we can separately. This also goes to our congregation’s core value of having “an Active Faith.”

Second, there is a learning dimension. It should not be surprising that we generally learn much more from people whose viewpoints and experiences differ from our own than just from people who think and live exactly like we do, even when the learning simply helps us clarify why we believe what we believe and do what we do. This corresponds to our congregation’s core value of having “an Inquiring Faith.”

But finally and most importantly, interfaith relations are an important way we fulfill what Jesus identified as the greatest commandment of them all: loving God with our whole heart and soul and strength and mind, and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:25-28).
For disciples of Jesus Christ, love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable; to do only one means that you are no longer following Jesus. So in building relationships with our neighbors, learning from them and teaching them, caring for them and standing with them, and working together to promote love, justice, mercy, and peace in the world, we are fulfilling our congregation’s core values of being both “Christ-Centered” and “Welcoming to All.”

But most importantly, we are fulfilling our Lord’s commandment to love God as we love our neighbors, and to love our neighbors as an essential dimension of how we love God. 

So, I am looking forward to being part of this special event on Sunday afternoon, and that you will be able to join me as we welcome, learn from, and share faith and fellowship with our neighbors.
Grace and Peace,

Ruth 1: 14-22
Hebrews 11:13-16
·      This week’s sermon: Where You Comin’ From? by Rev. Steve Simmons
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:

Thank you! We had a wonderful response to our Pledge Dedication Sunday last week. For those who have not pledged, we look forward to receiving yours as soon as possible.

If you did not receive a stewardship mailing, our apologies! Please contact the Main Office at 610-867-5865 or . We will appreciate you contacting us to let us know that you didn't receive it, even if you got a pledge card at church and completed it.

If you are choosing to use the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) option:

  • First – thank you! Receiving pledges on a regular basis throughout the year ensures a steady cash flow that helps with our expenses.
  • You will need to complete the front of the pledge card (including your signature) AND the entire back of the card – even if you have previously been utilizing this option, we need to reaffirm this information.

Thank you for all you are doing to ensure a successful stewardship campaign!
With our 12 partner congregations in the Bethlehem Interfaith Group (BIG), we are pleased to offer “A BIG Conversation: Stories of Immigration” this Sunday,
Nov. 17.
This event will also include an interfaith Thanksgiving service, featuring a combined choir from several houses of worship.

The event will be held here at First Presbyterian, and starts at 2:30 p.m. with a gathering time in Fellowship Hall. Beginning at 3 p.m., we will hear stories from several people who came to this country as immigrants – they will share what it was like to leave their homelands and settle in this country. There will be time for sharing among table groups. This activity will be followed by the interfaith worship service in our Sanctuary.

Children’s activities are planned for children in Kindergarten – 5th grade. Older children are welcome to join the regular program, and child care will be available for younger children. 

Wednesday, Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Eve Service , 7 p.m.

On Thanksgiving Eve, we gather together in worship to celebrate the many ways God has blessed us to be a blessing. This is a joyous service of music and praise, with heartfelt testimonials from members sharing stories of thankfulness.

Sunday, Dec. 1: Combined Service at 10 a.m., followed by Advent Lunch and Activities until 3 p.m.

Join us on the first day of Advent for a Combined Service in the Sanctuary at 10 a.m. This will also be Communion Sunday, so there will be no Sunday School.

Following the service, we will gather in Fellowship Hall for a soup and grilled cheese luncheon (provided), and activities for all ages. Sign up to bring Christmas cookies and/or to volunteer using this easy online sign-up , or contact us at 610-867-5865 or .

We have been alerted by other churches in the area about a phishing scam. Someone is posing as the pastor, texting requests for money to individual members. Be assured that you will not be contacted via text, by any staff or other church representative, requesting money for any purpose.
Please contact us if you receive such a communication: or 610-867-5865.

The Bach Choir will present "Magnificat and Messiah (Part 1)" on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 4 p.m., here at First Pres.

This year’s Christmas concerts celebrate the joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth with glorious pieces from Bach and Handel.  Bach’s Magnificat and Part One of Handel’s Messiah offer us musical journeys that focus on the meaning of Christmas, as Mary learns she is blessed to bear the child she will bring into the world in Magnificat, and the world anticipates the arrival of the Savior in Part One of the Messiah.
They have offered a discounted ticket option to our congregation. Tickets are going fast, so get your order in to take advantage of this offer! Print out this order form.
HEARTS N MINDS Adult Education

The Hearts N Minds class is studying the Joan Chittister book, For Everything a Season . Jan Bickford will start the Advent Meditation on Dec. 1 for four weeks in December. Then in January they will pick up Chittister again. Feel free to attend even if you didn’t go to the previous classes.

The Children’s Christmas Choir for those in Kindergarten – grade 5 has been rehearsing for the past two weeks and will continue to meet weekly through Dec. 22.  It is not too late to get involved.
On Nov. 17, 24 and Dec. 8, 15 and 22 , the children will rehearse from 9:45 to
10:15 a.m. in Room E-3.  

Children who attend Sunday School at 9:00 a.m. will be escorted to Room E-3 at 9:45 a.m. by their teachers. Children who attend worship and Sunday School at 10:30 a.m. should gather in the Children’s Library (near the Kirk Center) by 9:45 a.m. to be escorted upstairs with the 9:00 a.m. children. All children will be dismissed to the Hospitality Hour at 10:15 a.m.; an adult will escort them to Fellowship Hall. 

The children will sing at our Combined worship service on Sunday, Dec. 1, as part of the Christmas Joy Concert – 4:00 p.m. on Dec. 22, and again for the 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve service. 

Hi Neighbors is a sociable-sounding name for another learning opportunity at FPCB (and it’s a great time for fellowship, too!).

Interested adults gather to hear presentations from a wide variety
of speakers. No cost or registration - all are welcome!
For Monday, Nov. 18
9:15-9:45: Fellowship time
9:45: Immunizations for Adults by Stephanie Oakley, Bethlehem Health Bureau
11:00 –  88 Buddhist Temples by Ron Yoshida

Monday, Nov. 25 will be our last program of the fall semester. We’ll start with our Fellowship time at 9:15, then enjoy a performance by the Touring Choir from Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. We’ll conclude with lunch (please bring your own) – we’ll furnish beverages and an ice cream dessert.

NOTE: If you’d like to come early that day, you are welcome to attend the Preschool Thanksgiving chapel at 9:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary. It will conclude in time for you to walk to Fellowship Hall for the Hi Neighbors program.
Through Sunday, Nov. 24, we will be collecting these items - bins are located in the North Link and the Rotunda.
  • towels and washcloths (new or gently used).

  • baby clothing for 0-3 months (new or gently used – no stains, please), and baby supplies

  • paper products and grooming items

The Helping Hands ministry of Lehigh Presbytery spent the week of Oct. 19 - 26 in Fayetteville, NC rehabbing homes that had been affected by Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.
A team of 18 people from a number of churches were involved; the representatives from FPCB were Kevin Kehoe, Jamie Henry, Mike Jendezezyk and Leslie Pohl (pictued on the left, with another volunteer, Bill) . The volunteers were divided into three teams to work on three houses.  

The work involved everything from plumbing to wall boarding, spackling and painting to tearing up and replacing floors. 
In one house, the owner slept in a tent in his backyard as he had been out of his house for a year and would probably be out for another because it was stripped down to the frame, and no volunteers would be back until 2020.

Helping Hands mission trips take place in the spring and fall – watch for sign-up details to see how you might be involved!

The United Way shares that one in ten people in the Lehigh Valley are hungry – FPCB is involved in several initiatives to change that:
Scouting for Food (right)

FPCB’s Boy Scout Troop 302 worked the past two Saturdays to collect almost 5000 pounds of food through the  Scouting for Food  program in our community. That's 1500 more pounds than last year - many thanks to all who contributed to help our neighbors. (This picture is just the tip of the iceberg!)
CommUNITY Garden

Thanks to the volunteers from our congregation who helped in the garden this year: Master Gardener Judy Jermyn, Pam Phillippe, Leslie Pohl and Drew Stitt. Other volunteers from a variety of local churches and temples also helped out.

We harvested 434 pounds of produce that went to two local kitchens: New Bethany in Bethlehem and Safe Harbor in Easton.

FPCB has a dedicated team of members who prepare and serve lunch to our street neighbors at Christ UCC at East Market and Center Streets on the last Saturday of every month.

Christ UCC is hoping to recruit individuals and/or groups willing to provide and serve evening meals and to mingle for a time with the people who will be staying in the overnight shelter during the winter months. 

At this time, one of our members has volunteered to to be there overnight to be on call for men, and another member will help with meals twice a week. Other men and women willing to remain overnight may also be needed. Individuals, couples or groups – e.g., K- groups - interested in helping during one or more evenings a week, a month or more can get information by contacting the church's Mission Pastor, the Rev. Bob Rapp, at 484-357-0600.

Session recently approved a grant of $3,233 for Jaasiel Ossio (age 19, pircured - right ), a pre-medical student from Cartagena, Colombia. The grant covers tuition (winter 2020) at the University of Rafael Nunez. Jaasiel’s six-year program costs $35,000. First Presbyterian can make this grant because of a generous gift from the late Leonard Dimmick in memory of his first wife. The Louise Dimmick International Scholarship Fund assists internationals in their educational development.  
Jaasiel lives in a house with a dirt floor and his mother has cancer. Michael Godley, Melinda Stitt’s friend, was teaching in the school in Jaasiel’s village and was struck by his fierce determination to become educated. Jaasiel graduated high school with Michael’s financial support.  

Born with a club foot, Jaasiel faced discrimination, bullying and taunts daily; even with two surgeries, he is unable to play sports, a sign of masculinity in his culture.
Jaasiel has been religious his whole life, looking to God to help him overcome challenges. He wants to prove to his family that education is the key to a better life. 

Jaasiel has learned through his personal struggles and religion to be selfless. He wants to become a doctor to inspire others to pursue education. Committed to a life of service, helping those who cannot help themselves, Jaasiel believes that everyone should be treated equally, and that no matter what issues someone has – physical, mental, or emotional – they can aspire to a better life for themselves and everyone around them.

Lisa Titus, chair of the Fund Committee, can answer any questions about Jaasiel. Should you be interested in helping with Jaasiel’s modest incidental expenses for transportation and food, please contact Lisa at

East Hills Moravian Church will host a Moravian Dinner Night, a fund raiser to support Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering. It will be held at the church (1830 Butztown Rd., Bethlehem) on Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 5-7 p.m.

For more information and ticket information contact East Hills’ office at 610-868-6481 or print out this info flyer.
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 Melody Engel at 484-695-4905 or to keep us up to date.
Send us your news and photos to share:
Deadline for newsletter: Wednesday at noon
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Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • After each service: Hospitality Hour; join us in Fellowship Hall for light refreshments and fellowship
  • 9:00 a.m. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • 9:00 a.m. - Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 9:00 a.m. - Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
  •  9:45-10:15 a.m. - Children’s Christmas Choir rehearsal; gather in Children's Library
  • 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

  • 2:30-5:00 p.m.: BIG Event - Stories of Immigration, Fellowship Hall and Sanctuary

MONDAYS: Hi Neighbors informational presentations, 9:15 a.m., Fellowship Hall;
“It’s a Start” Fitness Class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step Room
TUESDAYS:   Depression Support Group , 12:30-2:30 p.m., Room 206
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 420
THURSDAY: Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: Dec. 1): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services,
North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: Dec. 8 ) : Bereavement Group gathering; meet after
10:30 a.m. service - watch newsletter for new location information
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: Nov. 19): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: Nov. 20):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: Nov. 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 ( note new phone): 610-737-4074  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;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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