Friday, April 2, 2021 Newsletter



(*also available on our website and via phone)
Noon: Hospitality Time via Zoom

Friends, as you are reading this, we are already into Holy Week, with our Maundy Thursday service having taken place last night. Tonight marks the next step in our Holy Week journey with the Good Friday Tenebrae service, and so I want to talk about that service and our services on Easter, because they will each require some advanced preparation.
First, the word “Tenebrae” means, literally, “darkness” in Latin, and that is why the service is at 8 p.m., so it takes place after sunset. The service begins in lower light than normal, and proceeds through a series of Scripture readings telling the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, torture, crucifixion, death, and burial. Each reading concludes with the extinguishing of candles, thus increasing the darkness. The service ends in total darkness, symbolizing Christ’s death and burial on Good Friday. 
So I encourage you to prepare by participating in the service in a room in relatively low light, and perhaps even arranging for candles that you could extinguish in your home along with the service (you would need seven candles for the readings).

On Easter, we are offering two services that are very different from one another: what they have in common is that they will both include Communion, so you will need bread and wine/juice, or whatever you can get that is closest to those two elements.

The 9 a.m. service is, as usual, a contemporary-style service, but on Easter it will also be an in-person, outdoor service, so we urge you to sign up in advance on this short online form ( or leave a message at 610-867-5865, so we know you will be attending. If you attend in person, you will be provided with a bulletin but you will need to bring your own communion elements and chair.

Regardless of your vaccination status, you will be required throughout the service to wear a mask and maintain a minimum of six feet of physical distance from anyone outside your own household. The only exception to this is during Communion; at that point, you may remove your mask, consume the bread and wine/juice that you have brought with you, and then immediately replace your mask.

We are excited to be able to offer an in-person worship experience on Easter, but I want to point out that this is because of the extreme dedication and hard work of our music and audio-visual staff, some of whom will be arriving at the church to set up the worship space even earlier than the women in the Easter story arrived at Jesus’ tomb! So please express your thanks and support to them on Sunday.

I hope you also saw the news that we will be sharing the 9 a.m. service via an FM transmission, so you can come park in the church building parking lot and tune into 88.9FM to listen to the service at 9 a.m.

The 11 a.m. Easter service will be traditional in style, as usual, but will be digital-only and accessible from Facebook Live or the church website. Unfortunately, traditional music translates poorly to an outdoor setting, and so we can actually offer a better worship experience for Easter online than we can outdoors. Again, you will need communion elements available for this service.

After the Traditional Service we will gather via Zoom ( for a Hospitality Time. I hope you will join us as we gather in fellowship. (If you are listening to the service on Zoom, just stay on the line for Hospitality Time.)

Please also check out the worship and fellowship opportunities on Holy Saturday, as well, with a children’s Easter Egg Hunt at 10 a.m. (in person, on our church grounds) and the Compline contemplative prayer service at 7 p.m., via Facebook Live and on our website. But neither of those requires advanced preparation (except perhaps for finding an Easter basket for the egg hunt!).

I look forward to being with you throughout this holiest of weeks for Christians, and I hope you will be a part of as much of our observances as you can.

Grace and Peace,

Scripture lesson:
                                                               Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: Going Ahead 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


Thank you for your generosity:

  • Al and Deb Philpotts: In Memory of Joan Balmer Tack (Deb’s mother) and Arline Frizzell Philpotts (Al’s mother)
  • Amanda Czaplicki: In Memory of Delight Czaplicki
  • Kim Hitchings: In Memory of Jeffrey James Hitchings
  • Judith Smullen: In Memory of her parents
  • Wendy and Dan Magocs: In Memory of their parents: Joseph D. and Ruth W. Dennison, and Doris and Vincent Fresoli

These are the donations we received through Wednesday, March 31. If you made a donation and we did not note it, please contact us at or leave a message at 610-867-5865.

  •  9 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service will be offered outside on the east side of the church building (and also via Facebook Live and on our website)
  • 9 a.m.: NO Hearts N Minds today
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Zoom Sunday School
  • 11 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service - virtual only, via Facebook Live and on our website
  • Hospitality Time following the 11 a.m. service, via Zoom (

We are pleased to offer our Contemporary Worship Service OUTSIDE on the east side of our church building at 9 a.m.

This is a Communion service so please bring your own elements if you'd like to participate. You will be provided with a bulletin.

Please complete this short online form ( with the number of people from your household who will be attending the 9 a.m. outdoor service. You can also call the church office at 610-867-5865 and leave a message.

Protocols will be in place:
  • Everyone must wear a mask.
  • Bring your own chairs.
  • Follow the instructions of the volunteers for parking and where to sit.
  • You will be asked to sign in for contact tracing purposes.

As we announced on Tuesday, all outdoor, in-person services will be available to listen to via short distance FM transmission! Listen to the service from the comfort and safety of your own vehicle.

The new system we have installed will allow the signal to be picked up anywhere within roughly a one-half half mile radius from the church. So for those who wish to attend our outdoor worship experiences (like this Sunday and in coming months) can easily park in a church parking lot and tune in.

Our current FM location is 88.9, however that may be adjusted in coming weeks depending to proximity to other more powerful signals.


This service will be livestreamed on Facebook Live and our website homepage only. Our guest musician is Donald Hughes on trumpet.

Good Friday, April 2: Tenebrae Service
8 p.m. via Facebook Live (also on the website, and via Zoom audio only, below)

  • This is a service of increasing darkness; you may want to be in a room where you can lower the lights.
  • To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 812 8593 1605 - and push ## (twice).

Holy Saturday, April 3: Compline Service
7 p.m. via Facebook Live (also on the website, and via Zoom audio only, below)

There is no bulletin for this service
  • This is a service of contemplation and special music.
  • To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 812 8593 1605 - and push ## (twice).

Sunday, April 4: Easter Sunday – Communion Sunday

  • 9 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service via Facebook Live and on our website
  • 9 a.m.: NO Hearts N Minds today
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Zoom Sunday School
  • 11 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service via Facebook Live and on our website
  • Hospitality Time following the 11 a.m. service, via Zoom
Sunday, April 11
  • 9 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service via Facebook Live and on our website
  • 9 a.m.: Hearts N Minds today
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: NO Zoom Sunday School today
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Easter Hymn Sing via Zoom (details to come)
  • 11 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service via Facebook Live and on our website

Saturday, April 3
10 a.m. – outdoors on the church grounds
The youngest ones in our congregation (up to age 10) – along with our FPCB Preschool friends – are invited to gather outdoors for an Easter Egg Hunt. The children will be divided into two age groups.

We ask that everyone (age two and older) wear a mask, and practice safe distancing. If the weather is bad we will not reschedule; please check our website, Facebook page or church message before venturing out.

Let us know if you will be attending by filling out this short online form: (or leave a message at 610-867-5865).
Many thanks to the Congregational Life Committee for organizing this fun event!

In Tuesday's Spotlight we inadvertently credited the baking of communion rolls and delivery of 'goodie bags' to the Congregational Life committee, when in fact it was the Deacons who fulfilled this particular initiative. We are fortunate to have so many helping hands among our congregation!
Hearts N Minds will not meet this Sunday (Easter). The class will return on Sunday, April 11 to conclude its discussion of The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending the Bible Has Made us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns.

The reading for this Sunday is chapter seven: “The Bible, Just As It Is.”

It’s time to secure a copy of the next book that will be discussed: Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus by Jim Wallis.
We are pleased to offer two Sunday School options for families! 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. 
This week's story is inspired by the entire Bible! God Made Peace with Us! When we make peace with each other it's like we are building a bridge across to the other side.

To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.: 
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116

The next Hi Neighbors informational presentation is
Monday, April 12 at 10 a.m. via Zoom
“The Green New Deal and Climate Change Policy”
Our presenter, Dr. Christopher Rice, is an associate professor of philosophy at Lynn University in Florida; his current research involves climate change ethics.

To join Zoom online:
Meeting ID: 880 1333 6329

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 880 1333 6329 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – press the # key again.

If you have an appointment to get the Covid vaccine and need a ride, please let us know. You can call the church office (610-867-5865) and leave a message, or send an email to with your name, phone number, the date of your appointment and the time. We will be in touch to make the necessary plans.
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**
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And follow us on Facebook: @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • NO Hearts N Minds this Sunday; returns on April 11

  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service, outdoors if weather permits (will also be livestreamed on Facebook and on our website homepage) – you can also sit in your vehicle and listen to the service on 88.9 FM on your radio

  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Sunday School via Zoom – see more information above

  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service, virtual only - see instructions in blue box, below, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone

  • Hospitality Time following the 11 a.m. service, via Zoom (
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 AND stay on the line for Hospitality Time

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 building and office will be closed on Monday, April 5. 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;