Friday - May 24, 2019



Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
A 'welcoming' church

Back when I was in conversation with this church’s search committee here about the possibility of serving as your pastor, one of the first and most consistent themes that I heard was that this is a church that is “welcoming.” I heard it from the leadership, read it in descriptive materials, saw it on the church sign. But I must admit, I was curious about what exactly this church meant by that. After all, I had just spent the last 8+ years in theological education, where I worked with churches and pastors all over the country to discern, articulate, and embrace their mission from God in their particular communities. 
Many described themselves as “welcoming,” but what they often meant was, “if you find your way to us, we won’t turn you away.” In other words, those churches were very passive about how they treated newcomers, both in terms of people coming to them and with what happened once they were there.

So I was pleased to discover that First Pres intended something very different when it talked about being welcoming. The first and most obvious dimension is understanding that being welcoming requires intentional and active hospitality. 
That means neither ignoring nor smothering newcomers when they come, but rather introducing ourselves to them and literally welcoming them to the church and getting to know them a bit.

I am always grateful to watch members walk into worship or the hospitality hour or an educational program and see them not simply make a beeline to their friends, but make a point of connecting with the people they don’t know and ensuring that they feel “at home.” They even make sure to introduce the newcomer to others before moving on so that they are not left standing alone or apart. It’s extraordinary how such simple gestures can make such a strong impact on how people experience a church.

And the second dimension is even more intentional and active: understanding that being truly welcoming means being inviting.  An “inviting church” is one that takes the initiative to reach out rather than simply respond to those who come. Sometimes being inviting literally means inviting someone to come to a church service or event: a friend, a neighbor, a colleague. Sometimes it means something as simple as sharing a church Facebook post on your own page, or sending someone a link to a sermon that you think they’d appreciate, or taking a few extra postcards about upcoming events and sharing them with others or posting them on a community bulletin board.

Because as wonderful as our growing communications ministry is, by far the most influential factor in someone responding to it is you saying, “hey, I’m going, would you like to come with me?” And amazing things can happen when we do that, because we are not simply sharing a program, but rather the invitation to “come and see” (John 1:46) who Jesus is and what he is up to in the world here and now. So thank you for being a welcoming and inviting church, and let’s all keep looking for opportunities to be ever more so!

Grace and Peace,

First lesson: Acts 16:9-15
Second lesson: John 5:1-9
·       This week’s sermon: Sitting by the Pool by Rev. J.C. Austin
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
Sunday, June 2 at 12:15 p.m.
(following the Traditional service)

Soprano Madison Zahorsky will offer an informal, repeat performance of her senior recital. She is a 2019 honors graduate of Westminster Choir College and a former student of David Macbeth. She has sung with our Chancel Choir several times over the past two years.

So grab a cup of coffee at Hospitality time and then join us in the Sanctuary for some beautiful music!
WEBINARS: “Stop the Cycle of Poverty”
Webinars are an easy and affordable learning option – you log in on your computer to view the speakers, and – if you’d like – pose questions for the discussion.

The Presbyterian Committee on the Self-Development of People is offering this free webinar: The Least of These: Engaging in the Work of Preventing and Alleviating Poverty. This webinar series challenges us to go beyond charity and take a more holistic view of poverty, equipping teams to create real and lasting change.

Register to attend one or both webinars. Each webinar has a different theme.
                                            Thursday, May 30, noon – 1:30 p.m.
                                          Wednesday, June 19, noon – 1:30 p.m.

Hear from leaders in the PC(USA) and in community development as you or your team are guided through core principles that go beyond charity and build relationships. To register, email ; for a dditional Information: .
“Silence is the welcome mat for hate”
Are you aware that there are 36 hate-related groups in Pennsylvania? And there are 41 groups who call West Virginia and Ohio home?

How can we shine a light on these behaviors and raise awareness in our congregations that leads to engagement?
This will be the topic for discussion at this year’s Synod of the Trinity Regional Connection for Partnership and Networking. It will be held on Wednesday, June 5
at the First Presbyterian Church, 3231 W. Tilghman, Allentown. The day’s activities will begin with 9:30 a.m. registration, and includes lunch, with an estimated end time
of 3:00 p.m.

To register contact Deb Prince at 610-691-4932 or
JOIN US: “Telling the Parables”
Wednesday, May 29
7 – 8:30 p.m. in the Parlor

Jesus shared his parables, not as words on a page, but as stories he told in his own words, relating them to his experiences as well as those of his followers.
T his coming Wednesday, May 29 is the last of three sessions offered by Bible translators and interpreters Jim and Janet Stahl, in which participants are learning to tell three of Jesus’ parables. The sessions include instruction and opportunity, in a friendly, safe environment, for each person to discover their own version of story-telling.
For some that will be telling all or part of a parable in a one-on-one setting or in a small group, while others may be comfortable in front of a larger audience.

Supported by FPCB, the Stahls have traveled the world teaching the skills of story-telling in many cultures. They share that these will be ‘friendly, fun sessions, with no experience needed’ and that they will help participants deepen their understanding of these parables.

We have had a great turnout and lively participation for our first two sessions; you are welcome to come even if you did not attend before. Senior highs and older are invited to participate; please register at or 610-867-5865.
CAN YOU HELP: Ron Helmuth Memorial Service Luncheon

Ron Helmuth’s memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 1 at 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary, followed by a luncheon in Fellowship Hall. We are looking for volunteers to serve as greeters that day, set-up help on Friday and Saturday, clean-up on Saturday, and to bring food donations of appetizers, salads and finger desserts.

If you are interested in helping, please sign up on this easy online form .
SHEET DRIVE: Please consider donating
Our partner, Outreach Depot, has collected mattresses from an Allentown hotel and they are now in need of all sizes of new or gently used sheets and pillow cases. 
Your donation can be put in the marked bins in the North Link and Rotunda through this Sunday, May 26.

They were exceedingly grateful for our blanket drive so thank you for considering a donation!  

Outreach Depot is looking for able helpers to assist with furniture pick up, one Saturday morning a month – dates are flexible. Call Gayne Marriner at 610-625-4010 or Barbara Reimers at 610-694-0767 if you are interested. Good fellowship. Great benefits (for the soul)!
Spotted Lanternfly Infestation

You may have heard about the Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) – a destructive invasive planthopper that feeds on many plants, including the many hardwoods gracing FPCB’s campus. Northampton is one of 13 counties currently under quarantine, which means SLF is already prevalent.
F PCB is complying with the quarantine by participating in a management program to diminish the SLF spread of damage. Currently, eggs are being laid that will hatch by next month. The nymphs can be trapped by wrapping a tight band of sticky tape (sticky side out) to tree trunks. We have begun the process of adding these bands to the many trees on our property – volunteers are welcome to help with this process!
The bands will also need to be monitored throughout the coming weeks. Please contact us at or 610-867-5865 if you are able to help.

We have printed an informative handout for homeowners that is in the information racks by the Main Office and in Fellowship Hall. You can also find information online at .

Sunday, May 26 : Last Sunday School until it resumes in the fall; no Hearts N Minds.

Sunday, June 2 : First Sunday of the month is Communion Sunday; we will also offer Blood Pressure screenings, and the Bereavement group will meet after the Traditional Service. Hearts N Minds will have their last meeting.

Sunday, June 9 : We will worship together in one service at 10 a.m., followed by our Ministry Fair.

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 (last day)
  • 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 (last day)
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room A3

MONDAY: It’s a Start fitness class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step
TUESDAY:  Depression Support Group, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Room 206 (PW Room)
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAY: Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m., Sanctuary;  Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m.,
Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: June 2): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services, North Link; Bereavement Group gathering, 12:15 p.m. (meet in Narthex after 10:30 a.m. service)
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: June 4): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m., Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: June 19):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: June 20): 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. NOTE: We will be closed on Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day.

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;