Friday, May 1, 2020 Newsletter


9:00 a.m. Contemporary 

NEW TIME! 11:00 a.m. Traditional
(also available to hear it via phone - see below)

A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Connected by Communion

Friends, this Sunday is the first Sunday of May, so we will be celebrating the sacrament of Communion together during both livestream worship services. You may remember us doing this for the first time on Palm Sunday last month. 
Theologically, for us, it actually works quite well: in Reformed theology (the theological tradition from which Presbyterians come), Christ is truly present in the sacrament of Communion, rather than simply remembered, but he is present through the power of the Holy Spirit rather than anything being done to the elements (bread and wine/juice) themselves.
And the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of moving through digital space as well as physical space, as we have experienced over and over again during our digital worship services since mid-March.

Even so, I have to admit I did not expect to find the experience of sharing Communion digitally to be as moving as it was. In the actual moment, I had to imagine all of your faces participating in your own home, because the downside of Facebook Live is you can see the worship leaders, but we can’t see you!

Nevertheless, I felt the Spirit connecting us in that spiritual act of Communion, and it is communion, with God and one another, that all of us are particularly hungry for in these days of quarantine and distancing. And afterwards, some of you posted your own preparations for Communion on Facebook or Instagram, which was both moving and delightful to see.

So I’m going to ask you to be intentional about that: when you have made your preparations, take a photo of them and send it to , and we will collate them and use in the church’s social media (as we are in the process of doing from the “receiving/sharing hope” photos from last Sunday). That way we can all see how we are experiencing Communion together.

Finally, let me recap what you will need to do to participate. First, you’ll need to secure elements. Ideally, that would be some form of bread and either wine (fortified wine such as port is fine, too) or grape juice. That said, please do not make a special trip to secure any of those elements if you don’t have them.

The closest you can get to bread will be fine: pita, bagel, or tortilla would be great; but crackers or anything else resembling bread will be good. And water is always a good alternative, but any fruit juice is a solid choice as well. Second: arrange the elements for your family and take a photo before we begin communion and send it in to !

Looking forward to being in worship with you on Sunday. 

Grace and peace,

Scripture lesson: John 11:1-4, 17-44

Click the link to read online
·     This week's sermon: Unbound Grief by 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 THIS SUNDAY: Both Services “Live” on Facebook
SERVICES : We invite you to join either (or both!) of our services via Facebook to watch “live”:
  • 9:00 a.m. – Contemporary service
  • NEW TIME! 11:00 a.m. – Traditional service

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 for a link to view the service
  • Please check in with a comment so we know you’ve joined us!

To watch a video – available after the services have aired:
  • Visit our website and look for the link on the homepage

We will offer the TRADITIONAL SERVICE (at 11 a.m. on Sunday) with an ‘audio-only’ option so you can listen to it on your phone.

Call 929-205-6099 ; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 955 325 387
SUNDAY SCHOOL for this week

This week’s Sunday School experience will be a combination of a live Zoom gathering on Sunday morning from 10:15-10:45 a.m. AND pre-recorded videos that you can access at your convenience.

The videos are on the church website ; scroll to the bottom of the homepage.
To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.:
Meeting ID: 859 8632 3119
ONE GREAT HOUR OF SHARING: Addressing hunger near and far

Even though Easter is over and our special collection for One Great Hour of Sharing has officially ended, as the Hunger Program of the Presbyterian Church, it is very timely. Now more than ever, people are in need of food. Food pantries are stressed by the overwhelming need that has been caused by the Covid-19 virus. 

You can give in several ways: You can go to our new donor page on our website at ; be sure to put “One Great Hour of Sharing” in the “notes” box. You can also send a check, made out to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem and in the memo write “One Great Hour of Sharing” – you do not need the special envelope. You can mail it or put it in the mail slot of the South Entrance door. Please help the hungry here and in the world.
Join an FPCB pastor as they share a meditation or scripture, followed by a time of prayer and reflection. We will gather via Zoom videoconferencing; also available via phone (audio only). Every Tuesday and Thursday at noon; they last approximately 30 minutes.
To send prayer requests: or call 610-867-5865, ext. 209
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 335 481 050
Via phone: call 929-205-6099 and enter the Meeting ID when prompted.

The Discipleship Committee has planned several new learning opportunities for May - these two sessions are the first.
"Listening for God"
Wednesday, May 6 at 7 p.m. on Zoom

FPCB Book Club: Mary Oliver's Devotions
Tuesday, May 12 at 1 p.m. on Zoom

Hearts N Minds Adult Education
The class will meet this Sunday at 9 a.m. via Zoom to discuss
Sister Joan Chittister’s book, For Everything a Season . For this Sunday,
the chapter is entitled "A Time to Gain".

Meeting ID: 831 165 912

Or you can join via phone (audio only): 929-205-6099 and enter the Meeting ID
Thursday, May 7
Noon – 1 p.m.

The Bethlehem Interfaith Group (BIG) has planned an event in recognition of next Thursday’s National Day of Prayer.

You can join us on Zoom to hear prayers for a multitude of common concerns, offered by the faith leaders of 13 houses of worship in Bethlehem, including FPCB.

To join the meeting:
Meeting ID: 997 3326 9693 / Password: 2GTRWEPRAY
Or you can join via phone (audio only): 646-558-8656
Meeting ID: 997 3326 9693 / Password: 892820

The Barry Brandt Memorial Scholarship Fund was established by the late Dr. Allen D. and Ella Brandt to remember their son Barry who died in 1961 when his plane, carrying new Army recruits, crashed en route to basic training.

This named fund, a part of our church's permanent endowment, provides income for scholarship assistance to Protestant students, preferably members of First Presbyterian, who have financial need and demonstrated scholastic ability. Students planning on entering college or furthering their college education this year are invited
to complete the application (this is a four-page document).

Inquiries can be directed to Lisa Dippre-Titus, chair of the Fund Committee.

Mayor Robert Donchez has proclaimed that in Bethlehem, church bells will be rung Sunday evening at 7 p.m.

"Since the days of the American Revolution, the bell has served as an instrument for expressing communal gratitude, camaraderie and resolve, (and) is a means well-suited for Pennsylvanians sheltering in place, to demonstrate such values."
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 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!

THIS SUNDAY (print bulletins, above)
This Sunday is Communion Sunday
  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Service – join us on our Facebook page for the live service
  • 9:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education (see details above)
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Sunday School via Zoom (see details, above)*
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Service - see instructions in blue box, above, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone

NOTE: There will also be an online, pre-recorded video Sunday School lesson available on our website beginning on Saturday.
  • 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.: Midday Reflection (led by one of our pastors – a short time of reflection and prayer via Zoom; see details above)

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. 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;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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