Friday, February 14, 2020 Newsletter

SUNDAY SERVICES: 9:00 a.m. Contemporary  ∙  10:30 a.m. Traditional

Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!

“What’s going on with youth ministry these days?” I’ve heard several versions of this question recently, and this is a good time to answer it!

Over the past few months, we’ve been living into the experiment that our hard-working Design Team created as part of the Log College Project through the Institute of Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary. 
As you may know, we were chosen as one of 12 congregations nationwide from a range of denominations and traditions to participate in this project to create new models of youth ministry. Our model centers around gathering on the second Sunday of the month and using cooking as a means for creating community, serving others, and exploring faith.
Most recently, we baked Valentine’s Day cookies and delivered them to Kirkland Village, along with Valentine’s Day cards, to express love to our neighbors there. 

Beyond the Log College Project, there are two other youth ministries that I want to hold up. The first is a gathering for faith conversations during the 10:30 a.m. Sunday School hour. That is also happening once a month, on the third Sunday of the month. This is a chance for middle school and high school age students to explore issues of life and faith more deeply together, in a “brave space” where people are encouraged to ask questions, express concerns, and wrestle with challenges together.

The second ministry I want to point out is the upcoming Youth Inquirers Class. This is an Inquirers Class specifically for teens that will take place from noon – 1:30 p.m. on three Sundays in March: March 1, 15, and 29. The class itself will focus on essential elements of Christian faith, the Reformed tradition, and First Presbyterian in particular.

Those who attend all three weeks can then join the church as full and active members on May 31, following a period of conversations with a mentor from the congregation. If you want to sign up (to attend the class or to serve as a mentor) and haven’t already, you can email me at and let me know!

So: there is a lot going on with youth ministry these days! Please continue to keep our youth and these ministries in your prayers as they all continue to grow.

Grace and Peace,

Deuteronomy 30:15-20  
Matthew 5:21-37
·      This week’s sermon:  Action or Inaction by Rev. Sue Bennetch        

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
This year’s proportional giving (formerly known as Per Capita) is $39.10 for each person counted as a member of the PCUSA. Proportional giving supports the PCUSA General Assembly, our Synod of the Trinity and Lehigh Presbytery. The Presbytery receives the most as they provide direct services to individual churches.

Our church is fortunate to have Lehigh Presbytery as a strong and supportive partner in ministry here in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas, as we heard from Rhonda Kruse, our Executive Presbyter, when she spoke to us in worship last Sunday. We’ve also experienced that support ourselves as a congregation, both during the difficult times of the schism a few years ago and now in this exciting time as we start looking for a new Associate Pastor. Beyond the presbytery, proportional giving supports a range of vital national ministries such as Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, leadership training, and global mission.

This year’s apportionment totals $16,422. We are asking everyone to make a point of supporting this special offering. Perhaps you can make a gift of $39.10 per member of your household; perhaps you can even ‘pay it forward’ and underwrite the assessment for someone you know may not be able to self-pay. Make checks payable to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem but remember to write “Proportional Giving” on your check memo line. Envelopes are in the Sanctuary pew racks, and in the Narthex and Rotunda for your convenience. Thank you for your generosity and support!
The congregational Nominating Committee is beginning the exciting process of identifying possible members for an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC).

We welcome recommendations from the congregation by this Wednesday, Feb. 19.  Serving on the APNC will be a big commitment for the next six months, with the likelihood of weekly meetings during much of that time.

Please submit any suggestions you have, including yourself, if you are interested, to Elizabeth Conard .
Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.: Ash Wednesday service
Wednesdays, March 4 – April 1 from 6-7:30 p.m.:
Community Lenten Suppers (see article, below)
Sunday, April 5: Palm Sunday (Communion Sunday)
Thursday, April 9: Maundy Thursday
Friday, April 10 at 8 p.m.: Tenebrae service
Sunday, April 12: Easter Sunday
This Sunday, Feb. 16: 12:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Please consider joining us this Sunday afternoon, Feb. 16, at 12:30 p.m. to aid with the reset of our contemporary worship "chancel" space. Do you have an eye for design? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and help move some equipment? Let's work together to create a more inviting and worshipful space!

Please contact David Macbeth with any questions or ideas.
“Constructive Conversations: Engaging Our Faith in Public Life”
Saturday, Feb. 29
Registration at 8:30 a.m.;
Program from 9 a.m.-noon
Kirk Center
The Discipleship Committee is offering a new series on “Constructive Conversations” that will begin with this session led by Rev. J.C. Austin. Sign up here or call the Main Office at 610-867-5865; it is free and open to the public.

There’s an old saying in the United States: “Never discuss religion or politics in polite company.” The premise, of course, is that discussing religion or politics is inherently divisive. But the truth is, division over faith and/or public issues has to do with how and why we discuss them, not whether we do. This event will consider how our political systems and our faith traditions both envision a responsibility for faith to make positive contributions in U.S. public life, as well as limits in how and why it should do so. In the process, we will explore some basic commitments and tools that can help us do this work faithfully and well, and be a witness for how to combine mutual respect and personal conviction in these highly polarized times.
Feb. 27, March 5 and 12 (Thursdays)
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Room 416
Did you know that David is mentioned more than any other figure in the Old Testament? Do you want to learn more about him?
John Dudding is leading a discussion of David the boy, the man and the king in this special series.
There is no text book to buy; participants will be reading selected bible passages from 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel.

Join us on any or all of the dates to dig deeper as we consider whether David can be considered 'Everyman'.
March 4, 11, 18, 25, and April 1 (Wednesdays)
6:00- 7:30 p.m.
Fellowship Hall

“Having the Mind of Christ”
At First Presbyterian, our first Core Value states that we are a Christ-centered congregation: “In everything we do, we strive to follow Jesus Christ faithfully through the authority and insight of God’s Word and Spirit, to imitate Christ in how we treat others.” The Apostle Paul is even bolder, asserting that the church is the body of Christ, and even that we “have the mind of Christ.”
On five Wednesday evenings in Lent, we’ll explore what this all means, considering who Jesus was and is (Word/Wisdom of God, Savior, prophet, teacher, reformer, healer…), what he has done for us (what, after all, do we mean by “atonement”?), and what he asks of us as an expression of his continuing presence in the world.

We’ll conclude by reflecting on what it means to be followers of Jesus in an increasingly multifaith and secular culture.

These evenings will include a simple potluck meal – watch for details about signing up to bring a dish to share or to volunteer, and to sign up to attend.
For Sunday, Feb. 23:
Before you head home after services, please join us in creating
a video ‘greeting card’ to send well wishes to members of our congregation. We’ll gather as a group at the front of the worship space and proclaim in one voice a short sentence of greeting!

We are having a great response to our new initiative – everyone is doing a good job of bringing the ‘right’ plastics to contribute. We've collected close to 30 pounds!

What can be recycled? Use this flyer (we suggest you print it out and keep it handy to refer to). T here are many types of plastic that can be recycled but please be aware of what cannot. 
Collection tubs are located in Fellowship Hall, the Rotunda, and by the South entrance (near the Main Office). NOTE: All recycled items must be clean and dry.

If you have a large quantity, please bring it on a Sunday if possible.

Thanks to our new “Earth Care” team for this initiative – a part of our Mission Committee (right: Russ Miserendino takes out just two of the bags collected so far).
to participate in a Mission Work Trip to Fayetteville, NC  

 The Helping Hands Care Team of Lehigh Presbytery has scheduled its fourth mission work trip to Fayetteville, NC. The trip will take place between Saturday, March 28 – Saturday, April 4.
Volunteers are needed to assist with the recovery efforts after heavy rains and flooding caused extensive damage to the churches and homes in that area. 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.
There are no specific skills or experience required , other than to be flexible and provide whatever help is needed. There are jobs for every skill level and we have experienced volunteers to help train you. We do, of course, welcome those with plumbing, electrical, roofing, and dry wall installation skills.

The cost is $200. 00 per person and participants must register by Thursday, March 12. Registration forms and a flyer with more information are posted on our website,

Contact the Lehigh Presbytery office at 610-391-9020 or for more information.

Prayers & Squares will now be meeting on the third Wednesday
of the month (not Thursday) – starting next Wednesday, Feb. 19.

Hearts N Minds has returned to its study of For Everything a Season by Sister Joan Chittister. The focus will be on the chapter titled "A Time to Reap". Questions we’ll consider: What does reaping mean in your life? What season of life are you in and how does that shape your daily living? Are you still planting any seeds? And, if yes, how and why?

All are welcome, whether you have read the book or not, or attended any of the previous sessions.
Again this year we have a chance to help the Bethlehem Area School District reduce its lunch money deficit. As last year, we will be collecting GENTLY USED shoes which will be shined up/repaired by small business people in developing countries and sold to give them an income.  
All shoes are being collected: men, women, children and toddlers. There will be special collection boxes in the North Link and Kirk Center starting this Sunday through Sunday, March 29. Thank you!
Drop by Room 408 between 9 a.m. – noon on Thursdays (through April 10) to make an appointment for a future date for free assistance with your tax return. This is available for everyone; there are no age or income restrictions. 
At that time you will receive an IRS-mandated questionnaire to fill out at home and the AARP rep’s will also go over the materials you will need to bring in before the return can be started. They prepare Federal, state, local income tax, rent and real estate tax rebate returns. Bring your 2018 tax returns and 2019 documentation; you may or may not be seen the day that you come.
Please note that our Main Office cannot schedule appointments or answer any tax-related questions for you.
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 next week's newsletter: Wedneday at noon**
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And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  •  After each service: Hospitality in Fellowship Hall – join us for fellowship and light refreshments
  • 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
  • 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:  (NO CLASS THIS WEEK) “It’s a Start” Fitness Class, 9:30 a.m., Middle School Step Room
TUESDAYS: Optimism 101 (formerly Depression Support Group), noon - 2 p .m. (note new time), Room 206; Handbell rehearsal, 5 p.m., Middle School Step Room
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach , 7 p.m., Room 420
THURSDAY: Chancel Choir rehearsal , 7 p.m., Sanctuary; Al-Anon Family Group ,
7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: March 1): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services,
North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: March 8 ) : Bereavement Group gathering; bring your lunch if you like
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: Feb. 18): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
FIRST THURSDAY (next: March 5): Presbyterian Womens Circle , 1:00-3:00 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: Feb. 19):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
NEW DAY! THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: Feb. 19): Prayers & Squares, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Room 408 (bring your lunch and join us to create quilts and prayer shawls - no experience needed)

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. We will be open on Monday, Feb. 17.

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 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;