Friday - May 3, 2019



NO Children's Sunday School this Sunday

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
Since Easter, I have largely been on the road (aside from Sundays!) for two major commitments that I’d like to let you know about. In different ways, they both have an impact on the ministry we are doing right here in Bethlehem.

The first was the week right after Easter, when I went to Princeton Seminary for the annual Forum of the Institute of Youth Ministry. This was part of our Log College Project, which is the program we are part of to help innovate new, intergenerational models of youth ministry for the 21st century. It was an exciting gathering, because this was the first time that the leaders of each church gathered as a “Community of Practice.” (Below right: A beautiful April day in Princeton)
One of the greatest benefits of this program is that we’re not doing it in isolation, but with a group of churches from across the country in a range of denominations, sizes, and contexts: everything from a thriving Methodist start-up church in Sacramento, CA to an historic Baptist church in the Black Church tradition in Brooklyn, NY. This was an opportunity to start learning about each other’s ideas, challenges, and opportunities, and to work together in learning about the larger issues in the church and general culture that are shaping youth ministry for the future. 
I came back even more excited about our own work and the chance to be a part of this project! Our own team has one more set of tasks to do in prepping our ideas (which we will do this month) and then our Design Team will go to Princeton as a group at the end of June to refine our ideas and make plans to put them into action!

The second trip was just this past week, when I went to the Baltimore area to serve as a facilitator and mentor for the cohort in the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s “Company of New Pastors” program for the Northeastern United States. I had been asked to serve in this capacity not long after my arrival in Bethlehem in late 2017. I was initially hesitant to accept, frankly, given all that was going on in the church at the time. But after being told it was only two, three-day retreats a year, I accepted, and I’m so glad I did!

As any good teacher will tell you, one of the best ways to learn is to teach interesting people. These pastors have come out of seminary at a very different time than I did, and even as I have something to offer as an experienced pastor, they bring a whole set of assumptions and insights about ministry that is very helpful to me and to us as a congregation.

So I’m coming back from both these experiences with new energy and new ideas about how we can continue to grow and flourish as a congregation of faithful followers of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem at this time. I look forward to seeing you Sunday and to what the future holds for us!

Grace and Peace,

First lesson: Acts 9:1-6
Second lesson: John 21:1-19
·       This week’s sermon: Faithful Unto Life by Rev. J.C. Austin           
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
Everyone is welcome to join us for a joint Preschool – church event, “Spring Celebration”! This fun-for-all-ages, intergenerational gathering will be held this Monday, May 6 from 5-7 p.m. on the lawn behind the church.
Enjoy musical entertainment by Dave Fry, a collaborative art project (everyone will participate!), live animals from Flint Hill Farm Educational Center, hot dog dinner (options available) and games. Please bring lawn chairs or blankets.

Planning to attend? Contact us at or 610-867-5865 with your name, and number of adults and children.
Last winter, our congregation tragically lost a vibrant member, Sam Plank, to suicide. His story continues to make an impact in the world. In an effort to help other congregations that are faced with the unexpected death of a member, reached out to Rev. Austin to share FPCB’s experience. You can read the article here.
JOIN US: “How to Support LGBT Spirituality”
Wednesday, May 8 (you are welcome to come, even if you did not attend on May 1)
6:30 – 8 p.m. in Fellowship Hall

Join us for the next presentation on supporting the Christian spirituality of God’s beloved LGBT people, led by Rev. Beth Goudy, pastor at Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley (a church where a majority of worshippers are LGBT-identified). All are welcome; it is appropriate for middle school and older. 
Bring friends and learn more about how the Bible supports inclusion and how the church may help LGBT people live out God’s calling to faith and service.
There is no charge to attend. Please register at or call 610-867-5865.
 “Telling the Parables”
Wednesdays, May 15, 22 and 29
7 – 8:30 p.m. in the Parlor
Biblical scholar Richard Swanson reminds us that “before Bible stories were ‘Bible stories,’ they were  stories. ” And before they were written down, they were  told . Jesus told his parables to people who experienced them, not as words on a page, but as a living, breathing reality.
On three Wednesday evenings in May, Bible translators and interpreters Jim and Janet Stahl, who work with people in oral cultures around the world, will help us to experience three of Jesus’ parables in new and old ways as we learn to tell and enact them together.

No prior experience is needed, just a willingness to “do” the parables in ways that are guaranteed to bring new life and insight to these familiar stories. Senior highs through adults are invited to participate. Please register by contacting the office at or 610-867-5865.
HI NEIGHBORS: Presenting interesting, dynamic speakers
On Monday mornings through May 13, join other adults who come from all over the Lehigh Valley to learn something new and make new friends.
Join us on Monday, May 6: doors open to Fellowship Hall at 9:15 a.m. for fellowship. All are welcome!

9:45 a.m.  ‘SouthSide Film Festival’ by Patti Giordani
11:00 a.m. ‘Virtual Village: Members Helping Members’ by Mary Liz Colley, President

For our End of the Spring Season event, join us at 9:45 a.m. on Monday, May 13, when we will be entertained by Les Chanteurs, a vocal ensemble from Freedom High School directed by Jenn Volpato. Following the performance, attendees will gather for lunch. Each person is asked to bring their own lunch; beverages and an ice cream dessert will be provided.

There is no cost or pre-registration required.
by Gail Watts, Chair – Discipleship Committee

The Lenten supper series based on the book, Were You There?, is over but many of us are left with the desire to understand more deeply the history of our African-American brothers and sisters, those who were bound into slavery, severely  mistreated and degraded. 

We had an average of 45-55 people each week who gathered to learn about the story and meaning behind some of the African-American spirituals. Sometimes we sang the songs, rolling over the words, trying to imagine the people who found strength and comfort in them. These songs revealed stories of struggle, pain, but amazingly also hope and faith. Deliverance and freedom would come they proclaimed perhaps not on earth but ultimately with God.  

We learned that at times there were helpers, secret codes communicated, and planned resistances to try to turn the tide of suffering.  Music has played a central role in uniting Black Americans and others under a common goal to free people from systems of subjugation and exploitation, wherever that might be. 

We realized we just scratched the surface. There is more to be learned about this history and how it is relevant to the discrimination and racism of all kinds in today's culture. 
Additional resources include these adult books:
  • Deep River by Howard Thurman
  • The Spirituals and the Blues by James Cone
  • In Their Own Words: Slave Life and the Power of Spirituals by Eileen Guenther
  • Way Over in Beulah Lan’: Understanding and Performing the Negro Spiritual by Andre Thomas
Books for children:
  • Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad (grades 2-5) by Ellen Levine
  • Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky (ages 4-9) by Faith Ringgold
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 from Sunday, May 5 to Sunday, May 26.

They were exceedingly grateful for our blanket drive so thank you for considering a donation!  
FPCB’s partner, Northeast Ministries, is hiring Summer Camp counselors. If you are a high school student or graduate, come work with the kids from June 10 to August 2 at our camp. For more information contact Jackie Jimenez at or call her at 610-691-3355.

On the first Sunday of every month we will take blood pressure readings between the two Sunday services.

A record will be kept that you can take to your physician visit. Look for us in the North Link - we will station ourselves outside Fellowship Hall. This service is provided by the Deacons.
The FPCB Bereavement Group meets at Rudy’s Diner, 1406 Center Street, on the first Sunday of the month, at 12:15 p.m. for anyone experiencing the loss of a loved one.

The next gathering will be this Sunday, May 5; we will meet in the Narthex after the 10:30 service and then travel to Rudy’s. Contact  Sue Bennetch at for more information.
Send us your news and photos to share:
Deadline for 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!

  • Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each service; join us for light refreshments and fellowship
  • Blood pressure screenings between services in the North Link
  • 9:00 a.m. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Cente
  • 9:00 a.m. - Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room A3

MONDAYS:  Hi Neighbors informational programs, 9:15 a.m., Fellowship Hall; It’s a Start fitness class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step
TUESDAYS:  Depression Support Group, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Room 206 (PW Room)
WEDNESDAYS: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAYS: Choir Rehearsal , 7 p.m., Sanctuary;  Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m.,
Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: May 5): 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: May 7): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m., Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: May 15):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: May 16): 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,  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;