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Friday, September 16, 2022 Newsletter



10:00 a.m. Worship in the Sanctuary

 (* also available on our website and via phone)

A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: We are looking for your input!

As I mentioned last week, the Worship Committee and the Session are eager to hear your hopes and thoughts about our worship life together as a congregation. To that end, the Worship Committee has created a short and simple survey to give all of our members and friends the opportunity to express their preferences and perspectives on worship as we evaluate the experience of Summer Worship and consider what the most faithful and meaningful ways are that we can worship together as a congregation. 

Please read my comments, below, before completing the survey.

You have three options to complete one survey:

  • You can use this online version
  • Print out a paper version and send it/drop it off at church
  • Paper copies will be available at Sunday's service (September 18 and September 25)

There are a couple of things I want to highlight related to the survey to help you understand how best to respond to it. 

First, we’re using blanket terms to describe styles of worship like “contemporary,” traditional,” etc. I want to emphasize that those terms, which we have generally used to describe our services, all have a much broader spectrum of experiences and elements than we have typically incorporated into our services.

“Contemporary” does not simply equate to music played by a typical rock band using songs from the Contemporary Christian Music (“CCM”) charts, for example. While that is a popular version of contemporary worship, it is only part of a much larger movement that also includes bluegrass, jazz, hip-hop, neo-folk, and pretty much any other style of music you can think of that is not classical.

And the formats of services can be very different, including interactive conversational worship, sometimes around a meal, or “coffeehouse” style worship which is what it sounds like: worship around tables rather than “theater-style,” with refreshments available and an ethos more like you can find in a coffee shop than a concert.

Similarly, “traditional” can be very confusing, as well: some of the things we most associate with traditional Presbyterian worship are things that were considered radical innovations at one point. In the 18th and 19th centuries, for example, there were major controversies and conflicts in the Presbyterian church over the introduction of hymns in worship (previously, Presbyterians only sang Psalms), for example, which were considered far too reflective of secular music by many traditionalists. And many of the leaders in the Protestant Reformation decried the use of pipe organs in Protestant worship, even calling the instrument “The Devil’s Bagpipes”!

The point of all this is that the categories in the survey include what we have been doing in worship as a congregation for many years, but also still allow for variety and experimentation and expansion.

So, for example, one of the things that both the pastors and the Worship Committee have been talking a lot about is incorporating intentionally intergenerational dynamics into our worship life on a regular basis.

Some of the experiments we did this summer were related to that, such as simpler songs with repeating refrains that don’t require reading a hymnal, screen, or bulletin, and call-and-response prayers with refrains in addition to unison prayers, again to better include those who cannot read. We would love to hear your comments on how you experienced those attempts this summer.

And when you are expressing preferences for “contemporary” and “traditional,” remember that they are at least as much about overall ethos as particular musical style: traditional worship happens in Sanctuaries with a degree of formality in dress and language, while contemporary worship happens in multipurpose rooms with a degree of informality in dress and language.

In any case, as we move forward into the fall and beyond, we will continue to do all of this and more as we strive to fulfill one of the main strategic priorities of the congregation established by the Session in 2019 to guide our ministry in the following few years:

“Vibrant and Diverse Worship – We will be considering, experimenting with, and implementing a variety of styles, formats, and approaches for worship experiences in the church, all while staying consistent with the key elements of the Reformed worship tradition (Biblically-based preaching, theologically-appropriate music, the regular administration of the Sacraments, etc.)”

I am excited to continue pursuing this ministry together, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and reflections as we consider the next steps to take in that journey!

Grace and Peace,



Galatians 2:16-21


Click the link to read the verses

- This week’s sermon: : Connecting the Dots: Whose Faith? by The Rev. J.C. Austin

- We post the video of each week’s

services and sermon text and audio

on our website: fpc-bethlehem.org

TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper

Worship Service (4 pages)


  • The Building Reopening Task Force encourages people to wear masks, especially if they are in a high risk category, as an additional precaution to protect themselves and others.    

  • Child care will be available from 9:45-11:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings; please ask an usher for directions.

  • We offer nametags for folks to wear – these are for everyone! You can pick up as you enter the worship space; please clearly PRINT your first name.


Our popular “Lemonade on the Lawn” social time is offered after our 10 a.m. Summer Worship service.

Stop by the front lawn for a cool drink, snack, and fellowship. We’ll head into the North Link in case of bad weather.
  • Every Sunday we encourage you to look for the table at Lemonade on the Lawn, where you can sign cards for our friends who are sick or hospitalized.

  • If you have excess garden bounty to share, we’ll have a table available for you to put it out – and others to take what they can use. Give and get!


It’s time to begin the important process of nominating appropriate candidates for Elders, Deacons, Trustees and members of the Nominating Committee. 

If you have someone you would like to nominate (or yourself), there will be printed nominating forms available in the Narthex (outside the Sanctuary).

You can also use this online form

Please submit your nominations by Sunday, October 9.

Everyone nominated will be contacted to confirm they are eligible to run and asked if they accept the nomination, before their name appears on the ballot. The elections are held in conjunction with our Annual Meeting in January.

Elders comprise the Session of the Presbyterian Church which is, in essence, the decision-making body of the church. They recommend and approve all program and policy implementation and modifications in the church. Elders serve a three year term and the Session meets monthly; Elders generally serve on one or more committees, which also usually meet on a monthly basis.


The Deacons are the caregivers of the church. They minister to the individual members through home communion and visits, hospital and prayer ministries, and providing support to those in difficult situations. Deacons serve a three year term and typically meet monthly.

The Nominating Committee members are charged with identifying candidates for Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and the Nominating Committee itself. This committee usually meets three or four times each year; the term of service is one year, and a member may serve no more than two consecutive terms.

Trustees oversee all financial and property matters in the church including the budget, building renovations and repairs, planned giving, and investment funds. Trustees will meet monthly and members will also serve on one additional committee, such as the property or finance committee, which also generally meet monthly. The term for Trustees is three years.

Thank you for supporting this important process!



Our adult ed class, Hearts N Minds, will meet in person only, in Room 178 (across from the Old Chapel) beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. Everyone is welcome to join!

For this Sunday: What if the Europeans who landed on the shores of Virginia or Massachusetts had looked at the waiting Native Americans and said, "Wow, it looks as if they know what they're doing. Let's try and live the way they do, hunting, planting and harvesting."

It didn't exactly work out that way and look what the globe is facing now with pollution, unpredictable weather, famine, and over-population.

Betsy Simpson and Linda Robertson will lead discussions that delve into the best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass and a 2001 prescient essay by Wendell Barry on the global economy. They will be asking you to think about what constitutes “neighborhood” for Christians and how do we break out of our comfortable socio-economic bubbles from time-to-time in an effort to understand people who do not have the advantages we do. In other words, how do we “connect the dots” of Christian living.


We are excited to announce plans for a “Swiftwatch & Bring Your Own Picnic” scheduled for next Friday, September 23 between 5-7 p.m. It will be held outdoors on the east side lawn (if we have bad weather, we will cancel it – check our website, phone message and Facebook if in doubt).

Bring your dinner (beverages too), and enjoy visiting with our Preschool families and Kirkland friends. All are welcome!

We’ll also enjoy a short informational presentation about the chimney swifts - we should be able to witness their arrival to the building’s chimneys and rooftops while we are there. These birds make a beautiful spectacle which will be a privilege to view!

NOTE: Please let us know if you plan to come, and how many in your party.

FOR OUR KIRKLAND FRIENDS: If you would like a box lunch to bring to the picnic, you need to sign up for it at the Daily Grind by this Sunday, September 18, and pick it up after 3:00 p.m. on the Friday at the Daily Grind.


Covid Memorial Tree Dedication

After worship on Sunday, September 25 (at approximately 11:30 a.m.), we will gather as a community to dedicate a special tree on our campus to the memory of those lost to Covid-19. If the weather is bad we will reschedule.

We’re also planning a potluck lunch after the dedication (rain or shine). 

Please bring a dish to share; we’ll provide beverages. And as always – don’t hesitate to attend if you don’t bring something. There is always plenty!

Two dates for your calendar


- Sunday, October 2: We will offer our annual Blessing of the Animals - stay tuned for details

- Wednesday, October 5: Popular Irish tenor Emmet Cahill will be in concert in our Sanctuary at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets: emmetcahill.com


Our popular weekly series – featuring presentations on a wide variety of topics – returns this Monday, September 19.

Sue Pizer Yoder will kick things off with “Us/Them Mentality Must Go: Making Neighbors Out of Strangers.” There is a fellowship time at 9:30 a.m. with the program at 10 a.m. Everyone is welcome!


If you ordered mums from our Preschool fundraiser: thank you!

You can come to Fellowship Hall on Tuesday between 1 – 5 p.m. to pick them up. The ramp door to the North Link will be open for your convenience.

If you can’t come on Tuesday, you can pick them up on Wednesday or Thursday between 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. You will need to use the Kirk Center door (on the east side of the building) to get to Fellowship Hall.

We would like to know when our members are entering the hospital. Please tell the hospital that your church ID is 724. We contact the hospitals on weekdays to get that information. If you enter the hospital on Friday-Sunday, you can contact Phil Fair at prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org to keep us up to date.

Send any prayer requests to prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org or call 610-867-5865 and leave a message.
Send us your news and photos to share:
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  • 8:30 a.m. - Hearts N Minds adult ed class, Room 178 - everyone welcome!
  • 9:45 – 11:30 a.m.: Child Care (ask ushers to direct you)
  • 10 a.m.: Summer Worship Service, in-person in the Sanctuary AND livestream on Facebook Live and our website; below, to join us online
  • 11 a.m.: Lemonade on the Lawn hospitality time


  • 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 - click on the "Watch the Service" button
  • 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 archives

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE INTERNET ACCESS: You can participate on your phone to listen to the Summer Worship Service

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.

TUESDAYS: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Crafters, Room 408 (everyone welcome)

WEDNESDAYS: 7 p.m. - Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom (Meeting # 380 435 9056 / Password: overcomer)


Regular office hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. The South entrance will be open during these hours, and on Sunday mornings.

Many of the office staff are continuing to work remotely for some of the time, so please make an appointment if you need to see someone specific. 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 (prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org).


First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017 610-867-5865 | info@fpc-bethlehem.org

The Rev. J.C. Austin, Pastor/Head of Staff: ext. 213, JAustin@fpc-bethlehem.org

The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice; LClifton@fpc-bethlehem.org

David Macbeth, Director of Music Ministries: ext. 202; DMacbeth@fpc-bethlehem.org

Kevin Konczyk, Facilities Maintenance Manager; KKonczyk@fpc-bethlehem.org

Pam Marth, Administrative Coordinator: ext. 228; email: PMarth@fpc-bethlehem.org

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238; CBurns@fpc-bethlehem.org

Laura Hawk, Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956; LHawk@fpc-bethlehem.org

Marianne Zarillo, Finance (interim); ext. 210MZarillo@fpc-bethlehem.org

Cindy Matthews, Bookkeeper; ext. 211; CMatthews@fpc-bethlehem.org

Website:  www.fpc-bethlehem.org