Friday, October 8, 2021 Newsletter


9:00 a.m. Contemporary 
NEW TIME! 11:15 a.m. Traditional*

 (* also available on our website and via phone)

As we have resumed the option of worshipping in-person, there have been a few changes to the worship services from the online-only version that you may have noticed.

Probably the most obvious changes are the resumption of speaking in unison in different places in the Traditional Service. Contemporary worship largely avoids unison prayers and responses, so there was no necessary change there. 
But traditional Reformed worship has a number of places for unison responses because of our theological conviction that worship is the work of the people of the congregation; Ministers of Word and Sacrament in the Reformed tradition lead the congregation in worship rather than worshipping on their behalf. This is why we do not ordain priests; a priest’s job is to mediate between God and the people.
We, however, believe in “the priesthood of all believers” who are ordained to ministry through our baptisms, which means (among other things) that we are all mediating the presence of God to and for one another. 

That is why we have a communal Prayer of Confession, for example: we are simultaneously confessing to God and hearing one another’s confession together, rather than going to an ordained priest in private to confess one-to-one. We kept the Prayer of Confession in both services during the quarantine, of course, but we eliminated most of the other unison responses in traditional worship when we were online-only for purely practical reasons.

In general, responsive liturgy doesn’t work very well when there is no congregation whatsoever in the room where the service is taking place! Now that we are back in person, however, we have returned to responsive Calls to Worship, to the opening of the Communion liturgy, and to the Affirmation of Faith.

It’s the last of those that I want to hold up for a moment since we are returning to that practice in traditional worship. The Affirmation of Faith is particularly important in the Reformed tradition because of our emphasis on theology as a means of pursuing the knowledge and understanding of God and our faith in God. By making that affirmation in unison, it allows the congregation as a whole to respond to hearing God’s Word in the reading and preaching of the Scriptures; that’s why it always follows closely on the sermon. 

The specific affirmations we use, then, are usually from the Book of Confessions, the theological statements of various church councils throughout the ages that together make up the official theological standards of the Presbyterian Church (USA). So, different selections from different confessions (which is a traditional term for theological statements made by church councils) are used that speak to the themes of the day’s Scripture lesson and sermon.

However, there are two general exceptions to that related to the celebration of sacraments. First, when we are celebrating Communion, we generally use the Nicene Creed as our Affirmation of Faith. That is because the Nicene Creed is the most universally accepted theological statement in worldwide Christianity, so using it with Communion is a way of holding up the church’s essential unity, especially when (ironically) the practice and theology of Communion is one of the most common points of disagreement in the Christian Church. 

Second, when we are celebrating a Baptism, we always use the Apostles’ Creed. That document is very common in Western Christianity but not Eastern Orthodoxy, which is why the Nicene Creed is preferred for Communion. But the Apostles’ Creed is also specifically written for Baptism: in fact, it was originally responsive!

Rather than simply reciting it, a candidate for Baptism would say it responsively to answer questions. The officiant would say, “Do you believe in God?” and the candidate would respond, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” Questions about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit would follow, and the rest of the Creed would be used to respond.    

So, if you are in the traditional worship service, take a moment to consider what Affirmation is being used in that service and why, so that your own worship experience may be more meaningful and our common worship can be strengthened by both faith and understanding.

Grace and Peace,

Scripture lesson:
Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: Neighborhood Church: One Thing to Do by
The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton
·     We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper for Sunday


  • Everyone over the age of 2 is required to wear a mask.

  • Child care will be available from 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – please ask a greeter for directions to that space.

  • We will offer nametags for folks to wear – you can pick up as you enter the worship space; please write your first name.
For those interested…

If you have challenges hearing the Traditional service in the Sanctuary, we have a solution: headsets that tap directly into the sound system. Ask an usher for assistance.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our discussion of Neighborhood Church! It was an inspiring conversation, and we appreciate the positive intentions brought by all of you.

Until the start of Advent, the Fellowship & Formation Hour will include these two options: our adult ed class, Hearts N Minds, and a special kid-friendly faith formation session.


We will return to our regular adult ed class, Hearts N Minds, at a new time and location – both in person and via Zoom (video as well as audio-only option). Details below. We will start at 10 a.m.

We kick off the season with Father Greg Boyle’s incredible book Barking to the Choir (ISBN 978-1-4767-2615-1). For Sunday, we will discuss the Introduction of the book, and you are asked to read pages 1-12 only, as well as the Magnificat (Luke :46-55).

We will meet in classrooms E3&4, which are on the second floor of the Kirk Center. Use the elevator that is outside Fellowship Hall (stage end), or if you enter the building via the double doors on the east side of the building (Kirk Center entrance), bear left to the elevator. Take it to the 4th floor. Exit the elevator and proceed through the rotunda. Turn right and continue down the hall to Neighborhood E (rooms 3&4). NOTE: Church protocol requires masks to be worn correctly when inside the building.

To join online for the video class, use this Zoom link:

To join on the phone for audio only, call 929-205-6099, then enter the meeting ID:
385 500 4307, then press # and then # again. 


We’ve decided to postpone launching the intergenerational class (for kids and youth) using the Seeking Justice Together curriculum until there’s a vaccine available for kids under 12.

In the meantime, The Rev. Cynthia Simmons and Kate Arrington will host kid-friendly faith formation on Zoom at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. They will use the Family Story Bible to create interactive lessons about New Testament stories. 


To join online, use this Zoom link:
9:30 a.m. Fellowship time outdoors
10:00 a.m.: Presentation in Fellowship Hall (in person only)
Our popular speakers program, Hi Neighbors, enjoyed an informative conversation with Congresswoman Susan Wild at their session on Monday.

On Monday, October 11, we will hear from Carol Henn who will present, A Walk Down Memory Lane: sharing your own memories of your youth. This will be an in-person program only.
The following week, on Monday, October 18, Frank Stone will make an in-person presentation on Sapiens: including a glance at the history of the universe.

As a reminder, church COVID protocols must be observed at all times (and are subject to change). We hope you'll plan to attend these interesting programs.
The Book of Acts: What’s a Church Like You Doing in a Place Like This
Offered by the Discipleship Committee

October 13, 20, and 27 (Wednesdays)
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

It’s not too late to join this program! Please feel free to join in, whether you attended the first session or not. (If you missed it, you can watch it here:

When Jesus told his disciples, “I send you out as sheep into the midst of wolves,” he wasn’t kidding. In many ways, the Roman Empire of the first century was an unimaginably hostile place to plant a new faith based on a crucified leader whose followers acclaimed him as “the lamb who was slain” and the Prince of Peace. 

Yet the movement Jesus initiated grew to encircle the globe and claim some two and a half billion followers. How did that happen?
Reading through the New Testament book of Acts, we will see how the seeds of faith planted by the Apostles germinated and grew in the early days of Christianity, laying the foundation for the church and leaving important lessons for what many are calling a new “apostolic age” in our own time.  
The Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons will lead our conversation.

If you are interested in exploring church membership, please contact The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton at or leave a message at 610-867-5865.

The Congregational Life Committee has planned an outing to see the musical, A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love & Murder, at the Pennsylvania Playhouse on Sunday, October 24 at 3 p.m.

If interested in attending with our group, please send an email to (or leave a message at 610-867-5865 with your name and phone number). Tickets are $22 each; we’ll have instructions later about paying.
More about this very funny show: “When Monty Navarro finds out that he's eighth in line for an earldom in the lofty D'Ysquith family, he figures his chances of outliving his predecessors are slight and sets off down a far more ghoulish path.

"Can he knock off his unsuspecting relatives without being caught and become the ninth Earl of Highhurst? And what of love? Because murder isn't the only thing on Monty's mind....”
Following current CDC Guidance for Northampton County, the Playhouse is requesting that all audience members wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. Their staff and volunteers will also all be wearing masks; the cast is vaccinated and have all chosen to not wear masks while onstage.  
Are you interested in donating the flowers that are placed under the cross in the Sanctuary during a worship service? Some families like to do this in honor of a loved one, or to commemorate a special occasion like a birth, birthday or anniversary. You can give us those details to include in that Sunday’s bulletin. The cost is $75.

NOTE: The last three Sundays in October are available.

Here are the ways to contact us – please be sure to include your full name and a way to contact you (phone and/or email):
1.        Email your request to OR

2.        Call the church office at 610-867-5865 and leave a message that you would like to be contacted about a flower donation

We also have special “Flower Ministry” envelopes available in the worship areas and in the packet of offering envelopes. 
You can complete the form on the envelope and include your payment; these envelopes can be:

1.     Dropped in the offering box on the registration table outside each worship area (Narthex or Rotunda) OR

2.     Mailed to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, Attn: Flower Ministry, 2344 Center St., Bethlehem, PA 18017

All requests need to be submitted at least two weeks before the requested date. You are of course welcome to place your request before then, if you have a specific date in mind. 

After the service, you can take the entire arrangement with you, or a portion of it (or we can arrange for you to get it). Any leftover flowers are given to a happy recipient by our floral coordinator, Tina Duhigg.
The 2021 CROP Walk: Ending Hunger One Step at a Time
By Steve Simmons, First Pres Team Leader

The 2021 CROP Hunger Walk is coming up on Sunday, October 10. This annual initiative helps support the growing number of hungry families, both our neighbors and around the globe. One quarter of the receipts is kept for local use in a wide range of hunger-related agencies.  
With the current economic hardship caused by COVID-19 and the expiration of the moratorium on evictions, many families in our area and country are finding their resources stretched to the breaking point, and are in critical need of our help. So far this year, 2113 teams nationwide have already raised more than $1,624,000, and we’re just getting started!
On October 10, there will be a combined walk at Louise Moore County Park, stepping off at 1:00 p.m., but, as we did last year, individual teams (K Groups, neighborhood/family teams, etc.) are welcome to participate in whatever way works best for them.

Church World Service will be processing contributions for several weeks after the event, so there's a lot of flexibility if you or your group would like to participate on a different day. One of our K Groups will be walking the D and L Trail from Sand Island to the old lock on Sunday, October 17, for instance, and others from the church are welcome to join us; to participate in a walk, please contact Steve Simmons for further details (

Donate or join the team! The link makes it easy to contribute online, or if you wish to make a donation by check, please make it out to CWS/CROP and mail it to the church office. Our congregation has responded generously in the past; in fact, we have been the first-place team in Bethlehem for two consecutive years (thank you!). We’re hoping to reach that mark again this year, as we join our partners around the United States in walking “so that others can live.”

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 any prayer requests to or call 610-867-5865 and leave a message.
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!


  • 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: Child Care (ask ushers for directions)
  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service, in-person in the Kirk Center AND livestreamed
  • 10 a.m.: Fellowship & Formation Hour – see details above for Hearts N Minds and Kids Formation Class
  • NEW TIME! 11:15 a.m.: Combined Worship Service, in-person in the Sanctuary AND livestreamed - see instructions in blue box, below, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone
FOR THIS SUNDAY: : Worship with us “Live” on Facebook
To watch “live”- as it happens:

  • Visit our Facebook page and look for the post with our live feed
  • NEW! 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 11:15 a.m. Traditional 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: 6 p.m. - Handbell rehearsal, Sanctuary
WEDNESDAYS: 7 p.m. - Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom (Meeting # 380 435 9056 / Password: overcomer)

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. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice;

David Macbeth, Director of Music Ministries: ext. 202;

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities Director: ext. 210;

Kevin Konczyk, Facilities Maintenance Manager;

Oscar Mendoza, Director of Business Administration: ext. 210;

Cindy Matthews, Bookkeeper: email:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager;

Laura Hawk, Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;