Friday, January 8, 2021 Newsletter


9:00 a.m. Congregational Meeting via Zoom*

11:00 a.m. Combined (also available on our website and *via phone)

12:00 p.m. Hospitality Time via Zoom*

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15)

This comes from the Apostle Paul towards the end of his letter to the Romans, in a section in which he is giving a whole series of instructions to them about how they are to live in Christ. He begins this series by saying, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God; what is good, and acceptable, and perfect.”

Both of these verses have been much in my mind, heart, and spirit over the last few days as I have watched and reflected on what took place at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. I did literally weep more than once as I did so.
One image in particular continues to haunt me: the sight of several security officers, some scrambling to barricade the door into the very chambers of the U.S. House of Representatives with furniture, the others drawing their firearms to protect Members of the U.S. Congress from the angry mob outside trying to get in and disrupt or even prevent the certification of the recent election because they disagreed with its outcome. 
And I wept, not only at the horror of that sight but also because of what it said about the true state of our Union which is annually described within those very walls. Many of you have described similar feelings and reactions and tears.

For us as Christians, though, the fact that all of this happened on our holy day of Epiphany seems particularly significant. Epiphany is the Christian holiday that signifies the end of the Christmas season, and it commemorates the visit of the Magi to Jesus in Bethlehem. This is why the word “epiphany” more generally means “a sudden and significant discovery or new understanding;” that was what the Magi experienced when they encountered the Christ child, which actually happened some time after his birth.

That is why Epiphany is the next day after the famous “twelve days of Christmas,” so it happens on January 6 every year, and thus only rarely falls on a Sunday. This year, we had already planned to observe Epiphany on January 10, since January 3 is still part of Christmas.

With the truly unprecedented and deeply disturbing events of this week taking place on Epiphany, we will be considering on Sunday what Epiphany means for us as we strive to be faithful Christians in this moment of new understanding for many of us, not being conformed to this world but being transformed so that we may discern the will of God.

Yet even though many of us are weeping this week, we are also rejoicing because of what else we will do this Sunday. As you are hopefully already well aware, the Session has called a Special Congregational Meeting for this Sunday, January 10, at 9 a.m. via Zoom for the purpose of receiving and acting upon the report of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (“APNC”), which will be presenting a candidate to serve as our Associate Pastor for Formation and Justice.

An email will be sent to you at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday with additional information introducing you to the candidate, before we meet at 9 a.m. This information is confidential and we ask you not to share it.

This is a very important moment and decision in the life of our congregation, and I hope you will make every effort to be there. Please try to log on (or call in) a few minutes early so we can make sure everyone gets in before we start. We will hear a report from the APNC about their process and why they feel this candidate is called by God to this position.

We will then hear from the candidate herself on her own sense of call as revealed through this process. There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions of either the APNC or the candidate, and then the candidate will be dismissed from the meeting for the APNC to make the motions of calling the candidate and establishing terms of call (salary, etc.). Once the debate is finished and the vote is taken, the candidate will be brought back into the meeting (assuming she is elected) for some final words and a closing prayer.

So, let us continue to come together and support one another as we rejoice, as we weep, as we look for the guidance of God’s light to bring us into the presence of Christ, born to us a Savior, so that we may be transformed and discern the will of God; what is good, and acceptable, and perfect.

Grace and peace,
Sunday's Schedule

  • To join the 9 a.m. Congregational meeting via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 955 325 387 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.(NOTE: You will use this same sign-in for the 11 a.m. Combined Worship service and the Hospitality Time at noon.)

  • The 11 a.m. Combined Worship Service will be offered on Facebook Live, and our website homepage.

  • After the worship service ends, we will return to the same Zoom sign-in for a Hospitality Time, until 12:30 p.m.

Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read online
·   This week's sermon: Finding Another Way 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 Sunday


The Discipleship Committee has planned a new three-part series – everyone is welcome to attend!

Wednesdays: January 13, 20, and 27
7 p.m. via Zoom
Leader: The Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons
What might a faithful and responsible attitude toward our material possessions actually look like? In this series, we’ll consider what the Bible says about wealth (and poverty), how we can best use our material resources to live faithfully as disciples of Christ, and even how we can make “decluttering” our lives a spiritual discipline.
  • January 13: “Biblical Economics”
  •  January 20: “Effective Christian Responses to Poverty”; guest presenter: Abby Goldfarb, executive director of the Lehigh Conference of Churches
  • January 27: “Decluttering as a Spiritual Discipline”

To join via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 842 4025 0484 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
We've moved our popular Trivia Night indoors for the winter months. Everyone is welcome to join us tonight (Friday, January 8) at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

It's time to put all that random knowledge to good use - meet some new folks - and enjoy an evening of fun!

You can join us via Zoom, or on the ‘phone only’ option:

To join via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 861 1654 4393 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
“Advent of the Spirit”

Due to the Congregational meeting at 9 a.m., this Sunday’s class will meet from 10-10:45 a.m. via Zoom.

On January 10, we will discuss the last lecture in the “Advent of the Spirit” series. All four lectures are available to listen to, on our church website (the Zoom link is also on that page). You do not need to listen to the lectures to attend class. We hope you will join us!

We are pleased to offer two Sunday School options for families! Gather with other families on Sunday mornings between 10:15-10:45 a.m. for a Zoom session; you can also do “anytime” Sunday School with a prerecorded series of videos and related resources that you can access on our website when convenient. These are updated weekly.
They include fun dance videos as well as Bible stories told in creative ways – like with Legos!

This week's lesson is from the Book of Luke 12: 13-21 - The Parable of the Bigger Barns: share what you have.

To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.:
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116

Is there someone you know who might be interested in our programs?

Happy New Year from Hi Neighbors – FPCB’s popular speaker series that typically meets every Monday morning to hear presentations on a wide variety of interesting topics. These programs are open to all, and of interest to adults of all ages.

In the fall we switched to meeting on Zoom, and held three sessions. We are planning to start up again later this month.

We are in need of support from the congregation for this important outreach to the community, and are looking for people for our planning committee. We are currently “meeting” as needed by email. If you are interested, please contact Leslie Pohl at

The Session recently accepted the resignation of long-time Preschool Director Andrea Barbehenn, effective June 30, 2021. You can read the letter announcing her retirement here.

Please join us in thanking Andie, and congratulating her on this next step in her personal journey. We will keep you apprised of plans to celebrate her retirement as a community.
Sunday, January 17
Sunday, January 24
  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service (via Facebook Live and on our website)
  • 9:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education class (via Zoom)
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Sunday School (via Zoom)
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service (via Facebook Live and on our website)

Sunday, January 31
  • 9 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education (via Zoom)
  • 10 a.m.: Combined Worship Service (via Facebook Live and on our website)
  • 11 a.m.: Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporation (via Zoom)
  • Noon-12:30 p.m.: Hospitality Time (via Zoom)
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**
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Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • 9:00 a.m.: Congregational Meeting – see instructions in yellow box, below, to join us via Zoom
  • 10:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds – see more information above
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Sunday School via Zoom – see more information above
  • 11:00 a.m.: Combined Worship Service - see instructions in blue box, below, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone
  • 12:00-12:30 p.m.: Hospitality Time via Zoom – see instructions in yellow box, below, to join
FOR THIS SUNDAY: : Worship with us “Live” on Facebook
11 a.m. - Combined Worship 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 to view the service
  • Please check in with a comment so we know you’ve joined us!
  • NEW: 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
FOR SUNDAY’S ZOOM GATHERINGS - OR - IF YOU DO NOT HAVE INTERNET ACCESS: You can participate on your phone (audio only)

To join the 9 a.m. Congregational meeting via Zoom:

To join the 9 a.m. Congregational meeting via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 955 325 387 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.

NOTE: You will use this same sign-in for the 11 a.m. Combined Worship service and the Hospitality Time at noon.
  • 7 p.m.: Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom (Meeting # 380 435 9056 / Password: overcomer)
  • January 13-27: Living Spiritually in a Material World via Zoom (see more information 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;

Marianne Zarillo, Business Manager: email:

Cindy Matthews, Bookkeeper: email:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; phone 610-428-9649;

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