Friday, January 10, 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!
A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Learning more about Communion

Recently, we have had several opportunities, scheduled close together, to share Communion as a congregation. That also means that we’ve had several opportunities in which people have asked different questions about why we do what we do in celebrating Communion, so I thought I’d address some of those in the newsletter this week.

Q: Do Presbyterians believe anything “happens” in Communion, or is it just symbolic?

A: Reformed theology (the tradition from which Presbyterians come) has always said that we don’t simply remember Jesus in Communion, but Christ is actually present in the sacrament each time we celebrate it. Instead of Jesus coming down to be physically present in the bread and wine, as our Roman Catholic friends believe, Reformed Christians believe that in Communion the Holy Spirit lifts us up into Christ’s presence through the bread and wine, feeding and strengthening us in spirit and in faith with Christ. 
That is why you hear a lot of language in the communion prayers about God “pouring out” the Holy Spirit upon us and upon the bread and wine, so that we can be nourished spiritually on Christ.

It’s also why those who are serving communion receive it themselves before they serve others; to be able to share something, you must first have it yourself!
Q: What’s the difference between calling it the Lord’s Supper, Communion, or the Eucharist?

A: It’s really more of a distinction than a difference; each of those terms has a particular theological emphasis, but without excluding the others. “Lord’s Supper” emphasizes that it is Christ who initiated the sacrament and commanded us to do so, as well. “Communion” emphasizes that Christ is truly present in the sacrament; we are communing with Christ, not simply remembering him. And “Eucharist” is based on the Greek word for thanksgiving, so it emphasizes that we respond to communion with Christ with gratitude and joy.

Q: Why do we have Communion once a month? Shouldn’t it be more special?

A: Actually, John Calvin, the founder of the Reformed tradition, thought Communion was so important that we should celebrate it at least once a week! At the time of the Reformation, Roman Catholics generally only took Communion once a year; Calvin felt this was depriving most Christians of one of the most reliable experiences of God’s grace, but the Session in Geneva felt that once a week was too big of a leap from once a year, and was only willing to approve four times a year. 

Calvin conceded defeat, but said that while he thought this was wrong, he hoped future generations would correct it. That took awhile, but in the 1970s Presbyterians and other Reformed Christians finally began rethinking their practices around Communion in light of early Reformation theology.

Again, most congregations felt once a week was too big of a leap, but once a month became a common practice so that Communion would feel like a regular and integral part of worship; a meal to sustain us rather than a rare treat.

What other questions do you have about Communion or other worship practices? Let me know and I will try to address them in the future!

Grace and Peace,

Isaiah 42:1-9  
Matthew 3:13-17
·      This week’s sermon:  Who Are Your People  by Rev. J.C. Austin        

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:

On Sunday, Jan. 26, we will gather as a community for a 10 a.m. Combined Worship Service , followed by our Annual Congregational and Corporate Meeting . All members are encouraged to attend this important meeting, at which we will address business of the congregation and corporation. It will conclude by noon.
After the Annual Meeting, you are invited to attend a fund raiser luncheon in Fellowship Hall , offered by Boy Scout Troop 302. The pasta meal costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 10; please be prepared to pay cash at the door.
The menu includes baked ziti, pasta and sauce, meatballs, salad, rolls, iced tea, lemonade, coffee/tea, and desserts.
This is a fund raiser for Boy Scout Troop 302, to assist with their operating costs, which took a sharp upturn this year after their budget was established. FPCB’s sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop 302 since November, 1917, is the longest continuous sponsoring relationship of a Boy Scout troop in Bethlehem.
CHURCH DIRECTORY: Collecting member information

As we shared last week, a new team has been formed to assist in the updating of our church membership database, which will then be used to create a new Church Membership Directory in the spring. 
Volunteers will be available on the next two Sunday mornings to collect members’ information (name, address, home phone, cell phone and email address, as available).

  • 8:45-9:00 a.m.: Rotunda
  • 9:45-10:30 a.m.: Fellowship Hall
  • 11:30 a.m.-noon: Fellowship Hall
Your assistance is needed to assure we have accurate information. In addition to confirming your info, we will need your express permission to print your information in our directory. We thank you for taking a few minutes to take care of this important process.

We will also be offering options to share your information with us by online form, by mail, and over the phone, and we will set up a location at Kirkland Village at a future date for our members who live there.
Because we want to turn this project around quickly, we will not be including photos in this first version; we plan to publish another directory with photos within the year.
Thanks for your cooperation! If you have any questions please contact us at
Children’s Sunday School and Hearts N Minds adult education both return this Sunday, Jan. 12. 
Based on work done in the fall by the Hearts N Minds class, a small group has been working to craft a suggested immigration policy. On Sunday the small group will share what they have written; class attendees can make suggestions, and if they choose, sign a statement of support that will be taken by the small group to a Jan. 16 meeting with Sen. Bob Casey’s staff (a similar meeting with Sen. Pat Toomey’s office is being planned).

In working on this project, the small group has attempted to be bipartisan and pragmatic. They are also, following the pattern of the Sunday morning classes, trying to look at social justice issues through a lens of Christian love. 
On Sunday, Jan. 19 the class returns to its study of For Everything a Season by Sister Joan Chittister. The focus will be on the chapter titled “A Time to Die” (page 77 in the print version). All are welcome, whether you have read the book or not, or attended any of the previous sessions.

Elder Joanne Kelhart, chair of the Worship Committee, is looking for:

  • Coordinator of the readers for the Traditional worship service (we have a volunteer for Contemporary service). The coordinator will maintain the list of readers and schedule them to read. They also need to be able to email the volunteers and send them a schedule.

  • Coordinator of the greeters for the worship services; this person will put together a schedule and contact the greeters. 

Both of these jobs are done bimonthly. For more information or to volunteer, contact Joanne at .

At the January Stated Assembly of Lehigh Presbytery we will have a special speaker, Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains. Tod will share a combination of illuminating insights and practical tools to help you re-imagine what effective leadership looks like in our rapidly changing world.

It will be held on Friday, Jan. 24 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.

All are welcome; RSVP to the Lehigh Presbytery office at 610-391-9020 or . Copies of the book are also available to purchase from the Presbytery office.

In November we told you about Christ UCC Church (where FPCB has a dedicated team of members who prepare and serve lunch once each month).
Christ UCC also recruits individuals and/or groups willing to help with meals, and to handle a number of other volunteer tasks for the people who stay in their overnight shelter during the winter months. 

Prior to volunteering, you are asked to complete an application form and view their volunteer orientation materials. 
Links to the form and orientation materials, as well as the list of volunteer spots are included in this online sign-up form .
If you have not received your 2020 pledge envelopes
in the mail, please contact our Main Office
at or 610-867-5865.
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**
* * *
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: “It’s a Start” Fitness Class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step Room
TUESDAYS: Optimism 101 (formerly Depression Support Group), 12:30-2:30 p.m., Room 206
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: Feb. 2): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services,
North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: Jan. 12 ) : Bereavement Group gathering; bring your lunch if you like
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: Jan. 21): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY ( next: Jan. 15 ):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
FIRST THURSDAY (next: Feb. 6): Presbyterian Womens Circle , 1:00-3:00 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: Jan. 16): 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. NOTE: The building will be closed next Monday (Jan. 20) in recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. 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:
    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 Care 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;