Friday, July 1, 2022 Newsletter


10:00 a.m. Summer Worship in the Sanctuary

 (* also available on our website and via phone)
A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: An experiment in fellowship

When I think about what I missed the most during the quarantine phases of the pandemic, two things leap to mind more than any others.

First, of course, was gathering together in person for worship each Sunday. While I am filled with gratitude for the gift of digital media that allowed us to worship together as a community online (and continues to do so), it was a real challenge to preach each week to a camera lens in an empty room twice every Sunday, imagining your faces on the other side somewhere.  
The second thing, though, was eating out with people. There are few things that I enjoy more than exploring a new restaurant, or returning to an old favorite, and sharing in good food and good conversation with others as we do so. 

But for well over a year, eating in restaurants was perhaps even more risky than gathering in worship, and losing both of those crucial experiences of community at the same time was very hard.
I still remember the overwhelming feeling of joy just a little over a year ago when we
gathered together in person as well as online for the first time in 15 months, and I have not taken it for granted a single Sunday since then. What I have realized recently, though, is that I still only rarely gather with others in a restaurant; not because I don’t want to, but simply because I’ve fallen out of the habit or practice.

But gathering together over a meal isn’t just enjoyable, it’s actually one of the central practices of the Christian faith. Jesus himself did a considerable amount of his ministry at the table. The central practice he instituted for his Church to be in communion with him and each other is, in fact, a meal around a table: The Lord’s Supper. Sharing a meal together is one of the best ways to practice koinonia, the Greek word for
“fellowship” or authentic mutual sharing of life and faith between Christians.

As many of you know, this congregation has a long and rich history of emphasizing koinonia, particularly through the long and faithful ministry of the late Keith Brown, as pastor here.
So, in the spirit of our identity as “an Experimental Church,” I thought I would try an
experiment in koinonia for at least the next few months. Once a month or so, starting in July, I’m going to invite up to five people to join me for a meal somewhere with no agenda other than to simply share in good food and conversation around the table in the spirit of koinonia.

The first opportunity will be breakfast next week: Wednesday, July 6, at 8 a.m. If you are interested in joining me, simply email me at and let me know. The first five
people who do so will be invited to join me (and I’ll suggest a restaurant then), and then those who write after that will be invited to future gatherings (the next one will probably be in early August).

And, if there’s enough interest, we’ll simply do it more often than once a month. I hope to hear from you, and look forward to the time with you!

Grace and Peace,

Click the link to read the verses
- This week’s sermon: God's Test by
The Rev. J.C. Austin

- We post the video of each week’s
services and sermon text and audio
on our website:
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper


  • This Sunday is Communion Sunday. If you are worshipping from home, you are welcome to prepare your own elements: a bread or bread-like item (e.g. cracker, pita, bagel) and grape juice, wine or water.

  • The Building Reopening Task Force has issued a new guideline: they encourage that people 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.
With summer officially here, 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.
The Congregational Life team could use some help cleaning up after Lemonade on the Lawn each week.

The tasks include dumping the ice out of the drink cooler before rolling it back inside, and putting the snacks and drinks back in the refrigerator.

Sharing this simple task will help us continue enjoying weekly fellowship together! We could use a helper or two each Sunday. To sign-up for a week, please use this online sign-up or leave a message at the church office, 610-867-5865.
Our second Table Talk will take place on Sunday, July 10 following Summer Worship. We’ll have a Brunch Potluck, so go ahead and make plans to bring your favorite brunch dish to share! 

This month’s conversation and learning will be around the immigration process for our Afghan family. More information about where we’ll gather will be shared closer to the date since that is forecast-dependent. We hope you’ll join us!

As we shared last week, you are invited to submit the titles of hymns and songs that you would like to sing in Summer Worship. You can do that in two ways.

First, you can use this easy online form. Second, you can simply email David Macbeth.

While we probably will not be able to include every submission, the ones that are submitted the most will be included in at least one service this summer, if not more. So, we look forward to hearing your ideas, and to making a “joyful noise” with you in worship this summer!

Genie Robson was a lifelong Lehigh Valley girl and, with her husband Al, a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church. They raised their family in the church, driving the kids to countless youth activities, and Genie called on her nursing background to volunteer in the church’s hospital ministry. 
Her friends reminisced about how Genie prepared the coffee for so many Hi Neighbors meetings and delivered countless rhubarb pies. She was a steady presence, always ready to help when needed. 

Not long before she died in January 2021, she quietly made a gift in support of repairing windows. Her son David remembered that when he and his sister Mary established the Eugenia Y. ‘Genie’ Robson Fund in the church’s endowment. In May, the Session approved this permanent fund that will provide income for the maintenance and beautification of the church’s buildings and campus. 
One friend commented, “That sounds just like Genie; she was a practical woman who saw a need and acted.” Remembering his mother David said, “Mary and I are pleased to remember and honor our mother with this gift and to extend the many contributions she made over the years to her FPC family.”

A named fund in the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem Fund is forever and is a lovely way to remember someone we love and admire. If you have questions about making a gift of any size to the church’s endowment, contact Linda Robertson at
Sewers and knitters and quilters and painters and floral arrangers and anyone interested in fun and fellowship:

All are welcome to join the weekly sessions offered on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. This is a new time - no lunch break. No experience necessary! Materials supplied! We'll meet in Room 408.

The building, office and Preschool will be closed Monday, July 4, in observation of the Independence Day holiday. We will reopen on Tuesday with our regular schedule.

We hope you enjoy a safe and meaningful holiday!
Our Preschool kiddos share in the wonder of our CommUNITY garden
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 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 is
WEDNESDAY at noon**
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Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!
  • 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 on the front lawn
  • 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, NEW TIME! 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)

CHURCH OFFICE AND BUILDING INFO: The building, office and Preschool program will be closed on Monday, July 4 in observation of Independence Day.

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 (
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;

Kevin Konczyk, Facilities Maintenance Manager;

Pam Marth, Administrative Coordinator: ext. 228; email:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238;

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