January 25, 2019



Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
 A Special Blessing – Our Retired Pastors
This past week there was an article entitled “Retired Pastors Enrich Congregations” in the Presbyterian Outlook [the main independent publication in the Presbyterian Church (USA)]. It detailed how the First Presbyterian Church in Sarasota, Florida has a number of retired pastors from multiple denominations worshipping and participating in the life of the church, and how their presence and ministry strengthens the church. As I read the article, I thought to myself: “Hey, that’s our story!”  

When I was interviewing for the pastorate here at First Pres, I remember one person telling me that there is a “special blessing” at First Pres in the form of a group of retired pastors who have made this congregation their church home and are a major source of wisdom and support to help the congregation in this time of transition and transformation. 
As I have been thinking back over the past year in preparation for the Annual Congregational Meeting coming up on Sunday, February 10, it has been a pleasure to see how true that is. We have retired pastors who preach and lead worship from time to time, sing in the choir, even serve on committees that are helping us build and expand our ministries in this new era for First Pres. That last one is particularly awe-inspiring to me; after decades of active ministry in the Presbyterian Church, they are still voluntarily serving on committees even in retirement! 
In addition to all of that, Cindy Simmons writes the introductions to our Scripture lessons in worship every week , and created and led the children’s presentation in December about the history of the beloved Christmas carol, Silent Night. Steve Simmons has taught a well-received adult education series on the Gospel of Mark and helped coordinate the recent program on understanding the faith practices of other traditions. Joyce Smothers has served on several special projects and task forces, including the Lenten Supper series. While one of First Pres’ greatest strengths is that it is a “member-driven church,” the wisdom and energy of these retired pastors has been an invaluable support and boost to the ministry that our members are driving in so many ways.

Finally, we have a number of retired pastors who are in worship regularly and are holding our congregation in prayer constantly, encouraging and supporting our leaders and members in their own ministries. It’s been a pleasure to get to know some of those folks over the past year, which includes not only Presbyterians but also a few Moravians, Lutherans, and Methodists! And I’m particularly grateful for Keith Brown, our Pastor Emeritus, in this regard; Keith loves this church and its people, so while a Pastor Emeritus does not engage in formal pastoral work, his prayerful support for our ministry together is a true gift, and he has been a great friend in ministry to me personally.

So, keep an eye out for those retired pastors in our midst and say a special thanks to them for all that they do when you get a chance!

Grace and Peace,
For those who typically attend our Contemporary Service, we will offer a special gathering this Sunday (January 27) from 10-11 am in the Kirk Center, after our regular service time. Join Rev. Austin and members of the Worship Task Force for a discussion about contemporary worship, answer questions, and listen to feedback about the current service and ideas for the future.
Our new boxed envelopes are available to pick up beginning this Sunday (January 27) in Fellowship Hall.
The Mission Committee would like to thank all those who participated in the Giving Tree. You donated close to $5000, with your contributions including everything from chickens to bunk beds and education to empowerment. You allowed us to reach out to the world - as their slogan says "Small Gifts, Big Impact."
All humans share the same questions.

Judy Smullen and Linda Robertson invite you to a discussion of Why Religion? A Personal Story by nationally recognized theologian Elaine Pagels.  

On two Tuesdays - February 5 and 12 -  from 1-2:30 PM in the Parlor, they will examine the story of the death of Pagels’ young son and then her husband.
The second session unpacks the layers and textures provided by the Bible and the Gnostic Gospels and the entire story begins to fall in place. 

Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University. She was awarded the Rockefeller, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Fellowships in three consecutive years and is the author of The Gnostic Gospels , Beyond Belief , and Revelations . 
Helping Hands is looking for volunteers to go on a one-to-three day flood relief trip to Tremont, PA over the weekends of February 7-9 and March 7-9. Work is being done on four houses and the Methodist Church in Tremont, which are among the 40 houses and buildings that were flooded.

Volunteers have a choice of staying overnight (at the UCC Manse in Tower City) at a cost of $10/night to cover the cost of food, or go for the day. Tremont is a 1.5 hours’ drive from First Presbyterian Church, Allentown, and carpooling is available. If you are interested, please contact Kevin Kehoe at 610-597-0978.  
This Sunday, January 27, we will begin a study of Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. Everyone is welcome to join us at 9 am in the Parlor.

"Debby Irving's powerful  Waking Up White  opens a rare window on how white Americans are socialized. Irving's focus on the mechanics of racism operating in just one life -- her own -- may lead white readers to reconsider the roots of their own perspectives -- and their role in dismantling old myths. Readers of color will no doubt find the view through Irving's window fascinating, and telling."
--  Van Jones , author, Rebuild The Dream, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems; President, Rebuild The Dream; 
Co-host, CNN Crossfire  

Help us spread the word by printing and sharing this flyer

We talk about restorative justice and restorative practices, but what do those terms really mean? How are these considerations even relevant for "regular" people? How might these practices help us resolve conflict at home, school, work, place of worship, etc.? How can individuals or groups make a difference for others involved in the criminal justice system?
Restorative Practices: Changing our Response to Wrongdoing , a presentation by Bob Costello, is appropriate for middle schoolers, young adults, and adults of all ages. It is free and open to the public and will be held from 9 am-noon in the Kirk Center; sign up here. This workshop is sponsored by the Discipleship Committee.
Our presenter is the Assistant Commissioner for Organizational Development at the NYC Department of Probation. He has worked for more than 20 years in the fields of mental health, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, inpatient and outpatient services and alternative education. Bob is the co-author of The Restorative Practices Handbook for Teachers, Disciplinarians and Administrators and Restorative Circles in Schools: Building Community and Enhancing Learning.
Our partner, Outreach Depot, is looking for new or gently-used blankets for their clients (please, no electric blankets). We will have containers in the North Link and Kirk Center Rotunda until Sunday, February 10. They were exceedingly grateful for our toiletry drive last year. Thank you for considering a donation!
If you are trained to take blood pressure readings and would be interested in doing that on occasional Sundays, please contact Pam Swank.
Our new Handbell Choir is currently on hiatus, and will start weekly rehearsals on Tuesday, February 5 at 5:30 pm.

No experience is necessary to join this energetic group, which will be preparing to share their talents at Easter cele-brations! Contact David Macbeth for more information.
The Depression Support Group is for anyone whose life is affected by depression – whether yourself or someone you care about. Sessions are Tuesdays from 12:30-2:30 pm in Room 206
(PW Room). For more information contact
The First Pres Preschool and Extended Care program is now registering for fall 2019. They are offering an informational workshop and Open House on Tuesday, February 5 at 7 pm to learn more about their programming for 2, 3 and 4 year olds.
If you know someone who might be interested in their hands-on, learning by playing program, please share this information with them!

Those planning to attend are asked to contact Andie Barbehenn by email or at 610-867-2956. Click here for all the details about FPC's Preschool program.
Preschool to Grade 5

For the 9:00 service, the class is in room A4 in the childcare suite on the first floor of the Kirk Center (near the Kirk Center lobby). Parents are asked to bring their children to A4 before the service.

During the 10:30 service, the children will attend the first part of worship with their families and leave with their teachers after the Children’s Chat. Please remember to sign up your children in the Narthex before going into the service.

The same curriculum will be used in both classes, and, as in the past, child care will be available during both services for younger children. If you have any questions, please contact  Elizabeth Conard .
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  • Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each service; join us for light refreshments and fellowship
  • 9:00 am Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • 9:00 am Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
  • 9:00 am Adult Education class, Hearts N Minds, Parlor
  • 10:00 am, Contemporary Worship Conversation, Kirk Center
  • 10:30 am Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • 10:30 am Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5 (children attend first part of
worship service), Room E3-4
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 am to noon, Room A3

MONDAYS: It’s a Start fitness class, 10 am, Middle School Step
TUESDAYS: Depression Support Group, 12:30-2:30 pm, Room 206 (PW Room); Handbell Choir is on hiatus until Tuesday, February 5
TUESDAYS (February 5 & 12): Afternoon Book Group, 1:00-2:30 pm, Parlor
WEDNESDAYS: Overcomers Outreach, 7 pm, Room 408
THURSDAYS: Choir Rehearsal, 7 pm, Sanctuary; Al-Anon Family Group, 7 pm, Room 212

FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (February 5 & 19): Successful Aging, 10:30 am,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (February 20): Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1:00 pm,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (February 21): Prayers & Squares, 10 am – 2 pm, Room 408 (bring your lunch and join us to create quilts and prayer shawls)

Sunday, January 27: “Worship Conversation” immediately following the 9 am contemporary service in the Kirk Center (for those who typically attend this service)

Sunday, February 10: Annual Congregational Meeting – more details to follow

CHURCH OFFICE HOURS: We are open Monday-Thursday, 9 am – 4 pm.

As always, you can leave a voicemail message with the church any time at
610-867-5865 or contact us at info@fpc-bethlehem.org .

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,  phone: 610-867-8361 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 | info@fpc-bethlehem.org

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

The Rev. Sue Bennetch , Pastoral Care Associate: ext. 209;

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

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities: ext. 210; RAngione@fpc-bethlehem.org

Andréa Wells, Business Manager; ext. 211: AWells@fpc-bethlehem.org

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

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

Website:   www.fpc-bethlehem.org