Friday, October 2, 2020 Newsletter


9:00 a.m. Contemporary 

11:00 a.m. Traditional (also available on our website and via phone)
One of the things I have heard the most from people over the last six months is their surprise about how effective digital versions of worship and education have been for our church.

I don’t mean that we’re doing a version of digital worship or education that is so much better than others; I mean that digital worship or education could ever feel compelling, communal, spiritually fulfilling. This is particularly the case when it comes to the sacrament of Communion, which we are celebrating this Sunday as we do every first Sunday of the month.

And I must say that, surprisingly, that has been one of the most meaningful aspects of our church life together in the pandemic for me personally: continuing to celebrate Communion even as we cannot be in the same room, and experiencing the power of being joined together in the Holy Spirit in a whole new way as we participate from the tables in our homes that all become part of Christ’s boundless table.
All of us need that spiritual community and communion more than ever these days. As we continue through the pandemic and the upheaval in our social and political life as a nation, isolation and loneliness continue to exact a heavy toll on people’s mental and emotional and spiritual well-being.
That is why I want to ask you to take up a new ministry as individuals, a ministry of invitation and welcome by inviting others to join us in worship and education and our other ministry. I believe First Pres is doing remarkable ministry as we continue to live out our Core Values of being a congregation that is Christ-centered, welcoming to all, and cultivating an inquiring and active faith. There are many people in the Lehigh Valley and beyond who are hungering for just such a community, and thanks to our digital presence, can participate more easily in a number of ways.

One of the best ways we can expand our ministry and community, then, is if you actively engage our digital work and share it with others. You can like, comment on and share our church Facebook posts. You can share the livestream of our worship services on your own Facebook page, or even host a “watch party” (Google the instructions on how to do that; it’s not hard!).

You can text or call a friend and invite them to participate in a worship service or an educational offering with you. If they don’t have Facebook, they can access our worship services on our website homepage ( or through the Zoom “phone only” audio link (instructions in the yellow box below).

Our Sunday School programs for children in Kindergarten – grade 5 are also available online: as a ‘live’ Zoom gathering on Sunday mornings, and via prerecorded videos that families can watch at any time together. There are many churches that are not offering any kind of church school – and other families may be new to the idea of children’s religious education. They would likely be happy to know about these great resources!

And one of the ‘silver linings’ of our services, classes and programs moving to online platforms is that we have an easy way to record them. Check our website for the many videos that are available, and consider who you can share them with.

All of these help us to expand our work not only with the individuals that you know, but specifically by boosting our visibility on Facebook; the more a post gets engaged through likes and comments, the wider it gets pushed out by Facebook’s algorithms.

So, I hope that you’ll make an intentional and sustained effort in this “ministry of amplification and engagement” as we seek to live out our calling as a congregation in the digital and the physical world!

Grace and peace,

Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read online
·   This week's sermon: Moving Up 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 THIS SUNDAY: Both Services “Live” on Facebook

SERVICESWe invite you to join either (or both!) of our services via Facebook to watch “live”:
  • 9:00 a.m. – Contemporary service
  • 11:00 a.m. – Traditional 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

You can call in at 10 a.m. to listen to the Congregational Meeting, and then stay on the line to hear the Traditional Service.

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.
This Sunday is the last day for this special offering to PCUSA. If you would like to donate:

You can mail your special offering to the church office (Business Office, 2344 Center St., Bethlehem, PA 18017). Please put “Peace offering” in the memo line on your check. 

If you make your donation online on our website please use the ‘notes’ box to say that this is for the “Peace offering”.

This month’s focus (from Daniel 1) is on “living with integrity”, which means that we choose to be truthful in whatever we say and do. There’s no need to hide or pretend. We can drop the act and choose to be who God made us to be.
We offer a Zoom gathering every Sunday from 10:15-10:45 a.m., and prerecorded videos that you can access at any time on our website (look for the Sunday School logo on our website).

To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.:
Wednesdays at 11 a.m. – noon
Via Zoom

Join Rev. Austin for a casual, drop-in-anytime-during-the-hour time for coffee and conversation (or your beverage of choice).

To join the Zoom Meeting online:
Meeting ID: 8403 994 5735
To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 840 3994 5735 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.

Our adult ed class, Hearts N Minds, has begun its weekly discussion about social justice, what the Bible says to us, and thoughtful, meditative readings. Everyone is welcome and you can join at any time. We meet every Sunday at 9 a.m. via Zoom. The first book is Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans.
The assignment for this week is the chapter titled “Origin Stories” (pages 7-28 in the print version). Please read the chapter through quickly and then go back and underline and highlight areas of interest.

Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: Freedom in Community
Wednesdays: October 14, 21, and 28
7:00 to 8:00 p.m. 
Via Zoom
Presenter: The Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons

As we close in on what is surely one of the most important and contentious elections in our lifetime, let’s take a deep breath, step back from the immediate moment, and talk about some of the “fundamentals” of our life together as Christians, and as citizens. 
On three evenings in October, we’ll dig into Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which speaks to an early church in conflict and tackles some very timely (then and now) questions: What does freedom in community mean? What is the difference between the good news of the Gospel and “fake news”, and how can we distinguish the one from the other? What does responsible citizenship mean when one is called to be in, but not “of,” this world?  
Join us for some spirited (and, we hope, enlightening) discussions on these critically important issues in Paul’s time, and in ours. 
Sunday, October 4 (rain date: October 11)
3 p.m.
"In person/pet" event at the front of the church building
Also available “from home” via Zoom:

Or by phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 8695 414 5626 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – press the # key again.

This Sunday afternoon we will celebrate the animals that are near and dear to us. This is our 3rd Annual Blessing of the Animals and we are looking forward to having you all there. Physical distancing and masks are required for all the humans! 
If this interests you, we will be accepting donations of pet items like food, toys and supplies. These will be shared with our friends at Meals on Wheels of the Greater Lehigh Valley - their clients sometimes struggle with providing for their pets' needs.

We are also excited to offer an online 'from home' option. You can log into our Zoom gathering (or join us by phone), and your pet will receive a blessing. Please contact us at so we can mail you a certificate of blessing; include your pet(s)' name(s) as well as your name and mailing address.

This year’s CROP Hunger Walk will be done a new way – and read below about our Halloween Parade Videotaping Event, which can give you an opportunity to do the walking part of this annual fund raiser.
Partner congregations are encouraged to “go virtual,” promoting, contributing to, and registering for the event online.
Among other things, this means that if people can’t participate on Sunday, October 11, they can do so at a time they find more convenient. It’s up to individual teams to determine how, and how far, they wish to walk.

If you are interested in walking – or just making a donation – please do so online through our team link. To contribute by check, make it out to the church with “CWS/CROP” in the memo line, and mail or drop off your checks to: FPCB, Attn: CROP Walk, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017.

With the challenges of the pandemic, assistance to address hunger issues are more timely than ever, and your support is appreciated. If you have any questions about how to do a “virtual” walk, please contact us at or leave a message at 610-867-5865
A new way to participate in Bethlehem’s annual Halloween event

It's that time to think about parades and fall celebrations. This year the City of Bethlehem is keeping the tradition of the Halloween Parade going by having a virtual parade. Any group participating will be part of the Sunday, October 25, telecast on RCN and Service Electric TV as well as on YouTube Live. With the enthusiastic leadership of our Congregational Life team, we are going to participate too. 

All are welcome to join us on Sunday, October 11 at 1:30 p.m. when we will videotape our participation. We will parade on our church property (meet in the front of the building), and our video will be included with other groups’ to make the entire city parade telecast.
Wear a costume (and a mask), but no political costumes or anything demeaning to others.

We will keep physical distance between households.
If you don't want to be in the parade, come and cheer on our participants! While you’re on the church campus, you are welcome to do your walking for the CROP Walk (see article above) and we’ll also have a bucket to accept donations for that fund raiser. Questions? Contact us at or 610-867-5865.

Please help us spread the word about our new School-Age Virtual Learning Center - meeting a need in our community by providing a safe, supportive space for Kindergarten - grade 5 kids to spend their remote-learning days (when they can't stay at home).

Consider printing out this informational flyer to share with friends, family and co-workers - you can also email it to them, and/or share this link with them:
Our kid-friendly, bright and spacious classrooms are ready to go (along with outdoor spaces), and the staff is hired and eager to welcome families to this program.

The program will be starting soon, and will be offered from Monday-Friday,
7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
We have worked hard to keep fees affordable, and income-based discounts and scholarships are available.
If you missed our initial Hi Neighbors presentation via Zoom, “Voting in 2020: A Guidebook”, you can view it here.

Our Monday, October 19 presentation will continue the voting theme, with a look at the history of the 19th Amendment by retired history teacher and author, Alicia Iacono. You will use the same login information for this 10 a.m. session:

Meeting ID: 889 4647 5793

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 889 4647 5793, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
Friends –

Will you join us in ‘showering’ member Jeaniene Eisenberg with cards, greetings, interesting articles and other mail, as she faces some health challenges:

Ms. Jeaniene Eisenberg
Holy Family Manor – S-T Rehab
1200 Spring Street
Bethlehem PA 18018
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!

  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Service – join us on our Facebook page or website for the live service
  • 9:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education class (see more information above)
  • 10:15 a.m.: Sunday School for K-5, via Zoom (see more information above)
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Service - see instructions in blue box, above, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone 

*If you would like to participate in Communion, please prepare your elements beforehand: a simple bread or gluten-free substitute (cracker, pita, bagel, bread, roll, etc.) and grape juice, wine or water.


  • 11:00 a.m.-noon: Pastor’s Coffee Hour via Zoom (see above for details)
  • 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. 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; ext. 248;

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