Friday, August 9, 2019


9:00 a.m. Contemporary ∙ 10:30 a.m. Traditional
Join us for “Lemonade on the Lawn”, our hospitality time from 10-10:30 a.m.
on the back lawn 
A Remarkable American Experiment

This past Tuesday marked the 145th birthday of a remarkable American experiment in “out of school vacation learning,” the Chautauqua Institution, which was founded by two Methodist laymen, Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent in 1884.
Originally created for the training of Sunday School teachers, it has since expanded to encompass a vast array of public lectures and forums, musical, artistic, and dramatic productions, opportunities for interfaith engagement, and other cultural experiences for curious adults and young people. 
My wife Cindy and I, along with more than a few members of First Presbyterian, have been privileged to participate in the Institution’s summer offerings over the years. 

Last month we experienced a week on the theme of “Uncommon Ground: Communities Working Toward Solutions” and one on “A Planet in Balance,” the latter presented in partnership with the National Geographic Society. We also heard a variety of presentations on topics ranging from Report for America (which supports young people in helping to revitalize local journalism in small and mid-sized towns), to a “Nat Geo” initiative that is enabling both ranchers and wolves to coexist and thrive in Montana (who knew?), to a cooperative that is removing an enormous amount of plastic from our oceans and recycling it into flip-flops and other useful items to support low-income communities worldwide, to a local high school teacher in Mississippi whose nationally-recognized oral history project is helping his students and the broader community explore and heal the wounds left by slavery and its aftermath. And that’s only a sample.
Beyond lifting up the unique entity that is Chautauqua*, there’s a bigger point here. It’s tempting, in the face of a 24/7 news cycle that seems to bring nothing but the latest round of bad tidings, to throw up our hands, tune out, and simply say, “What’s the use?” But even now, countless people and organizations (more than a few of them sponsored by the PCUSA and other faith communities) are rolling up their sleeves in creative and effective ways to work for a better future for this generation and those that will follow. 
Their work often goes largely unheralded, but they represent a tremendous force for good. May their tribe increase!

Steve Simmons

* Recognizing the moral imperative of fostering deeper, more meaningful dialogue among people of different faith traditions, Chautauqua offers programs that engage religious leaders and communities in public and private dialogue. They continue to build upon Chautauqua’s historic convening power and 20-year Abrahamic Program, and its growing role as a lived interfaith community, with perennial work that brings leaders and scholars into conversation — with one another and with the broader community — and challenges us all toward interfaith learning and understanding. More information:

FIRST LESSON: Genesis 15:1-6
Hebrews 11:1-4, 6-10, 13-14, 29-33, 39-40  
·       This week’s sermon: Promises That Change Everything by
the Rev. Dr. Sally A. Brown               
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
Join us for the second annual CommUNITY garden potluck this Wednesday,
August 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Kirk Center. Everyone is welcome! Three main dishes will be provided, including a vegetarian option; please bring a side dish or dessert to share (if your dish is vegetarian will you please label it as such).
On that evening we anticipate having guests from the other churches, temples and mosque that are supporting our garden (pictured, right). We provide fresh produce for   New Bethany Ministries  in Bethlehem and  Safe Harbor in Easton – this past week we harvested 56 pounds of fresh produce for them!  

Questions should be directed to Leslie Pohl at
The Lehigh Valley Pride Festival is Sunday, August 18 at the Jewish Community Center, 702 N. 22nd St., Allentown, from noon to 6 pm. The day includes a variety of activities, including entertainment, artists, drag bingo, and a pride rally. (See the schedule ; note this is a paid event ). 
The vendor area will include artists, retailers, and non-profits. First Presbyterian Church of Allentown has invited FPCB to share space at their information table, and our Deacons will lead our church’s participation by giving out hugs to those wanting one.

The day will begin with a Pre-Pride Christian worship service, offered by Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley, and a Pre-Pride Jewish worship service by Congregation Am Haskalah: The Lehigh Valley’s Reconstructionist Community. Both services will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the JCC.
Mission Opportunity
The Helping Hands Care Team of Lehigh Presbytery has scheduled its third mission work trip to Fayetteville, NC for October 19-26 (Saturday-Saturday) .  
Participants are needed to assist with the recovery efforts after heavy rains and flooding caused extensive damage to the churches and homes in that area. It takes years for areas to recover from these storms and every helping hand makes a difference in the lives of people who lost so much.
There are no specific skills or experience required, other than to be flexible and provide whatever help is needed. Plumbing, electrical, roofing, and dry wall installation skills are always welcome.

The cost is $200 per person and participants must register by October 1. Information can be found on the Lehigh Presbytery website or call 610-391-9020.
We currently have two donations-in-progress – look for the bins in the North Link and Kirk Center rotunda.
·          New socks and underwear for school-age children (collected through this Sunday, August 11) – part of the “We Got Your Back” program for area children (see below)
·          Travel-size toiletries – these will go to folks impacted by natural disasters (collected through Sunday, August 25)
In addition to the donations (see above), here is an opportunity for adults, teens and kids to volunteer alongside other folks in the Lehigh Valley on Saturday, August 17. That's the day the backpacks will be distributed to area kids in need.

The “We Got Your Back” program was established by Wesley Church to provide filled backpacks and new socks and underwear, as well as haircuts, hearing screenings, vision screenings, a tour of a patrol car, Cops N’ Kids book distribution, and dental screenings.  
For more info / to sign up:   please use the online sign-up.
The August reading group will meet on the next two Wednesdays – August 14
and 21 – from 1-2:30 p.m. in the Parlor. All are welcome! They will be discussing:
Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2019, Penguin Press

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked why America has a schizophrenic personality on the question of race ( Where Do We Go From Here? ). 
More than 50 years later, we are still asking the same question. At these August meetings we will discuss Gates' newest book. Be forewarned, the book contains disturbing photos and cruel caricatures of African-Americans.
In this new feature we will take a look at the many opportunities to serve and to be involved in the life of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.
The Hospitality Team provides the baked goods, prepares the beverages and hosts the two hospitality times on Sunday mornings (“Lemonade on the Lawn” in the summer, pictured right ).

New members are welcome to join our team and volunteer for any of these responsibilities:

Bakers: Bake at home or join our monthly baking day at the church.
Sunday volunteers:  Assist with set up, hosting and clean up, before and after Sunday services.

Phyllis Walker and Cathy Scharf co-chair this team; if you are interested please contact Cathy at 610-442-2586.

We will be adding the weekly Prayer List to this email each week. Click here for a printable copy; you can also pick up print copies in the Narthex, rotunda, Fellowship Hall and brochure racks.
Send us your news and photos to share:
Deadline for newsletter: Wednesday at noon
* * *
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!
- Weekly Chancel Choir rehearsals will begin on Thursday, August 29 from 7-9 p.m.
- We will offer an outdoor combined service and picnic at 10 a.m. on Sunday, September 8.


  • 9:00 a.m. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • “Lemonade on the Lawn” between each service; join us for light refreshments and fellowship on the back lawn (inclement weather: Fellowship Hall)
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room A3

TUESDAY:   Crafters, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Room 408;
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAY: Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: September 1): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services, North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: September 15; no meeting in August ): Bereavement Group gathering; this is a new date going forward, and there will be a new location.
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: August 20): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: August 21):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: August 15): Prayers & Squares, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Room 408
(bring your lunch and join us to create quilts and prayer shawls)

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.

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 |

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;

Andréa Wells, Business Manager; ext. 211:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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