Friday, April 30, 2021 Newsletter


9:00 a.m. Contemporary 
11:00 a.m. Traditional*

 (* also available on our website and via phone)

A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Share your ‘good words’

A few weeks ago, I announced that we will be starting a sermon series after Pentecost (which is observed on May 23 this year) called “A Good Word,” in which we will explore a particular word or concept from a Biblical perspective.

The words themselves, however, may be almost anything. Some of them may be very “churchy,” while others may have nothing to do, at least directly, with Scripture or faith. If you have a word or concept that you want to suggest, there is still time; please send it to or call the Church Office (610-867-5865) and leave it in a voicemail message.
I’m excited about this series, because it takes the power and importance of words seriously. One of the greatest lies we sometimes learn as children is the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

But that is a lie. Words can and do hurt far, far more than physical pain. 
When used maliciously, just a few words can destroy a relationship, divide a community, or start a war. The pain of cruel words from a parent or teacher can last for years, decades, even a whole life.

On the other hand, just a few words can create a relationship, heal a division, or establish a just and lasting peace. The power of inspiring words from a parent or teacher can carry us through some of the most difficult seasons of our lives. Words shape our identity, our beliefs, our perception of reality, our understanding of faith.

So: what words make you curious, make you apprehensive, make you confident? What words have you always struggled to understand, or felt were problematic, or wondered if people were using correctly or helpfully?

The words that we’re already considering are all some kind of answer to those questions, I think; words like forgiveness, anger, justice, atonement, play, soul, and past. We’re eager to see what new words may still find their way into the mix, and which ones seem to have the most interest among the congregation.

So if you haven’t responded to the invitation to help influence the content of preaching here at First Pres this summer, don’t wait any longer! Get your words in, and I’m looking forward to exploring together!

Grace and Peace,

Scripture lesson:
Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: The End of Love by The 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 Sunday

This Sunday is
Communion Sunday
To participate, please prepare your elements beforehand: a bread or bread-like item (cracker, pita, bagel, etc.) and grape juice, wine or water
COMING NEXT THURSDAY: B.I.G. offers Community Day of Prayer
Thursday, May 6 at noon
livestream via YouTube

In commemoration of the annual National Day of Prayer, members of the Bethlehem Interfaith Group are offering an hour-long online event, “Community Day of Prayer”, livestreaming on YouTube. The event is free and open to the public, and is available to view at
Centering on the theme, “Honoring what was lost... and commemorating what we found… in this past year’, the local faith leaders will offer prayers about creation and our environment, racial equality, health care, essential workers, and spiritual care, among others.
B.I.G. was formed in 2017 when local faith leaders recognized the importance of providing a different kind of vision, where people of diverse faith backgrounds could foster dialogue and seek common ground. The group’s focus is on education, justice and friendship.
LOOKING AHEAD: Sunday, May 9 Outdoor Combined Worship Service

We will offer an outdoor worship opportunity on Sunday, May 9 at 11 a.m., on the east side of our building. As a combined service, it will feature elements of both our Contemporary and Traditional services.

We ask you to let us know if you plan to attend by completing this short form, or leaving a message on the church phone (610-867-5865). Protocols will be in place: everyone must wear a mask; physical distancing will be in place; and you are asked to bring your own chairs.

The service will be livestreamed and available to listen to via phone only, as we typically do. You may also park your vehicle in the east parking lot and listen to the service on 88.3 FM.
Each year on Pentecost Sunday (this year, on May 23), we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the church. The Holy Spirit remains with us still, connecting us with the church of the past, continuing to inspire the church of today, and pointing us to the church of the future. Each year, this celebration is marked by receiving the Pentecost Offering which nurtures the faith of those who are the church to come — children, youth, and young adults.
Congregations keep 40% of raised funds to initiate or support programs for young people in their communities.

Make your special offering by writing a check to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, memo: Pentecost Offering, or making a donation online at (put “Pentecost Offering” in the notes box). 
By The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation & Justice

This summer, the church will host monthly fellowship events for children and youth of all ages (and their families). Join us for fun activities and opportunities to build relationships with church friends! Save these dates for our first two get-togethers:

Sunday, May 16: Ice Cream & Popsicle Social - Join us on the church lawn for sweet treats and games at 2:00 p.m.! Bring a blanket or chairs to hang out. Masks are required except when enjoying our frozen treats.
Sunday, June 13: IronPigs Baseball Game - We’ll meet at Coca-Cola Park after worship services and enjoy the game together. Tickets are $11, and each one includes $2 of ballpark credit to use for food or drink. The game starts at 1:35 p.m. To attend, please email me ( with your family’s headcount by Thursday, May 13. 
Per stadium guidelines, masks are required unless actively eating and drinking, and our group will be seated in socially distanced pods in field level seating.

I’m looking forward to meeting y’all and spending time together! Our children and youth ministries’ volunteers are excited to join us, too! Be on the lookout for announcements about our July and August events in the weeks to come.
DISCIPLESHIP CLASS: Pray Without Ceasing

Saturday, May 15 from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.: outdoors in the FPCB Memorial Garden
rain date: Sunday, May 23 
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. –
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

You are invited to join us for the last of the three sessions of the Pray Without Ceasing series by stopping by the FPBC Memorial Garden on Saturday, May 15.  
Drop in anytime between 1:00 -2:00 p.m. for a self-guided, move at your own pace, sensory experience of God. You will find various "stops" along the way drawing your attention to the present moment in heart, mind, and body, ultimately opening our awareness to the Divine. This experience will be silent, taking a respite from our chatter, allowing ourselves time to notice, wonder, and enjoy.  

(Miss the first two sessions? You can view them here:
10 a.m. via Zoom

Join us as The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton presents “Lindsey’s Library: Books and Poems That Change Us”. She will take inspiration from her experience teaching high school English and how that informs her ministry and spiritual life.  
She writes, “I envision it being a conversational presentation with some feedback and participation along the way. I’ll include stories from the classroom, plus formative books and poems from my life, and I’ll invite others to share some of their favorites, too.”

To join Zoom online:
Meeting ID: 880 1333 6329
To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter
the Meeting ID: 880 1333 6329 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the
participant ID – press the # key again.
For this Sunday, May 2, the class continues with its new book, Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus by Jim Wallis. All are welcome to join the discussion!

Reading assignment: Chapter 2 – Christ in Crisis, "Who Is My Neighbor?"

To join via
Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450
To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099when 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.
ZOOM SUNDAY SCHOOL: New Month, New Theme!

This month’s theme, “5K: Run the Race” means that to grow and mature in our relationship with God we need to practice - practice takes commitment.  
This week's story is inspired by 1 Corinthians 9:24-25: "Training to Win the Prize". Training the body has some value. But being godly has value in every way. It promises help for the life you are now living and the life to come (1Timothy 4:8).
We are pleased to offer two Sunday School options for families to use these lessons! Gather with other families on Sunday mornings between 10:15-10:45 a.m. for a Zoom session; you can also do “anytime” Sunday School with a prerecorded series of videos on our website. 

To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.: 
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116
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.: Hearts N Minds adult education class – see more information above
  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service, livestreamed on Facebook and website
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Zoom Sunday School – see more information above
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service, livestreamed - see instructions in blue box, below, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone 
FOR THIS SUNDAY: : Worship with us “Live” on Facebook
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!
  • 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
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE INTERNET ACCESS: You can participate on your phone to listen to the 11 a.m. Traditional 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.
  • 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. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice;

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; phone 610-428-9649;

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