Friday, January 22, 2021 Newsletter


9:00 a.m. Contemporary Worship Service

11:00 a.m. Traditional Worship Service*

also available on our website and *via phone

Friends, the Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporation of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem is coming up on Sunday, January 31, at 11 a.m. via Zoom (one week from this Sunday).

At this meeting, we will hear reports from the Session, the Board of Trustees, the Board of Deacons, and the Joint Finance Committee, and there will be opportunity to ask questions. But the most important thing we will do is consider the report from the Congregational Nominating Committee about whom they have discerned is called to ministry with and to and among us as the members of First Presbyterian Church. 
As you may recall me saying a few weeks ago when we gathered to consider extending a call to the Rev. Lindsey Clifton as our new Associate Pastor and then later in the sermon that day, Presbyterians hold the right of the people to discern and elect their own leaders to be sacrosanct. That is why the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee reported directly to you as the congregation, rather than through the Session.
The Congregational Nominating Committee operates the same way, and for the same reasons, every year. You, as the congregation, elect the Nominating Committee (just as you elected a special nominating committee for the Associate Pastor), and then it is the Nominating Committee’s job to go out and look for those within the congregation who have the gifts, skills, vision, and passion to fulfill the office(s) in question, and at this particular time in the life of our congregation.

Typically, they begin their work in the early fall, which includes both their own internal conversation about potential candidates and your suggestions that come in through the written nomination process that we do every fall. After a number of conversations, they begin establishing a list of those whom they think are best to ask, and then go out and ask them if they would consider serving.

Not everyone agrees with the Nominating Committee’s assessment! But that is both fine and to be expected. In the Presbyterian Church, we understand a calling to have three elements: 1) the providential call: the gifts and skills to do the work involved; 2) the personal call: the individual having a sense that they are to use those providential gifts in a particular ministry; and 3) the congregational call: the church itself recognizing those gifts and issuing the call to the individual. If any one of those three elements is missing, for any office, then it is not a true call, at least for that moment.

Here is the list of nominees that this year’s Congregational Nominating Committee is bringing for your consideration and potential election to serve as Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and members of the following year’s Congregational Nominating Committee.

Please take a moment to review those carefully, to consider them, and pray over them and our nomination process. They will be presented during the Annual Meeting with an opportunity, as always, for discussion and nominations from the floor (again, the will of the people in such elections is sacrosanct, and the people may feel that the Nominating Committee missed something!)

I look forward to being with you in the meeting on January 31 (one week from Sunday), and to us taking up this crucial and sacred responsibility in the life of the church.

Grace and peace,

NOTE: This afternoon you will receive another email with the biographies of all of the nominees, as well as the link to our Annual Report.

Scripture lesson:
Jonah (selected verses)

·   This week's sermon: The One That Got Away 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 Sunday


9 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education class (see details on page 5)
NOTE: There is no Sunday School for today


To join us via Zoom:

To join via phone (audio only): 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.

10 a.m.: Combined Worship Service via Facebook Live (Zoom link is for phone [audio] only)

11 a.m.: Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporation via Zoom

12 p.m.: Hospitality Time via Zoom

NOTE: This afternoon you will receive another email with the biographies of all of the nominees, as well as the link to our Annual Report.

On Sunday, January 31, we will gather as a community for a 10 a.m. Combined Worship Service livestreamed on Facebook Live, followed by our Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporatation, via Zoom. It will be followed by a Hospitality Time, also on Zoom (see log-in details, above).

All members are encouraged to attend this important meeting, at which we will address business of the congregation and corporation, including nominations.

Please be prepared to participate in the election of new Elders, Trustees, Deacons, and members of the Nominating Committee. These are the responsibilities of each:

Elders comprise the Session of the Presbyterian Church which is, in essence, the decision-making body of the church. They recommend and approve all program and policy implementation and modifications in the church. Elders serve a three year term and the Session meets monthly; Elders generally serve on one or more committees, which also usually meet on a monthly basis.

The Deacons are the caregivers of the church. They minister to the individual members through home communion and visits, hospital and prayer ministries, and providing support to those in difficult situations. Deacons serve a three year term and typically meet monthly.

The Nominating Committee members are charged with identifying candidates for Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and the Nominating Committee itself. This committee usually meets three or four times each year; the term of service is one year, and a member may serve no more than two consecutive terms.

Trustees oversee all financial and property matters in the church including the budget, building renovations and repairs, planned giving, and investment funds. Trustees meet monthly and members will also serve on one additional committee, such as the property or finance committee, which also generally meets monthly. The term for Trustees is three years. 

The Worship Committee is looking for individuals interested in recording our weekly scripture readings for both the Contemporary and Traditional services. We will provide simple instructions on how you can record the reading on your own device, and email it to us so it can be included in the livestream service.

If this interests you and you would like more information on this, please send your name and email address to
The Discipleship Committee’s series has one more session on Wednesday; you are welcome to attend it, even if you did not participate in the first two (you can view the videos here:

Wednesday: January 27
7 p.m. via Zoom
Leader: The Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons
In this series, we’ll consider what the Bible says about wealth (and poverty), how we can best use our material resources to live faithfully as disciples of Christ, and even how we can make “decluttering” our lives a spiritual discipline.
  • January 13: “Biblical Economics”
  • January 20: “Effective Christian Responses to Poverty”; guest presenter: Abby Goldfarb, executive director of the Lehigh Conference of Churches
  • January 27: “Decluttering as a Spiritual Discipline”

To join us via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 842 4025 0484  

To join via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 842 4025 0484 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
We had a great time at our first-ever virtual Trivia Night, sponsored by the Congregational Life committee, and we are looking ahead to offering another Game Night tonight (Friday, January 22) at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

Everyone is welcome to join us!
We’ll plan to play Scattergories, which is a fun-for-all-ages game in which you choose items to go in specified categories – easy for everyone to do (“name a fruit that starts with the letter ‘L’”). Each player should have paper and something to write with.

To join us on Zoom:
Member ID: 861 1654 4393

To join via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 861 1654 4393 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.

Thank you for the generous contributions we collected in December for our Community Giving Tree – as the needs continue, we are now asking for your donations to support Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering.
BES provides services for homeless men and women, through the cold winter months. Through a consortium of faith communities, volunteers, grants and donations support the small staff.

We are asking for donations of small fruit cups, nutrigrain/granola bars, and paperback books (especially those geared towards a male audience). You can deposit in the tub outside the South entrance; if you cannot travel to the church building please contact us at or 610-867-5865 and we will arrange for pick up.

The Hearts N Minds adult ed class will return this Sunday to finalize its discussion of Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans.

You may want to secure a copy of the next book the class will explore: The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending the Bible Has Made us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns.
Readings for Sunday’s class from Inspired: pages 165-189. The short piece is a reminder of those Choose Your Own Adventure books many of our children enjoyed. Also please read Matthew 14:22–33; Mark 1:40–45 and 5:21–43.

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.

We are pleased to offer two Sunday School options for families! 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 and related resources that you can access on our website when convenient. These are updated weekly.
The selections include fun dance videos as well as Bible stories told in creative ways.

This week's focus is on “Using Our Talents: It’s up to us to make the most of what God has given us.” It is based on Matthew 25:14-30: The Parable of the Talents.
To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.:
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116

Is there someone you know who might be interested in our programs?
Hi Neighbors is FPCB’s popular speaker series where adult learners of all ages hear presentations on a wide variety of interesting topics, to watch or listen to via Zoom.

On Monday, February 8 world travelers Bob Brown and Madeline Brown will take us on an armchair trip to central Europe with Slovenia, Closest Thing to Heaven with Lake Bled”.
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.
One of our ministries is to send cards and notes to folks who might especially appreciate something in their mailbox.

If you know of someone whose day we can brighten, please send us their full name and mailing address and we’ll take care of the rest!
Thank you to Kate Arrington and Lizzie Arrington for faithfully fulfilling this ministry!

The Bethlehem Health Bureau may be offering a Covid Vaccination Clinic
in our church building. We are not involved in any of the clinic operations.
You must call the Health Bureau at 610-865-7083 for ALL QUESTIONS AND APPOINTMENT SCHEDULING. Please do not contact the church.
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 Worship service via Facebook Live and on our website
  • 9:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds – see more information above
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Sunday School via Zoom – see more information above
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service - 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
You can participate on your phone (audio only)

To join the 11 a.m. Traditional Worship service via phone (audio only): 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.
  • 7 p.m.: Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom (Meeting # 380 435 9056 / Password: overcomer)
  • January 27 at 7 p.m.: Living Spiritually in a Material World via Zoom (see more information above)

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; phone 610-428-9649;

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