Friday, July 16, 2021 Newsletter

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

 (* also available on our website and via phone)

If I had kept a list of all the things that I’ve needed to know something about in the practice of ministry that I did NOT learn in seminary, it would be a pretty unusual list.

There are some obvious things that they really should teach in seminary, particularly around church finances. Believe it or not, it is not just possible to be ordained and installed as the pastor of a congregation with zero training in budgets, fundraising, balance sheets, or endowments; it is standard! 

Then there are the things to a particular context you have to learn about that are essential but would never be taught in a seminary: when I served in New York City, I did a lot of research about the history and current practices of Wall Street; when I came to Bethlehem, I read about the history of the Moravians and Bethlehem Steel. 
And then there are the crises that come up suddenly that have an impact on the world or the lives of people in the congregation or community. So in the aftermath of 9/11, I studied up on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the history of U.S. engagement in the Middle East. When the Great Recession happened, I learned about credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations. And over the past 16 months, I’ve learned a great deal about virology, epidemiology, and immunology!
People sometimes complain about what “they don’t teach you in seminary,” but that is based on a false premise: that you should learn everything you need to know to practice ministry in three years of seminary. That is not only impossible, it’s never been the intention.

Presbyterians, in particular, stress that lifelong education is crucial not just for the practice of ministry, but of faith itself, which is why we put such an emphasis on adult education in congregations. For pastors, seminary provides the crucial basic elements required for ministry, but it is expected that you will spend the rest of your life continuing your theological and practical education for ministry.

That is why pastors are given a minimum of two weeks a year for study leave. Study leave is time away, but not time off (time off is vacation, which is different, but also important)! It is time dedicated to the kind of ongoing learning necessary to practice ministry well.

For the last week or so, I’ve been on study leave, and I’m grateful for both the time and the first chance in 16 months to not be thinking about how to respond to a crisis, but rather how we can discern together the best opportunities for our ministry together as a congregation emerging from the pandemic, and how we can pursue the most fruitful of those opportunities faithfully and well as we move forward into the future to which God is now calling us. I’m excited about what lies ahead for us!

Grace and Peace,

Scripture lesson:
Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: A Good Word:
Justice 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


  • Everyone over the age of 2 is required to wear a mask.

  • Child care will be available from 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in Room C1-2 – please ask a greeter for directions to that space.

  • We will offer nametags for folks to wear – you can pick up as you enter the worship space; please write your first name.

At Sunday’s Traditional service, we will receive these new members: Jennifer Cole, Deborah Drake, Marsha Heimann, Martin Heimann, Chris Moravek, and Susan Nelson. Welcome to the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem family!
Staff and volunteer receptionists did not return to the building
this week as originally planned. We encountered some
unexpected complications in getting the office suite ready for
regular operations again. We’ll share more about when office hours will resume as updates are available.

Our popular “Lemonade on the Lawn” social time will be offered from 10-
11 a.m. on Sunday, between the services. Stay after the first service or come early for the second, and stop by for a cool drink, snack, and fellowship.
We’ll also have a table set out for a “fresh produce exchange.” If you have extra bounty from your garden, bring it with you to place on the table to share with others. We’ll do this every week through the growing season. 

Our CYF program has planned a Movie Night “out on the lawn” for Sunday evening, July 18, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets, and settle in for a fun family evening!

We’ve chosen the movie Raya and the Last Dragon. Based on traditional Southeast Asian cultures, the film follows a warrior princess who seeks out the fabled last dragon, with hopes of restoring the dragon gem that would once again banish the plague Druun and reunite the tribes together as Kumandra.
In case of bad weather: we’ll reschedule; check our website or Facebook page for updates.

The Lehigh Valley Pride festival will be held on Sunday, Aug. 15 from noon-6:00 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center in Allentown.  
The day will begin with a Pre-Pride
Interfaith Service at 10:30 a.m., hosted by the Bethlehem Interfaith Group. All are welcome.

We’ll share a booth with our friends at First Pres in Allentown, and we’re looking for volunteers to sign up for shifts throughout the afternoon.  
We’ll have a fun, easy community art project for festival-goers to participate in, and it will be a great opportunity to share more about our church with folks who may be interested! If you’d like to volunteer, please email Lindsey to sign up.
The Endowment Committee is accepting applications for the
2021-2022 school year for scholarships from the
Barry Brandt Educational Assistance Fund.
If interested in more details:
We’re looking for volunteers to contribute baked goods to serve at
Lemonade on the Lawn social times. If interested, please contact
Phyllis Walker at
or leave a message at 610-867-5865.
Please specify the date and what you’ll donate.
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!


  • 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: Child Care in room C1-2
  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service, in-person in the Kirk Center AND livestreamed
  • 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.: Lemonade on the Lawn social time, east side of building
  • 11:00 a.m.: Combined Worship Service, in-person in the Sanctuary AND 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;

Laura Hawk, Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;