Friday, January 24, 2020 Newsletter

Special Schedule for this Sunday
10 a.m. Combined Service in the Sanctuary
followed by Annual Congregational Meeting

No Sunday School or Hospitality Hours
A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Interesting – and exciting!

As you hopefully know, this Sunday is our Annual Congregational and Corporation meeting, immediately following a combined worship service (with elements of both contemporary and traditional worship) at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary.

I have to admit, “Annual Meeting” is not the most exciting title; it sounds like “same-old, same-old” in terms of what happens. So you may be surprised to hear that I think this meeting will not just be important, but also exciting!
To me, what is really exciting is a momentous milestone in the life of this congregation: you will be asked to approve the start of a process to call a new, full-time associate pastor to serve here! This pastor will be fully involved in the life of the congregation in terms of worship leadership and pastoral care, but they will provide programmatic leadership in three key areas: welcoming and engaging newcomers to the church; ministry with children, youth, and their families; and community outreach and justice work.
These are three of the four mission priorities that the Session has identified for us over the next three years, so this position is designed specifically to support those priorities. 

You will recall that the Session also identified this position as one of the most important goals of this year’s stewardship campaign, and Session members themselves are so excited and committed to it that they (myself included) all increased their annual pledges to support this and other initiatives for the congregation. Many of you in the congregation followed suit in doing that, as well.

And, I’m pleased to say that we also had some anonymous donors who are particularly passionate about the importance of this associate pastor position and who created a pool of pledged gifts that guarantee a minimum of three years of funding for the position. So this alone makes the Annual Meeting very exciting and different from the same-old, same-old!
As important and exciting as that is, though, I also need to say that I think the “normal” part of the Annual Meeting is important and exciting, too. It is always a sacred and significant thing when the congregation is calling its leaders to service, which we will do with a group of people nominated to serve as Elders, Deacons, and members of the newly-reconstituted Board of Trustees, as well as the Congregational Nominating Committee itself.

We will hear reports from the Board of Deacons and the Session, and you will have the chance to ask questions about those reports. And you will hear reports about the church finances and budget for this past year and the coming one, too, and have a chance to ask questions about them.

So, I look forward to seeing you in worship, at this important and exciting Annual Meeting, and hopefully at the pasta luncheon that our Scout Troop is providing afterwards as a fundraiser for the troop! In any case, please pray that God continues to bless our life and ministry together as we have been so richly blessed so far.

Grace and Peace,

Micah 6:1-8  
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
·      This week’s sermon: S imple Ain't Easy  by Rev. J.C. Austin        

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
This Sunday, Jan. 26, we will gather as a community for a 10 a.m. Combined Worship Service , followed by our Annual Congregational and Corporate Meeting (note: no Sunday School or Hospitality Hours; Hearts N Minds will meet at 9 a.m. as usual).
All members are encouraged to attend this important meeting, at which we will address business of the congregation and corporation, including nominations. It will conclude by noon (see below for info about the Pasta Luncheon fund raiser offered by Boy Scout Troop 302 after the meeting).
Please be prepared to participate in the election of new Elders, Trustees, Deacons, and members of the Nominating Committee. The list of the nominees is HERE for your review; 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 will 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. Because the Board of Trustees is being newly established, nominees will initially be asked to serve one, two, or three years.  

Our new Handbell Choir has been on hiatus, and will start weekly rehearsals on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. No experience is necessary to join this energetic group, which will be preparing to share their talents at Easter celebrations! Contact David Macbeth ( ) for more information.
Again this year we have a chance to help the Bethlehem Area School District reduce its lunch money deficit. As last year, we will be collecting GENTLY USED shoes which will be shined up/repaired by small business people in developing countries and sold to give them an income.  
All shoes are being collected: men, women, children and toddlers. There will be special collection boxes in the North Link and Kirk Center starting Sunday, Feb. 2 through March 28. Thank you!
CHURCH DIRECTORY: Collecting member information

Thank you! We had a great response to our first collection of information to update our church database, the first step to creating a new church directory. 
Volunteers will be available again on Sunday, Feb. 2 to collect members’ information (name, address, home phone, cell phone and email address, as available). We will also be offering options to share your information with us by online form (coming soon), by mail, and over the phone, and we will make arrangements to meet with our members who live at Kirkland.  

Hearts N Minds has returned to its study of For Everything a Season by Sister Joan Chittister. The focus will be on the chapter titled “A Time to Kill”, beginning on page 85 in the written version. All are welcome, whether you have read the book or not, or attended any of the previous sessions.
From Elder Joanne Kelhart , chair of the Worship Committee:

 We extend our thanks to Cindy Simmons for coordinating readers for our worship services for the past year, and are happy to welcome Lindsey Chadbourn and Marie Rosenthal, the new coordinators for this effort.

If you’re interested in serving as a reader in the Contemporary service, please contact Lindsey, and Marie will be handling the Traditional readers. Both can be contacted at .

We are also in need of volunteers to serve as greeters, ushers, and communion support for both services. Please contact Joanne at if you feel called to serve.

Thank you to all who participated in the Giving Tree, the Presbyterian Mission Agency supporting people in need of a ‘hand up’ around the world. 
For those who gave through the church, we purchased $4327 worth of goods. Some people gave directly and so our church total is likely around $4500. 
Whether it was a fishing net or a latrine, people’s lives were made better through your generosity! 

The First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem Fund, our endowment fund, “provides a joyful opportunity for members and friends to share what God has entrusted to their care for the enhancement and development of the church’s ministry and mission”.

In a recent church newsletter, the Endowment Committee reported on significant awards to a pre-medical student in Colombia, Central America and a junior at West Virginia University.

Other Mission-related awards made in 2019 include:

  • $1,100 to the Northampton Community College Foundation for Spartan Aid for homeless students.
  • $1,000 to Helping Hands, Lehigh Presbytery’s program to help rebuild houses touched by disaster. FPCB member Kevin Kehoe and others serve on the Helping Hands team (look for their info table in the North Link on Sunday).
  • $900 (two gifts) to Lehigh Valley Outreach Depot, an ecumenical service that provides furniture, housewares, and disaster kits to people who are reestablishing their lives in the Lehigh Valley and beyond.
  • $840 (two years) to Hearts for Honduras in support of education for a student in La Entrada, Honduras. FPCB member Leslie Pohl participated in a mission trip.
  • $800 to the Bethlehem Emergency Shelter, headquartered at Christ United Church of Christ. The shelter operates during the winter months to provide warm, safe sleeping for our homeless neighbors. 
  • $400 to TEACH Rwanda, an educational ministry begun by a Bethlehem woman that teaches students whether they can afford it or not. Our grant covers school and bus transportation for a year.
  • $500 to the Lehigh Council of Churches’ Lazarus House, which provides shared housing for adults re-entering the community following incarceration.

NEW! Plastic Film Collection Program
Wondering what to do with all those plastic grocery bags,
produce bags, dry cleaning bags, bubble wrap, bread bags and
other plastic film that your household uses?

We will begin a new collection program on Sunday, Feb. 2 –
watch for details!

The First Pres Preschool and Extended Care program is now registering for fall 2020. They are offering an informational session and Open House on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. to learn more about their programming for 2, 3, 4 and 5 year olds.
If you know someone who might be interested in our hands-on, learning by playing program, please share this information with them!

Those planning to attend are asked to contact Andie Barbehenn at 610-867-2956 or For all the details about our Preschool program, visit
If you have not received your 2020 pledge envelopes
in the mail, please contact our Main Office
at or 610-867-5865.
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 Melody Engel at 484-695-4905 or to keep us up to date.
Send us your news and photos to share:
**Deadline for next week's newsletter: Wedneday at noon**
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Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • 9:00 a.m. - Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 40
  • 10:00 a.m. - Combined Worhip Service, Sanctuary
  • 11:00 a.m. (approximately) – Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporation, Sanctuary
  • Noon (approximately) – Pasta Luncheon, a fund raiser by Boy Scout Troop 302, Fellowship Hall
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 9:00 a.m. to noon, Room A3

MONDAYS:   “It’s a Start” Fitness Class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step Room
TUESDAYS: Optimism 101 (formerly Depression Support Group), noon - 2 p .m. (note new time), Room 206
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach , 7 p.m., Room 420
THURSDAY: Chancel Choir rehearsal , 7 p.m., Sanctuary; Al-Anon Family Group ,
7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: Feb. 2): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services,
North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: Feb. 9 ) : Bereavement Group gathering; bring your lunch if you like
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: Feb. 4): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
FIRST THURSDAY (next: Feb. 6): Presbyterian Womens Circle , 1:00-3:00 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: Feb. 19):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: Feb. 20): Prayers & Squares, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Room 408 (bring your lunch and join us to create quilts and prayer shawls - no experience needed)

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 ( note new phone): 610-737-4074  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 Associate: ext. 209;

David Macbeth , Music Director: ext. 202;

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities Manager: ext. 210;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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