Friday, May 7, 2021 Newsletter


11:00 a.m. Combined Service*

 (* also available on our website and via phone)

Those who rejoice and those who weep

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, which is not a Christian holiday, but it is a significant cultural holiday.

Doubtless you’ve been inundated with all the ads touting various products as “the perfect gift for Mom,” or special discounts on flower arrangements, and of course the stores are filled with Mother’s Day greeting cards.
Many families are planning special celebrations for the mothers in their lives, which has taken on a particular energy this year when those who are vaccinated can finally gather safely again for such family celebrations. And it is wonderful and important to take time to celebrate the mothers in our lives who have given so much of their time and energy and love to ensure the health and well-being of their children.
At the same time, precisely because of all that attention and celebration, Mother’s Day can be a very difficult day for many people. There are those whose relationship with their mothers is a source of conflict, emotional pain, or even abuse. Being constantly urged to celebrate such a relationship is itself then a source of pain or trauma.

Then there are mothers who are estranged from their children, for many different reasons, and who mourn that estrangement. There are children who are grieving the death of beloved mothers, so Mother’s Day gets wrapped up in that grief; there are mothers who are grieving the death of their children, which makes the day particularly painful.

And there are women who want to be mothers but are not, whether because of life circumstances, fertility issues or because of miscarriages (which bring their own unique and often unrecognized grief) or life circumstances.

As Christians, we are called to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). I want to suggest that verse as the lens through which we view and understand Mother’s Day as Christians. For many, it is and should be a day of rejoicing in good and faithful mothers, and we can and should join in those celebrations as part of our pastoral ministry.

At the same time, there are many who are weeping on Mother’s Day, and we have a responsibility to join in that at least as much as in the rejoicing, so that members of Christ’s Body are not weeping alone.

So this Sunday, in the Prayers of the People, we will hold those who rejoice and those who weep in prayer. And I encourage you, in your own lives, to find ways to be in a ministry of both rejoicing and weeping with those around you as well, so that we may share Christ’s love with those who are in particular need of it, in times of joy and times of sorrow.

Grace and Peace,

Scripture lesson:
Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: Love is a Noun and a Verb by The Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton

·     We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper for Sunday

LOOKING AHEAD: Sunday, May 9 Outdoor Combined Worship Service

NOTE: We are watching the weather, so please check our website / Facebook page / church voice message before venturing out.

We will offer an outdoor worship opportunity this 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.
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.
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 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.

Sunday, July 18:  Movie Night on the Church Lawn

Sunday, August 15: Pool Party hosted by the Benway Family

I’m looking forward to meeting y’all and spending time together! Our children and youth ministries’ volunteers are excited to join us, too! 
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:
For this Sunday, May 9, 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!

Our reading assignment is Chapter 3: “The IMAGE Question – Are We All Made in the Image of God?

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: Practice takes Commitment

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 Matthew 7:24-29: The Wise and Foolish Builders.

Practice hearing from God. When you practice listening to God's words it can help you discover what it’s like to love God and love others each day.
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
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Zoom Sunday School – see more information above
  • 11:00 a.m.: Combined 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. Combined 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;