Friday, February 28, 2020 Newsletter

SUNDAY SERVICES: 9:00 a.m. Contemporary ∙ 10:30 a.m. Traditional

No Sunday School - Hearts N Minds will meet

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
In my Ash Wednesday sermon this week, I talked about how the purpose of spiritual disciplines is to help orient our hearts towards God, to seek the treasure of our lives in God’s presence with us, and purpose for us. 

The season of Lent, which began with Ash Wednesday, is traditionally a season of repentance and deepened commitment to practicing our faith, both as a means of preparing for the celebration of Easter. 
Some Christian traditions emphasize the penitential dimension of the season by encouraging people to give up something that they enjoy to demonstrate the sincerity of their new direction (the word for repentance in New Testament Greek literally means “to change one’s mind or direction”). 
This is where the tradition of giving up chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, etc. for Lent comes from. In the Reformed theological tradition, from which Presbyterian comes, the emphasis has generally been on the deepened practice of faith; we often say we take something up, rather than give something up, for Lent. Given our emphasis on faith seeking understanding (an “inquiring faith,” as we call it in our Core Values here at First Pres), Presbyterians have often fulfilled this call by taking up a deeper practice of studying Scripture or theology.

As Lent begins, I want to encourage you to consider something that fulfills both these dimensions of Lenten practice: joining the first event in a series hosted by the Discipleship Committee called “Constructive Conversations.” The first session is on ‘Engaging Our Faith in Public Life’, which I will be leading tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 29, at the church from 8:30 a.m. – noon.

This program clearly fits into a deepened practice of faith, as we consider the crucial and challenging issue of how our faith informs and even compels our participation in public life, and how we do so in a way that is both faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ and constructive in the public discourse of democracy, especially in these highly polarized times. And it also counts as giving something up: a Saturday morning that could have been spent lazing around the house!

So whatever your reason, it’s not too late to begin Lent well and decide to join the conversation tomorrow. I hope to see you there!

Grace and Peace,

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Matthew 4:1-11
·      Wilderness Temptation by
The Rev. Dr. Sally Brown      

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
A follow-up to the video greeting we made last week…
If you were in worship last Sunday, you know that we made a brief group video of people attending the service, expressing love and support to Matt Hess, the son of Rev. Bill Hess, who was such a faithful Interim Pastor to us in 2016-18.

Matt had a devastating sports vehicle accident some months ago and has been on a very difficult road of recovery ever since, with Bill and his wife Bev offering strong support.

We sent the video message to Bill earlier this week, and he responded in characteristic form: with gratitude, positivity, and a strong sense of faith. He did say that their current prayer is for Matt to get through the surgeries ahead of him so he can start physical therapy and learn to deal with his paralysis.

Matt has been on our church prayer list since the accident, but we are asking you to be sure and include Matt, Bill, and Bev in your personal prayers so that they may know the entire congregation is caring spiritually for them from afar.
“Constructive Conversations: Engaging Our Faith in Public Life”
Saturday, Feb. 29
Registration at 8:30 a.m.;
Program from 9 a.m.-noon
Kirk Center
The Discipleship Committee is offering a new series on “Constructive Conversations” that will begin with this session led by Rev. J.C. Austin. Sign up here or call the Main Office at 610-867-5865; it is free and open to the public.

The morning will include an exploration of some basic commitments and tools that people of faith can use to be active citizens and good neighbors, especially in divisive times. 
March 5 and 12 (Thursdays)
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Room 416
Did you know that David is mentioned more than any other figure in the Old Testament? Do you want to learn more about him?
Whether you attended the first session yesterday or not, you are welcome to join the discussion led by John Dudding.
There is no text book to buy; participants will be reading selected bible passages from 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel.

Join us on any or all of the dates to dig deeper as we consider whether David can be considered 'Everyman'.
Wednesdays, March 4 – April 1 from 6-7:30 p.m.:
Community Lenten Suppers (see article, below)
Sunday, April 5: Palm Sunday (Communion Sunday)
Thursday, April 9: Maundy Thursday (plans for this evening’s service
will be announced soon)
Friday, April 10 at 8 p.m.: Tenebrae service
Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m.: Compline - contemplative, candlelit service
Sunday, April 12: Easter Sunday

As we did last year, we will be offering a Community Lenten Supper series on Wednesdays, running March 4 - April 1. We’ll gather at 6 p.m. for a simple meal. This will be followed by a brief reflection, led by Rev. Steve Simmons, focusing weekly on “the mind of Christ” (see article below) .

We will be offering a general Lenten devotional for an individual or family if they wish, which will be distributed around the church (Narthex, Fellowship Hall, rotunda) beginning on Ash Wednesday. This is a different topic than the Lenten supper material.

Help us spread the word about these Lenten events – we will have Lenten season postcards available with details that you can share with friends and family. They will be located around the church for you to pick up.
March 4, 11, 18, 25, and April 1 (Wednesdays)
6:00- 7:30 p.m.
Fellowship Hall

“Having the Mind of Christ”
At First Presbyterian, our first Core Value states that we are a Christ-centered congregation: “In everything we do, we strive to follow Jesus Christ faithfully through the authority and insight of God’s Word and Spirit, to imitate Christ in how we treat others.” The Apostle Paul is even bolder, asserting that the church is the body of Christ, and even that we “have the mind of Christ.”
On five Wednesday evenings in Lent, we’ll explore what this all means, considering who Jesus was and is (Word/Wisdom of God, Savior, prophet, teacher, reformer, healer…), what he has done for us (what, after all, do we mean by “atonement”?), and what he asks of us as an expression of his continuing presence in the world.

We’ll conclude by reflecting on what it means to be followers of Jesus in an increasingly multifaith and secular culture.

We’ll offer a simple potluck meal – use this online form to let us know you’re coming. You can also sign up to bring a salad or dessert to share, or if you are willing to help with set-up or clean-up; use this simple sign-up for that info.

You can also call the Main Office at 610-867-5865 with your information; be sure to specify the date(s). 

Hearts N Minds is now studying The Last Week by Marcus Borg and John D. Crosson - a commentary about the last seven days of Jesus in Jerusalem. The class will then return to Sister Joan Chittister’s book, For Everything a Season , on April 18.

All are welcome, whether you have read the books or not, or attended any of the previous sessions.
If you are a resting elder (someone who has previously served as an elder, but is not currently), we ask you to consider this opportunity to serve our congregation.

Because of the size of our congregation, First Pres has three Commissioners (representatives) to the quarterly Lehigh Presbytery meetings, which are held at different churches around the Presbytery. Along with Elders Rich Hjorth and Joanne Kelhart, you would attend the meetings and vote on behalf of our congregation on the various issues that are raised.

This is a great way to volunteer without a huge time commitment. If you are interested, please contact Sue Farber by Monday, March 9.

It’s that time of year… for spring cleaning! Let’s help get our beautiful building ready for spring and Easter.

Our Congregational Life Committee is sponsoring a spring cleaning session on Saturday, March 21 from 9 a.m.-noon. We’ll provide a pizza lunch after a morning of work.
Please let us know you’re coming by contacting us at or calling 610-867-5865.
Hi Neighbors returns on Monday

‘Hi Neighbors’ is a social-sounding name for a popular learning opportunity here at First Pres!

On Monday mornings through mid-May you will find adults from all over the Lehigh Valley gathering in Fellowship Hall. A coffee time begins at 9:15 a.m., followed by two programs by local presenters.

The programs might be armchair travels, an in-depth look at local history, health and wellness info, or details about local government and community initiatives. They’re guaranteed to be interesting!
The first presentation on this coming Monday, March 2, will begin at 9:45 a.m. and feature popular storytellers Jim and Janet Stahl: “Storytelling Around the World”. The Stahls coach storytelling teams to tell Bible stories in their own languages to help them start with the Bible translation process.
So far they have helped start Bible storytelling efforts in Papua New Guinea, South Asia, other parts of Asia, Eurasia, Ethiopia, and have helped other like-minded organizations carry out Bible storytelling for their ministries. 

Instead of a second presentation for this first session, attendees will be treated to a complimentary pizza lunch.

For next Monday, March 9, Ron Yoshida returns to talk about “Walking in Kashmir and in the Footsteps of Buddha” – he will make one presentation, from 9:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Everyone is welcome, so please share this information with family and friends! Details are on the First Pres website and our Facebook page, under “Events”. There is no cost or pre-registration required.
Thank you! We are closing in on our first 100 pounds of collected plastic! Right: Sally Ross weighs a bag with a hanging scale used for weighing fish – that’s 2.5 pounds in that big bag!

What can be recycled? Use the flyer attached to our previous newsletter – there are many types of plastic that can be recycled but please be aware of what cannot.

Collection tubs are located in Fellowship Hall, the Rotunda, and by the South entrance (near the Main Office). NOTE: All recycled items must be clean and dry.
CALLING ALL HANDS… no skills or experience required!

 The Helping Hands Care Team of Lehigh Presbytery has scheduled its fourth mission work trip to Fayetteville, NC. The trip will take place between Saturday, March 28 – Saturday, April 4.
Volunteers are needed to assist with the recovery efforts after heavy rains and flooding caused extensive damage to the churches and homes in that area. It takes years for areas to recover from these storms and every helping hand makes a difference in the lives of people who lost so much.
There are no specific skills or experience required , other than to be flexible and provide whatever help is needed. There are jobs for every skill level and we have experienced volunteers to help train you. We do, of course, welcome those with plumbing, electrical, roofing, and dry wall installation skills.

The cost is $200. 00 per person and participants must register by Thursday, March 12.   Contact the Lehigh Presbytery office at 610-391-9020 or 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 through Sunday, March 29. Thank you!
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem
Sunday, March 15 at 4 p.m.
“Satori” is a mixed ensemble of winds, strings, and piano, and plays both traditional and contemporary chamber music. The group's repertoire ranges from baroque to 21st century selections, often intertwined in a single performance.
There is no charge but there is a suggested donation of $15.
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.
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**Deadline for next week's newsletter: Wedneday at noon**
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  • After each service: Hospitality in Fellowship Hall – join us for fellowship and light refreshments
  • 9:00 a.m. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • 9:00 a.m. - Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room A3

MONDAYS: “It’s a Start” Fitness Class, 9:30 a.m., Middle School Step Room
TUESDAYS: Optimism 101 (formerly Depression Support Group), noon - 2 p .m. (note new time), Room 206; Handbell rehearsal, 5 p.m., Middle School Step Room
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: March 1): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services,
North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: March 8 ) : Bereavement Group gathering, 11:30 a.m. in Room 206; bring your lunch if you like
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: March 3): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
FIRST THURSDAY (next: March 5): Presbyterian Womens Circle , 1:00-3:00 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: March 18):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
NEW DAY! THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: March 18): 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;