Friday, February 5, 2021 Newsletter



9:00 a.m. Contemporary 

11:00 a.m. Traditional (also available on our website and via phone)

This Sunday is the first Sunday of February, and so, as usual, we will be celebrating the sacrament instituted by Jesus with his disciples at the Last Supper before his arrest that began the sequence of events we recall every year in Holy Week that led to his crucifixion, death, and resurrection.

One of the unfortunate ironies of this sacrament is that it should be a source of great unity in the Christian church, but is actually one of the places we experience the most division because of disagreements over theology and institutional authority.
That is reflected in the fact that there are even multiple names for this sacrament: The Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, and Communion. Typically, traditions that view the sacrament as primarily a ritual of remembrance, such as most Baptists and non-denominational traditions, use the language of the Lord’s Supper. 
Those that believe that Jesus is truly present in one way or another through the sacrament, such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Moravians, as well as Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, tend to use either “Eucharist” (which literally means “thanksgiving,” emphasizing gratitude for Christ’s saving grace and continuing presence with us) or “Communion.”

As we prepare for this Sunday, I want to reflect for a moment on the last of these: Communion. The good thing is that while traditions to use some terms occur more than others, they are not mutually exclusive. In the Presbyterian tradition, for example, we still call the sacramental prayer the “Prayer of Great Thanksgiving,” and the theme of gratitude runs throughout it.

And we certainly remember Jesus’ sacrifice when whoever is officiating reminds us that Jesus told his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me” when he was establishing the sacrament. The title of Communion, in particular, reminds us of two crucial and interlocking truths, though.

First, that Christian worship is not simply about what we experience in ourselves, whether that is remembrance or gratitude or anything else. The word “communion” literally means “a sharing or participation in” something, and when we are in Christian worship, we are sharing and participating in an encounter with the living God.

Obviously, this is not the only time we directly encounter God, but it is the most reliable time we can do so, because Jesus promised to be present wherever even just two or three of his followers are gathered in his name (Matthew 18:20). The sacrament of Communion, then, is a particularly powerful and direct opportunity to be in communion with God through Christ’s presence through the Holy Spirit in the sacrament.

And at the same time, “Communion” also reminds us that the sacrament is not an individual experience. When children are around two years old, they engage in what is called “parallel play,” meaning that they play alongside or near other children but not directly with them. Communion reminds us that the sacrament is not “parallel play;” we are not simply communing with God alongside one another, but we are bound together and communing with both God and one another in and through the presence of the Spirit.

In some ways, I wonder if the experience of digital communion may be a way to rediscover and experience that truth, because it is easier to fall into the pattern of “parallel play” when taking communion alongside one another in the Kirk Center or the Sanctuary.

So this Sunday, I invite you to come to worship and this sacrament through the lens of Communion. When we get to that portion of the service, to clear your mind and heart and pray along with the Communion prayer, and as you do so, to hold up the faces or names of others in the congregation.

Some of those might be people to whom you are very close; others may be those whom you’ve drifted away from during the pandemic or for other reasons; some may be those you recognize but don’t even know their names!

But whatever the connection may be, explore in your heart what it means to be in communion with each and all of them in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit in that moment; give thanks to God for them and pray for their well-being; and remember both that they are in communion with you and with God in that moment through the sacrificial love and grace of Jesus Christ.

I think doing this will be a powerful spiritual exercise for all of us, and I look forward to being in communion with you this Sunday!

Grace and peace,
If you would like to participate in Communion, we invite you to prepare your elements beforehand: a bread or bread-like item (cracker, pita, bagel, etc.) and grape juice, wine or water.
And if you are so inclined, we would appreciate photos of you with your communion elements, so we can all see who participated. You can share in the Facebook comments or send to us.

Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: Always on the Move 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

We had a great turnout for our Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporation this past Sunday. Over 100 devices were tuned in (four screens’ worth of faces)! 
In addition to other business, 20 nominations for leadership positions within the church – for elders, deacons, trustees and Nominating Committee members – were approved:

Elders: Kari Keyock, Kim Miner, Al Philpotts, Steve Samuelson, JoAnne Turcotte 
Trustees: George Bickford, Bob Hunsicker, Maurice Kasmiroski      

Deacons: Melody Engel, Phil Fair, Jane Masters       

Nominating Committee Members: Matt Cascioli, Nancy Cramer, Linda Filipovits, Kurt Flammer, Mike Keyock, Wendy Magocs, Irene Maunz, Tracy Samuelson, Judy Smullen

These church members will be ordained and installed at future worship services. Next week’s newsletter will include a recap of Session activity for the past several months, as well as more detail from Sunday’s meeting.          
Financially supporting FPCB

Many thanks to those who have made their annual pledges to FPCB for 2021. We know it has been a difficult year, financially, for many, and we are very appreciative of your continued support.

Pledge packets were mailed in November. If you did not receive one, here are a couple of options:

  • Visit our website, This will take you to a page where you can download and print the stewardship letter and the pledge form. You can then mail the pledge form to our Business Office.

  • If it’s more convenient, send an email to or leave a message at 610-867-5865 and we will mail you a packet.

When making your pledge, we encourage you to consider the monthly electronic deposit option so that your monthly pledge will be automatically paid to FPCB, ensuring funding coming in all year round.

For the following situations, please contact Marianne Zarillo, our Business Manager, at or call 610-867-5865 and leave a message for her:

  • If you requested monthly pledge envelopes and did not get them.
  • If you would like a confirmation that your pledge was received.

For those who use Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT):

If you had an EFT set up to give donations to the church in 2020, and want to continue an EFT for 2021: you needed to send in a new pledge card or send an email to the Business Office to confirm that. If you did not renew your EFT pledge, it is not currently being taken out of your account.

There were also ‘glitches’ with some banks erroneously deducting the 2020 amount on January 20, 2021. Some then followed up with another deduction of the 2021 amount. Most banks have corrected this error, but if you had two deductions taken for January, please contact Marianne.

Proportional Giving

Every member of a PC(USA) church is asked to support the work of the larger Presbyterian Church (USA) and their local Presbytery with a special offering called “Proportional Giving”. For 2021 the amount is $39.13 per member.

  • If you received pledge envelopes, there is a designated envelope for that offering.
  • You can send a separate check to the Business Office, with “Proportional Giving” in the memo line.
  • You can make your Proportional Giving payment online – add the words “Proportional Giving” in the ‘notes’ section of the form.

Thank you for your continued support!
Wednesday, February 17: We will offer our Ash Wednesday worship service at 7 p.m. via Zoom. This will be a Communion service, so if you want to participate, you will want to prepare your elements. You can also prepare your own ashes (see last week’s newsletter), or if you’d like prepared ashes:

Please send a request for prepared ashes to no later than this Sunday, February 7 at 12:30 p.m. You can also call the church phone (610-867-5865) and leave a message. Be sure to let us know if you will pick up or if you will need delivery.
As we do each year, FPCB will take a special collection for the Souper Bowl of Caring this Sunday. As part of this national initiative, these funds will go to our mission partner, Northeast Community Center, to support their food programming for seniors.

You can send a separate check with “Souper Bowl” in the memo, or make a secure online donation – add the words “Souper Bowl” in the ‘notes’ section of the online form.

The needs of our neighbors continue, so 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.
Beginning this Sunday, February 7, the Hearts N Minds adult ed class will be exploring The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending the Bible Has Made us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns.

For this Sunday, please read through page 26 up to Chapter 2: “God Did What?”. For next Sunday, February 14, we will read pages 29-70, so feel free to start now.

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 will be back with our ‘Zoom’ Sunday School option this week, in addition to our “anytime” Sunday School with the prerecorded series of videos on our website. 

This month is “Super Fan Month!”. Kindness is one of the Fruits of the Spirit. Every day, you can show others they are valuable by how you treat them.
This week’s story is from the book of Ephesians 4:32: Be kind to others because God is kind to you.

To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.: 
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116
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.

The Barry Brandt Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to provide income for scholarship assistance to Protestant students, preferably First Presbyterians, who have financial need and demonstrated scholastic ability.

If you are currently enrolled in an accredited college or university or if you have been accepted for the fall semester and anticipate financial need, consider completing an application to the Fund.

For questions about the scholarship assistance, please contact Fund Committee Chair, Lisa Titus, at

Covid Vaccine Clinic is relocating

The Bethlehem Health Bureau has decided to change the location of the Covid Vaccine Clinic it had scheduled to hold at our church building. It has relocated to Wind Creek Casino in Bethlehem.

It is our understanding that if you had an appointment already scheduled, you will receive an email from the Health Bureau to confirm your appointment.

If you have questions about previously scheduled appointments or any other inquiries, you need to contact the Health Bureau directly at 610-865-7083. Please do not contact the church; we do not have any information about the clinics. Thank you!
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
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: 955 325 387, 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. 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;