Friday, August 2, 2019


9:00 a.m. Contemporary ∙ 10:30 a.m. Traditional
Join us for “Lemonade on the Lawn”, our hospitality time from 10-10:30 a.m.
on the back lawn 

The beginning of August is always a little strange for me. Generally, when it comes around I am either on vacation or about to depart, as I am this year; I’ll be taking about two weeks of vacation starting on Monday, August 5. 
The odd thing is, for my family and friends in the South, their summer is over! I’ve been watching them post photos of the first day of school this week, which seems hard to believe. I feel like summer is finally in full swing, while they’re already thinking about fall.

For us at First Pres, it’s a little of both of those realities. Summer is in full swing, and I’m grateful for the chance to get away for a couple of weeks of rest after this Sunday before the busyness of fall sets in. 
I had the enjoyable experience of leading a lively post-show discussion after “Jesus Christ Superstar” at NCC last Sunday.
But we are also already thinking about fall, with our committees and ministry teams preparing to resume activities that took a break over the summer while developing new opportunities for education, community-building, and service for the fall!
One of those will be the launch of our new youth ministry initiative as part of Princeton Seminary’s Log College Project . Julia Pedroso and Sophia Pedroso, who both attended the “Design Lab” in Princeton at the end of June, will be speaking in worship this Sunday about both our initiative and their experience with the Log College Project so far. So if you’re in town this Sunday, please make sure you’re in worship to hear what they have to say!

In any case, I hope summer is treating you well and you are finding your own ways to be rested and renewed, even if travel or vacation isn’t possible for you right now. And I hope you’ll keep one eye on the things that are unfolding for our church life together, too!

Grace and peace,

FIRST LESSON: Psalm 107:1-9
Luke 12:13-21 
·       This week’s sermon: Will This Be On the Test? by Rev. J.C. Austin        
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
As many of you know, this past week I attended the Royal School of Church Music King's College Course in Wilkes-Barre (rehearsal, pictured right).

As a "souvenir" of this amazing experience we will be singing a new hymn during the offertory this Sunday, "We the Lord's People, Heart and Voice Uniting". 
Composed by Richard Dirkson, Director of Music at the National Cathedral from 1977-1988, this unique hymn combines a beautiful melody with text by John E. Bowers, welcoming all to the Lord's table.
by Susan Farber, Clerk of Session
  • During this three month period, we celebrated four Baptisms and four weddings, including the marriage of one of our facilities staff, Jake Brown to Hailey Golden.
  • Elder Al Philpotts and the Personnel committee have worked tirelessly to develop a safe church policy which is now in effect. Elder Elizabeth Conard was the principle author of the policy and her contributions are greatly appreciated.
  • Session approved a one-year lease with Kirkland Village for the rental of 75 parking spaces beginning June 1. This was in part necessitated by some property work being done at Kirkland; it will not impact our parking needs. The lease can be renewed if both parties so desire.
  • Under the auspices of the Mission Committee and Elder Leslie Pohl, Session acted on a request from the Bethlehem Health Bureau to provide space for a free program, “A Matter of Balance” for senior citizens. The health bureau received a grant to staff the program but it does not cover room fees. The eight week program recently concluded.
  • We provided space for the Igelsia Pentecostal de Bethlehem church to host their weekly church services in the Kirk Center on Sunday afternoons, following the fires that severely damaged their church. At the conclusion of their church services with us, we received a generous financial gift from their congregation in appreciation of our welcome to them. They are currently worshiping at East Hills Moravian Church as it is closer to their members.
  • A combined worship service of the contemporary and traditional service attendees was held in the Kirk Center on June 9.  Attendance was in keeping with a “usual” Sunday and reactions to the service were very positive.
  • Under the guidance of Rev. Sue Bennetch, a very successful Ministry Fair was held following the June 9 joint service.
  • Additional joint services are planned in the future including an outdoor service in the front of the church on September 8 and in the Sanctuary on December 1 to be followed by a special Advent event.
  •  The Preschool Task Force chaired by Rebecca Gorton, was disbanded because its mandate was completed. The task force included Becky, Elizabeth Conard, Leslie Pohl, Sue Farber, Andie Barbehenn (Director of the Preschool), JC Austin and Becky Bellar (President, Preschool Advisory Board). In meetings during the past year a stronger relationship between the Preschool and the Church has developed and the bylaws have been rewritten with an emphasis on updating and more clarity. Currently Elizabeth Conard is the Elder representing Session on the board and Rebecca Gorton is the additional Church representative. We all appreciate the hard work and commitment of these individuals.
  • The Personnel Committee has extensively revised the church’s Employee Handbook which Session approved at the June Session meeting. It was effective July 1 with a few areas that needed additional clarification; several were subsequently approved at the July meeting with one or two elements still in the works.
  • Session approved a $500 grant to the recently formed Bethlehem Interfaith Group (BIG). JC Austin and Rev. Steve Simmons have been instrumental in starting this group.
  •  We received a gift from Rev. Bill Sitterly of an original Fred Bees watercolor painting of the church (right). Bill grew up in FPBC and was ordained here. He recently retired and is relocating/ downsizing. We are deciding on an appropriate place to display the painting.
  • It is with regret that Session received the resignation of Fred Henderson from Session in June. Fred has been a valued member who offered much guidance to those new to serving on Session and has worked diligently on our behalf beginning with the Steering Committee. We will miss his experience and advice.
  • Session approved a revised church governance plan. The most significant change is that Session is recommending a return to a bicameral system with a Board of Trustees in addition to our Session. This will require congregational approval at a Congregational Meeting in the fall (date to be decided).
  • A small Bylaws group is being formed to update the Congregational and Corporate Bylaws in line with our current practices. When the Session has reviewed and approved them, they will be recommended to the congregation for approval at the next Congregational Meeting.
  • The Session approved a request from the Deacons to share a table with FPC-Allentown at the Lehigh Valley Pride Day event in August; the Deacons will be leading our participation there (see article below).
Save the date for the second annual CommUNITY garden potluck on Wednesday,
Aug. 14 at 5:30 p.m. in the Kirk Center. Everyone is welcome! Three main dishes will be provided, including a vegetarian option; please bring a side dish or dessert to share (if your dish is vegetarian will you please label it as such).
On that evening we anticipate having guests from the other churches, temples and mosque that are supporting our garden (pictured, right). We provide fresh produce for   New Bethany Ministries  in Bethlehem and  Safe Harbor in Easton

The event will include a tour of our garden, located on the north part of the campus near the Preschool playground.  
Sorry no swifts. Questions? Email Leslie Pohl at .
The Lehigh Valley Pride Festival is Sunday, August 18 at the Jewish Community Center, 702 N. 22nd St., Allentown, from noon to 6 pm. The day includes a variety of activities, including entertainment, artists, drag bingo, and a pride rally. (See the schedule ; note this is a paid event ). 
The vendor area will include artists, retailers, and non-profits. First Presbyterian Church of Allentown has invited FPCB to share space at their information table, and our Deacons will lead our church’s participation by giving out hugs to those wanting one.

The day will begin with a Pre-Pride Christian worship service, offered by Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley, and a Pre-Pride Jewish worship service by Congregation Am Haskalah: The Lehigh Valley’s Reconstructionist Community. Both services will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the JCC.
We currently have two donations-in-progress – look for the bins in the North Link and Kirk Center rotunda.
·          New socks and underwear for school-age children (collected through Sunday, Aug. 11) –
part of the “We Got Your Back” program for area children (see below)
·          Travel-size toiletries – these will go to folks impacted by natural disasters (collected through Sunday, Aug. 25)
The “We Got Your Back” program was established by Wesley Church to support area school-age children. They will be hosting the 7th annual backpack program this summer, meeting the needs of many children in our community.

Children who attend the event will receive filled backpacks and new socks and underwear (see donation details, above) , as well as haircuts, hearing screenings, vision screenings, a tour of a patrol car, Cops N’ Kids book distribution, and dental screenings. 
Each child is treated with an open heart, and they leave knowing that they are loved and valued by the more than 100 volunteers who help us on the day of the event.

You can help by donating packages of new socks and underwear in the bins in the North Link and the Kirk Center (packages will be opened and divided into four pair per child).

There are still some open volunteer needs:  please use the online sign-up.
Each week’s newsletter contains a weekly “Calendar at a Glance” (below). If you are looking for information ‘further out’, you can go to our website, and click on “Calendar” in the upper right corner.
It is with great enthusiasm that we share the news that the Presbytery’s Lead Team has approved the recommendation to hire the Rev. Rhonda Kruse as our new Transitional Leader. 

Rhonda will begin her ministry with us on September 1, 2019. She has been serving the Presbyterian Mission Agency as the Mission Engagement Advisor for the Midwest since 2016.
From 2011-16, she was the Connections & Change Presbyter in the Presbytery of Hudson River and has served congregations in New Jersey, Indiana, and New York. 

Her husband, Gary, and their two cats will be moving from Laurel, MD to join Rhonda in Allentown in mid-September. They have three grown children, all living on the East Coast. Rhonda grew up in the St. Louis metro area and has a BS from the University of Illinois, an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary, and an MSW from Rutgers University. 
The August reading group will meet on two Wednesdays – August 14 and 21 – from 1-2:30 p.m. in the Parlor. All are welcome! They will be discussing:
Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2019, Penguin Press

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked why America has a schizophrenic personality on the question of race ( Where Do We Go From Here? ). 
More than 50 years later, we are still asking the same question. At these August meetings we will discuss Gates' newest book. Be forewarned, the book contains disturbing photos and cruel caricatures of African-Americans.
If you – or someone you know – is interested in learning more about early childhood options for their little ones, here is some information about FPCB’s Preschool and Extended Care program.
We believe that children learn and grow by playing and working with other children and adults in a warm, nurturing environment. There are many hands-on, creative activities that focus on ‘process’, not “product” (see an example, right). Our Extended Care hours make it convenient for families.

For details and registration information, check out .
In this new feature we will take a look at the many opportunities to serve and to be involved in the life of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.
Members of the Prayer Ministry Team are asked to pray for individuals and families who have requested or have been identified as being in need of prayer due to personal issues, illness or loss of a loved one. Sometimes the needs are very specific and sometimes less so. 
Members of the Ministry Team are contacted by Phil Fair, chair of the team, with the prayer requests. Strict confidentiality is observed within the team regarding the nature of the prayer requests.

A list of individuals needing prayer is submitted to the pastors each week for inclusion in Prayers of the People at Sunday worship. If you are interested in participating in this ministry – or have a prayer request – please contact Phil.
Send us your news and photos to share:
Deadline for newsletter: Wednesday at noon
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And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!
- Weekly Chancel Choir rehearsals will begin on Thursday, August 29 from 7-9 p.m.
- We will offer an outdoor combined service at 10 a.m. on Sunday, September 8.


  • 9:00 a.m. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Center (Communion Sunday)
  • “Lemonade on the Lawn” between each service; join us for light refreshments and fellowship on the back lawn (inclement weather: Fellowship Hall)
  • Blood Pressure Screenings between services, North Link (adjacent to
Fellowship Hall)
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary (Communion Sunday)
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room A3

TUESDAY:   Crafters, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Room 408;
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAY: Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: August 4): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services, North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: September 15; no meeting in August ): Bereavement Group gathering; this is a new date going forward, and there will be a new location.
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: August 6): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: August 21):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: August 15): Prayers & Squares, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Room 408
(bring your lunch and join us to create quilts and prayer shawls)

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,  phone: 610-867-8361 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 Care Associate: ext. 209;

David Macbeth , Music Director: ext. 202;

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities Manager: ext. 210;

Andréa Wells, Business Manager; ext. 211:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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