Friday - February 8, 2019

THIS WEEK: Combined Worship at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary
Children's Sunday School from 10 – 11 a.m.; no Adult Education Class
This week we will offer one Hospitality Hour from 9:30 – 10 a.m.
Looking Back – Looking Forward
Every week at our church staff meeting, the team does a “Looking Back, Looking Forward” exercise in which we all take a moment to look back at the major accomplishments of the previous week, before turning to the priorities that are coming up for us as individuals and as a group. It’s a great way for us to celebrate things that have gone well, learn from what could have gone better, and make sure everyone is clear about our common goals for what lies ahead and our individual roles in reaching them.
This Sunday, following a combined worship service at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary, we will be doing something similar as a congregation, but for the previous and upcoming year, not just a week! There is some very important but fairly brief business that the congregation needs to do: most obviously, elect new Elders, Deacons, and members of the Congregational Nominating Committee for the coming year. 
This is one of the hallmarks of the Presbyterian tradition; only the congregation itself can decide who is called to leadership of the congregation. But much of the meeting will be looking back at the extraordinary year of ministry we had in 2018, and looking forward to 2019 and beyond.

I’m particularly excited for the congregation to respond to the work the Session has been doing to re-articulate our basic sense of identity, purpose, and focus as a congregation of Christ’s disciples. The Session has drafts of a new Mission Statement, Values Statement, and the strategic priorities for our ministry over the next few years. The Session wants to hear questions and feedback from the congregation about those statements before finalizing them, to make sure they resonate with the congregation as a whole. This will not be an exercise in “wordsmithing” the language of the statements, of course; rather, this is a chance to reflect on how well these statements capture our congregation’s spirit and sense of call, so that the Session can consider that input before finishing its work on them.

Please plan to be in worship at 10 a.m. this Sunday to be an active participant in the Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporation of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, immediately following the worship service. And after the meeting plan to have lunch as a congregation in the Fellowship Hall, where a simple meal will be served for a suggested donation of $10, which will go to our mission partners at Northeast Ministry as part of our Souper Bowl of Caring program this year!
Grace and Peace,

On Sunday we celebrate the 109th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, with scouts and leaders of Boy Scout Troop 302 assisting the usher teams at our 10 a.m. combined service.

FPCB’s sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop 302 since November, 1917, is the longest continuous sponsoring relationship of a Boy Scout troop in Bethlehem. In the past two years they have had nine scouts rise to the rank of Eagle Scout.
Effective this month, Boy Scouts of America will change the name of its program for 11 to 17 year olds from “Boy Scouts” to “Scouts BSA.” Moreover, in addition to having troops for boys, they have established a parallel, but separate, program of troops for girls. For more information about our troop or Boy Scouts of America in general, contact Scoutmaster Todd Siegfried at 610-882-9397 or Troop Committee Chair Randy Stonesifer at 610-691-6376.
A mix of church and community members attended Restorative Practices: Changing our Response to Wrongdoing on Saturday morning, January 26. Led by Bob Costello, Assistant Commissioner for Organizational Development at the New York City Department of Probation, we were challenged to think about our notions of justice, equality, fairness, conflict, and the consequences for wrongdoing. 

How do we understand those who are "justice involved”, who most often have not had the privileges and advantages that others have been given? How can people who made a mistake put things right, in the context of community, instead of being isolated for the wrongdoing? 

Participants came to understand that restorative justice and restorative practices are the means by which in community, the wrongdoer and those impacted work together to find solutions that repair, reconcile, and restore relationships, bring healing and restoring social equality. Bob asked, "How would you like to be branded for the stupidest thing you ever did as a kid?" These principles and actions can be applied at home, the workplace, church, and schools. He also suggested these approaches can be used before something happens or conflict goes awry.  
Small group discussions encouraged the sharing of personal stories concerning injustice, conflict and efforts toward reconciliation. Conversations also began about how this might integrate into everyday lives and relationships.
Reviews of the workshop affirmed this excellent presentation, exceeding expectations, and leaving participants with much to think about. Requests for a Restorative Practices - Part 2, with a deepening understanding and practical application, reflected most of the requests for upcoming topics. Other ideas for consideration included addressing white privilege, building civil discourse, sex trafficking in the Lehigh Valley, and under-standing the ebbs and flows of faith in the face of tragedy.  

As the Discipleship Committee (sponsor of this workshop) considers what's next, you may want to read more about Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices by taking out one of the books (above) , generously donated by Bob for our church library.  
This year’s proportional giving (formerly known as Per Capita) is $36 for each person counted as a member of the PCUSA. Proportional giving supports the PCUSA General Assembly ($8.95), our Synod of the Trinity ($2.30) and Lehigh Presbytery ($24.75). The Presbytery receives the most as they provide direct services to individual churches.
Our church is fortunate to have Lehigh Presbytery as a strong and supportive partner (Lehigh Presbytery assisted us financially and emotionally throughout our two-year struggle to regain the property). This fund also supports national ministries such as Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, leadership training, and global mission.

T his year’s apportionment totals $18,576. Please consider giving – at whatever level you can - to this special offering; maybe you want to ‘pay it forward’ and underwrite the assessment for someone you know may not be able to self-pay. Make checks payable to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem but remember to write “Proportional Giving” on your check memo line. Envelopes are in the Sanctuary pew racks and in the Narthex.
Our new boxed envelopes for the 2019 offering are available to pick up in Fellowship Hall. The letters documenting your 2018 contributions to the church will be mailed the week of February 11.
If you believe Punxsutawney Phil, we are going to have an early spring, so it’s time to start thinking about FPCB’s CommUNITY Garden. We will have a sign-up in Fellowship Hall this Sunday during the Souper Bowl lunch for volunteers for April and May. Come see the plan for the garden!

This year we will be meeting on Wednesdays from 5:30-7 p.m. The Preschool is planting sunflower and squash seeds and will transfer them to the garden. We also plan to deliver the produce to New Bethany Ministries in Bethlehem and Safe Harbor in Easton. We hope you’ll consider volunteering!  
Judy Smullen and Linda Robertson invite you to a discussion of Why Religion? A Personal Story by nationally recognized theologian Elaine Pagels. The group met last Tuesday, and will meet again this Tuesday from 1-2:30 p.m. in the Parlor, to examine the story of the death of Pagels’ young son and then her husband. The second session unpacks the layers and textures provided by the Bible and the Gnostic Gospels and the entire story begins to fall in place. 
Hearts N Minds (will NOT meet this Sunday)
We recently began a study of Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. Everyone is welcome to join us at 9 a.m. in Room 400 to discuss this powerful memoir.  
LOOKING FOR BLANKET DONATIONS – This Sunday is the last day
Our partner, Outreach Depot, is looking for new or gently-used blankets for their clients (please, no electric blankets).
We have red buckets for the donations in the North Link and Kirk Center Rotunda through this Sunday. Outreach Depot was exceedingly grateful for our toiletry drive last year. Thank you for considering a donation!
One of our Deacons’ goals is to reach out to FPCB members who reside locally, but who are unable to regularly attend worship.

If you know a member of our Congregation who would appreciate receiving Home Communion and/or a home visit by one of our Deacon representatives, please contact Rev. Sue Bennetch at 610-867-5865, ext. 209. Thank you for helping us by providing contact information for those who could benefit from a visit.
Helping Hands is looking for volunteers to go on a one-to-three day flood relief trip to Tremont, PA over the weekend of March 7-9. Work is being done on four houses and the Methodist Church in Tremont, which are among the 40 houses and buildings that were flooded.

Volunteers have a choice of staying overnight (at the UCC Manse in Tower City) at a cost of $10/night to cover the cost of food, or go for the day. Tremont is a 1.5 hours’ drive from First Presbyterian Church, Allentown, and carpooling is available. If you are interested, please contact Kevin Kehoe at 610-597-0978.  
On Thursdays through April 11: Drop by Room 400 between 8 a.m. – noon to make an appointment for free assistance with your tax return. This is available for everyone; there are no age or income restrictions.

Bring your 2017 tax returns and 2018 documentation; you may or may not be seen the day that you come.
The Depression Support Group is for anyone whose life is affected by depression – whether yourself or someone you care about. Sessions are Tuesdays from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in Room 206
(PW Room). For more information contact
The First Pres Preschool & Extended Care program is now registering for fall 2019.
If you know someone who might be interested in their hands-on, learning by playing program, please share this information with them!

Those planning to attend are asked to contact Andie Barbehenn by email or at 610-867-2956. Click here for all the details about FPC's Preschool program.
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!

  • 9:00 a.m. – Childcare until end of Annual Meeting (approximately 12:30 p.m.)
  • 9:30 – 10 a.m., Hospitality Hour in Fellowship Hall
  • 10 a.m. – Combined worship service in the Sanctuary
  • 10 a.m. – Sunday School for Pre-K through Grade 5 (children will NOT attend first part of worship service)
  • 11 a.m. – Annual Meeting of the Congregation & Corporation in the Sanctuary (those not attending meeting can pick up your Sunday School children in Fellowship Hall)
  • 12:30 p.m. – Souper Bowl Sunday: simple meal of soup, chili and bread ($10 donation for adults and free for children)

MONDAYS: It’s a Start fitness class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step
TUESDAYS: Depression Support Group, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Room 206 (PW Room);
Handbell Choir, 5:30 p.m., Middle School Step
TUESDAY (February 12): Afternoon Book Group, 1-2:30 p.m., Parlor
WEDNESDAYS: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAYS: Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m., Sanctuary; Al-Anon Family Group, 7 p.m.,
Room 212

FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (February 19): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (February 20): Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (February 21): 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: ext. 210;

Andréa Wells, Business Manager; ext. 211:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238;

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