Friday, July 24, 2020 Newsletter


9:00 a.m. Contemporary 

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


On Tuesday evening, we concluded the initial offering of our 21-Day Racial Justice Immersion Project with a Zoom gathering of participants to reflect on what they had experienced, and to consider possible next steps in their own ministry of antiracism and in the ministry of the congregation as a whole.

There were several important themes that ran through that conversation that I want to hold up, especially for those who were unable to attend the gathering. First, there was a new appreciation for how much most of us have not known or understood about the history and ongoing reality of systemic racism, both in the church and in society. 

The challenge with this appreciation, then, is not to be overwhelmed by that, but instead to continue with the “habit” of doing something to address systemic racism everyday (which is the rationale for the 21 days of the project, the length of time it takes to develop a new habit in human behavior).
A second theme was the desire to have further opportunities to explore and discuss these issues together from a faith perspective, as it is helpful to hear how other people are thinking about and wrestling with these issues.

With those two themes in mind, I want to highlight three quick aspects of our congregational antiracism ministry as we move forward.
First, the 21-Day Racial Justice Immersion Project will remain available for individuals to use, either beginning it for the first time or having completed the initial 21 days but desiring to use it to continue practicing the habit of antiracism in their own lives (available on our website at ).

Second, we will be experimenting with some different ways of providing community for those who want to pursue this ministry in community with others, not simply as an individual. This may be periodic discussion gatherings or even short-term small groups, depending on interest, so let us know what would be most helpful to you (contact us at ).

Finally, the Session has created a Racial Justice Task Force that is already working on the question of what our ministry in this crucial area of discipleship and Christian ethics might look like in the coming months and beyond, and you will be hearing more about that shortly.

For now, I want to express my gratitude to the Session and to you, the entire congregation, for the strong and vigorous response to the ministry of racial justice so far. As I have said before, this work is not simply a necessary dimension of Christian discipleship, given the ministry of Christ himself against exclusion and injustice and our call to follow him; it is also a way in which we embody the core values we specifically have as the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem: to be Christ-centered, welcoming to all, and living out an inquiring and active faith.

It is both exciting and moving to see the ways in which we have embraced that ministry so far, and I look forward to seeing where it takes us next.

Grace and Peace,

Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read online
·     This week's sermon: Exiled Home
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 THIS SUNDAY: Both Services “Live” on Facebook

SERVICES : We invite you to join either (or both!) of our services via Facebook to watch “live”:
  • 9:00 a.m. – Contemporary service
  • 11:00 a.m. – Traditional service

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!
  • NEW: 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:

We will offer the TRADITIONAL SERVICE (at 11 a.m. on Sunday) with an ‘audio-only’ option so you can listen to it on your phone.

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 – simply press the # key again.
SUNDAY SCHOOL for this week

The kids who attend our Sunday School sessions each week have a great time, and they’d love to have you join them! You can join live on Sunday mornings via Zoom – or watch our “Driveway Sunday School videos” (stories and music) online at your convenience.
The videos are on the church website (

To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.:

Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116

Please consider sharing this information with the young ones in your life!

This Sunday’s Traditional worship service will feature a number of guest musicians – with the magic of video, we will bring back several previous soloists: Rebecca Ripley, Dr. Chris Jackson, Bryan McClary, and Lauren Madigan.

And we also welcome a guest organist – Luke DiGiacinto (below) is assisting us in music director David Macbeth’s absence.
Luke has been a Lehigh Valley church musician since 2017. He serves West Side Moravian Church and Holy Infancy Catholic Church. He graduated magna cum laude from Moravian College with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Sacred Music with Organ and Voice Focus. While there his voice teacher was Gregory Oaten, and organ teachers were Rebecca Lepore and Lou Carol Fix. He currently works with Thomas Goeman, and previously worked with Michael Krentz.

Luke is a freelance accompanist and performer in the Valley, also singing in the Bach Choir - he was cast in their production of Britten’s Noyes Fludde . He is happy to be part of the service on Sunday!
Featuring Elder Rich Hjorth

Lehigh Presbytery has organized a Zoom gathering to allow an online conversation with scientists who can provide current information about the coronavirus, and guidance in making important decisions.

This call will take place next Thursday, July 30, from noon to 1 p.m. The presentation will be recorded so you can watch and/or share it later; we will share that information with you when available.

Our experts:
Dr. Rich Hjorth is a retired virologist with 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Rich is a recognized expert in vaccine development and is currently working with InvVax on a coronavirus vaccine. He is a member of FPCB and serves as our Presbytery Commissioner, as well as an Elder and chair of the Worship committee.
Right: We featured Rich's journey as a virologist in last week's ' Spotlight '.
Dr. Lisa Allgood is a retired immunologist/neurochemist who now serves as Transitional Executive Presbyter in the Presbytery of Cincinnati. A graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry NJ, Lisa spent 36 years as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry.
Rich and Lisa will bring us up to speed on this quirky virus, share where the research is going with regard to possible treatments and vaccines, as well as help lay a groundwork for those wrestling with re-opening safely.

Meeting ID: 872 9089 5701

To join via phone (audio only): 888-475-4499; enter the meeting ID when prompted
The Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC) continues to meet every Sunday evening in our search for a full-time Associate Pastor for Engagement, Faith Formation and Compassion and Justice.
APNC members have reviewed and discussed over 30 Personal Information Forms (resumes) that have been either self-referred or received through the Church Leadership Connection, a call system of the Presbyterian Church (USA). 
We have narrowed our search to a few promising candidates, and have begun having Zoom conversations with those in whom we are most interested.

APNC members are truly excited about the candidates with whom we have spoken to date, as each of them have gifts to offer us, and we to them. We look forward to finalizing our work when we have found the best pastoral ‘fit’ for our Congregation. 
Many of you have started to receive a copy of our DRAFT directory with the information we received pre-COVID. If you provided information to us, one is on its way to you.

The printed information is as accurate as we had available, and the directory is definitely a draft. You can help us by contacting us at for any of these situations:
1.    If you did not provide information to us and would like to share your information
2.    If you did not receive a directory and would like one
3.    Your information was inaccurate or incomplete, please send the correct information

Beginning next week, we will send corrected information via the weekly newsletter , so we encourage you to watch for that and make the corrections in your own copy. (We will not include any personal info in the newsletter that’s archived on the website.)

If you prefer to call us at 610-867-5865, just leave a message that you need to talk to someone about the directory.
There will be one more Midday Reflection session next Tuesday, July 28 from noon-12:30 p.m. That will be the last session before going on a hiatus. Watch for details about new dates for this gathering.
As with many large scale events, the annual Lehigh Pride Event has been reimagined to a virtual gathering via Facebook Live. Sponsored by Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, this celebration of LGBT arts and culture is now in its 27th year and will be held on Sunday, Aug. 16. 
The festival will include local and national talent, community spotlights, and more. We will be partnering with First Presbyterian Church of Allentown as a participating organization. More details to come, but you can check the latest here or on the Bradbury-Sullivan Facebook page.
We have alerted you before, but it bears repeating – there are scammers who are ‘posing’ as local ministers, sending messages to their congregation members requesting the purchase of gift cards to help others in need.
Remember: neither of our pastors, nor any staff or other leaders in our church, will ever request gift cards or other cash gifts from you via text or email.

Please be wary, and if you receive such a message please do not respond to it, and immediately notify us at . 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**
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Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

THIS SUNDAY (print bulletins, above)

  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Service – join us on our Facebook page for the live service
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Sunday School via Zoom (see details, above)*
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Service - see instructions in blue box, above, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone

*NOTE: There will also be an online, pre-recorded video Sunday School lesson available on our website beginning on Saturday.

  • Tuesday, July 28 will be the last session (no session on Thursday, July 30) and then we’ll take a short hiatus. From 12:00 – 12:30 p.m.: Midday Reflection (led by one of our pastors – a short time of reflection and prayer via /Meeting ID: 335 481 050; via phone: call 929-205-6099 and enter the Meeting ID when prompted, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again)

  • The Optimism group continues to meet weekly. Please contact Melody for the specifics as days and times may vary. You can reach her at

  • Sunday, Aug. 30 at 10 a.m.: We are currently planning a Combined Worship service that will be offered outdoors at the front of the church building, as well as livestreamed. Check this article for details, and a link to sign up to let us know if you're planning to come.

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;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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