Friday, February 7, 2020 Newsletter

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

Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Leadership in Action

This Sunday, there are two special elements happening in worship of which I want to make you aware.

The first is that it is Scout Sunday. First Presbyterian has chartered Troop 302 for over 100 continuous years, beginning just six years after Scouting began as a movement in the United States! That is an extraordinary commitment to leadership and character formation in generations of Scouts. As an Eagle Scout myself, I have often said that I learned many of my most important leadership lessons in the Scouts, and I simply don’t know who I would be as a leader without that experience.
So I am personally grateful that First Presbyterian has made such a strong commitment to Scouting and for us to be celebrating that on Sunday. Scouts will be serving as ushers at the 10:30 a.m. service, so please take a moment to give them an encouraging word when you see them.

And if you enjoyed the meal they provided us after the Annual Meeting two weeks ago, give them a word of thanks for that as well!  
Second, the new Executive Presbyter of Lehigh Presbytery, Rhonda Kruse, will be with us in both services to bring greetings on behalf of the Presbytery and to talk briefly about what it means to be part of a connectional church. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is not simply a loose confederation of congregations, of course, but a deeply interconnected national movement in which higher governing councils of the church are charged with supporting and supervising local congregations as they carry out their local mission, and with conducting ministry themselves that is beyond the scope of a local congregation.

The Lehigh Presbytery is the council to which we at First Presbyterian are most closely linked; it works with 30 or so congregations in the Lehigh Valley, the Slate Belt, and other surrounding areas. Rhonda, as Executive Presbyter, is the senior staff person for the Presbytery and works with its various committees, commissions, and boards to carry out the mission of the Presbytery.

And First Presbyterian is deeply involved in that work, as well. In addition to the commissioners we send to each meeting of the Presbytery, I am the co-chair of the Presbytery’s Vision Board, charged with discerning and articulating the mission of the presbytery. Elder Joanne Kelhart serves on the Administrative Board of the Presbytery, which oversees the various operations of the presbytery.

Elder Gail Watts serves on the Committee on Ministry, which supervises the pastors in the presbytery and works with churches in leadership transitions. And Elder Phyllis Walker will be one of Lehigh Presbytery’s commissioners to the 224th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Baltimore, MD this summer, which is the bi-annual national gathering of our highest council in the church!

So, please give Rhonda a warm welcome as she joins us this Sunday, and I look forward to seeing you in worship!

Grace and Peace,

Psalm 112:1-9  
Matthew 5:13-20
·      This week’s sermon:  No More Bland Faith by Rev. J.C. Austin        

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
The congregational Nominating Committee is beginning the exciting process of identifying possible members for an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC).

We welcome recommendations from the congregation! Serving on the APNC will be a big commitment for the next six months, with the likelihood of weekly meetings during much of that time.

Please submit any suggestions you have, including yourself, if you are interested, to Elizabeth Conard .

On Sunday we will celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America. FPCB’s sponsorship of Boy Scout Troop 302 since November, 1917, is the longest continuous sponsoring relationship of a Boy Scout troop in Bethlehem. Scouts and leaders of Boy Scout Troop 302 are assisting the usher teams at our Traditional service on Sunday.
The troop greatly appreciates FPCB’s support at the pasta luncheon following the recent congregational meeting. Over 75 people attended the luncheon and many others made a financial contribution to the troop.

For more information about FPCB’s troop or Boy Scouts of America in general, contact Scoutmaster Sam Phillips at 484-547-9898 or Troop Committee Chair Randy Stonesifer at 610-691-6376.
Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.: Ash Wednesday service
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 at 7 p.m.: Maundy Thursday service
Friday, April 10 at 8 p.m.: Tenebrae service
Sunday, April 12: Easter Sunday

Our new Handbell Choir started weekly rehearsals this past Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the Middle School Step Room. It’s not too late to join them. No experience is necessary - they will be preparing to share their talents at Easter celebrations!
Contact David Macbeth ( ) for more information.

Volunteers will be available again this Sunday, Feb. 9 to collect members’ information (name, address, home phone, cell phone and email address, as available) for our new church directory.
Stop by the tables in the Rotunda (10:00-10:15 a.m.), or Fellowship Hall from 10:00-10:30 or 11:30-noon to complete your form.
Sunday will be the last day we are collecting information in person. You can also print out this form, complete, and return to the Main Office. Instructions are on the top for mailing or emailing back to us.
“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. Watch for sign-up details; it is free and open to the public.

There’s an old saying in the United States: “Never discuss religion or politics in polite company.” The premise, of course, is that discussing religion or politics is inherently divisive. But the truth is, division over faith and/or public issues has to do with how and why we discuss them, not whether we do. This event will consider how our political systems and our faith traditions both envision a responsibility for faith to make positive contributions in U.S. public life, as well as limits in how and why it should do so. In the process, we will explore some basic commitments and tools that can help us do this work faithfully and well, and be a witness for how to combine mutual respect and personal conviction in these highly polarized times.
Sunday, Feb. 16:  12:30 – 4:00 p.m.

We can use your help!
Please consider joining us on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 16, at 12:30 p.m. to aid with the reset of our contemporary worship "chancel" space. Do you have an eye for design? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and help move some equipment? Let's work together to create a more inviting and worshipful space!

Please contact David Macbeth with any questions or ideas.
Feb. 27, 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?
John Dudding is leading a discussion of David the boy, the man and the king in this special series.
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'.
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.

These evenings will include a simple potluck meal – watch for details about signing up to bring a dish to share or to volunteer, and to sign up to attend.

We had a great response to our new initiative!

What to do with those countless plastic shopping bags – and all the other plastic bits and pieces that you can’t put out for curbside recycling?
Now you can bring to church and we’ll collect them. We have partnered with the Trex company, that makes composite decking and outdoor furniture from virgin and recycled plastic – when we collect 500 pounds, we’ll receive a new bench for our campus.

What can be recycled? Use this flyer (we suggest you print it out and keep it handy to refer to).
There are many types of plastic that can be recycled but please be aware of what cannot.  (Above: Jane Masters and Sally Ross prepare a display in Fellowship Hall that shows samples of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ items to recycle.)

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.

Thanks to our new “Earth Care” team for this initiative – a part of our Mission Committee.
to participate in a Mission Work Trip to Fayetteville, NC  

 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. Registration forms and a flyer with more information are posted on our website,

Contact the Lehigh Presbytery office at 610-391-9020 or for more information.

Prayers & Squares will now be meeting on the third Wednesday
of the month (not Thursday) – starting Wednesday, Feb. 19.

Hearts N Minds has returned to its study of For Everything a Season by Sister Joan Chittister. The focus will be on the chapter titled "A Time to Embrace" on page 102 in Sister Joan’s little book.  All are welcome, whether you have read the book or not, or attended any of the previous sessions.
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 starting this Sunday through Sunday, March 29. Thank you!
Drop by Room 408 between 9 a.m. – noon on Thursdays (through April 10) to make an appointment for a future date for free assistance with your tax return. This is available for everyone; there are no age or income restrictions. 
At that time you will receive an IRS-mandated questionnaire to fill out at home and the AARP rep’s will also go over the materials you will need to bring in before the return can be started. They prepare Federal, state, local income tax, rent and real estate tax rebate returns. Bring your 2018 tax returns and 2019 documentation; you may or may not be seen the day that you come.
Please note that our Main Office cannot schedule appointments or answer any tax-related questions for 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. They previously played at FPCB in early fall, 2018.
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.
Send us your news and photos to share:
**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
  • 9:00 a.m. - Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • 10:30 a.m. - Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5 (Children attend first part of worship service), Room E3-4
  • 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; bring your lunch if you like
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: Feb. 18): 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: Feb. 19):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
NEW DAY! THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: Feb. 19): 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;