Friday, October 18, 2019 Newsletter

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!

Possibility, abundance, and gratitude

When I was in the process of preparing for ordination, I had to take a whole battery of tests and inventories to both evaluate my mental and emotional health and help with the discernment of the kind of ministry to which I was called. 
One of those inventories was called “Motivations for Ministry,” and it highlighted how motivated I was about various aspects of pastoral ministry. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that my strongest motiva-tions were for preaching, teaching, mission/ justice work, and congregational leadership. What I scored dead-last on, though, was stewardship, closely followed by evangelism.
I disliked stewardship so much that I actually wasn’t sure I should even go into pastoral ministry, given that it’s a necessary responsibility of being a pastor. But by the time I was done with seminary and ready for ordination, the call that I accepted was to the position of Associate Pastor for Evangelism and Stewardship at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City!

Partly, that happened because God has a good sense of humor. But mostly, it’s because in between those two events, I began to realize that I didn’t have a problem with stewardship (or evangelism); I had a problem with the way the church tended to think and talk about them.

When it comes to stewardship, the question of how to serve God with the resources we have, we should be talking about invitation rather than obligation, and abundance rather than scarcity. I realized that what we should be talking about is how to live lives of gratitude for all that God has already done for us, and lives of purpose that help us build up what God is doing and will do in our individual lives, our congregational life, and the community and world around us.

That is something I could get “motivated” about, and I have been ever since! Which was yet another reason I was motivated to accept the call here to First Presbyterian of Bethlehem. I was motivated to find a congregation that views our mission through lenses of possibility, abundance, and gratitude; a congregation that is motivated about discerning God’s call to us and stepping boldly into answering that call in confidence and hope.

With all that in mind, this stewardship season I am going to preach a sermon series diving into the four “mission priorities” for our congregation over the next two to three years. Those priorities are:

  • a vibrant and diverse worship life.
  • ministry with children and youth and their families.
  • ministries of compassion and justice in the larger world.
  • and ministries of welcome, engagement, and discipleship for people who are looking for a church home or simply exploring Christianity or basic questions of meaning and purpose in their lives.

As “priorities,” these are obviously not the only things that we will be doing, but they are where we will be focusing our attention and activity as we step boldly into answering God’s call to us. 

I’m excited about this series, and even more so about the ministry ahead of us as we strive to live lives of gratitude, generosity, and purpose as individuals and as a congregation. And I’m excited about the possibilities before us in this stewardship season to help us fully embrace our calling as a congregation, which you will be hearing more about shortly.

I am grateful for each of you, for this congregation, and for this ministry that we share together. Thank you!

Grace and Peace,

 Isaiah 49:1-6
Luke 18:1-8
·      This week’s sermon: More Than We Can Imagine by Rev. J.C. Austin   
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
regarding travel to FPCB

The Runner’s World Half Marathon is being run in Bethlehem, and the course includes parts of Center Street. To get to First Pres on the morning of this Sunday, Oct. 20, you will need to approach the church’s main entrance FROM THE NORTH ONLY . From approximately 8:15-11 a.m., Center Street – between Moreland and Washington - will be closed (the church entrance is north of Moreland).

Please check the course map to plan your travel to church. If you have any questions, please contact the church office at 610-867-5865 or
WILL YOU PARTICIPATE?   Inquirer's Class Coming Sunday, Oct. 27

Have you been thinking about making First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem your church home – or know someone who is? Are you interested in learning more about the Christian faith in general, the Presbyterian Church (USA) more specifically, or “FPCB” in particular? 
These are all good reasons for attending the next Inquirers Class, scheduled for Sunday afternoon, October 27, from noon-4 p.m. in the Parlor.

RSVPs are requested, as a light lunch will be provided for each session; we will also provide complimentary child care if requested by this Sunday, October 20.
There is no expectation that you will join the church if you choose to attend; however, if you do want to join, attending this session in full is an expectation, and if you are ready to join, we will make plans at the end of the class for that to happen.

Please contact  Pastor Austin  (or phone 610-867-5865) if you plan to attend or have questions. We hope you will join us!
LAST CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: Do you feel called to serve?
The Congregational Nominating Committee is seeking nominations for Elders, Deacons, Nominating Committee members, and Trustees for the newly approved Board of Trustees. Nomination cards are available in the narthex and the rotunda (Kirk Center).
You can also use this easy online form to submit your nominations.

You may nominate yourself or someone else for any of these important leadership positions by completing the form or one of the cards. You can put the card in the offering plate or return them to the Main Office. 

They are due by this Sunday, October 20.  Thank you for participating in this important aspect of the life of our congregation. 
Elders   comprise the Session of the Presbyterian Church which is, in essence, the decision-making body of the church. They recommend and approve all program and policy implementation and modifications in the church. Elders serve a three year term and the Session meets monthly; Elders generally serve on one or more committees, which also usually meet on a monthly basis.

The  Deacons   are the caregivers of the church. They minister to the individual members through home communion and visits, hospital and prayer ministries, and providing support to those in difficult situations. Deacons serve a three year term and typically meet monthly.

The  Nominating Committee members   are charged with identifying candidates for Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and the Nominating Committee itself. This committee usually meets three or four times each year; the term of service is one year, and a member may serve no more than two consecutive terms.

Trustees oversee all financial and property matters in the church including the budget, building renovations and repairs, planned giving, and investment funds. Trustees will meet monthly and members will also serve on one additional committee, such as the property or finance committee, which also generally meets monthly. The term for Trustees is three years. Because the Board of Trustees is being newly established, nominees will initially be asked to serve one, two, or three year terms. 
FPCB’s Mission Committee is sponsoring several “Donation Stations” to serve all the requests we have for needed items by our mission partners.  Bins will be located in the North Link and the Kirk Rotunda.
The Lemon Tree Bazaar at Westminster is coming up on Saturday, Nov. 9. They are in need of white elephant items (no clothing, appliances or large furniture).  
From Sunday, Oct. 20 to Sunday, Dec. 1, we will be collecting for three organizations:  

  • Outreach Depot is in need of towels and washcloths (new or gently used).
  • The Lehigh Valley Council of Churches has requested baby clothing for 0-3 months (new or gently used – no stains, please), baby bath, oil, lotion, diapers, pacifiers, etc. 
  • The Northeast Community Center (formerly Northeast Ministries) is in need of toilet paper (small packages), tissues, paper towels, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, etc. for its Food Bank.

Thank you for giving as you can, to help our neighbors!
Through this Sunday, October 20, Hearts N Minds will focus on readings from two books, Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church and the Bible (second edition) and Essays on Immigration.
The sessions on October 27 – November 24 will delve into a classic book by Sister Joan Chittister, For Everything a Season.

For the four weeks of Advent, Jan Bickford will focus on the Nativity story as we Journey with Mary through word, art, and even film (there is no book for these sessions). Stay tuned for details.

Hearts N Minds meets at 9 a.m. in Room 400.
Exploring the history of hymns
Praying Twice: Singing Our Faith
October 27, November 3 and
November 10
Noon-1:30 p.m.
(following Hospitality Hour)
According to St. Augustine, “Those who sing pray twice.” In this series, we’ll explore the history and theology of congregational singing from biblical canticles through contemporary hymns and praise choruses from around the world, looking at the music and the message of favorites old and new. 

A light lunch will be provided. Please use this easy sign-up form to let us know what dates you will attend (any or all). You can also call the Main Office (610-867-5865) or send an email to with that information.
Hi Neighbors is a sociable-sounding name for another learning opportunity at FPCB (and it’s a great time for fellowship, too!).
Interested adults gather to hear presentations from a wide variety
of speakers. No cost or registration - all are welcome!
For Monday, October 21:

9:15-9:45: Fellowship time
9:45 – Humor in Age by Anne Grogan
11:00 – What’s Really Happening with the 2019 Tax Change by Jack Morroneg

For Monday, October 28:

9:15-9:45: Fellowship time
9:45 - Cannabinol (CBD): Relief from Pain and Anxiety by Sandra Freeman
11:00 - That Pesky Flu by Dr. Margaret Hoffman-Terry
CROP WALK: Thank you for your support!

The First Pres team helped Church World Service combat hunger “one step at a time” at last Sunday’s CROP Hunger Walk. Many thanks to those who donated already – it’s not too late to add to our total! Visit our team website - donations will be accepted through Nov. 22.

Those walking for us included Wendy Magocs (and Rosie), Ralph (Chips) Arend, Rich Hjorth, Cindy Simmons, Steve Simmons, Chris Moravek, Steve Samuelson, Chris Foster (and Weasley, from Wesley United Methodist), and Dan Brasher (from College Hill Presbyterian, Easton, who joined us because Easton didn't have a walk this year). It was a beautiful fall afternoon, and a fine time was had by all!
Sunday, October 27 (rain or shine)
4 p.m.
Front Lawn
Bring your favorite friend to receive a blessing (crated or leashed, please). We'll enjoy a short service and music - and of course, fellowship with two-legged and four-legged friends!
We’re also asking participants to bring a donation of a pet supply (food, toy, etc.) that will be shared with Meals on Wheels. Many Meals on Wheels participants struggle to provide these items to their own pets.

We are looking for a few volunteers to help us with this event. If you are interested, please use this online sign-up form , or call the Main Office at 610-867-5865.
Will you consider providing flowers for our Sanctuary worship services? A donation of $75 will pay for the arrangement under the cross in the Sanctuary, and $90 covers two pedestal arrangements.

Contact Cristy Mette or by phone at

Our Mission Committee would like to offer rewarding volunteer opportunities at the Victory House of South Bethlehem – please consider how you might help. Some of the committee members have volunteered there in the past to assist in this well-run residential men's facility. 
A few positions available are:

  • Teachers for small Bible study group

  • Persons comfortable with helping residents learn basic computer skills, or pursue their GED.
  • Driving clients to appointments, job interviews, medical appointments.

  • Cooking meals for residents once a month or quarter.

Check out the Victory House website or contact Vince Stravino at 610-216-8103.
Tailgate Sunday on Nov. 3

Bring your lunch to enjoy after the Traditional Service (noon-1 p.m. outside on the back lawn; grills will be available) at our Tailgate Sunday.
Then stay to watch the Eagles vs Bears football game , beginning at 1 p.m.
Wear your team colors; decorations are also welcome!

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 newsletter: Wednesday at noon
* * *
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • After each service: Hospitality Hour; join us in Fellowship Hall for light refreshments and fellowship
  • 9:00 a.m. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • 9:00 a.m. - Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
  • 9:00 a.m. - Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 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: Hi Neighbors informational presentations, 9:15 a.m., Fellowship Hall;
NOTE: NOT MEETING ON OCT. 21 - “It’s a Start” Fitness Class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step Room
TUESDAYS:   Crafters, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Room 408; Depression Support Group , 12:30-
2:30 p.m., Room 206
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAY: Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: November 3): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services, North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: November 10 ) : Bereavement Group gathering
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: November 12): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: November 20):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group,
1 p.m., Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: November 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 ( 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 Care 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;