Friday, July 26, 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 
A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Understanding through Music
This Sunday afternoon, a group from First Pres will be seeing a production of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar at Northampton Community College. I’m pleased to have been invited to lead a discussion about the show for audience members after the performance, which is at 2 p.m. on Sunday. If you don’t have a ticket for the show, I encourage you to consider getting one, especially if you’ve never seen it (see article below for details).  
But when I first saw the movie version of the show, I was intrigued. First and foremost, it was the characterizations of Jesus and Judas that interested me, but I’m going to talk about that after the show on Sunday! But part of it was telling this familiar and sacred story through rock music.

As a member of Generation X, I didn’t experience the cultural controversy of rock music like Baby Boomers did; it was easily the dominant popular music art form from before my earliest memory. 
Yet there were still elements of that controversy in the church when I was a youth in the 1980s; as I’ve also mentioned in a sermon or two, even my centrist Presbyterian congregation in Atlanta was served for a time by a youth minister who sincerely believed that rock music was the greatest threat to the spiritual health and general well-being of youth.

I thought that perspective was both condescending and extremely limited. I had also never really heard rock music with Christian themes that was any good; the contemporary Christian music movement was only beginning to emerge at the time, and most of what that youth minister tried to get us interested in was both artistically and theologically painful.
But Jesus Christ Superstar was different. Both musically and theologically, I found it compelling; I was surprised to find that the relative rawness of rock music was able to communicate aspects of Jesus’ character and story that I had never really heard in that way before.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Protestant churches got mired in what became known as “the worship wars,” which were really fights mostly about worship music: organs vs. guitars and drums, hymns vs. praise songs, etc. So it is a joy to be serving a congregation which has moved beyond those fights and recognizes that there are a multitude of music forms through which we can worship God and experience the power of God’s presence.

Which is actually very Presbyterian; the Presbyterian understanding of holiness is that things or times or spaces are holy not because they have an inherent holiness themselves, but because God chooses to be present in and through them when the church uses them in worship.

So I hope to see you in whatever worship service this Sunday speaks to you; but I also encourage you to try whatever service you do not normally attend sometime, and see how God may surprise you there, too.

Grace and peace,

FIRST LESSON: 1 Kings 3:3-14
Ephesians 5:15-20 
·       This week’s sermon: The End of Wisdom by Rev. J.C. Austin        
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
FPCB has a group of 20 attending the Sunday, July 28 performance of Jesus Christ Superstar at Northampton Community College. 
Rev. J.C. Austin will lead a post-show discussion of the themes of this popular rock musical, for any audience members who would like to participate.

If you did not get in on the group but would like to attend, you can purchase an individual ticket for the production by calling 484-484-3412. 
Very limited tickets are available for Sunday, July 28; other show dates are July 24-27, July 31, and Aug. 1-4.

It will be offered by NCC’s professional Summer Theatre program, in the college’s Lipkin Theatre (3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem). Tickets are $15 (adult/senior) and $10 (child/student).
FPCB Music Director David Macbeth and his daughter Aixla (pictured) are attending the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) King's College Course this week. It is a week-long church music festival presented by RSCM, and hosted by King's College in Wilkes-Barre, and St. Stephen's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral.
The festival brings together over 200 singers from ages 8-80, representing numerous denominations and congregations from 20 states. There are often attendees from other countries as well.

The guest conductor this year is Robert McCormick, Director of Music Ministries at St. Mark's Cathedral, Philadelphia
You are invited to attend the closing choral evensong this Sunday, July 28 at 3 p.m. at St. Stephen’s, 35 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre.

Here is a link to a video from a previous festival.
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 .
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).

If you would like to help the day of the event, please use the online sign-up.
If you missed our weekly sermon – or would like to revisit it for any reason (to contemplate the message, share with another, etc.) – you can easily access an audio or text version on our church website. Go to and you will
see it right at the top of the home page.
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. In daytime meetings in August, we will discuss Gates’ newest book. Be forewarned, the book contains disturbing photos and cruel caricatures of African-Americans.

We will discuss how the country might have embraced black voter registration if Reconstruction had been permitted to honestly go forward post-Civil War and consider the legacy of these long-ago cultural wars in the face of “anti-black racism and white supremacy today”. 
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.

FPCB is very fortunate to have two significant resources: an Adult Library (located in room 210) and a Children’s Library, located in the Children’s Center.
The Adult Library (pictured, right) houses a large collection of resources including books, periodicals, and DVDs; they cover many topics including Bible-related themes, parenting, and well-known Christian authors. These are appropriate for individual reading and small-group studies.

The Children’s Library includes books for pre-readers through older youth.
We are looking for interested volunteers to assist with the operation of these two spaces. In addition to checking in and shelving resources, data entry skills would be welcome (but not necessary). Training will be provided, and your time commitment would be flexible. Please contact Leslie Pohl at

NOTE: At this time we are not accepting any donations for either library.
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. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • “Lemonade on the Lawn” between each service; join us for light refreshments and fellowship on the back lawn (inclement weather: Fellowship Hall)
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • 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. See the Pastor's Message above.
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;