Friday, February 9, 2024 Newsletter

For Sunday

9:00 a.m.: Holy Ground Contemporary Worship Service
in Fellowship Hall (in person only)

11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service in the Sanctuary
(in person and livestreamed on Facebook and our website)
Considering What Is to Come..

Dear Members and Friends of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem,

As we come together on Super Bowl Sunday and celebrate the Souper Bowl of Caring we rejoice in our many blessings. We will share soup to raise money for those who are in need of food in our local community and beyond. Perhaps you will be attending or hosting a Super Bowl party or maybe just a quiet night at home. 
Probably because my team suffered a poor loss to leave them out of the Super Bowl, I am thinking less about the Super Bowl and more about how divided we are in so many aspects of life. 

And I am not talking about the Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce romance that has sparked incredible feelings of isn’t love grand or had enough already. I am talking about the big issues that are dividing us in our community and the world.

People on one side of an issue will not engage in discussion with people on the other side of the issue.
Slowly those who were in the middle seem to be fading away and the divide between the two sides just increases exponentially. Pick a topic, the upcoming presidential election, immigration issues, the size of the new parking garage in the city of Bethlehem, affordable housing, church denominations, and on and on. We have more and more that divides us each day - well at least it seems that way in our secular culture.

In the Christian Church our unity comes from Jesus Christ and this week we find ourselves in the middle of the Gospel of Mark with a preview of what is to come. Jesus and his disciples travel up a mountain and there Jesus is transfigured, becomes dazzling white, and the disciples do not know what to do. Build some tents and stay on the mountain is suggested but Jesus says no. Go back down and tell no one. 

It is a moment to share what will happen. After death there is resurrection. As we confess our belief in Jesus Christ who was tortured, died, and was buried will rise again in a glorious resurrection. That is what unifies us with Christians of every time and place. When all seems lost and Jesus is dead and buried, the most amazing and unexplainable happens. Light, dazzling precious light of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I believe society is approaching or is at a stage where all hope is lost, unity is dead and buried and despair has destroyed every ounce of hope. As we enter the season of Lent may this glimpse of what is to come bring us hope. May the dazzling white of Jesus Christ shining on the mountain top remind us of who we are and what brings us together. May we move to the middle in our society. May we listen and engage, may we offer a bridge between the divides.

Knowing that our call as God’s beloved children is to share love and forgiveness, that we are united by our humanity and not our differences. May we seek to reconcile, to be peace makers, to advance peace and understanding. May we bring about the change that breaks down walls and attitudes and judgments and be the voice of compassion and light.

Blessings to each of you,

  • This week’s sermon: Halftime by the Rev. Suzanne Trump
  • We post the video of each week’s services and sermon text on our website:
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper for Sunday:


  • Child care will be available from 8:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. this Sunday morning; please ask an usher for directions.

  • Your children are a joy in our worship services, and should the need arise, “kid bags” are available for their use. They are in the Narthex.

  • We offer nametags for folks to wear – these are for everyone! You can pick up as you enter the worship space; please clearly PRINT your first name.

This Sunday we will take a special collection at the end of each service for Souper Bowl of Caring, a nationwide initiative to collect funds to address hunger issues in our community.

NOTE: The Boy Scouts will be holding the soup pots at the exits of the Sanctuary after the Traditional service. This is not a collection to support the Boy Scouts – they are just helping us with the collection.

Celebrating our Boy Scout Troop
We will celebrate Boy Scout Sunday on Sunday. Troop 302 has been chartered to First Presbyterian Church for over 100 years.

Ours is the oldest Boy Scout Troop in Bethlehem that has been continuously chartered to the same organization. Scouts and leaders from that Troop are assisting the ushers at the Traditional service.
If you would like more information about Boy Scouts of America or Troop 302, please contact Randy Stonesifer at or 610-867-5865.

Souper Bowl of Caring

Following the 11:00 a.m. service, we’ll host a Souper Bowl of Caring soup luncheon in Fellowship Hall to raise awareness about local hunger relief efforts and to collect funds for our area nonprofit partners.
We’re looking for a few more folks to bring a crockpot of soup. If you can do that, please drop us a note at

For dessert, we'll be supporting a Bake Sale offered by Eagle Scout candidate Logan Pierson-Balik, which he's doing to raise funds for the renovation of the Preschool playground that he will be managing.
If you'd like to donate to Logan's Bake Sale, you are welcome to bring items in a disposable container (please mark if it contains nuts or is gluten-free).

Please make plans to attend whether you make a donation or not - there will be plenty of food. Feel free to show your support for your favorite Super Bowl team,
as well! 
From 6:00-7:30 p.m. on the first four Wednesdays of Lent (February 21 and 28, and March 6 and 13), we’ll gather in Fellowship Hall for a simple salad meal and short lesson.

We're looking for folks to bring salads and desserts, and to help with set up / clean up; use this online form to sign up.
And please let us know if you're planning to attend by using this online form.

The intergenerational faith formation group has begun exploring a new curriculum titled Current: Seeking Justice Together! 

They explore stories of justice from the Old and New Testament scriptures. Through story, song, prayer, and activities, they discover and practice ways to name injustice, speak up and care for the vulnerable, and make things right when injustice or harm occurs. 

The curriculum includes materials and activities for ages from preschool to adult, making this hour welcoming to all. Drop in as you are able, or join for the full series. The group meets in Fellowship Hall between the two services from 10:10 - 10:45 a.m.
Sundays, February 11 and 18

Please join us for the third session of our discussion about the lessons we learned from the COVID pandemic this Sunday from 9:45-10:45 a.m. in room 400. You do not need to have attended either of the first two sessions to participate.
We have enjoyed lively discussions in our first sessions and we will continue to focus on some of the intangible things that we lost and those we gained as we learned to navigate the “new normal”.

All are welcome!

The Hearts N Minds adult education class is on hiatus until Sunday, February 25. When it returns they will continue the discussion of Father Richard Rohr’s book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

For February 25, please read chapter 3, pages 25-51, "The First Half of Life".
Sanctuary Flowers: We appreciate the donation of flowers for use in our Traditional worship services in the Sanctuary. This is a wonderful way to honor a loved one, or their memory. Please sign up for your requested date using the form in the Narthex (or you can call the church office at 610-867-5865).

We will order the flowers on your behalf. The cost is $75, payable to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem; send your payment to the Finance Office or use the flower envelope that is with the sign-up form.
You can also use this easy online sign-up form.

The Lehigh Presbytery’s Helping Hands program has been working at Camp Lackawanna (in Tunkhannock, a two hour drive) on the weekends during the month of February. Tasks include painting, fixing and making picnic tables, creating exits in cabins, and repurposing two bathrooms. Minimal skills needed! 
Folks are welcome to come for any or all days (Thursday – Sunday) of any of the weekends. Bunk beds, showers and meals are provided; the only cost for volunteers is their personal transportation (carpooling may be available). Open to high school age and older.

NOTE: If you can donate any food to help feed the volunteers (breakfast or lunch items, or casseroles/soups) please contact us at

And for your consideration: the next Helping Hands trip to New Bern, NC, the week of April 6 – 13. Work will focus on getting families back into their homes following storm damage. (right - Jamie Henry repairs a ceiling on a recent trip)
More details will be coming. For more information about either opportunity, contact Kevin Kehoe at or Carol Bennicoff at

We had over 200 attendees at last Wednesday evening’s second Community Meeting to share concept designs for the campus and to launch our second public survey! The conversations were engaging, and helpful questions and concerns raised. 
We’re eager to continue gathering public feedback through the end of February. If you were unable to attend, you can see the concepts designs and 3D models at our Project Headquarters in the North Link (pictured, right)

You’ll also find a QR code to access the digital survey along with paper copies to share your feedback. 
The survey includes all the needed information about each of the three concepts, and it may be found online here:

You can also visit the church website to see additional contextual information shared on posters at Wednesday night’s meeting. The survey link is posted there, as well. Responses are being accepted through February 29, so feel free to share with other folks in the Bethlehem community!
If you are hospitalized, please tell the hospital our church code is 724. Also, please call the church office at 610-867-5865 to let us know as the hospitals do not always collect this information.  After hours, leave a message or call our answering service at 610-778-7003.

Send any prayer requests to or call 610-867-5865 and leave a message.
Send us your news and photos to share:
**Deadline for the next newsletter:
WEDNESDAY at noon**
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Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • 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 - click on the "Watch the Service" button
  • Please check in with a comment so we know you’ve joined us!
  • 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: Visit our website archives

  • 8:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.: Child Care (ask ushers to direct you)
  • 9:00 a.m.: Holy Ground Contemporary Worship service, in-person in Fellowship Hall
  • 9:45 a.m.: Navigating a New Terrain: Learning from the Pandemic adult ed class, Room 400 – all are welcome!
  • 10:10-10:45 a.m.: Current: Seeking Justice Together!, an intergenerational faith formation offering, Fellowship Hall – all ages are welcome!
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship service, in-person in the Sanctuary and livestreamed on Facebook and on our website
  • 12:15 p.m.: Souper Bowl Luncheon & Bake Sale, Fellowship Hall – all are welcome!

WEDNESDAYS: 7 p.m. - Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via (NEW! meeting #: 868 2214 2960; passcode: OO-Beth)


Regular office hours are Monday - Thursday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Many of the office staff are working remotely for some of the time, so please make an appointment if you need to see someone specific. The answering service (610-778-7003) can take your urgent pastoral concerns, 24 hours a day. 

IN CASE OF BAD WEATHER: Look for updates on our website (, Facebook page, and WFMZ (channel 69 and We will also put the info on our church phone message, 610-867-5865.
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. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor for Justice and Community Impact;

The Rev. Suzanne Trump, Pastoral Associate for Formation and Compassion;

David Macbeth, Director of Music Ministries: ext. 202;

Kevin Konczyk, Facilities Manager;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238;

Tracy Leszcynski, Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;

Marianne Zarillo, Finance (interim); ext.

Cindy Kemmerer, Bookkeeper; ext. 211;