Friday, November 22, 2019 Newsletter

9:00 a.m. Contemporary in the Kirk Center
10:30 a.m. Traditional in the Sanctuary

Children’s Sunday School during both services
Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday next Thursday, we will email
our weekly newsletter on Wednesday morning, Nov. 27.
The deadline for that newsletter is noon on Monday, Nov. 25.
Mailed newsletters will be sent out on Wednesday afternoon.

This coming Sunday is the last Sunday of the Christian year; “New Year’s Day” on the Christian calendar is the first Sunday of Advent, which is December 1 this year. But it is not simply the last Sunday of the Christian year; on the Christian calendar it is known as “Christ the King Sunday.” 
There are several Sundays throughout the year that are special observances of important moments in Jesus’ life and ministry outside of the major seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. There is The Baptism of the Lord, which focuses on the significance of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist; there is Transfiguration Sunday, which recalls Jesus’ miraculous encounter with Moses and Elijah in which he was “transfigured” into a glowing figure of dazzling light; and Ascension Day, which remembers the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry when he ascended into heaven forty days after Easter in order to fulfill his promise to send the Holy Spirit upon his disciples, which we observe on Pentecost Sunday. 
You would think the Ascension would be the end, though, since that is the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. So what’s this about Christ the King Sunday? Well, it’s actually the most recently-developed of all these observances; in fact, it only dates back to the 1920s.

But that is part of why it is significant. Remember what was going on in the 1920s? Yes, the “roaring 20s” was part of it, with its economic prosperity and social and cultural dynamism. But it was also the time of “the Lost Generation,” those who came of age amidst the horrors of World War I, which shook Western civilization to its core not only because of the unprecedented scale of its brutality, but because of its pointlessness.

Forty million people died to fulfill a series of interlocking military alliances that were activated largely to defend national pride rather than something noble like opposing tyranny. The Lost Generation were those who did most of the fighting and dying in that war, and those who survived came away from it profoundly disillusioned and cynical about politics, faith, and modern life.

Christ the King Sunday was instituted after the war, then, not simply as a conclusion to the Christian year, but as a theological affirmation that it is not the kings of the earth who wield true power and determine true meaning in this world, but Christ alone, at whose name “every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

And so this Sunday we’ll talk about how this is a message of both hope and responsibility for us in a world where kings, per se, no longer rule, but where powers continue to claim authority while wielding division and destruction in the world. See you in worship!
Grace and Peace,

Psalm 46
Luke 23:33-43
·      This week’s sermon: Fit for a
King by Rev. J.C. Austin        

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:

Many thanks to all who attended last Sunday’s “Stories of Immigration” program and interfaith Thanksgiving service, sponsored by the Bethlehem Interfaith Group (BIG). We welcomed over 200 friends from the 13 member houses of worship and faith communities, including about 65 singers who joined in the wonderful combined choir directed by David Macbeth.
The stories shared were poignant and inspiring, with some humor mixed in, and showed once more how our narratives can connect us in unexpected ways. The table discussions were lively and revealing.

An event like this takes many hands, and we’d like to extend our appreciation to the many First Pres members who stepped up to help make it happen (some of you at the last minute!). 
We heard many requests for future programming, so we will keep you apprised of those details. 

Thank you! We had a wonderful response to our Pledge Dedication Sunday on Nov. 10. For those who have not pledged, we look forward to receiving yours as soon as possible.

If you did not receive a stewardship mailing, our apologies! Please contact the Main Office at 610-867-5865 or . We will appreciate you contacting us to let us know that you didn't receive it, even if you got a pledge card at church and completed it.

If you are choosing to use the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) option:

  • First – thank you! Receiving pledges on a regular basis throughout the year ensures a steady cash flow that helps with our expenses.
  • You will need to complete the front of the pledge card (including your signature) AND the entire back of the card – even if you have previously been utilizing this option, we need to reaffirm this information.

Thank you for all you are doing to ensure a successful stewardship campaign!
Come bake some cookies with your friends - enjoy a few - and then bundle up
the rest to present to someone who will appreciate them, like a family member
or neighbor. No sign-up needed - just come!
Wednesday, Nov. 27: Thanksgiving Eve Service , 7 p.m.

On Thanksgiving Eve, we gather together in worship to celebrate the many ways God has blessed us to be a blessing. This is a joyous service of music and praise, with heartfelt testimonials from members sharing stories of thankfulness.

Communion will be offered for all who wish to partake. We will also have child care available.
To celebrate the first day of Advent on Sunday, Dec. 1, we have planned a special schedule to help us joyously welcome the season.
We will join together in a Combined Worship Service at 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary. The Children’s Christmas Choir will sing, and communion will be offered for those who wish to participate; there will be no Sunday School on this day.

At approximately 11 a.m., we will follow the service with an ‘all ages’ luncheon in Fellowship Hall – we will provide soups, grilled cheese and Christmas cookies. Then we will offer activities for all ages, so we hope you will join in this time of food, fun and fellowship.

We will appreciate you signing up to bring Christmas cookies and/or to volunteer - use the button to access the easy online sign-up, or contact us at 610-867-5865 or

The second annual Giving Tree will be in place starting Sunday, Dec. 1 through Tuesday, Dec. 24 in Fellowship Hall. As last year, you can purchase everything from a family of chickens to water systems for people around the world, where they are needed.
Choose your ornament(s), get your gift card and return all payments (made out to PCUSA) to Fellowship Hall or the Main Office no later than Dec. 24 (you can also drop in the collection plate). 

This is a thoughtful way to honor a family member or friend during the holiday season, while helping our neighbors around the globe.
ALSO FOR ADVENT… pick up in the Narthex and Rotunda

  • You are encouraged to pick up an Advent Devotional publication: Straw for the Manger: Creating a Matthew 25 Advent season. One per household, please.

  • We also have postcards available with our December events and services – these are available to share with friends and family. If you mail it, please affix first class postage. Thanks for helping to share the good news about First Pres!
By Susan Farber, Clerk of Session

  •  Session acted to increase Rev. Sue Bennetch’s work hours to 20 hours weekly to reflect the increase need for her pastoral care services.
  • Session has continued to make small adjustments to the Personnel Manual that was effective July 1. These changes mainly update policies to keep current with the national church recommendations.
  • The Preschool Task Force was reactivated to provide support as needed and to continue the strong relationship between the church and the preschool.
  • A special congregational meeting was held Sept. 22 for several purposes.
  • The nominating committee recommended Polly Beste to fill a vacant position in the Class of 2020 of Session. The congregation voted to accept the nomination; she was ordained on Nov. 17 (pictured, left).
  • A vacancy on the nominating committee was filled by Sally Ross (pictured, right).
  • Session recommended that the church return to a bicameral system of governance. The congregation voted to accept the recommendation.
  • Finally, the Congregation voted to revise a portion of the Bylaws to reflect the change. It included the specific duties of the Trustees.
  • Letters were mailed to members updating them on their giving through the first half of the year.
  • An outdoor joint worship service was held Sept. 8 followed by a well-attended church picnic.
  • The Stephen Ministry, under the Board of Deacons, was reactivated beginning this fall. Longstanding Stephen Minister Phil Clauser is guiding about 7 -8 individuals who have volunteered to participate.
  • Four deacons (and friends) participated in the Lehigh Valley Pride activities in Allentown (right).
  • The Bereavement Group is now meeting at Kirkland Village to accommodate residents who find it difficult to meet elsewhere.
  • A formal job description for a Director of Music position was approved, as was the hiring of a part time Choral Scholar/assistant choir director.
  • Session approved a revised and updated Endowment Fund Policy manual developed by the Endowment Committee, under the guidance of Lisa Titus and Linda Robertson.
  • An Inquirers Class was held Oct. 27.
  • On the same date, a Blessing of the Animals service was held in the front of the church.
  • The Mission committee sponsored donation stations this fall in the North Link and the Rotunda. Donations were collected for the Lemon Tree Bazaar, the Lehigh Valley Council of Churches, Outreach Depot and the Northeast Community Center (formerly Northeast Ministries).
  • The CommUNITY garden donated 455 pounds of produce to two area organizations.
  •  Thirteen FPCB members walked in the Crop walk, and $2,351 was raised by our congregation.
  • Many educational opportunities have been offered: Hearts N Minds adult education classes, Exploring the History of Hymns series, and Spiritual Practices across Faith Traditions (Quaker, Native American, Unitarian Universalist, and Sikh).
  • Session approved our participation in the BIG (Bethlehem Interfaith Group) and participated in the first Faith Crawl on Sept. 15.  

The Bach Choir will present "Magnificat and Messiah (Part 1)" on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 4 p.m., here at First Pres.

This year’s Christmas concerts celebrate the joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth with glorious pieces from Bach and Handel.  Bach’s Magnificat and Part One of Handel’s Messiah offer us musical journeys that focus on the meaning of Christmas, as Mary learns she is blessed to bear the child she will bring into the world in Magnificat, and the world anticipates the arrival of the Savior in Part One of the Messiah.
They have offered a discounted ticket option to our congregation. Tickets are going fast, so get your order in to take advantage of this offer! Print out this order form.
HEARTS N MINDS Adult Education

The Hearts N Minds class is concluding its initial study of the Joan Chittister book, For Everything a Season , this Sunday.

Jan Bickford will start the Advent Meditation on Dec. 1 for four weeks in December. Then in January they will pick up Chittister again. Feel free to attend even if you didn’t go to the previous classes. Hearts N Minds meets at 9 a.m. on Sundays in Room 400.

The Children’s Christmas Choir for those in Kindergarten – grade 5 has been rehearsing in preparation for their participation in several December events and services.
On Nov. 24 and Dec. 8, 15 and 22 , the children will rehearse from 9:45 to 10:15 a.m. in Room E-3. 

All children will be dismissed to the Hospitality Hour at 10:15 a.m.; an adult will escort them to Fellowship Hall. 

The children will sing at our Combined Worship Service on Sunday, Dec. 1; as part of the Christmas Joy Concert – 4:00 p.m. on Dec. 22; and again for the 5:00 p.m. Christmas Eve service.  
LAST SESSION UNTIL SPRING: Hi Neighbors for this Monday, Nov. 25
Hi Neighbors concludes its fall semester of interesting and informative programming this Monday, Nov. 25.
The program will start with our Fellowship time at 9:15, followed by a performance by the Touring Choir from Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. 

We’ll conclude with lunch (please bring your own) – we’ll furnish beverages and an ice cream dessert.
NOTE: If you’d like to come early that day, you are welcome to attend the Preschool Thanksgiving chapel at 9:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary. It will conclude in time for you to walk to Fellowship Hall for the Hi Neighbors program.
Last call: through this Sunday, Nov. 24, we will be collecting these items - bins are located in the North Link and the Rotunda.
  • towels and washcloths (new or gently used)

  • baby clothing for 0-3 months (new or gently used – no stains, please), and baby supplies

  • paper products and grooming items

FPCB has a dedicated team of members who prepare and serve lunch to our street neighbors at Christ UCC at East Market and Center Streets on the last Saturday of every month.

Christ UCC is hoping to recruit individuals and/or groups willing to provide and serve evening meals and to mingle for a time with the people who will be staying in the overnight shelter during the winter months. 

At this time, one of our members has volunteered to to be there overnight to be on call for men, and another member will help with meals twice a week. Other men and women willing to remain overnight may also be needed. Individuals, couples or groups – e.g., K- groups - interested in helping during one or more evenings a week, a month or more can get information by contacting the church's Mission Pastor, the Rev. Bob Rapp, at 484-357-0600.

East Hills Moravian Church will host a Moravian Dinner Night, a fund raiser to support Bethlehem Emergency Sheltering. It will be held at the church (1830 Butztown Rd., Bethlehem) on Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 5-7 p.m.

For more information and ticket information contact East Hills’ office at 610-868-6481 or print out this info flyer.
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: MONDAY 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. - Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 9:00 a.m. - Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
  •  9:45-10:15 a.m. - Children’s Christmas Choir rehearsal; gather in Children's Library
  • 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;
“It’s a Start” Fitness Class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step Room
TUESDAYS:   Depression Support Group , 12:30-2:30 p.m., Room 206
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 420
THURSDAY: Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: Dec. 1): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services,
North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: Dec. 8 ) : Bereavement Group gathering; meet after
10:30 a.m. service - watch newsletter for new location information
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: Dec. 3): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: Dec. 18):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: Dec. 19): 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. The office and building will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 28 for Thanksgiving; we will re-open on Monday, Dec. 2.

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;