Friday, January 31, 2020 Newsletter

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


 Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!

An exciting new season for FPCB’s life

Last Sunday, we held our Annual Congregational and Corporation meeting and made some very important decisions.
First, we elected new Elders and Deacons to serve for the next three years in those crucial ministries of leadership and service. Second, we elected a group of nine Trustees to form a reconstituted Board of Trustees to which the Session can delegate many of the responsibilities for managing our facilities, endowments, and other financial and administrative duties. While you may not be able to find Trustees in the Bible, unlike Elders and Deacons, they exercise a valuable and faithful ministry of stewardship in the life of this church, and I am grateful to have them joining in. After completing officer training and meeting with the Session in February, these new leaders will be taking up their new duties starting in March.
A nd we also made another important decision related to leadership in the life of this church: we approved the Session’s recommendation to create a new position for a full-time associate pastor whose programmatic focus will be in three areas: 1) engaging newcomers in the life and ministry of the church; 2) ministry with children, youth, and their families; and 3) compassion and justice work in the community. We therefore directed the Congregational Nominating Committee to seek nominations for an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee, which they will bring back to the congregation for a vote, “if the way be clear.” 
The process of calling a pastor in the Presbyterian tradition is a complicated one, but for some important reasons. The process is designed to ensure that it is the congregation, not the Session or myself, who calls any pastor serving the congregation. And it is designed to ensure that the congregation elects a pastor based on their discernment of the will of God, rather than any other reason.

So the process requires a great deal of deliberation and openness; you can’t simply run out and call someone that someone heard good things about from a friend. So we’ll be explaining more of this process as it develops, but here are the next few steps.

First, we’ll need Lehigh Presbytery to approve the formation of an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (“APNC”); it’s their responsibility to ensure that we have good reasons for doing this and the capacity to follow through. If the Presbytery gives us that approval in early February, the Congregational Nominating Committee will come back with a slate of nominees for the APNC as soon as possible.

We’ll call a special congregational meeting to elect the APNC, and then they will get started organizing themselves and writing a position description. That, too, will need to be approved by the Presbytery once it’s completed. That “preparatory” process, all told, is likely to take several months, but once it is done, the APNC can advertise the position and begin reviewing candidates. That will then begin the actual “search” process.
We will keep you posted as things unfold, and will explain more about the process as we get to new stages. Please keep the congregation and this search process in your constant prayers during this exciting new season of our life together!

Grace and Peace,

Psalm 15:1-5  
Matthew 5:1-12
·      This week’s sermon:  Mixed Blessings by Rev. J.C. Austin        

·       We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
Youth volunteers will be at the exits after each worship service to collect your loose change and bills for the Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday donation.
As part of this national initiative, these funds will go to our mission partner, Northeast Community Center, to support their food programming for seniors.

Our new Handbell Choir has been on hiatus, and will start weekly rehearsals this Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 5 p.m. No experience is necessary to join this energetic group, which is open to second grade and older.
They will be preparing to share their talents during the Lenten and Easter seasons. Contact David Macbeth ( ) for more information.
CHURCH DIRECTORY: Collecting member information
Volunteers will be available again this Sunday, Feb. 2 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 (8:45-9:00 a.m.), or Fellowship Hall from 9:45-10:30 or 11:30-noon to complete your form.
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.
We have been alerted by other churches in the area about a phishing scam. Someone is posing as the pastor, texting requests for money to individual members. Be assured that you will not be contacted via text, by any staff or other church representative, requesting money for any purpose.
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 (starting Sunday) 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.

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 Build Up" starting on page 93 in the written version. 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!
Beginning this Thursday, Feb. 6 (through April 9): Drop by Room 400 between 9 a.m. – noon 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.

The First Pres Preschool and Extended Care program is now registering for fall 2020. They are offering an informational session and Open House this Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. to learn more about their programming for 2, 3, 4 and 5 year olds.
If you know someone who might be interested in our hands-on, learning by playing program, please share this information with them!

Those planning to attend are asked to contact Andie Barbehenn at 610-867-2956 or For all the details about our Preschool program, visit
If you have not received your 2020 pledge envelopes
in the mail, please contact our Main Office
at or 610-867-5865.
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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And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • 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
  • 10:00-10:30 a.m. - Blood Pressure screenings, North Link
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • 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 rehearal, 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: Feb. 2): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services,
North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: Feb. 9 ) : Bereavement Group gathering; bring your lunch if you like
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: Feb. 4): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
FIRST THURSDAY (next: Feb. 6): 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)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: Feb. 20): 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;