Friday, January 15, 2021 Newsletter


9:00 a.m. Contemporary Worship Service

11:00 a.m. Traditional Worship Service*

also available on our website and *via phone
A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: The universal call

As you probably know, Presbyterians talk a LOT about the idea of “call,” of vocation; of being gifted and commissioned by God to particular kinds of ministry, and even particular place and contexts to which one is called. 
In two weeks, this congregation will convene at its Annual Meeting to elect, or call, new Elders and Deacons (which are ordained positions within the church), as well as Trustees (which is an office of great significance and service, but not ordained). Last Sunday this congregation called
The Rev. Lindsey Clifton to serve as Associate Pastor here at First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, for example.
In doing that, we were affirming that the congregation believes that Lindsey is gifted and sent by God to serve with us at this time; that Lindsey herself senses that call as well and accepts it; and soon the Lehigh Presbytery (presumably) will vote to concur with that and “validate” the call.

And too often we constrict our understandings of call to those offices that are so important in the life of the church. But one of the basic tenets of the Reformed theological tradition, from which Presbyterians come, is that all Christians are called to ministry through their baptisms. Ordination is not a higher calling than baptism; just a more specific one.

We are ordained to offices in the church that ensure that the most essential functions in the life of the church are carried out: ministries of compassion and justice by Deacons; the governance and guidance of the church by Elders; the preaching of God’s Word and administration of the Sacraments by Ministers. But in all of these, we are ordained to function, not status; baptism remains the universal calling and commissioning to ministry for all Christians.

This Sunday, we will baptize two infants in worship, which is perfect, since we are also observing the Christian holy day of The Baptism of the Lord, in which we remember and commemorate that even Jesus himself was baptized. So we will be celebrating those baptisms and considering what our own baptisms can tell us about living through the difficult times in which we find ourselves. I look forward to being with you in worship!

Grace and peace,

Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read online
·   This week's sermon: Where It Begins by Rev. J.C. Austin

·     We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper for Sunday


9 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education class (see details below)
10 a.m.: Combined Worship Service
11 a.m.: Congregational Annual Meeting via Zoom
12 p.m.: Hospitality Time via Zoom

NO Sunday School via Zoom from 10:15-10:45 a.m.

NOTE: You will receive your copy of the 2020 Annual Report via email, before the Annual Meeting.

The Worship Committee is looking for individuals interested in recording our weekly scripture readings for both the Contemporary and Traditional services. We will provide simple instructions on how you can record the reading on your own device, and email it to us so it can be included in the livestream service.

If this interests you and you would like more information on this, please send your name and email address to

The Discipleship Committee’s new series began on Wednesday. You are welcome to attend the next sessions, even if you did not participate in the first one, “Biblical Economics” (you can view the video here). 

Wednesdays: January 20 and 27
7 p.m. via Zoom
Leader: The Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons
In this series, we’ll consider what the Bible says about wealth (and poverty), how we can best use our material resources to live faithfully as disciples of Christ, and even how we can make “decluttering” our lives a spiritual discipline.
  •  January 20: “Effective Christian Responses to Poverty”; guest presenter: Abby Goldfarb, executive director of the Lehigh Conference of Churches
  • January 27: “Decluttering as a Spiritual Discipline”

To join via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 842 4025 0484 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
** On January 6 we presented “Creating Your Spiritual Family Tree”; if you missed it you can watch it here. You can also download the document here to print it.

NOTE: The video begins with a short prayer service in the wake of the January 6 attack on the Nation’s Capitol Building.**
We had a great time at our first-ever virtual Trivia Night last Friday, sponsored by the Congregational Life committee, and we are looking ahead to offering another Game Night on Friday, January 22 at 7 p.m. on Zoom.

Everyone is welcome to join us!
We’ll plan to play Scattergories, which is a fun-for-all-ages game in which you choose items to go in specified categories – easy for everyone to do (“name a fruit that starts with the letter ‘L’”). Watch for details!
“Advent of the Spirit”

Because of last week’s Congregational meeting, Hearts N Minds did not meet so on Sunday at 9 a.m. they will discuss the last lecture in the “Advent of the Spirit” series. All four lectures are available to listen to, on our church website. You do not need to listen to the lectures to attend Sunday’s class.

Beginning on Sunday, January 24, the class will return to finalize its discussion of Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans. You may want to secure a copy of the next book the class will explore: The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending the Bible Has Made us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns.

Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.

We are pleased to offer two Sunday School options for families! Gather with other families on Sunday mornings between 10:15-10:45 a.m. for a Zoom session; you can also do “anytime” Sunday School with a prerecorded series of videos and related resources that you can access on our website when convenient. These are updated weekly.
The selections include fun dance videos as well as Bible stories told in creative ways.

This week's lesson is from the Book of Proverbs: 6:6-8:  “The Ant & The Sluggard: Ants know how to get the job done! “
To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.:
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116

Is there someone you know who might be interested in our programs?

Hi Neighbors is FPCB’s popular speaker series where adult learners of all ages hear presentations on a wide variety of interesting topics. These programs are open to all, to watch or listen to via Zoom.

We are planning to start up again soon – watch for details on the interesting programs we have coming your way!
One of our ministries is to send cards and notes to folks who might especially appreciate something in their mailbox.

If you know of someone whose day we can brighten, please send us their full name and mailing address and we’ll take care of the rest!
Thank you to Kate Arrington and Lizzie Arrington for faithfully fulfilling this ministry!
Join Lehigh Presbytery for a brief time of prayer and reflection on the events in our Nation’s Capitol in recent weeks, and for the upcoming Presidential inauguration.

Via Zoom:
Or join by phone: 833-548-0276; enter meeting ID: 823 5294 3891


President-elect Biden will lead a memorial on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to remember
and honor lives lost to Covid-19, with church bells ringing across the country.
We plan to participate in that and will share it “live” on our Facebook page.
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 Phil
Fair at to keep us up to date.

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

  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Worship service via Facebook Live and on our website
  • 9:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds – see more information above
  • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Sunday School via Zoom – see more information above
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Worship Service - see instructions in blue box, below, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone
FOR THIS SUNDAY: : Worship with us “Live” on Facebook
To watch “live”- as it happens:

  • 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
  • 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
You can participate on your phone (audio only)

To join the 11 a.m. Traditional Worship service via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 955 325 387 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
  • 7 p.m.: Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom (Meeting # 380 435 9056 / Password: overcomer)
  • January 20-27: Living Spiritually in a Material World via Zoom (see more information above)

ALL OTHER PUBLIC EVENTS AND GATHERINGS ARE CANCELLED AT THIS TIME unless offered online (see listings on our Facebook page under “Events”)

CHURCH OFFICE AND BUILDING INFO: The office staff is working remotely and checking email and voicemail daily. The answering service (610-778-7003) can take your urgent pastoral concerns, 24 hours a day. The office staff will not be working on Monday, January 18 in honor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday. The Preschool program will also be closed.

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: Phil Fair, Prayer Ministrant (
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;

Marianne Zarillo, Business Manager: email:

Cindy Matthews, Bookkeeper: email:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; phone 610-428-9649;

Andrea Barbehenn, Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;