Friday, February 26, 2021 Newsletter



9:00 a.m. Contemporary 

11:00 a.m. Traditional (also available on our website and via phone)
I live close to Shop-Rite and can see their parking lot from my window. It is convenient for me for quick grocery trips or full orders. 

When a storm is forecast, the lots are filled to capacity as people rush to get the essential groceries to get them through the bad weather. Groceries, snow shovels and salt become the staples of our lives. A practice that has been passed on through generations. When we hear of storm brewing, we prepare. (Better add candles and batteries to our list!)
In Matthew 7:24, Jesus tells his disciples how to prepare for the storms in their life. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew ad beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock.” Jesus goes on to tell them the practices of the one who builds his house on sand.  
2020 was one of those years that challenged us in many ways. Warnings of the pandemic started early in 2020 and by early spring it was spreading across the U.S. Zoom and Facebook Live became our ‘go to’ platforms and we continued worshipping, meeting, staying informed and even playing remotely. Together, we discovered that we had the essentials to get through this storm, together: Faith, Hope, and Love. We simply went to our spiritual pantry and affirmed that our supply would be sufficient for the storm.

Our faith gave us the ability to welcome technology that would continue our weekly services. In the beginning, we could not imagine not being in the church building for the great holy days of the church. Nevertheless, we were. Our faith did not disappoint. Hope and trust in God guided us. We discovered anew that our foundation was strong and we had everything we needed to not only survive but also flourish.

Looking back, in the midst of the Pandemic, we worshipped, baptized babies, met online in small groups, elected officers, and comforted those who grieved. We spaced out our parking lots for outdoor worship, and summer Trivia contests. We greeted each other with masks on our faces, and six or more feet apart. We all wore the same cologne and after-shave called “Hand Sanitizer”.

Love was at our foundation and we looked out for one another. We reached out by phone and made meals for those who lived alone, or were ill. Love filled our hearts as we cared for one another.

Hopefully, we have made it through the worst of the pandemic and 2021 will be kinder to us. Let us continue to put into practice what we have learned through and with each other, continue to build on our foundation so we are always prepared for a storm; and may we always remember:  “Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13


Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: Proving Ground by Rev. Cynthia Leslie Simmons

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


We are happy to welcome Rev. Cynthia Leslie Simmons as our preacher this Sunday.
Cindy is a retired Presbyterian (U.S.A.) pastor who served congregations in Oregon and Illinois before coming to the Lehigh Valley in 1995. She served 15 years on the staff of First Presbyterian of Allentown and later pastored First Presbyterian of Easton before retiring in 2016. 

Cindy and her husband Steve are Parish Associates for FPCB, and both sing in our church choir and volunteer in our education programs. They are also active in the Bethlehem Interfaith Group (BIG), and volunteer regularly with Meals on Wheels in addition to other organizations they support with their time and resources.
We hope you are participating in the Lenten Challenge, offered by the Discipleship Committee. It’s not too late to get engaged!

Presbyterians have traditionally sought to ‘take up’ something, like helping out more at home or making an effort to be nicer to their brother or sister.
We are suggesting that you use this period of reflection and preparation to think of small ways to make someone else’s day a little better, through daily acts of kindness or gratitude. You can print the Lenten calendar here.

JoAnne Turcotte also created these "Lenten Bingo cards" for you to print out and use, to inspire you and help you keep progress. There's an adult version and a children's version. We'll be waiting to hear how you like them!

We are going to build a ‘virtual’ bulletin board where everyone can share and see these acts of kindness. Please share yours with us – acts of kindness you may have received, given, or heard about. You can send photos and/or words to or send to Lenten Challenge, FPCB, 2344 Center St., Bethlehem, PA 18017. We’ll share the link to the virtual bulletin board in a future newsletter. Thanks to those who have submitted already.
We can’t wait to see what everyone ‘takes up’!

As Monday, March 1, quickly approaches, we are excitedly preparing for the arrival of our new Associate Pastor, Rev. Lindsey Altvater Clifton. COVID has created some challenges in meeting Lindsey as the building is closed and we continue to gather virtually. However, we are using the blessing of technology to plan some virtual ways to welcome Lindsey into our church family with open arms.

Below are a few dates to mark on your calendar for opportunities to meet and hear from Lindsey; we will let you know as other opportunities arise: 
  • Sunday, March 14: ‘Meet and Greet’ hospitality hour following the 11 a.m. church service

  • Wednesday, March 17: Lindsey will present at the Lenten Supper

  • Friday, March 19: Game Night! (more info below)

  • Sunday, March 21: Lindsey will be preaching during both services
We ask that to help Lindsey ease into her new role (and not overwhelm her inbox) that you email Kristen Benway at with any ideas or other opportunities you might have, to welcome Lindsey to the congregation. The APNC (Associate Pastor Nominating Committee) is coordinating all of the welcoming opportunities.

If you are in a K group and have an interest in welcoming Lindsey during one of your meetings, please have a member of your K group email Gail Watts at to make arrangements.

We are looking forward to the warmer weather when we can once again gather outdoors. Lindsey’s installation will be scheduled at the end of April or the beginning of May.  Stay tuned for more details!

The One Great Hour of Sharing special offering is sharing God’s love with our neighbors around the world. It provides relief from natural disasters, food for the hungry, and support for the poor and oppressed. 

We have the opportunity to donate to this through Easter Sunday, April 4. Imagine the good that can come out of a whole denomination giving to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program and Self-Development of People. It reaches places one church alone cannot.
If you have pledge envelopes, a special one for this offering is included. If you do not have envelopes, you may donate by sending your check to the Business Office; make it out to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem and write “One Great Hour of Sharing” in the memo line.

You may also give online at; write “One Great Hour of Sharing” in the online memo box. Your donation will be greatly appreciated.

We kicked off our popular “Lenten Supper Series” on Wednesday with over 30 participants. We will continue the series every Wednesday through March 24, offered via Zoom (online and “phone only”).
The Discipleship Committee has arranged for an interesting line-up of presenters, under the umbrella topic of “Worship: Praising and Enjoying God Together”.
You are welcome to join the Zoom at 6:00 p.m., for 30 minutes of fellowship time (you can eat your supper online with others or just enjoy the conversation).
The program begins at 6:30 p.m. and runs for an hour – if you have not already joined in, please sign in before 6:30 so we can start on time. 

March 3: “A Preacher's Eye View of Music in Worship” by Cindy Simmons
March 10: “Christian Worship: A Cross-Cultural View” by Jim Stahl and Janet Stahl
March 17: “Worship Matters: Engaging Worship as an Embodied Spiritual Practice” by Lindsey Altvater Clifton
March 24: “Exploring the Art(s) of Preaching” by J.C. Austin

The first one was this past Wednesday: "A Really Short History of Worship” by Steve Simmons (if you missed it, you can view it here:

For the next sessions:

To join via / Meeting ID: 893 3839 7818

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 893 3839 7818 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.

You can read more about each session in this week’s Spotlight newsletter.

Organist Bryan Holten will present a special concert in our Sanctuary that you can enjoy from home via Facebook Live. It will be offered on Sunday, March 14 beginning at 4 p.m. At the conclusion of the concert, you can join Bryan via Zoom for a ‘meet and greet’ session.
More details to come about this exciting opportunity!
We had a great time - and a nice crowd of all ages - the last time we gathered for a Family Game Night!

So the Congregational Life Committee has scheduled another one for next Friday,
March 5 at 7 p.m. – on Zoom.
We’ll 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’”). Each player should have paper and something to write with.

To join us on Zoom: / Member ID: 885 9291 7782

To join via phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 885 9291 7782 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.

Thank you for the great response to this appeal! We are continuing to support the Bethlehem Emergency Shelter with a collection of needed items for the homeless men and women they serve. The collection will be taken through this Sunday, February 28.

We are asking for donations of small fruit cups, nutrigrain/granola bars, and paperback books (especially those geared towards a male audience). You can safely deposit in the tub outside the South entrance; if you cannot travel to the church building please contact us at or 610-867-5865 and we will arrange for pick up.
The Hearts N Minds adult ed class has begun exploring The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending the Bible Has Made us Unable to Read It by Peter Enns.

For this Sunday, Steve Simmons will lead the class on the topic “Seminary Confidential”. Please read Exodus: Chapters 1, 2 and 3, and Joshua: Chapter 2.

If possible, finish reading Chapter 3, “God Likes Stories”, in the Enns’ book (pages 100-130). We will discuss the second half of the chapter the following Sunday.

To join via
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 on our website. 
This week's story is from the book of Luke 10:25-37: The Good Samaritan. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. “Be kind to people who are different than you.”

To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.: 
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 / Password: 369116
Hi Neighbors is FPCB’s popular speaker series where adult learners of all ages hear presentations on a wide variety of interesting topics.

On Monday, March 8 author, archivist and historian Martha Capwell Fox will make a presentation on The Silk Industry in Easton: 1890-1990”.
Many people living in our region today remember, or are descended from, women who helped support their families by working in the silk mills. For the first half of the 20th century, virtually every community in the Lehigh Valley, large or small, had at least one silk mill. Even after the industry moved into the South, and later to Asia, many mills survived by making synthetic goods alongside silk.
From 1913 until 1930, more silk goods were produced in eastern Pennsylvania than anywhere else in the world. The silk industry offered the first industrial jobs for women, and in fact moved into the Commonwealth largely because of its human resources rather than its natural ones. The story of how and why silk played a large role in our region’s history will be told with photographs that span the 20th century, including some that were taken in the last silk mill to operate in Allentown.

To join Zoom online:
Meeting ID: 880 1333 6329

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 880 1333 6329 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – press the # key again.
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
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE INTERNET ACCESS: You can participate on your phone to listen to the 11 a.m. Traditional service

To listen on the 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 – 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)
  • 7 p.m.: Lenten Supper Series; 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.

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;