Friday, October 23, 2020 Newsletter

FOR THIS SUNDAY: COMBINED SERVICE AT 11 A.M.

** OUTDOORS IN FRONT OF CHURCH BUILDING **

AND ONLINE VIA FACEBOOK LIVE
(also available on our website and via phone)
Apologies for being late - forgot to hit 'send'!
A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN:
A RESPONSE TO UNPRECEDENTED TIMES

It has become a cliché to talk about how we are living through “unprecedented” times in 2020, but it is a cliché for the simple reason that it is true. There are partial precedents, of course, most notably the 1918-19 Influenza Pandemic, the efforts to contain it, and some controversies over those efforts.

And yet while that pandemic took place in the context of the final stages of a truly unprecedented World War, ours is unprecedented in that it is taking place in the context of deep divisions, tensions and conflicts within our country at the same time that a presidential election is taking place.
Given all that, the first week of November is likely to be a particularly challenging time in the life of our country and community, and therefore in our congregation as well. So while we are still two weeks away, I want to talk briefly about some preparations the Session has made to help us navigate this time together in a way that not only provides support to our members but witnesses to the love, mercy, justice, reconciliation, and peace that are the hallmarks of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
To begin with, I want to remind you that Sunday, November 1 is “All Saints’ Day” on the Christian calendar, the annual memorial service for those who have died in the faith, particularly over the previous year. Providentially, it falls directly on a Sunday this year, and we will be memorializing not only those who have died who are members of First Pres or are loved ones of our members, but also the more than 225,000 who will have died from COVID-19 at that point in the United States, and the more than one million who have died worldwide.

The Tuesday after All Saints’ Day, of course, is Election Day, and many analysts are saying there is a good possibility that we will not have definitive results that night or potentially for several days, as the pandemic has led so many people to vote by absentee/mail-in ballot and many states allow ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted that are received for multiple days afterwards. Many reputable and nonpartisan analysts are also warning about the possibility of some degree of political and civil unrest during that interim period as well as when the results are finally determined.

Accordingly, the Session has called a Special Prayer Service for National Healing the day after Election Day: Wednesday, November 4 at 6 p.m. I hope it goes without saying that this will be a nonpartisan worship service; our unity as a congregation of Christ’s disciples is not in the unity of our political affiliations but in our unity in Jesus Christ through our faith and baptisms.

But regardless of the election results, the deep partisan divisions and political and social concerns in our nation will not disappear, so whether we have definitive election results or not, there will be a need to pray for healing in our nation.

This service will be a “hybrid” service, meaning that you can participate either by coming in-person to the service taking place outdoors with the same protocols we have used for our outdoor Sunday services (including this Sunday, October 25 at 11 a.m.), or by joining the livestream on Facebook Live from the church Facebook page or using the link on the church website. If weather does not permit an in-person gathering that day, we will shift to a “digital-only” format and proceed accordingly. 

Finally, the Worship Committee has proposed a weekly in-person worship experiment in the month of November, as well. These “Weekly Evening Prayer Services” will be on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. for four weeks, starting on November 10. The services will consist of Scripture, prayer, and music (pre-recorded) in both traditional and contemporary styles, in a contemplative atmosphere of worship. They will each last approximately 30 minutes.

These Tuesday evening services will be held outdoors in front of the church building; there will be no livestream component as they are designed specifically to provide an opportunity for more regular in-person worship for those who are particularly hungry for that.

These services are not intended to address our national divisions the way the one on November 4 is, but as a prayer service that will provide an opportunity to bring our concerns to God regarding whatever is going on in our lives as individuals and as a congregation, the Lehigh Valley community, the nation, and the world. If there is sufficient interest after the four weeks, the Session will consider continuing them.

So, I hope that you will be able to participate in these various opportunities for worship and prayer in the upcoming weeks. In any case, though, I invite you to continue holding our congregation, our community, and our nation in your individual prayers to God.

Grace and peace,
JC

Sunday’s service will be an 11 a.m. Combined Worship Service, offered outside in front of the church building, and via Facebook Live (on our Facebook page and on our website). Please let us know if you plan to attend the outdoor service by sending an email to info@fpc-bethlehem.org or leaving a message at 610-867-5865. Thank you for responding so we can make appropriate plans!
FOR THIS SUNDAY

Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read online
·   This week's sermon: No Thin Love 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
(if you attend worship in person, copies will be provided)

FOR THIS SUNDAY: Our Combined Service is “Live” on Facebook
at 11 a.m.
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!
  • NEW: 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 – OR PREFER TO “LISTEN IN” ON SUNDAY ON YOUR PHONE.

We will offer the COMBINED WORSHIP SERVICE (at 11 a.m. on Sunday) with an ‘audio-only’ option so you can listen to it on your phone. 

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.
DO YOU FEEL CALLED TO SERVE? NOMINATIONS DUE SUNDAY

The Congregational Nominating Committee is seeking nominations for Elders, Trustees, Deacons, and Nominating Committee members.

You can use this easy online form to submit your nominations or send us an email (nominating@fpc-bethlehem.org). They are due by this Sunday, October 25.  

You may nominate yourself or someone else for any of these important leadership positions. Thank you for participating in this vital aspect of the life of our congregation. 
Elders comprise the Session of the Presbyterian Church which is, in essence, the decision-making body of the church. They recommend and approve all program and policy implementation and modifications in the church. Elders serve a three year term and the Session meets monthly; Elders generally serve on one or more committees, which also usually meet on a monthly basis.
Trustees oversee all financial and property matters in the church including the budget, building renovations and repairs, planned giving, and investment funds. Trustees meet monthly and members also serve on one additional committee, such as the property or finance committee, which also generally meet monthly. The term for Trustees is three years.

The Deacons are the caregivers of the church. They minister to the individual members through home communion and visits, hospital and prayer ministries, and providing support to those in difficult situations. Deacons serve a three year term and typically meet monthly.

The Nominating Committee members are charged with identifying candidates for Elders, Deacons, Trustees, and the Nominating Committee itself. This committee usually meets three or four times each year; the term of service is one year, and a member may serve no more than two consecutive terms.
PASTOR’S COFFEE BREAK
Wednesdays at 11 a.m. – noon
Via Zoom

Join Rev. Austin for a casual, drop-in-anytime-during-the-hour time for coffee and conversation (or your beverage of choice).

To join the Zoom Meeting online:
Meeting ID: 8403 994 5735
To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 840 3994 5735 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
SUNDAY SCHOOL: SPREAD THE WORD!

The word is getting out about our exciting new Sunday School program! There are two options: to attend a Sunday morning Zoom gathering from 10:15-10:45 a.m. Each week we also provide a prerecorded series of videos and related resources that you can access when convenient.
This week’s lesson is based on Philippians 4:8: “Focus on What's True.”

Thanks for helping us spread the word - and consider joining us for the Sunday morning Zoom session; to access the prerecorded videos look for the Sunday School logo on the church's homepage.
To join the Zoom meeting from 10:15-10:45 a.m.: bit.ly/3luYu7l
Meeting ID: 928 9221 9682 
Password: 369116
HEARTS N MINDS UPDATE: ADULT EDUCATION AT FPC

We will NOT meet this Sunday if the outdoor service is held. If cancelled, we will meet as usual at 9 a.m.

Our adult ed class, Hearts N Minds, continues its weekly discussion about social justice, what the Bible says to us, and thoughtful, meditative readings. Everyone is welcome and you can join at any time. We meet every Sunday at 9 a.m. via Zoom. The first book is Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans.
 
Reading for this week: pages 81-111.  

Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when 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.
DISCIPLESHIP SERIES: JOIN US FOR OUR LAST SESSION
Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: Freedom in Community

Wednesday: October 28
7:00 to 8:00 p.m. 
Via Zoom
Presenter: The Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons

We have completed two sessions of our series – if you missed one or both, you are welcome to join our last conversation. You may also want to check the video of the first one (view at bit.ly/2ITdP3n); unfortunately we do not have a video of the second.
As we close in on what is surely one of the most important and contentious elections in our lifetime, we are taking a deep breath, stepping back from the immediate moment, and talking about some of the “fundamentals” of our life together as Christians, and as citizens.
Next Wednesday evening we’ll continue to dig into Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which speaks to an early church in conflict and tackles some very timely (then and now) questions.

Meeting ID: 848 1406 8806

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 848 1406 8806, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
UNDERSTANDING RACE MATTERS:
CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION WITH OUR CHURCH FAMILY

Join your Lehigh Presbytery siblings in Christ next Tuesday, October 27, from 7:00-8:30 p.m., as we resume our conversation about race matters based on Kerry Connelly's book, Good White Racist? Confronting Your Role in Racial Injustice.

In this, our second Zoom conversation, we will continue to examine our own complicity in racial injustice and begin the journey of being better allies for our Black/Indigenous/People of Color (BIPOC) siblings. Together, we will look for ways the church might help heal the racial divide in America.

Please register at bit.ly/3jjNcB5 so we know how many participants to plan for!
NEW! COLLECTION FOR OUR NEIGHBORS
The Congregational Life team is sponsoring a collection of full-size personal hygiene products for our neighbors participating in the programs at Northeast Ministries. You can bring them with you on Sunday, October 25 if you attend the Combined outdoor service, or do a contactless, drive-through drop off at the church building on Saturday, November 7 from 10 a.m.-noon.
Please consider donating: shampoo, conditioner, hair products, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brushes and combs. 
HI NEIGHBORS: CONTINUING THE TRADITION!
On Monday we enjoyed our second presentation, a very interesting look at the history of the 19th Amendment by retired history teacher and author, Alicia Iacono.

If you missed it, you can watch the video at bit.ly/35jEaze.
Our next program is scheduled for Monday, November 30 at 10 a.m. – we will hear from Emmy-award documentary winner Laura Shelton on “Close to Home – A Human Trafficking Story”.
"AS IS" SALE: BARGAINS TO BE HAD!
Looking for a bargain? We're clearing out some old yard equipment - perhaps you can be the lucky bidder on these 'as is' items.

First, check this list of what we have available. Submit your best offer by Friday, October 30, either online on this secure form or in a sealed bid. The sealed bids can be given mailed/dropped off to Rebecca Angione, Facilities Manager, at the church.
WE’RE NOT QUITE READY TO SAY ‘THANK YOU’…

as we are still taking donations through the end of the month for the annual CROP Walk for Hunger.

At this point our First Pres team has collected $1910, putting us in first place among Bethlehem teams – that’s pretty cool! Let’s see if we can better that total: you can donate online or send a check with “CWS/CROP” in the memo line, and mail or drop off to: FPCB, Attn: CROP Walk, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017.
IF YOU ARE HOSPITALIZED…
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 prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org to keep us up to date.

PRAYER REQUESTS...
Send any prayer requests to prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org 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!
CALENDAR

THIS SUNDAY
  • 9:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education class will NOT meet unless 11 a.m. outdoor service is cancelled (see more information above)
  • 10:15 a.m.: Sunday School for K-5, via Zoom (see more information above)
  • 11:00 a.m.: Combined Worship Service - see instructions in blue box, above, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone.

Let us know if you’re coming to the outdoor Sunday service! Please complete this short online form.
WATCH THE CITY OF BETHLEHEM ‘VIRTUAL’ HALLOWEEN PARADE!
Sunday at 2 p.m.
RCN, Service Electric, or view at basdschools.org/basdtv
First Pres will be represented in the parade
WEDNESDAYS

  • 11:00 a.m.-noon: Pastor’s Coffee Hour via Zoom (see above for details)
  • 7 p.m.: Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom (Meeting # 380 435 9056 / Password: overcomer)

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 (prayer@fpc-bethlehem.org).
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF BETHLEHEM
First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18017 610-867-5865 | info@fpc-bethlehem.org

The Rev. J.C. Austin, Pastor/Head of Staff: ext. 213, JAustin@fpc-bethlehem.org

The Rev. Sue Bennetch, Pastoral Associate: ext. 209; SBennetch@fpc-bethlehem.org

David Macbeth, Music Director: ext. 202; DMacbeth@fpc-bethlehem.org

Cristy Mette, Administrative Operations Manager: ext. 228;

Rebecca Angione, Facilities Manager: ext. 210; RAngione@fpc-bethlehem.org

Marianne Zarillo, Business Manager: email: MZarillo@fpc-bethlehem.org

Cindy Matthews, Bookkeeper: email: CMatthews@fpc-bethlehem.org

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 248; CBurns@fpc-bethlehem.org

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

Website:  www.fpc-bethlehem.org