Friday - March 29, 2019



Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
Sharing our new Mission statement
Over the past year, the Session and its committees have been working on a mind-boggling range of things to strengthen, focus, and guide our congregation into a new era of ministry together. This has meant everything from new worship experiences, to a new staffing design, to new initiatives for children’s ministry, to new financial systems for greater transparency and accountability. 

But one of the most important tasks has been a re-articulation of our mission as a congregation of Christ’s Church here in Bethlehem and now in the early 21st century, and of the values that we strive to uphold as we go about that mission.
It is always important for a congregation to have a clear and unifying statement of its particular mission. But it is especially important for us, after a period of great conflict and division in the congregation, to re-state our sense of what God is calling us to do and who God is calling us to be. 
So the Session has undertaken that crucial work of discernment over the last year: in its regular meetings, in a special retreat last summer, in conversations with members, and even in presenting a draft for feedback at the Annual Congregational Meeting in February.

Having prayed and thought deeply about these issues, considered the various input, and debated over language, I am delighted to say that the Session officially adopted a new Mission Statement and Core Values Statement at its meeting last week. You can read them here. If you attended the Annual Meeting, you will find the language little changed, since there was a resounding affirmation for both statements there at the meeting.

But regardless, I think you will find that both statements capture our sense of purpose and call well: to be a congregation that follows Christ actively through the work of our hearts, minds, and hands; a congregation for whom faith is not simply an abstract set of beliefs but a way of life that empowers each one of us in active ministry; a congregation that trusts in the reconciling power of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and so is welcoming of diverse backgrounds and insights, believing that such diversity strengthens our ability to be faithful to God’s living Word and Spirit.

I am immensely grateful to be pastor of this congregation, and am eager to see what God has in store for us as we continue to living into this common calling!

Grace and Peace,
Old Testament lesson: Joshua 5:9-12
New Testament lesson:
Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Did you know…
We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
We have had a terrific turnout for our first three Lenten suppers, and participants are enjoying the fellowship and thoughtful discussion of the provided lesson.
This coming Wednesday, April 3 (and the following week on April 10), we’ll gather at 6 p.m. for a simple meal. This will be followed by a brief reflection, led by one of the pastors in our church, focusing weekly on an African-American Spiritual.  The series is based on the book, Were You There? Lenten Reflections on the Spirituals by Luke Powery .
Please let us know if you are planning to attend any of these suppers; use this simple online form. You can also sign up to bring a salad or dessert to share, or if you are willing to help with set-up or clean-up; use this simple sign-up for that info.

Help us spread the word about these Lenten events – we have postcards available with details, that you can share with friends and family (drop in the mail with a first-class stamp). They are also located around the church for you to pick up.
Sharing God’s love with our neighbors around the world by providing relief from natural disasters, food for the hungry, and support for the poor and oppressed is the ‘SHARING’ in One Great hour of Sharing. Through Easter, April 21, we will have the opportunity to donate to this Presbyterian Special Offering.   
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. Special envelopes are in pew racks in the Sanctuary, and in the racks in the Rotunda, Fellowship Hall, and the Narthex. Please consider donating.
Help us beautify our church by purchasing Easter lilies that will be used to decorate on Easter Sunday – then you can take home to enjoy after you attend your Easter service.
Orders are due by Thursday, April 11; use the “Flower Offering” envelope (with the lily on it), available in the Sanctuary pews, Rotunda, and around the church. You can return it in the collection plate or to the Main Office. Instead of a set price, we ask you to make a donation of your choice. You can designate your gift “in honor” or “in memory” of a loved one, if you wish.
MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES: Looking for volunteers
Commitment:  Once a month
Needed: approximately 6 people
Task: Prepare the bread and juice for Communion Sundays, for both the Contemporary and Traditional services
When:  Communion is served on the first Sunday of the month and at occasional other special events
Contact: Jack Walker via email
Commitment: Sunday mornings after each service
Needed: 4 people each Sunday – great opportunity for creating teams for each week
Task: Set up coffee kiosk before Hospitality Hour, replenish coffee and food items during hour, clean up after each shift
When: Every Sunday
Contact:  Phyllis Walker via email
HI NEIGHBORS: Presenting interesting, dynamic speakers
On Monday mornings through May 13, join other adults who come from all over the Lehigh Valley to learn something new and make new friends.
Doors open at 9:15 a.m. for fellowship time with coffee and light refreshments in Fellowship Hall. Please arrive by 9:45 a.m. as the first program for this Monday begins promptly at 10 a.m.

Two armchair travelogues this week:

   10:00   ‘A Glimpse of South Africa’ by Jan Macbeth
   11:00  ‘Panama: More than a Canal’ by Jerry Roe
Coming on Monday, April 8 at 10:00 a.m.: learn about the Bethlehem Food Co-op from board member Carol Ritter; and at 11:00 a.m., Greg Capogna, the new Executive Director at WDY – Lehigh Valley Public Radio, will give an update on the station.

Everyone is welcome, so please share this information with family and friends! Details are on the First Pres website and our Facebook page, under “Events”. There is no cost or pre-registration required.
This popular annual event will be held on Saturday, April 6 from 4:30 - 7:00 p.m. Join us for an evening, hosted at East Hills Moravian Church, featuring a delicious Italian meal and celebration of Northeast Ministry. All proceeds directly benefit the 2019 NEM Summer Camp Program.

Ticket prices: adults - $12.00; children (ages 6-12) - $7:00; free for children 5 and under. For information or to purchase tickets, please visit the Northeast Ministry site or contact Grace Young at 610-691-3355 or via email .

NOTE: Before the buffet, please join Carolyn and Carville Bevans at their home, 2718 Covington Avenue, for Italian Chianti, juices, sodas, and friendship. Stop by between 4:30-6 p.m.; their home is three blocks from East Hills Moravian.
You are invited to join other Christian, Jewish, and Muslim friends for a Family Movie Night this Sunday, March 31 at 5:30 p.m. at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 2700 Jacksonville Road. We’ll begin with pizza, watch the film Inside Out together, and have a short discussion time for children (age 7 and above), youth, and adults. Childcare will be provided for younger children.
We plan to make this the first of an ongoing series of gatherings for fellowship, study, and service in partnership with other Bethlehem area faith communities. Please let us know you’re planning to attend by sending us an email or calling us at
More details to come…

  • 24 Hour Prayer Vigil
   Saturday, April 13 at 8 a.m. through Sunday, April 14 at 8 a.m. (sign up for half-hour
shifts; contact us at or 610-867-5865)
  • Palm Sunday Services
   Sunday, April 14 at 9 a.m. (Contemporary) and 10:30 a.m. (Traditional)
  • Maundy Thursday Communion Service
   Thursday, April 18 at 7 p.m.
  • Good Friday Tenebrae Service
   Friday, April 19 at 8 p.m.
  • Holy Saturday Compline Service
   Saturday, April 20 at 8:30 p.m.
  • Easter Sunday Services
   Sunday, April 21 at 9 a.m. (Contemporary) and 10:30 a.m. (Traditional)
This unassuming bulletin board in Fellowship Hall can help you connect: have a badminton set that's no longer  #SparkingJoy ? Could you use a bike rack for your car, or packing materials for your upcoming move?

Fill out a “I Have” or “I Need” form (and add a photo if you like), and let’s help you connect!
Send us your news and photos to share:
Deadline for newsletter: Wednesday at noon
* * *
And follow us on Facebook : @FirstPresBethlehem
Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each service; join us for light refreshments and fellowship
  • 9:00 a.m. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • 9:00 a.m. - Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
  • 9:00 a.m. - Adult Education, Hearts N Minds, Room 400
  • 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 programs, 9:15 a.m., Fellowship Hall; It’s a Start fitness class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step
TUESDAYS:  Depression Support Group, 12:30-2:30 p.m., Room 206 (PW Room);
Handbell Choir, 5:30 p.m., Middle School Step
WEDNESDAYS: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAYS: Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m., Sanctuary; Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m.,
Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (April 7): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services, North Link; Bereavement Group gathering, 12:15 p.m. (meet in Narthex after 10:30 a.m. service)
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (April 2 and April 16): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m., Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (April 17):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (April 18): 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.

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,  phone: 610-867-8361 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;

Andréa Wells, Business Manager; ext. 211:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager; ext. 238;

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