Friday, June 17, 2022 Newsletter


NEW! 10:00 a.m. Summer Worship in the Sanctuary

 (* also available on our website and via phone)
A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Affirming our faith

As we continue with Summer Worship, I thought this might be a good time to revisit a part of the worship service that would be less familiar to folks who attend the Contemporary Service during the year, which is the Affirmation of Faith.

In general, contemporary worship services avoid unison responses and prayers because of the inherent formality of such things, and contemporary services are intentionally less formal in structure and style. However, Reformed Christianity, of which Presbyterians are a part, has often used unison responses as a way of ensuring that the congregation is actively engaging in worship rather than simply observing the clergy. 
The Affirmation of Faith is a particularly important Reformed worship practice because of our emphasis on theology as a means of pursuing the knowledge and understanding of God and our faith in God.

By making that affirmation in unison, it allows the congregation as a whole to respond to hearing God’s Word in the reading and preaching of the Scriptures; that’s why it always follows closely on the sermon. 
The specific affirmations we use, then, are usually from the Book of Confessions, the theological statements of various church councils throughout the ages that together make up the official theological standards of the Presbyterian Church (USA). So, different selections from different confessions (which is a traditional term for theological statements made by church councils) are used that speak to the themes of the day’s Scripture lesson and sermon.

However, when we are celebrating Communion or Baptism, we generally narrow the choices. For Communion, we generally use the Nicene Creed as our Affirmation of Faith. That is because the Nicene Creed is the most universally accepted theological statement in worldwide Christianity, so using it with Communion is a way of holding up the church’s essential unity, especially when (ironically) the practice and theology of Communion is one of the most common points of disagreement in the Christian Church. 

Second, when we are celebrating a Baptism, we always use the Apostles’ Creed. That document is very common in Western Christianity but not Eastern Orthodoxy, which is why the Nicene Creed is preferred for Communion. But the Apostles’ Creed is also specifically written for Baptism: in fact, it was originally responsive!

Rather than simply reciting it, a candidate for Baptism would say it responsively to answer questions. The officiant would say, “Do you believe in God?” and the candidate would respond, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” Questions about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit would follow, and the rest of the Creed would be used to respond.    

So, if the Affirmation is something that is new to you, or if you simply haven’t given it a lot of thought, take a moment in worship to consider what Affirmation is being used in that service and why, so that your own worship experience may be more meaningful and our common worship can be strengthened by both faith and understanding!

Grace and Peace,

Click the link to read the verses
- This week’s sermon: Who Am I? by
The Rev. J.C. Austin

- We post the video of each week’s
services and sermon text and audio
on our website:
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper


  • NEW: The Building Reopening Task Force has issued a new guideline: they encourage that people wear masks, especially if they are in a high risk category, as an additional precaution to protect themselves and others.  

  • Child care will be available from 9:45-11:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings; please ask an usher for directions.

  • We offer nametags for folks to wear – these are for everyone! You can pick up as you enter the worship space; please clearly PRINT your first name.
It’s back!
With summertime upon us, our popular “Lemonade on the Lawn” social time will be offered after our 10 a.m. Summer Worship service. Stop by the front lawn for a cool drink, snack, and fellowship. We’ll head into the North Link in case of bad weather.
You’re invited to a special recital on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. in the Sanctuary by soprano Madison Zahorsky.

She has been a frequent guest vocalist here at First Pres, and is a graduate of the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts, Westminster Choir College, and the Mannes Conservatory.
She will share an encore performance of her Master's degree solo voice recital. This event is free.
If you reserved tickets for Tuesday night’s IronPigs game, you should have received an email from Lindsey with the details about getting your tickets.

We do have 3 extra tickets; if you’re interested please contact her at Cost is $11 each which includes $2 food credit. Game time is 7 p.m. at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.

The Presbytery of the Highlands has extended an invitation to attend their free webinar, “A Discerning Welcome for Refugees,” based on the new book of the same name by Pastor Ellen Clémont. It will be offered on Wednesday, June 22 at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Dr. Clémot’s book was published in March of this year and addresses the morality of border walls, the laws of citizen and resident alien, refugee, and stateless persons, and practical applications of welcome of newcomers joining the community.

To register, or for more information, visit or call 973-361-0084.
Sewers and knitters and quilters and painters and floral arrangers and anyone interested in fun and fellowship:

All are welcome to join the weekly sessions offered on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. This is a new time - no lunch break.
No experience necessary! Materials supplied! We'll meet in Room 408.
Juneteenth is a federal holiday commemorating the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger announced emancipation of enslaved African Americans. This came by proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Texas, which was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery.
The day was recognized as a federal holiday last year, on June 17, 2021, when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law.

In observation of Juneteenth, First Pres' office will be closed. The Preschool's "Summer Splash" program will be open. The office will re-open on Tuesday.

Please continue to contact the staff person you need to speak with, to set up an appointment – staff are working remotely as much as possible. If you don’t know who to contact, email us at or leave a message at 610-867-5865.

The South entrance door is unlocked between 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday - Thursday, and on Sunday mornings.
Watch for details about our next outing in July… all are welcome!
We would like to know when our members are entering the hospital. Please tell the hospital that your church ID is 724. We contact the hospitals on weekdays to get that information. If you enter the hospital on Friday-Sunday, you can 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 is
WEDNESDAY at noon**
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Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!
  • 9:45 – 11:30 a.m.: Child Care (ask ushers to direct you)
  • 10 a.m.: Summer Worship Service, in-person in the Sanctuary AND livestream on Facebook Live and our website; below, to join us online
  • 11 a.m.: Lemonade on the Lawn hospitality time on the front lawn
  • 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 - click on the "Watch the Service" button
  • 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 archives
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE INTERNET ACCESS: You can participate on your phone to listen to the Summer Worship Service

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 848 4170 9518, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – press the # key again.
TUESDAYS, NEW TIME! 10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Crafters, Room 408 (everyone welcome)
WEDNESDAYS: 7 p.m. - Overcomer’s Outreach Christian 12 Step Recovery Group weekly meeting, via Zoom (Meeting # 380 435 9056 / Password: overcomer)

CHURCH OFFICE AND BUILDING INFO: The office will be closed on Monday, June 20, in recognition of Juneteenth (June 19). The Preschool’s “Summer Splash” program will be open as usual. The office will reopen on Tuesday on its regular schedule.

Regular office hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. The South entrance will be open during these hours, and on Sunday mornings.

Many of the office staff are continuing to work remotely for some of the time, so please make an appointment if you need to see someone specific. 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. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice;

David Macbeth, Director of Music Ministries: ext. 202;

Kevin Konczyk, Facilities Maintenance Manager;

Pam Marth, Administrative Coordinator: ext. 228; email:

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238;

Laura Hawk, Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;