Friday, June 21, 2019

SUNDAY SERVICES: 9:00 a.m. Contemporary ∙ 10:30 a.m. Traditional

No Sunday School during the summer months
Join us for “Lemonade on the Lawn”, our hospitality time from 10-10:30 a.m.
on the back lawn 
This Sunday is the last of our four-part sermon series on the Core Values of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem. Over the past three weeks, we have considered what it means to be Christ-Centered, Welcoming to All, and to have an Active Faith. This Sunday, we will consider what it means to have an Inquiring Faith. 
One of the things that Presbyterians have always been known for is the strength and power of our theological tradition. From the very beginning, with John Calvin in 16th century Geneva, we have believed that we worship God with our mind as well as our heart and spirit. But, as with most things, our strength has sometimes also been our shortcoming.  
One of the classic definitions of theology from the early church is that it is “faith seeking understanding.” There are three important insights in that definition that we need to keep in mind.

First and foremost, faith and understanding are two different things. Protestant Christians in general and Presbyterians in particular have often lost sight of that, and have equated faith with intellectual belief. But while belief is an important part of faith, true faith is much more than simply belief; faith is a commitment of our entire being, not simply our intellect.

Second, theology is not “understanding seeking faith.” Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that if we just get the intellectual understanding of God straight, it will then clear the path towards faith for ourselves or others. But that is not the case. Good theology may remove obstacles to faith (especially when those obstacles are bad theology!), but faith is always a positive commitment of heart and spirit, not simply an intellectual determination.

And third, theology is itself an act of faith. There are some traditions that treat theological inquiry as a threat to faith rather than an act of faith, as if seeking to understand God or Christ or Scripture more fully is somehow in opposition to faith, and faith requires us to simply accept certain doctrines or interpretations of Scripture without question. But, on the contrary, having an inquiring faith is actually the most Christ-centered and Biblically-rooted approach that we can take, as we will see in the sermon on Sunday.

I hope you will be able to come to worship this Sunday as we consider this final Core Value and this important issue in Christian faith. But in any case, remember this: if theology is “faith seeking understanding,” and we worship God with our minds as well as our hearts and spirits, then you and each of us is called to be a theologian!          

Grace and Peace,

FIRST LESSON: Psalm 27  
Matthew 7:7-11    
·       This week’s sermon: Begging the Question (#AnInquiringFaith)  by Rev. J.C. Austin
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
The Hospitality Committee is pleased to bring back last summer’s “Lemonade on the Lawn” – our fellowship time from 10-10:30 a.m. held on the back lawn
If you come to the Contemporary service at 9:00 a.m. – stay after! If you attend the Traditional service at 10:30 a.m. – come early! Enjoy fellowship with each other and a tasty snack – and lemonade, of course.

In case of inclement weather, we will move to Fellowship Hall. Lemonade on the Lawn will be held every Sunday through the summer months.
“Educate a Child, Transform the World.” That is the purpose of the Pentecost Special Offering which takes place through Sunday, July 7. This offering has raised over $14 million since 1998 for young people here and around the world. 
Our congregation keeps 40% of the offering, which is targeted for children/youth programming and resources. Last year, it paid for the Sunday School curriculum and the Sunday nursery personnel during the worship services.

Globally, it has also helped children-at-risk, young adults who helped survivors of human trafficking, and other youth ministries.

To learn more about this, there are pamphlets in the racks throughout the church and special red envelopes for your contribution in the pews and racks. Thank you for considering this special offering
The Depression Support group will meet on Monday at 1 p.m. at Panera Bread, 3301 Center Street, Bethlehem for a lunch gathering. This will be the last meeting for the group until it reconvenes in the early fall. For more information contact Melody Engel .
The Bereavement Support Group will meet on the second Sunday of the month, in the Eagle Room of Kirkland Village’s Marketplace. Anyone interested in attending is welcome to meet in the Narthex immediately following the Traditional service.

This move was prompted to make it easier for residents of Kirkland Village to be involved in the group. The next meeting is Sunday, July 14.
Linda Robertson shares that a new reading group will begin in August; daytime dates and time will be announced soon. The group will read and discuss:

Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2019, Penguin Press

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked why America has a schizophrenic personality on the question of race ( Where Do We Go From Here? ). More than 50 years later, we are still asking the same question.
In daytime meetings in August, we will discuss Gates’ newest book. Be forewarned, the book contains disturbing photos and cruel caricatures of African-Americans.
We will discuss how the country might have embraced black voter registration if Reconstruction had been permitted to honestly go forward post-Civil War and consider the legacy of these long-ago cultural wars in the face of “anti-black racism and white supremacy today”. 
We hope you are following us on Facebook – in addition to helpful reminders and updates, we share other news and happenings in our church and community.

For example, the other day Rebecca Angione snapped this image of a little fawn, overwhelmed by a deluge – she sought refuge near our building. And yesterday we noted the celebration of Juneteenth – the anniversary of the June 19, 1865 announcement in Texas of the abolition of slavery – effectively ending slavery in the U.S.
You don’t need a Facebook account to look at our page – go to and enter “First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.”
First Presbyterian Church of Allentown has announced a bus trip to Jesus: Live on Stage at the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster. It will be held on Saturday, Aug. 24 – the bus will leave Allentown at 11 a.m.; the trip includes lunch and the show begins at 3 p.m.
The adult cost of $123 includes your show ticket, bus fare and buffet lunch.
To book tickets or more information, contact Sherry Deal at or 610-360-8543.
If you are staying at a hotel, motel or other spot that provides small toiletries, please consider bringing them home for the disaster kits we make for Outreach Depot. We will let you know when to bring them to church.
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!


  • 9:00 a.m. - Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
  • “Lemonade on the Lawn” between each service; join us for light refreshments and fellowship on the back lawn (inclement weather: Fellowship Hall)
  • 10:30 a.m. - Traditional Service, Sanctuary
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Room A3

MONDAY:   Depression Support Group, 1:00 p.m., Panera Bread, 3301 Center Street, Bethlehem (last gathering of the summer)
TUESDAY:   Crafters, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Room 408;
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAY: Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: July 7): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services, North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: July 14 ): Bereavement Group gathering; this is a new date going forward, and there will be a new location. See the article above.
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: July 2): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m., Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: July 17):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1 p.m.,
Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: July 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;