Friday, June 18, 2021 Newsletter

9:00 a.m. Contemporary 
11:00 a.m. Traditional*

 (* also available on our website and via phone)

As you hopefully know by now, we are resuming the option of in-person worship at both services this Sunday, June 20!

The last time we held indoor, in-person worship was on Sunday, March 8, 2020, which was a little over fifteen months ago! I can recall, at the beginning of pandemic, wondering if we would be able to responsibly return to indoor worship by Easter 2020! That seems laughably naïve in hindsight, but I think almost none of us had any real idea about the scale (and the toll) that this pandemic would take in terms of so much of what we had previously taken for granted in how we lived our lives as individuals, as workplaces, as schools, as churches, as a nation.

And, of course, it would have been almost unimaginable for most of us back then that fifteen months later, we would be mourning the death of more than 600,000 people in the United States alone.
At the same time, few of us would have imagined how creatively we would find ways to continue doing the most important things in our lives, even in the deepest days of quarantine. Most of us had never heard of Zoom before March 2020, much less dreamed that it would be a lifeline to staying connected with friends and family members, or a forum for workplaces, schools, and congregations to continue gathering, learning, collaborating, and supporting one another.
And while we here at First Pres were already in the final stages of launching a livestream on Facebook when the pandemic hit, we had envisioned that as an alternative for worship for people who were out of town or otherwise unable to attend in person, and for people in the community to experience something of our worship life and decide whether they wanted to come in person.

I, for one, never anticipated that fifteen months of my ministry as a pastor would be spent preaching in an empty Sanctuary to a camera lens! Yet what so many of us discovered was a surprising power to worshipping together online, including (somewhat surprisingly) building connections and relationships with others. “Before the pandemic, I usually just ended up sitting next to the same few people most of the time in worship,” one of you said to me at one point; “but online I see names and faces and interact with people that I never knew when we were meeting in person.”

All of this is why we used the language of “digital” rather than “virtual” to describe our online worship and ministry throughout the pandemic. “Virtual” sounds like, “almost, but not quite.” But for many people, digital media provided a real opportunity to authentically worship, hold meetings, have Bible studies, do Sunday School, connect with one another in fellowship activities, and so much more.
Many of us even learned that we preferred digital space for certain activities, while other activities were real but did not replace a desire for in-person gathering.

As we move forward out of the pandemic, then, we are striving throughout the congregation to carry forward the new wisdom and opportunities we’ve found, even as we resume the best aspects of congregational life, worship, and ministry from before the pandemic.

Similarly, there are some things we will be glad to leave behind from the pandemic, while there are also some things that we will not want to resume from before the pandemic, or at least will not want to resume in the same way.

One of the most obvious and important things we are carrying forward, then, is the power of having both digital and in-person options for many church activities. That is why, among other things, that the livestream will be a permanent part of Sunday morning worship going forward, even as we resume in-person worship as well. |

It is also why the Session has approved a “hybrid meeting space” on the church campus, which we are creating for board and committee meetings and other small groups to function well with some people attending in person while others attend digitally.

And we will not only be looking at some activities that are, by necessity, in-person only (it’s hard to do a family kite-flying activity online!), but also looking at what we should be doing to expand and deepen our digital engagement with people both within the congregation and well beyond.

It would be hard to overstate how eager I am to be in the Kirk Center and the Sanctuary in worship with many of you again this Sunday. And, I am thrilled that we will continue to welcome and engage our digital congregation as well, as one more way of fulfilling our core values as a congregation of truly being “Welcoming to All.” So: whether in-person or online this Sunday, I hope to see you in worship!

Grace and Peace,

Scripture lesson:
Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: A Good Word:
Church/Congregation by The 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 for Sunday


  • Everyone over the age of 2 is required to wear a mask.

  • Child care will be available from 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. in Room C1-2 – please ask a greeter for directions to that space.

  • We will offer nametags for folks to wear – you can pick up as you enter the worship space; please write your first name.
With summertime upon us, our popular “Lemonade on the Lawn” social time will resume on Sunday,
June 20. Stop by between our
9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services for a cool drink, snack, and fellowship!

On June 30 Andrea (Andie) Barbehenn will retire from the staff of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, after serving its Preschool and Extended Care Program for 35 years – 30 of them as its Director. Our church has offered a Preschool program for more than 50 years and Andie has been its longest-serving director.

We want to express our deep gratitude for Andie’s faithfulness to her calling as a teacher and leader in our Preschool in these 35 years of service, and the impact she has made on generations of students who have come through the school. We invite you to be part of doing that.
Did any of your family members attend our Preschool? If so, we invite you to send us your thoughts about the experience by Monday, June 21. We’ll include your notes in a memory book for Andie.  (Right, Andie and two young friends – pre-Covid!)

Please send notes and/or photos to, or by mail to Carol Burns, First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem PA 18017.
We are also offering an opportunity to contribute to an honorarium (cash gift) for Andie upon her retirement. Please make your donation by Monday, June 21. Checks should be made out to First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, with “Andie Barbehenn gift” in the memo line:

  • Mail a check to: Marianne Zarillo, First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, 2344 Center Street, Bethlehem PA 18017. 
  • You can drop off cash or a check to your child’s Preschool teacher; please be sure it is clearly marked for Andie’s gift.
  • You can also donate at; in the memo box indicate “Andie Barbehenn gift”.
  • If you attend an in-person worship service on Sunday, June 20, you can deposit your check (or cash, in a marked envelope) in the collection basket.
And last, but not least, please join us on Sunday, June 27 at either the 9:00 a.m. Contemporary worship service (indoors in the Kirk Center) or the 11:00 a.m. Traditional worship service (indoors in the Sanctuary), where we will recognize and honor Andie’s service to our church and community. 

At these worship services, Andie will share some of the history of the Preschool and its impact. (Note: Church protocol requires the correct wearing of masks at these services.) Both services will also be livestreamed on the church Facebook page, @FirstPresBethlehem.

You can also stop by between services (10-10:45 a.m.) for an outdoor reception on the east side of the building, to say hello to Andie and wish her well.

Thank you for sharing in this special celebration!
We are looking for a person to lead our Flower Ministry - this includes tasks like ordering flower arrangements for the services, and assuring that those flowers are divided up and sent to ‘good homes’ after the services. If this is something that interests you (or you are interested in pulling together / working on a small team for these tasks), please contact us at or leave a message at the church office, 610-867-5865.

Our Congregational Life committee is busily planning these upcoming events – we hope to see you!
Parking Lot Trivia
Friday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m.
East parking lot
If bad weather, we’ll move inside

Bring your chairs and your random bits of knowledge for our popular event – you can also bring your supper if you’re so inclined!
Come prepared for these categories: the Bible, current events, food and beverages, and TV, movies and videos. The winner takes home ‘bragging rights’, so let the competition commence!

Concert on the Lawn
Sunday, July 11 – time TBA
We are blessed to have very talented musicians and performers in our membership, and here’s an opportunity to share your gifts!

With the assistance of Music Director David Macbeth, we will offer a concert (probably late in the afternoon or early evening) that will feature our Contemporary Band. We will also offer an opportunity for others to perform as well. Be thinking about what you might be able to share – details to come!
We’re looking for volunteers to contribute baked goods to serve at
Lemonade on the Lawn social times, beginning on Sunday, June 20.
If interested, please contact Phyllis Walker at
or leave a message at 610-867-5865.
Please specify the date and what you’ll donate.

The group was small but mighty - and a mighty fine time was had at Sunday's strawberry picking event, hosted by our CYF (Children/Youth/Family) program.

And the results were in the big boxes of delicious fruit that went home - some even ended up in a good-looking pie, baked by Linda Robertson. More events coming in July and August!
The church staff will not be working on Monday, June 21 in observance of Juneteenth (the Preschool will not be closed). Juneteenth is on Saturday,
June 19.

You may have heard the term "Juneteenth" but are not familiar with what it is, or its history.
We encourage you to learn about this day commemorating the June 19, 1865 announcement in Texas of the abolition of slavery, effectively ending slavery in the U.S. You can read more here:

You may also want to revisit the resources on our Ministry of Racial Justice page - the list of books, videos, articles, podcasts and movies that informed last summer's 21-Day Racial Justice Immersion Project.
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!


  • 8:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.: Child Care in room C1-2
  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service, in-person in the Kirk Center AND livestreamed
  • 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.: Lemonade on the Lawn social time, east side of building
  • 11:00 a.m.: Combined Worship Service, in-person in the Sanctuary AND livestreamed - 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: 848 4170 9518, 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)

ALL OTHER PUBLIC EVENTS AND GATHERINGS ARE CANCELLED AT THIS TIME unless offered online (see listings on our Facebook page under “Events”)

*** The church staff will not be working on Monday, June 21, in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.

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. Lindsey Altvater Clifton, Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice;

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;