Friday, September 27, 2019 Newsletter
SUNDAY SERVICES: 9:00 a.m. Contemporary ∙ 10:30 a.m. Traditional

Children's Sunday School during both services
Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!

Recap of Congregational Meeting and Town Hall
As you know, we held a Congregational Meeting last Sunday in which the congregation elected Polly Beste to an unexpired term on the Session and Sally Ross to an open term on the Congregational Nominating Committee. Please join me in thanking the two of them for accepting those calls and the Congregational Nominating Committee for its faithful work in nominating them!

We also changed the bylaws of the congregation to re-establish a Board of Trustees to manage various aspects of the congregation’s financial affairs; the Congregational Nominating Committee will be bringing a slate to nominate for the Trustees along with new Elders, Deacons, and the Nominating Committee membership itself at the Annual Congregational Meeting early in the new year (see related article, below).
In addition to that business, we held a Town Hall meeting in which I reported on some of what the Session, in particular, has been focusing on over the last six months, as our congregational life and mission continues to grow rapidly in this new era. So I thought I would recap some of that work here in case you were not able to attend the meeting, since we are striving for a congregational culture that prizes transparency and open communication from our leadership.
I started off by saying that I think we’ve moved definitively from the phase of “building the plane as we’re flying it” that characterized the first phase of our rebuilding work in the aftermath of the departure of those who left First Pres to form Grace Church Bethlehem in another denomination. Having newly articulated our Mission and Core Values and established a set of mission priorities for the next two-three years, the Session is focused on pursuing that vision strategically.

In fact, that is where the recommendation to re-establish a Board of Trustees came from, so that the Session could focus on the work of pursuing our mission strategy without being overly burdened by issues of institutional management. In doing so, this has allowed the Session to take up a focus on “engagement,” meaning how we reach out to people who aren’t engaged in the life and ministry of this church and help us to know who we are, what we do and stand for, and how they can deepen their own lives of faith by participating in the ministry of First Pres.

I then described some of the other special projects the Session has been working on through a collection of Task Forces. A Worship Task Force has completed its work and confirmed that we will continue our Sunday morning commitments to hold a 9 a.m. Contemporary Service and a 10:30 a.m. Traditional Service, and with four-five services a year that will combine elements of both into a single service. We are also exploring the possibilities of offering a different kind of worship experience during the week.

A Preschool Task Force has done excellent work in strengthening the connection between our Preschool and the larger church. A Branding Task Force is working on how to help us project our identity, mission, and values into the community. And a Facilities Usage Task Force is exploring how we can utilize the extraordinary resource of our building in ways that are both mission-focused and financially sustainable. It continues to be a time of extraordinary creativity and faithfulness here at First Pres as we seek to follow Christ into the future to which he is calling us!

I concluded by sharing four ways that every member and friend of First Pres can be focusing their own ministry right now:

1.       Generosity of prayer – keep the congregation and the Session in constant prayer so that we may be bold and faithful in everything we do to pursue Christ’s mission for us

2.       Generosity of time and hands – find (or help create!) at least one place in the life of the church where you can actively exercise your own ministry according to your own gifts and call

3.       Generosity of resources – fulfill the pledges you have already made; fulfill each member’s responsibility to support the larger mission of the Presbyterian Church (USA) with your $36 gift; and consider whether you can make additional gifts in 2019 to ensure we finish this year strong in terms of our ministry and finances

4.       Generosity of spirit – continue to build up each other with love, support, and open communication as we live and serve together in this extraordinary community of faith.

I am both honored and humbled to be called as pastor of this congregation, and I am constantly energized by the opportunities and possibilities that God has set before us to embody Christ’s love, justice, and peace in the world through our life together right here and now. Thanks be to God!

Grace and Peace,

 Jeremiah 1-3a, 6-15
Luke 16:19-31
·       This week’s sermon: Location, Location, and Location 
 by Rev. J.C. Austin      
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
The Congregational Nominating Committee is seeking nominations for Elders, Deacons, Nominating Committee members, and Trustees for the newly approved Board of Trustees. Nomination cards are available in the narthex and the rotunda (Kirk Center).
If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else for any of these important leadership positions, please complete one of these cards and either put it in the offering plate or return them to the Main Office. 

They are due by Sunday, October 20.  Thank you for participating in this important 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.

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.

Trustees oversee all financial and property matters in the church including the budget, building renovations and repairs, planned giving, and investment funds. Trustees will meet monthly and members will also serve on one additional committee, such as the property or finance committee, which also generally meets monthly. The term for Trustees is three years. Because the Board of Trustees is being newly established, nominees will initially be asked to serve one, two, or three year terms. 
collecting through Sunday, October 6
an expression of Christ’s love
locally and globally

25% stays in our church
25% goes to the Synod of the Trinity
50% goes to global initiatives

Building on the interest from last year's initial offering of this new musical ministry, our Handbell Choir will be starting up rehearsals on Tuesday, October 8. The group meets Tuesdays from 5-6 p.m. in the Middle School Step Room. No experience is necessary and it’s open to anyone in second grade and older.
Please contact Music Director David Macbeth (or at 610-867-5865) with questions .
  • Sunday School for Pre-K through grade 5 children: Two sessions are offered, one at 9:00 a.m. (room A4) and another at 10:30 a.m. (room E3-4). Children who attend the second session will go to the 10:30 a.m. Traditional Worship service and then be taken to their Sunday School class. Reminder: Sunday School is not offered on the first Sunday of each month.
  • Hearts N Minds (adult education) is offered at 9:00 a.m. in Room 400 – see article below for details on the topics the group will be reading and discussing. All are welcome.
Spiritual Practices Across Faith Traditions
Another session of our popular series is planned for next Wednesday, October 2 from 7-8:30 p.m. We will welcome Rev. Madelyn Campbell, newly-installed minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley. No registration is needed – just come and enjoy this informative session!
We are working on one more possible presentation – stay tuned for details.
Through Sunday, October 20, Hearts N Minds will focus on readings from two books, Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church and the Bible (second edition) and Essays on Immigration. The sessions on October 27 – November 24 will delve into a classic book by Sister Joan Chittister, For Everything a Season:
“Through the famous verses of Ecclesiastes, Joan Chittister reflects on timeless themes: the purpose and value of human life, the balance of joy and sorrow, work and rest, love and loss. In meditating on the contrasting seasons of our lives, she shows how human fulfillment and true happiness come, not from getting and having more and more, but from knowing and valuing what we have. Friendship and laughter, patience and sorrow, humility and compassion, from birth through death all these are God’s gifts to us, the precious moments of life itself.” 
For the four weeks of Advent, Jan Bickford will focus on the Nativity story as we Journey with Mary through word, art, and even film (there is no book for these sessions). Stay tuned for details.

Hearts N Minds meets at 9 a.m. in Room 400.
LOOKING AHEAD: Exploring the history of hymns
Praying Twice: Singing Our Faith
October 27, November 3 and November 10
Noon-1:30 p.m. (following Hospitality Hour)

According to St. Augustine, “Those who sing pray twice.” In this series, we’ll explore the history and theology of congregational singing from biblical canticles through contemporary hymns and praise choruses from around the world, looking at the music and the message of favorites old and new. A light lunch will be provided. 
Hi Neighbors is a sociable-sounding name for another learning opportunity at FPCB (and it’s a great time for fellowship, too!).
Interested adults gather to hear presentations from a wide variety
of speakers. No cost or registration - all are welcome!
For this Monday, September 30:
9:15-9:45: Fellowship time
9:45: Social Entrepreneurship: Focus on India by Raja Bhattacharya
11:00: Titanic – It’s Still Down There by Joanne Hoodmaker

For Monday, October 7:
9:15-9:45: Fellowship time
9:45: Watch Out for These Scams by Mary Wornick, AARP
11 : 00: Humanism by Frank Stone
CROP WALK: Coming on Sunday, October 13
Since 1969, millions (literally!) of Americans have participated in Church World Service/CROP walks around the country to raise funds for hunger relief at home and around the world.

On Sunday afternoon, October 13, our church will celebrate the 50th anniversary of this “granddaddy of charity walks” by partnering with congregations in Bethlehem and around the Lehigh Valley to make this a banner year; CROP walks raised some $8 million last year nationwide, and we’re hoping to exceed that. Twenty-five per cent of the funds raised will be retained for hunger-related ministries in our own area. 
You’re invited to participate either by walking yourself or by sponsoring our FPCB team financially - click here .
We’ll also be receiving payment by check, payable to “CWS/CROP,” during Hospitality Hour following our worship services.  Contact Steve Simmons if interested in walking on Sunday afternoon, October 13.

As noted on the Church World Service website, “funds raised will go to Church World Service to provide food and water, as well as resources that empower people to meet their own needs. From seeds and tools, to wells and water systems, to technical training and micro-enterprise loans, the key is people working together to identify their own development priorities, their strengths and their needs, something CWS has learned through some 70 years of working in partnership around the world.”

Hope you can join us in person, purse, or spirit! Look for further details in upcoming newsletters, as we work together with friends and neighbors to end hunger “one step at a time.” 
LAST CALL: Mission Opportunity
The Helping Hands Care Team of Lehigh Presbytery has scheduled its third mission work trip to Fayetteville, NC for October 19-26 (Saturday-Saturday) .
Participants are needed to assist with the recovery efforts after heavy rains and flooding caused extensive damage to the churches and homes in that area.

There are no specific skills or experience required, other than to be flexible and provide whatever help is needed. Plumbing, electrical, roofing, and dry wall installation skills are always welcome.

The cost is $200 per person and participants must register by October 1. More i nformation: Lehigh Presbytery website or call 610-391-9020.
Mums from the Preschool Sale
are available for pick-up
in Fellowship Hall.
Thanks for supporting this
successful fund raiser!
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 Melody Engel at 484-695-4905 or to keep us up to date.
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 presentations, 9:15 a.m., Fellowship Hall;
“It’s a Start” Fitness Class, 10 a.m., Middle School Step Room
TUESDAYS:   Crafters, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Room 408; Depression Support Group , 12:30-
2:30 p.m., Room 206
WEDNESDAY: Overcomers Outreach, 7 p.m., Room 408
THURSDAY: Al-Anon Family Group , 7 p.m., Room 212

FIRST SUNDAYS (next: October 6): Blood Pressure Screenings, between services, North Link
SECOND SUNDAYS ( next: October 13 ) : Bereavement Group gathering
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: October 8): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: October 16):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group,
1 p.m., Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: October 17): 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;