Friday, September 6, 2019


Combined Service at 10 a.m. - Followed by Church Community Picnic
front of church building

Worshiping Around the Meal Table
I’ve never been good about choosing favorites: a favorite movie, book, food, musician, etc. So much depends on my mood, season of life, and other factors. For me, it’s more like having a short list of things that are particularly meaningful than choosing one singular favorite. 
This week, I was asked in a couple of different conversations what is my favorite thing about First Pres. This week, the right answer off my short list for that came quickly. “I love that we are a congregation that combines the best of being a traditional church with the best of being a church start-up,” I said. “We have a long and rich history as a congregation and hundreds of faithful and engaged members who have been at the heart of our mission and ministry for years and even decades.
“But we are welcoming and affirming of all different kinds of people, including those who are new to our church or to any Christian church. And we are able to both cherish our history and to delight in experimenting with new ways to do our ministry together. Those are rare gifts for a church to have, and they are among the things I love most about us.”

As you (hopefully!) already know, this week we are going to try a new experiment with our Sunday morning worship service: not only will we have a combined service at 10 a.m. with elements of both traditional and contemporary worship styles, but we will be doing so outside in front of the church!

Immediately following the service, we will enjoy a festive picnic together there in front, as well. So, we have decided to try worshiping together at the tables we will set up for the picnic , rather than replicating Sanctuary seating outside. This not only makes things simpler logistically, but it allows us to embrace one of the oldest and most important images of Christian worship, going back to gatherings soon after Pentecost: having worship not simply around a dedicated communion table, but an actual meal table. 

Most of the earliest Christian worship took place in and around common meals; the sacrament of communion was often a part of it, but it was part of a larger gathering and service centered on sharing a meal together around ordinary tables.

So, when you come to worship on Sunday, I encourage first to come dressed in whatever way seems comfortable for you at an outdoor service and picnic.

Second, find a spot at one of the tables that will be set up in front of the church, and I encourage you to look for one that includes at least one or two people who you don’t ordinarily worship with or perhaps even know very well.
And third, come with an open spirit to this new configuration of worshiping God, and see what God’s Spirit does around the tables with us in worship and community!

Grace and Peace,

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Luke 14:25-33
·       This week’s sermon: Faith With Open Eyes  by Rev. J.C. Austin      
·       We post each week’s sermon (audio and text) on our website:
We hope you are planning to stay after our 10 a.m. combined church service on Sunday, to enjoy a simple potluck lunch, games for young and old, and fellowship.
Assorted deli sandwiches and beverages will be provided. We ask that those attending contribute a dish to pass, as they are able (we will have plenty, so please plan to attend!).
Use this easy online sign-up form to indicate your potluck contribution; we are also in special need of several volunteers to help direct folks where to park.

You can also send an email to us at with that information.

Childcare will be available from 9 a.m.-noon in Room A3.

If your garden is reaping a bountiful harvest and you have some to share,
bring it with you on Sunday - we'll have a table available at our picnic.

Those with 'too much' can share it,
and those who would like to take some home are welcome to!
With the coming of fall we are excited to announce these inspiring learning opportunities:

Sunday, September 15
  • Sunday School for Pre-K through grade 5 children will begin. 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) begins. It is offered at 9:00 a.m. in Room 400 – see article below for details on the books the group will be reading and discussing. All are welcome.

  • Bethlehem Interfaith Group (B.I.G.) Faith Crawl: B.I.G. has arranged for buses to take participants to visit five different houses of worship on an afternoon tour, to expand your understanding of their faiths. Very limited spots available! See the article below.

Wednesday, September 18
  • Spiritual Practices Across Faith Traditions a popular Adult Ed offering from last fall – continues with three more sessions. On Wednesday, September 18 from 7-8:30 p.m. we welcome Mary Lou Hatcher, representing the Quaker faith. Additional sessions are planned for September 25 and October 2 (tentative). Watch for details!

Hearts N Minds is our adult education opportunity to explore faith and current issues in a safe, respectful space. Weekly sessions will begin on Sunday, September 15 at
9 a.m. in Room 400.

The group frequently uses books as a basis for their discussions. If you would like to secure the books for the coming session, they are:
  • Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church and the Bible (second edition) by M. Daniel Carroll, Brazos Press. ISBN 978-1-5843-351-1

  • Essays on Immigration (Dover Thrift Edition 2013) ISBN 978-0-486-48902-5

  • For Everything a Season by Sister Joan Chittister, Orbis Books (2014). ISBN 978-1-62698-019-8
Sunday, September 15
We’ve all heard of pub crawls where revelers go from bar to bar, sampling the offerings of each pub. So why not have a “faith crawl” and offer people the opportunity to tour several area places of worship and learn more about the faith tradition represented by each space?  
The Bethlehem Interfaith Group (B.I.G.) is sponsoring just such an event on Sunday, September 15. Plan now to meet at First Presbyterian of Bethlehem at 1:45 p.m. to receive your bus assignment and be ready to begin your tour of St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church, Central Moravian Church, the Lehigh Dialogue Center (Muslim), Congregation Brith Sholom (Conservative Judaism), and our own First Presbyterian Church. The tour will end at 5 p.m.

THERE ARE ONLY A FEW SPOTS AVAILABLE!  Reservations are essential to guarantee bus space, and must be made by this Sunday, September 8 . You can sign up online or send us an email .

B.I.G. also includes Advent Moravian Church, Epworth United Methodist Church, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley, School Sisters of St. Francis, Trinity Episcopal Church, and Wesley United Methodist Church.
Time to beautify your surroundings with luscious fall mums, in a variety of colors – at an affordable price!

The FPCB Preschool is offering 9” potted mums for sale; orders will be taken through Monday, September 16 (send to or drop off at the Main Office with your payment).
The plants will be available for pick-up beginning Tuesday, September 24. You can print out a copy of the order form here; they are also available in the information racks, and in the North Link and Main Office.
Hi Neighbors starts up Monday, September 16
Hi Neighbors is a sociable-sounding name for another learning opportunity at FPCB (and it’s a great time for fellowship, too!).

Beginning on Monday, September 16, between 9:15 – 11:45 a.m. in Fellowship Hall, interested adults gather to hear presentations from a wide variety of speakers. For the first session, Sue Bennetch will present “Five Wishes”, followed by a pizza lunch for all.

The topics vary from armchair travels to health updates to personal finance, and many more! All are welcome, so mark your calendars - more details to come!
Meetings begin this Tuesday, September 10
If you or someone you care about is affected by depression, you are welcome to meet with us on Tuesdays, beginning this week, from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in Room 206. Direct any questions to facilitator Melody Engel .
Saturday, September 14
FPCB will be the site of a concert featuring Emmet Cahill, the lead Irish tenor from the group “Celtic Thunder”. It is scheduled for Saturday, September 14
at 7 p.m. in our Sanctuary.

The FPCB chancel choir will also be taking part, as well as the Touring Choir from the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts. David Macbeth directs both choirs.
There is a suggested donation of $20 at the door.
"It's a Start" weekly fitness classes begin next Monday from 10-11 a.m. in the
Middle School Step Room. There is no registration - just drop in and pay a $10 cash at the door fee.

Join instructor Emilee Hajdu and an enthusiastic group! Accommodations can be made for all levels of fitness.
In this new feature we will take a look at the many opportunities to serve and to be involved in the life of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.
September is #NationalSewingMonth, so what better time to shine the light on our Prayers & Squares ministry?
Over the years, these ministrants have knitted and sewn hundreds of shawls and quilts that have blessed people both in the church and beyond who are facing a variety of challenges, letting them know they are loved and cared for as we are led by Christ to do. 
The Prayers & Squares Ministry meets on the third Thursday of every month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room 408, where some participants knit prayer shawls and some create prayer quilts. The next meeting is Thursday, September 19. Bring your lunch and enjoy the fellowship of this committed ministry – attend as you can.

No experience necessary! We have quilt-making materials and fabric, knitting needles and yarn, ready to go. For more information contact Judy Smullen.

We are now adding the weekly prayer list to this newsletter. Click here for a printable copy; you can also pick up print copies in the Narthex, rotunda, Fellowship Hall and brochure racks.
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!


  • 10:00 a.m. – Combined worship service in front of church building, followed by Church Community Picnic
  • Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 9:00 a.m. to noon, Room A3

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: September 15 ) : Bereavement Group gathering; this is a new date going forward, and there will be a new location.
FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (next: September 17): Successful Aging, 10:30 a.m.,
Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (next: September 18):  Dementia Caregiver Support Group,
1 p.m., Room 206 (PW Room)
THIRD THURSDAY (next: September 19): 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;