Friday, May 28, 2021 Newsletter

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

 (* also available on our website and via phone)
Honoring our high school seniors

So many things continue to be very different about life during the COVID-19 pandemic, even (and perhaps especially) when they also are continuing to be something very familiar at the same time.

Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the life of our students, and especially those who are later in high school. Those who are finishing the eleventh grade are still feeling all the pressures of performance in academics, sports, and activities in that crucial year for college consideration. Yet they have also had to manage that under circumstances that are hard to imagine unless you are also a student or the parent of one. 
Attending classes while bouncing back and forth between remote learning and going to school in-person while wearing masks and keeping up with changing protocols, for example, or trying to practice a sport while worrying about physical distancing (or not, as the case may be), adds new layers of stress and anxiety in an already over-stressed situation.
High school seniors have it hard and even slightly more differently than that. They are continuing to carry the burdens of performance pressure while many are also going through the highly stressful college admissions process in a way very different than they ever expected. What’s more, they’re also missing a whole year of key milestones, traditions, and celebrations, or experiencing them in a very different or even curtailed fashion. What does prom or graduation look like under COVID? How do you celebrate with your friends when, for much of the year, it’s been dangerous to even gather together with your friends???

Given all that, we want to make a special effort to recognize and celebrate the high school seniors, in particular, who are connected with our congregation either through their own participation or through the relationships they have with members and friends of this church.

We want to express love and support to them as they go through this crucial time of transition and transformation in their lives, finishing high school and moving on to college, or to learn a trade, or to get a job, or to travel the world in a “gap year” to help them discern where they feel their life should go next. And we want to acknowledge that they are doing all of this under very unusual and difficult circumstances, and that God is present with them in the very midst of all that, as is this congregation through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our youth ministry team is in the midst of making plans for this sort of recognition and celebration, but it needs some help from you. If you have a child or a grandchild or other family member or neighbor or friend who is a graduating senior whom you would like included in our recognition and celebrations by name, please be in touch with Pastor Lindsey either by email ( or leaving a message on the church office phone. You can simply give their name and the name of their high school, and any direct contact information that you have for them that would be appropriate to share.

Thank you, and keep these seniors and all of our children and youth, their families and their teachers, in your continued prayers as this extraordinary school year comes to an end.
Grace and Peace,

Scripture lesson:
Click the link to read the verses
·   This week's sermon: A Good Word:
Grace by The Rev. Lindsey Altvater

·     We post each week’s sermon
(audio and text) on our website:
TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT on 8.5" x 11" paper for Sunday


We recently announced that we are offering a two-part Inquirers’ Seminar, as part of our ministries of engagement and faith formation here at First Presbyterian.

While these seminars are a necessary step towards formal membership in the congregation, member-ship itself is not the goal or expected outcome. Rather, we offer them to give people an intentional space and time in which to ask and consider good questions about the Christian faith, the Presbyterian Church, and this congregation.
Inquirers gather for an interactive experience that explores the intersection of our own stories with the story of Jesus, the church, and our story as the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.

Some people are inquiring specifically about membership here; some just want to learn more about the Presbyterian tradition; and some are just trying to get a better understanding of who Jesus is and how Christians think about him and relate to him. 
Each person brings their own questions as well as their own story, and the Inquirers Seminar is a place to bring those and let them take root and bear fruit; the word “seminar,” after all, comes from a Latin word for a plant nursery where seeds are planted and nurtured as they grow.

The next Inquirers’ Seminar will be in two parts: Sunday, June 6, from 1-4 p.m.; and Tuesday, June 15, from 6:30 – 8 p.m. NEW LOCATION: Weather permitting, the Sunday session will be outdoors on the church grounds (please bring a chair); the Tuesday session will convene via Zoom.

If you are interested in participating or in learning more, please contact us at or call the Church Office at 610-867-5865 with your contact information, and we will be in touch with you. Hope to see you there!
The class will NOT meet this Sunday. It will meet on Sunday, June 6 for one last time before taking a summer hiatus.

They will continue with the book, Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus by Jim Wallis. The reading assignment is the chapter, “Question of Fear”.
ANYTIME SUNDAY SCHOOL: One more “Driveway” edition!
For these past several months, it has been our pleasure to offer two Sunday School options for families. As we head into a summer hiatus, last Sunday was the last to gather with other families for a Zoom session. We have so enjoyed these sessions!

From left: Mr. Steve, Mr. Ted and Miss JoAnne
For this Sunday, we have one last “Driveway Sunday School” group of videos to share with you – Mr. Steve reads us a story, and he is joined by Mr. Ted and Miss JoAnne with several songs. We hope you enjoy them!

All of the videos will remain on our website for you to access at any time ( We hope you continue to use them, and share with friends and family.

We send our appreciation to the faithful group of adults who have shepherded this opportunity for our children!
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**
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Your likes / comments / shares help us spread the word about First Pres!

  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Worship Service, livestreamed
  • 11:00 a.m.: Combined Worship Service, 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”)

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;