December 28, 2018



Children's Sunday School during both services

Join us for Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each of our services!
Merry Christmas!!! One of the odd things about the Christmas season, of course, is that the cultural observance of Christmas essentially ends on December 25, when that is only the beginning of the Christian season of Christmas. As even the secular song says, there are actually twelve days of Christmas (though there is a surprising absence of partridges and pear trees, given the song) in which we celebrate the Incarnation of Christ, from December 25 through January 5; January 6 is the holiday of Epiphany, on which we celebrate the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, which marks the start of a new season in church life. So this Sunday, December 30, is the first (and only!) Sunday in the season of Christmas, and I hope you will join us as we consider “Jesus’ First Words” in the story of his visit to the Temple in Jerusalem as a boy. 
Before we do that, though, I want to take the opportunity to thank all those who did so much to prepare the church for our Christmas Eve worship services. One of the things that this congregation has stressed in this new era of our life together is that we want to be a member-driven congregation, not a staff-dependent one.
Few places was that commitment more evident than in the build-up to Christmas Eve, with teams of members taking the lead to decorate the church, usher and greet at all three services, provide welcome and assistance in the parking lot, reset the sanctuary between services, and come in and clean the building after Christmas.  Our youth even put out hundreds of luminary candle bags in the driveway on Christmas Eve!

And we needed all of those hands to be ready to welcome what turned out to be around 1000 people (!) in worship at the three services on Christmas Eve, so a deeply-felt thank you to each and every person who helped!!!

I also want to say a special thanks to our staff who played such a crucial role in supporting our members, leaders, and worship services this past week. We are blessed with an extraordinary team of dedicated, collaborative and servant-minded people on our church staff, and the hours and energy they spent on facilities prep, special communications and advertising, bulletin production, music and worship planning, special pastoral care, special Preschool events, and so much more helped ensure a very smooth, powerful, and well-attended season of special events during Advent and Christmas. It is truly an honor to work with each one of them. 

So: I continue to wish each of you a very Merry Christmas, and hope to see you in worship!

Grace and Peace,
 The office will be closed on Friday, December 28. The front desk will be staffed on Monday, December 31 from 9 am – noon if you would like to drop off end-of-year donations. We will be closed on Tuesday, January 1. We will re-open on Wednesday, January 2 with our regular office hours of Monday through Thursday from 9 am to
4 pm.
Fellowship Hall was filled with an appreciative audience on Sunday morning, as our children and youth presented the story of the writing of a favorite carol, Silent Night. This beloved piece was written 200 years ago.
The presentation was directed by Rev. Cindy Simmons, and the simple re-telling of this story was a wonderful addition to our Christmas celebration.
The Passing of the Peace at the beginning of worship is an expression of Christian love, unity, and reconciliation with one another. For some, however, expressing those values through hugs and handshakes is not comfortable, and for others, close physical contact may pose a medical risk. 
So, if someone gives a “Heart Tap” by patting their own heart during the Passing of the Peace, please respond in like manner to acknowledge the heartfelt grace of that person's greeting and need to maintain physical space.
Are you considering an end of year gift to First Pres, to take advantage of tax benefits for charitable giving? Gifts postmarked by December 31, 2018 will count as current gifts per the IRS regulation. The front desk will be staffed Monday, December 31 from 9 am until noon for friends making last minute contributions.
Stock gifts should be made well before the last day of the year as brokerage offices and financial institutions tend to get ‘backed up’ and, if there are any complications, you could miss the window of opportunity. If you have questions, contact Linda Robertson by email or at 610-865-2087. 
Boxed offering envelopes will be available at church in the new year. If you have not yet submitted your pledge card, but wish to receive boxed envelopes, please contact Linda Robertson by email or at 610-865-2087.
Hearts N Minds, our Adult Education program, will not meet this Sunday. The next session will be on Sunday, January 6 at 9 am.
The first two Sundays in January, Ron Helmuth will lead the Hearts N Minds class in an exploration of the lectionary readings from the prior Sunday. We are starting the New Year with a planful study of Scripture and how to apply it to our daily living. Then, on January 20, the class will begin a study of Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving.
Bring the family (ages 6 and over) to enjoy Disney’s Moana on Friday, January 11. We’ll gather in Fellowship Hall and offer pizza and beverages at 6 pm; the movie begins at 6:30 pm. There is no registration or fee to attend, but we will accept monetary donations for the meal.

Moana features a feisty young heroine who takes to heart the motto: “When you embrace what you're destined to do, that's when you fulfill your greatest potential.” It is a film filled with gorgeous, top of the line animation, beautiful music, and lush scenery. There are life-lessons to be learned! Come and join the conversation.
SAVE THE DATE: Saturday, January 26
Plan to attend Restorative Practices: Changing our Response to Wrongdoing , a presentation by Bob Costello appropriate for middle schoolers, young adults, and adults of all ages.

This presentation is free and open to the public and will be held from 9 am-noon in Fellowship Hall. Sign up details will be coming soon.
Preschool to Grade 5

For the 9:00 service, the class is in room A4 in the childcare suite on the first floor of the Kirk Center (near the Kirk Center lobby). Parents are asked to bring their children to A4 before the service.

During the 10:30 service, the children will attend the first part of worship with their families and leave with their teachers after the Children’s Chat. Please remember to sign up your children in the Narthex before going into the service.

The same curriculum will be used in both classes, and, as in the past, child care will be available during both services for younger children. If you have any questions, please contact  Elizabeth Conard .
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Deadline for newsletter: Wednesday at noon
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·         Hospitality in Fellowship Hall after each service; join us for light refreshments and
·         9:00 am Contemporary Service, Kirk Center
·         9:00 am Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5, Room A4
·         10:30 am Traditional Service, Sanctuary
·         10:30 am Sunday School, Pre-K through Grade 5 (Children attend first part of
worship service), Room E3-4
·         Childcare for Infants and Toddlers, 8:30 am to noon, Room A3

MONDAYS: It’s a Start fitness class, 10 am, Middle School Step
TUESDAYS: Easy Balance and Strength fitness class, 9:30 am, Room 178 (no class on Tuesday, January 1)
TUESDAYS: Handbell Choir rehearsal, 5:30-6:30 pm, Middle School Step (on hiatus until Tuesday, February 5)
WEDNESDAYS: Overcomers Outreach, 7 pm, Room 408
THURSDAYS: Choir Rehearsal, 7 pm, Sanctuary

FIRST AND THIRD TUESDAYS (January 15 9): Successful Aging,
10:30 am, Room 412
THIRD WEDNESDAY (January 16): Dementia Caregiver Support Group, 1:00 pm,
Room 206 (PW Room)

CHURCH OFFICE HOURS: The office will be closed on Friday, December 28. The front desk will be staffed on Monday, December 31 from 9 am – noon if you would like to drop off end-of-year donations. We will be closed on Tuesday, January 1. We will re-open on Wednesday, January 2 with our regular office hours of Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm.

As always, you may leave a voicemail message with the church any time at 610-867-5865 or contact us at .

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: ext. 210;

Carol Burns, Communications Manager: ext. 238;

Andrea Barbehenn , Preschool Director; phone: 610-867-2956;