Friday, October 16, 2020 Newsletter


9:00 a.m. Contemporary 

11:00 a.m. Traditional (also available on our website and via phone)

It has been said that any budget is a “moral document,” meaning that it articulates the moral priorities and values of those who created and administrate that budget. Jesus agreed with that idea when he taught that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). We invest in the things that matter most to us, in other words, whether it is a family budget, a church budget, or a governmental one. 
In fact, for the church, I would argue that the budget is not only a moral document, but also a theological statement of faith: it describes what and how we feel called to respond to God’s gracious love through our mission as congregation and our life and ministry together and in service to others in the world. 
Even so, it’s also important to understand what that statement reflects; what moral commitments they actually describe. Like most churches, the two largest “buckets” of expenses in our church budget are our facilities and our staff. But we do not invest in either of them simply to have beautiful buildings or a quality staff; rather, both are invaluable assets and crucial resources for us to utilize in accomplishing our mission as a congregation.

We have an intentionally “lean” staff model, and not just because of costs. Rather, one of the first and clearest messages I heard when I arrived as pastor was that First Pres wants to be a “member-driven” church in terms of its ministry, and so we don’t hire or call people to do the ministry of the church, but rather to provide particular expertise and labor to inform, equip, empower, support and catalyze the ministry of our members and our congregation as a whole.

Similarly, as much as we love the facilities that we have at 2344 Center Street, we do not possess and maintain them as an end to themselves, but rather as a resource that helps us support our mission through our ministries of worship, learning, community-building, and service. Ironically, this has been more visible than ever during the pandemic, in which the buildings have largely been shut down but from which we have continued to reach out in love and support.

Some of these ways include our livestream worship, our hosting of groups like MaskForce 2020 responding to urgent needs for Personal Protective Equipment in the pandemic, and outdoor gathering space for worship, community-building activities like the summer Trivia Nights, the Preschool and Extended Care program, and even to serve our community through projects like the recent virtual CROP Hunger Walk and Blessing of the Animals

If you have not already received it, you will shortly be receiving an update on your financial pledge to support the mission and ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem for 2020. These updates show what the church has recorded in terms of your gifts for 2020, and what remains on your pledge for 2020.

As you review those documents, first check for any discrepancies between your records and ours, and let our Business Manager, Marianne Zarillo, know by emailing her or calling the Church Office and leaving a message. Second, make a plan for catching up on your pledge if you are behind from the summer months; we are behind budget on expected income from pledges at this point, and we want to end the year strong so that we can begin 2021 from a position of strength as well.

Alternatively, if something has happened that requires you to revise your pledge, please let the church office know. Your change will be held in confidence, but we know that some of you have seen your income cut or lost as a result of the recession that has accompanied the pandemic, and if that has happened to you, your pledge should change also, and that helps us to budget for the remainder of the year.

And finally, many of you have not suffered an income loss during the pandemic, and in fact, those whose income comes primarily from investments may even find themselves in better shape than they expected at the beginning of the year as a reflection of the stock market. If that is the case, an additional gift above your pledge would make a significant impact on our church’s vitality in this final quarter of 2020, literally shouldering the burdens of others in the church who have found their resources cut back because of the pandemic.

Wherever and however you find yourself economically at this point, thank you for your ministry and support of our mission as a congregation. I believe we are living out a powerful witness together to Christ’s love, compassion, justice, and peace. Though we are living through challenging times, we are responding as a congregation with resilience, creativity, concern, and hope. I look forward to seeing the fruit our ministry continues to bear through the end of 2020, and to the fruit that will follow from the seeds we are already planting now!

Grace and peace,

Scripture lesson:

Click the link to read online
·   This week's sermon: From the Beginning by 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 THIS SUNDAY: Both Services “Live” on Facebook

SERVICESWe invite you to join either (or both!) of our services via Facebook to watch “live”:
  • 9:00 a.m. – Contemporary service
  • 11:00 a.m. – Traditional service

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!
  • NEW: 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

You can call in at 10 a.m. to listen to the Congregational Meeting, and then stay on the line to hear the Traditional Service.

Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 955 325 387 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.

The Congregational Nominating Committee is seeking nominations for Elders, Trustees, Deacons, and Nominating Committee members.

You can use this easy online form to submit your nominations or send us an email ( They are due by Sunday, October 25.  

You may nominate yourself or someone else for any of these important leadership positions. Thank you for participating in this vital 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.
Trustees oversee all financial and property matters in the church including the budget, building renovations and repairs, planned giving, and investment funds. Trustees meet monthly and members also serve on one additional committee, such as the property or finance committee, which also generally meet monthly. The term for Trustees is three years.

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.

The Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC) has been prayerfully reviewing applications and interviewing potential candidates throughout the past few months.  The group has been hard at work meeting at least weekly via Zoom.  We have had both the challenge and pleasure of doing this important work through non-traditional methods due to the pandemic. We are committed to listening to God’s voice and faithfully believe that He is in the works of bringing the right person to our congregation.  

We have recently updated our MIF (church talk for job posting) with an updated title of Associate Pastor of Formation and Justice. As a reminder, the committee is also eager to review applications submitted via referrals made from friends of the church as well as the congregation. If you are aware of any candidates, we invite you to share our committee email address to that person to submit their application. The email address is

In order for our committee to review an application, we require a PIF (Personal Information Form) and Attestation Assurance. We appreciate all referrals, but please note that in order to honor confidentiality, we are unable to share the current application status of any prospective pastor. 

We are eager to continue our search and ask for ongoing prayers from all of you!
Wednesdays at 11 a.m. – noon
Via Zoom

Join Rev. Austin for a casual, drop-in-anytime-during-the-hour time for coffee and conversation (or your beverage of choice).

To join the Zoom Meeting online:
Meeting ID: 8403 994 5735
To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 840 3994 5735 followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.

The word is getting out about our exciting new Sunday School program! There are two options: to attend a Sunday morning Zoom gathering from 10:15-10:45 a.m. Each week we also provide a prerecorded series of videos and related resources that you can access when convenient.
This week’s focus is on “A Matter of Trust” (Naaman and Elisha’s servant), based on 2 Kings 5: “When you’re not truthful, you lose trust.”

Thanks for helping us spread the word - and consider joining us for the Sunday morning Zoom session; to access the prerecorded videos look for the Sunday School logo on the church's homepage.

Our adult ed class, Hearts N Minds, continues its weekly discussion about social justice, what the Bible says to us, and thoughtful, meditative readings. Everyone is welcome and you can join at any time. We meet every Sunday at 9 a.m. via Zoom. The first book is Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again by Rachel Held Evans.
Reading for this week: pages 59-79.

Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 811 8422 0450, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: Freedom in Community
Wednesdays: October 21 and 28
7:00 to 8:00 p.m. 
Via Zoom
Presenter: The Rev. Dr. Steve Simmons

As we close in on what is surely one of the most important and contentious elections in our lifetime, let’s take a deep breath, step back from the immediate moment, and talk about some of the “fundamentals” of our life together as Christians, and as citizens. 
On Wednesday evening we began this new series (watch it here). As we close in on what is surely one of the most important and contentious elections in our lifetime, we are taking a deep breath, stepping back from the immediate moment, and talking about some of the “fundamentals” of our life together as Christians, and as citizens. 
On the next two Wednesday evenings, we’ll continue to dig into Paul’s letter to the Galatians, which speaks to an early church in conflict and tackles some very timely (then and now) questions.

Join us for some spirited (and, we hope, enlightening) discussions on these critically important issues in Paul’s time, and in ours. 

Meeting ID: 848 1406 8806

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 848 1406 8806, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.
The Congregational Life team is sponsoring a collection of full-size personal hygiene products for our neighbors participating in the programs at Northeast Ministries. You can bring them with you on Sunday, October 25 if you attend the Combined outdoor service, or do a contactless, drive-through drop off at the church building on Saturday, November 7 from 10 a.m.-noon.
Please consider donating: shampoo, conditioner, hair products, soap, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brushes and combs. 
Our Monday, October 19 presentation will continue the voting theme, with a look at the history of the 19th Amendment by retired history teacher and author, Alicia Iacono. All are welcome!

You will use the same login information for this 10 a.m. session:
Meeting ID: 889 4647 5793

To listen on the phone (audio only): Call 929-205-6099; when prompted enter the Meeting ID: 889 4647 5793, followed by the # key. You will be asked for the participant ID – simply press the # key again.

If you missed our initial Hi Neighbors presentation via Zoom, “Voting in 2020: A Guidebook”, you can view it here.
Looking for a bargain? We're clearing out some old yard equipment - perhaps you can be the lucky bidder on these 'as is' items.

First, check this list of what we have available. You may want to come by on Tuesday afternoon between 1-3 p.m. (to the shed, on the north side of the church property, near the Preschool playground).
Have a look, kick the tires, and submit your best offer, either online on this secure form or in a sealed bid. The sealed bids can be given on Tuesday, or mailed/dropped off to Rebecca Angione, Facilities Manager, at the church.
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!

  • 9:00 a.m.: Contemporary Service – join us on our Facebook page or website for the live service
  • 9:00 a.m.: Hearts N Minds adult education class (see more information above)
  • 10:15 a.m.: Sunday School for K-5, via Zoom (see more information above)
  • 11:00 a.m.: Traditional Service - see instructions in blue box, above, to join us online, and in the yellow box to join us via phone 

NEXT SUNDAY: 11 a.m. Combined Worship Service – offered both outdoors in front of the church building (weather permitting); also via Facebook Livestream.

Let us know you’re coming! Please complete this short online form.


  • 11:00 a.m.-noon: Pastor’s Coffee Hour via Zoom (see above for details)
  • 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. 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; ext. 248;

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