Wednesday, May 13, 2020

One of the blessings of social media in this moment is the ability to be connected with a number of friends and colleagues in ministry as we are all trying to navigate this unprecedented time in ministry.

In those conversations, one of the things I’ve realized is that we at First Presbyterian of Bethlehem have a real advantage in terms of our intentional embrace of being an “experimental church” these last few years. The truth is, every congregation in the United States is now an experimental church; it’s just that some are more prepared and more willing than others! 
But our existing identity as an experimental church means that we are not only prepared and willing, but we have already been living it out! For the past two years, we have understood that our future will look different in some ways from our past, that the path forward is not always clear, and the way we pursue it is to try new ways of worshiping, learning, serving, and living as a congregation.

Some of those will work well; some of them won’t work at all; and some will be a mixed bag; but we can learn something important from all of them and then pivot accordingly in the next way forward.
One of the ways we’ve responded to the pandemic is through additional communications, including the addition of this Midweek Update to keep you informed as changes and new developments were unfolding rapidly in the life and ministry of the church. We felt like the weekly newsletter simply wasn’t adequate to keep up with the flow of those changes.

At this point, though, we feel like things are shifting somewhat, and we now have a deeper need to share stories rather than hear information. So, we are going to shift our communication patterns accordingly.

Starting next week, we are going to discontinue this Midweek Update on Wednesdays and begin a new outlet on Mondays which we are calling Spotlight.
The Friday newsletter will continue to be our primary outlet for informa-tion, but the Monday Spotlight will be a place we can focus on particular stories from people, ministry teams, small groups, and so on in terms of how we are living out our faith as individuals and a community. 
You may have heard the saying that “the closest distance between two people is a story.” Stories don’t simply convey information and content, they cultivate meaning and connection. Information and content is very important in the life of the church, but cultivating meaning and connection are at the very heart of what we are called to do and who we are called to be as disciples of Jesus Christ who are living out the gospel as a congregation and in our individual lives.
So: we are going to experiment with this Spotlight offering on Mondays as a new way of attending to the importance of storytelling, meaning, and connection in our life together. Please keep an eye out for it, read it thoughtfully, and consider whether you have a story that needs to be shared!

Grace and Peace,
Did you miss it? Listen now!
One of the 'silver linings' of our current situation - and reliance on Zoom - is that presentations that in the past were live and in-person, are now being recorded.

So if you missed a presentation, you can listen to it at your convenience.
All of the "Constructive Conversations" sessions are available, as is "Listening for God" (by Janet Bickford) and yesterday's Mary Oliver poems session by Anne Taylor.

ALSO: A video is available of last week's Interfaith Hour of Prayer, offered by the Bethlehem Interfaith Group (BIG) - we hope you enjoy!
SPECIAL GUEST… Meet Dr. Chris Jackson

This past Sunday our guest vocalist for the Traditional service was Dr. Chris Jackson, Director of Choral Activities at Muhlenberg College, and Outreach Director/Bass Soloist with the grammy-nominated professional choir  Skylark .

Many of you enjoyed his beautiful numbers on Sunday , and we are writing with an invitation to meet him. Each Thursday evening, our Chancel Choir meets via Zoom, and Chris has agreed to stop by our gathering tomorrow evening (Thursday) to introduce himself and answer any questions you may have on his Sunday performance.

This will be a wonderful conversation....please plan to attend! All are welcome.

To join the Zoom meeting on Thursday, May 14 at 7 p.m.:

Meeting ID: 883 675 284

To participate by phone only: call 929-205-6099 and enter Meeting ID when prompted.
Join us for Midday Reflections
Every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. The group is going to be studying the reflections of Richard Rohr. Everyone is welcome - whether you are familiar with his work or not.

To join the Zoom meeting: / Meeting ID: 335 481 050

Via phone: call 929-205-6099 and enter the Meeting ID when prompted.

To send prayer requests:
ICYMI (In Case You Missed It): Driveway Sunday School

Please help us spread the word about our Sunday School offerings - share this information with other families who have little ones who might enjoy it.

Our Sunday School teachers offer both a live Zoom session on Sundays (10:15-
10:45 a.m.) coupled with pre-recorded videos of a story, lesson, and music to access at your convenience.

All of our previously-recorded videos are available here. Check them out for your own little ones, and please share with anyone who you think might be interested!
Miss JoAnne and Mr. Ted share another uplifting song for our Sunday School kids!

This Saturday at 2:30 p.m., WDIY-FM 88.1 presents a special broadcast of J.S. Bach's  Mass in B Minor  as performed by the Bach Choir of Bethlehem.
This weekend would have marked the beginning of the 113th Bethlehem Bach Festival   which has been canceled due to the ongoing health restrictions. Each year at the festival, the choir performs Bach’s masterpiece, the  Mass in B Minor  at 2:30 pm on Saturday afternoons.
This year, WDIY has partnered with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem to allow people to "gather" in their own homes and experience the concert's beautiful centerpiece via WDIY's airwaves and website ( ).

This performance was recorded at First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem in May of 1997.

Tamara Matthews and Rosa Lamoreaux, Sopranos
Marietta Simpson, Mezzo, Soprano
Frederick Urrey, Tenor
William Sharp, Baritone
Daniel Lichti, Bass, Baritone
Greg Funfgeld, Conductor

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

Both services will be available on Facebook "live streaming"

* Traditional will also be available to listen on phone:
call 929-205-6099 and give this meeting ID: 955 325 387

Do you have a prayer request?

Know someone who would appreciate meal or shopping assistance?

Will you share the names of folks who would appreciate
a card of greeting?
Send name and address:
Share our Sunday services with others - live!

Did you know that you can share our services with your Facebook friends and groups, as they're happening?

When you join us on Sunday morning, simply hit the 'share' button in the post - you can choose to share it with all of your friends, or a designated group for a 'watch party'.
You can also send an invite to Facebook friends by using the event post on our page, so they can choose to join us. Find our events in the left-hand column of your Facebook page. Look under the event photo at the top of the page for a button that says "Share" (circled, right, in red), and then click on "Invite Friends". Here you can choose which of your friends who you would like to send the invite to.

Is there someone you can reach out to, who may enjoy joining us in worship?