Wednesday, April 29, 2020

As we’ve lived into this new reality under quarantine, one of the odd dynamics for me personally has been the dramatic increase in family time. As many of you know, when I began here as pastor my wife and son continued to spend most of their time in New York City so that we did not disrupt my son Liam’s education at a particularly well-regarded high school there. But when the New York City schools closed their buildings and went online in mid-March, the two of them moved to Bethlehem full-time because Liam can attend his school without being in New York!

Aside from being grateful both that they are out of the City and for getting more family time, it’s been interesting to see how church and school have been on parallel tracks in all this.

Liam continues his school work through a combination of Zoom meetings with his teachers and classmates, and offline projects and assignments that he does either on his own or in small working groups with other students that they arrange to do together. In online education, this is known as synchronous (at the same time) classes vs. asynchronous (at different times) classes.

Here in the church, we’ve actually had a similar approach. Much of our attention, though, has been on synchronous digital ministries : livestreamed worship, Zoom adult education gatherings and committee meetings, even a Zoom congregational meeting once!

And we also have an asynchronous ministry that I want to draw your attention to. First, worship services are recorded when they are livestreamed, so if you cannot be part of the livestream itself when it is happening, you can still worship with the recording on your own time (asynchronous worship!). These videos are available on our Facebook page or website .

The same goes for our adult education programs such as the wonderful series on “Constructive Conversations" with Bob Costello and Mary Lou Hatcher. You can access those videos on our website .

And finally, our Sunday School is offering both options, as well. You can join Sunday School by Zoom at 10:15 a.m. on Sundays for an interactive Sunday School experience with other kids and teachers. But we are also continuing with our “Driveway Sunday School” video series, in which Sunday School teachers pre-record lessons and activities and you can watch them with your children (or forward the links to someone who might like them!) from the website .
So, if you find that the spirit is willing but the timing is not right, I hope you’ll take advantage of these recorded videos to continue or deepen your own practices in worship and education, and that you’ll use them with children or grandchildren and/or share them with others as we continue to strive to be faithful in the midst of quarantine life!

Grace and Peace,

  1. In the News: Faith-based communities respond to pandemic
  2. Tonight: Final session of Constructive Conversations series
  3. More learning opportunities
  4. Join us for Midday Reflections
  5. Online worship resources for Sunday
  6. Prayer requests
  7. Send us your images of 'hope'
In the News: Faith-based communities respond to pandemic

On Monday, Rabbi Michael Singer and I did a Zoom interview with George Wacker and Tyler Rothrock of Lehigh Valley With Love, a local media company.

We talked about how faith communities have been responding to the quarantine restrictions, our partnerships through the Bethlehem Interfaith Group (BIG), and the creative - and intentional - ways we are connecting.

I encourage you to take a look - and share this Facebook post if you're so inclined!
At the end of the interview we talk about next Thursday's Interfaith Hour of Prayer, offered by BIG. We hope you will join us for this powerful hour!
Tonight: Final session of Constructive Conversations series
Tonight is the final session in a three-part series by Mary Lou Hatcher, which began last week on Zoom. You are welcome to join, even if you did not attend the first sessions.

View the first sessions here and get log-in information: READ MORE!
More learning opportunities
The Discipleship Committee has planned several new learning opportunities for May - these two sessions are the first:

Listening for God
Wednesday, May 6 at 7 p.m. on Zoom
Led by Jan Bickford
In this time together we will practice the prayer form called Lectio Divina, a practice of sacred reading, prayer, and meditation intended to promote communion with God.  

The facilitator, Jan Bickford, will begin with a brief explanation of the process, after which you will be offered the opportunity to enter into a time of individual practice. This will be followed by time for sharing if you choose. Please have available paper/pen for notes and a candle for lighting at some point in our time together.

Jan is a Spiritual Director who has maintained a private practice in the Lehigh Valley since 2000. Her studies began with spiritual formation at the Kairos School in Wernersville, after which she did her spiritual direction training at Shalem Institute in Maryland.

To join the Zoom meeting: / Meeting ID: 911 2060 7913

To listen by phone only: call 929-205-6099 and enter Meeting ID when prompted.

FPCB BOOK CLUB: Devotions by Mary Oliver
Tuesday, May 12 from 1-2:30 p.m. on Zoom
Led by Anne Taylor
Our session together, facilitated by FPCB member Anne Taylor, will explore selected poems from Mary Oliver’s book,   Devotions .

Mary Oliver is a Pulitzer Prize winner and one of America's best selling poets.  Our focus will be on Mary’s spiritual journey. We’ll talk about important events in her life, her central themes, and any personal resonance the poems have for your own experience.

We're sharing the list of poems to discuss so you have time to secure and read them. The purchase of the book is not mandatory - you can do an online search for any of them. Zoom log-in info to come.
Anne is an FPCB member and resident of Bethlehem. She is the retired Director of Grants and Foundation Relations at Northampton Community College. Her life’s work spans various careers including high school English teacher, public health HIV/AIDS work, non-profit management, community coalition and advocacy development, school dropout prevention, and fund raising. Anne is a mother, grandmother and budding author of a developing book of poems titled "Summoning the Muse".
Join us for Midday Reflections
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:

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?
Share your images of 'hope'!

In Sunday's sermon, JC invited us to share images that illustrate 'hope' to us.

Leslie Pohl sent along this photo of the young shoots breaking through the ground.

Please share your images with us by sending to: .