APRIL 27, 2021
Today we shine the bright light on our Board of Deacons, who are ordained lay members of the congregation, best described as the church’s ‘ministers of mercy.’ Deacons work in concert with The Reverend Sue Bennetch, Pastoral Care Associate, and are under the supervision and authority of the Session. Those joining this Board must be nominated by the Session's Nominating Committee, and approved by the congregation.
A Ministry of Yum
FPC Deacons Deliver Meals, Smiles, and More

By Jeff Csatari

Chicken tetrazzini, baked penne with ricotta and mozzarella, lentil soup, mushroom bolognaise, crisp salads, chocolate chip cookies, and fruit. That’s not the menu from one of Bethlehem’s fine restaurants. Those are just some of the specialties First Presbyterian Church Deacons have cooked up in their kitchens this past year to serve members of our congregation during the pandemic shut down.

“We started a meal ministry to help our church members who were self-quarantining to make sure they had some home-cooked meals to look forward to each week,” said The Rev. Sue Bennetch, Pastoral Care Associate, who leads the Deacon board. “It also gave us an opportunity to check in and reconnect safely during a very difficult year due to COVID-19 restrictions.” 
Since April 2020, the Deacon meal ministry team has served more than 150 meals to some 25 congregants and others in need from the Lehigh Valley. The team created an online log to keep track of food restrictions and allergies and to record drop-offs. Meals were delivered under strict safety protocols. (Right: some of the tools used to safely package up the delivered meals)

“I think it’s the human touch that makes the greatest difference,” said Deacon Barbara Hjorth, who likes to make her childhood favorite: noodles with ground beef, onions and tomato sauce.
She continued, “Our members are very appreciative of the meals and of the fact that someone cared enough to take personal time to prepare them. And with COVID, our deliveries may be one of the few times they see people."

Over the past month, the meal ministry has expanded its meal outreach to serving Southside Bethlehem charities through The Food Donation Connection and the Wawa convenience store on East Broad Street.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday, a Deacon meal ministrant visits the store with two insulated food bags to pick up donated Sizzli breakfast sandwiches. The store pulls and replaces the sandwiches that don’t sell within an hour and freezes them for our pickup. We deliver the food to Turning Point of Lehigh Valley and New Bethany Ministries’ Mollard Hospitality Center on 4th and Wyandotte streets.
Both social service organizations are delighted to receive the food donated by Wawa and delivered by First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.

Something Special for the Holidays

During the Christmas and Easter holidays, Deacon chefs turned their talents toward baking. Deacon moderator Jeanne Hunsicker organized a socially distanced assembly line in Fellowship Hall to make up goodie bags of cookies, candies, homemade fudge, and fruit for Christmas, and Easter bags containing home-baked rolls for communion, cookies and Easter candy.
Hunsicker grandchildren helped prep
the Easter goodie bags.
Just some of the communion rolls baked for the Easter goodie bags.
The team delivered the bags to about 40 of our homebound parishioners. In addition, each month, FPCB Deacons call or write letters to congregation members to help them stay connected to the life of the church.

The Deacon board continues to make grocery store runs for homebound church members, provide rides for medical appointments, vaccinations, and physical therapy sessions, and manage hospital visitations and prayer requests. We are ready to serve all members of our church community. If you or someone you know would like help with meals or transportation or needs special assistance, please contact us at deacons@fpc-bethlehem.org or leave a message on the church phone,
610-867-5865.

The Board of Deacons is the caring ministry for the members of the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem and is made up of ten members, including The Rev. Sue Bennetch, Jeanne Hunsicker, Melody Engel, Phil Fair, Jeff Csatari, Rich Gorton, Elena Helmuth, Barbara Hjorth, Pam Swank, and Jane Masters, who recently joined the board for the outgoing Deacon, Wayne Kelly.

The ministry of Deacon as set forth in Scripture is one of compassion, witness, and service, sharing in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lost, the friendless, the oppressed, those burdened by unjust policies or structures, or anyone in distress. (PCUSA Book of Order – G-2.0201)